Careers at ViaSat
ViaSat’s mission is to securely connect consumers, businesses, governments, and the military to the Internet — anywhere in the world.
ViaSat is a provider of broadband and wireless services and technology. The company operates three reportable business segments:
- Satellite Services – Offers high-speed satellite-based broadband services to enterprises, commercial airlines, consumers, and mobile broadband customers.
- Commercial Networks – Offers space-to-Earth connectivity systems, ground networking equipment, and advanced wireless and satellite communication systems.
- Government Systems – Offers network-centric Internet Protocol (IP)-based fixed and mobile secure government communications systems, products, solutions, and services.
In 1986 Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller, and Steve Hart launched ViaSat from a spare room in Dankberg’s house. They had approximately $25,000 in capital to start the broadband services and technology firm. Initially, it took on a mostly consultative role – helping clients retrieve engineering contracts and providing proposal support for defense prime contractors that were bidding on satellite programs. If contracts were won, the company would act as a subcontractor on the projects.
ViaSat successfully obtained two such contracts for customers, a victory that enabled it to raise $300,000 in venture capital funds from Southern Capital Ventures. While its advisory offering was a success, it ultimately aimed to develop and manufacture products. Its first major move in this regard was its production of specialized test equipment. The product strategy was a success, and ViaSat became profitable by its second year. The company began trading as a public firm in 1996.
Benefits at ViaSat
Business model of ViaSat
ViaSat has a diversified markets business model, with market segments that have very different needs. Its customer groups are consumers, businesses, governments, and the military. Government clients typically account for about a quarter of revenues.
ViaSat offers four primary value propositions: convenience, innovation, risk reduction, and brand/status.
The company creates convenience by providing an end-to-end, vertically-integrated platform of broadband technologies. Its ecosystem includes Ka-band satellites, user terminals, and ground infrastructure. Further, its product, service, and system offerings are connected through common customer applications, market relationships, and technologies. This makes for a comprehensive solution that enables ViaSat to act as a one-stop shop for users and enables them to save on costs.
The company has placed a strong emphasis on innovation throughout its history. It has consistently introduced advancements in broadband and wireless technology, including the following:
- The highest-speed home satellite Internet service in the U.S. (the Exede WiFi Modem and its 25 Mbps plan)
- The highest-capacity satellite globally, carrying 140 Gbps capacity, more than any other communication satellite across North America (the ViaSat-1)
- The first communication simulation and test system provided for avionics testing
- The first advanced Data Controller (the VDC-100)
- The first UHF DAMA system in an integrated network control system (INCS)
The company reduces risk through its solution’s level of quality. It has earned the ISO 9001 certification, which measures fulfillment of customer expectations and customer satisfaction. For all of its locations it has received AS9100 certification, a widely-used benchmark for the aerospace industry. ViaSat maintains dedicated employees to ensure it continues to meet the standards.
The company has established a strong brand as a result of its performance. In its early years, it achieved placement on Inc. 500’s list of “Fastest-Growing Private Companies” three times. Other honors it has received include “Top Aeronautical Mobility Satcom Innovation“ in 2015 (Mobile Satellite Users Association), the World Technology Network Award for Innovation in Communications (2013), and the 2013 Edison Award. It has also received recognition for its strong performance and growth from numerous top industry and business publications, including Forbes, BusinessWeek, Fortune, DefenseNews, Red Herring, Washington Technology, and Space News.
ViaSat’s main channels are its direct sales team, its set of channel partners, and its websites. They are categorized into the following groups based on customer focus:
Satellite Services Sales Organization – Sells to residential customers through sales call centers, its Exede website, and 1,000+ retailer dealers. Customers are also obtained through wholesale distribution relationships with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and DISH Network.
Commercial Networks Sales Organization – Consists of sales engineers and sales managers who sell to commercial networks.
Government Systems Sales Organization – Consists of direct sales employees who sell to governments.
Strategic Partners – Consists of various organizations that serve to expand the sales effort. An example is the prime contracting firm for a network or system installation, which might subcontract part of the effort to ViaSat.
ViaSat promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, advertising, participation in trade shows, and conference speaking engagements.
ViaSat’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. It divides its services into the following categories:
24/7 Technical Support – Involves phone and e-mail support provided by customer service staff members from a high-tech support center.
Training & On-Site Support – Involves short- and long-term training and support for deployment, provided by field engineers. Specific services include integration, testing, installation, maintenance, repair, refurbishment, and upgrades.
Global Logistics & Repair – Involves management of warehouses globally to help customers rapidly repair, refurbish, and upgrade their equipment from ViaSat; staff can fly to clients on a short-notice basis to help them meet important deadlines.
Network Operations & Management – Involves services provided by ViaSat’s network operations team and facilities, including team training, backup operations, and running of a client’s private network.
System Engineering Services – Involves assistance from field engineers with integration of ViaSat products and services for multi-vendor platforms or systems.
Despite this orientation, there is also a self-service component. The company’s website features a portal that customers can access to manage cases, retrieve documentation, and obtain answers to frequently asked questions.
ViaSat’s business model entails designing and developing its products and services. The company uses a variety of contract manufacturers who are chosen based on product complexity and production volumes.
ViaSat does not maintain any formal partnership programs. Its key partners are as follows:
- Contract manufacturers that make its products; they include CyberTAN, Benchmark, Davida Technology Partners, Flextronicss, EADS, Harris, Microelectronics Technology (MTI), IEC Electronics Corporation, Plexus, NeoTech, and Regal Technology Partners
- Regional and national distribution partners that help sell its products; they include retail service providers, communications firms, and direct-to-home satellite video providers
ViaSat’s main resource is its research and development staff, which consists of more than 1,900 engineers. It also depends on over 250 field engineers, technicians, and customer support employees who offer assistance with installation and integration. Lastly, the company has relied on financial support from outside parties, raising $137.81 million between two funding rounds in 2009/2010.
ViaSat has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service. Its biggest cost driver is cost of services, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of cost of products, another variable expense, and fixed costs in the form of sales and research/development.
ViaSat has two revenue streams:
Product Revenues – Revenues generated from the sale of products such as networking equipment and communication systems
Service Revenues – Revenues generated from sales of broadband and wireless services, as well as training and support services
info: Mark earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Rice University. He previously served as Assistant VP of M/A COM Linkabit. He holds numerous patents in communications and satellite networking technologies.
info: Richard earned a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Systems from New Mexico State University. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer of ViaSat and as a VP and General Manager at Raytheon.
info: Shawn earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a focus on Accounting from San Diego State University. He previously served as Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of ViaSat, and as a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young.
info: Steven earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego. He previously held positions at Linkabit and the Merdan Group.
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