Acquisitions / Data

Philly’s Azavea has been acquired by Alexandria-based Element 84

The combined 100-person company will use Azavea's Callowhill HQ as its home.

Azavea's Callowhill office. (Courtesy photo)

After more than two decades as an independent software development company, Philly’s Azavea has been acquired.

The Callowhill-headquartered GIS software company was founded in 2001 by Robert Cheetham — colloquially known as “the godfather of open data” in Philadelphia — after a career in government. For the last two decades, the certified B Corp has quietly grown to be a mainstay in the Philly tech scene. But on Thursday, a company announcement said it had been acquired by Element 84, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Both companies work within the GIS space, working to process, visualize and analyze geospatial and Earth observation data. Through the acquisition, the companies will work under one entity, Element 84, but they will maintain Azavea’s Philly headquarters as its HQ, per a press release. A commitment to open source technology, information and data made the deal feel right, the companies said.

The companies’ technologists work in cloud-native geospatial software engineering, machine learning, data analysis, project management and UX design. The merged entity will stand at a headcount of just over 100 people, and existing leadership will be integrated into the new team; Cheetham, currently Azavea’s CEO, will become chief strategy officer of the combined organization, according to the public statement.

Cheetham did not immediately respond to’s request for comment. In a tweet Thursday, the founder explained the deal, saying the companies shared a focus on “technology for good.”

“The combined team is brimming with talent and enthusiasm to solve geospatial problems that address climate change and sustainability challenges globally,” said Tracey Pilone, cofounder and president of Element 84, in a statement.

Element 84 cofounder Dan Pilone said Azavea’s machine learning capabilities and its application of remote sensing data will add to Element 84’s ability to complete many of its functions, such as orbiting satellite constellations, understanding water security, disaster response and climate resilience.

“Our shared investment in the open source and open data communities means that not only can we do this, but we can also help others build solutions to better understand our changing planet,” he said.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Companies: Azavea

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