ADS-B Exchange Acquired by Private Firm JETNET

Today news has come out that ADS-B Exchange (ADSBx) founder Dan Streufert has sold ADSBx to a private firm called JETNET for (an estimated) $20 million. Dan was the sole owner of ADSBx, and after the sale he remains employed by JETNET. JETNET is a firm that provides aviation market intelligence to business customers.

UTICA, NY - JETNET, a leading provider of aviation data and market intelligence, announced today that it acquired ADS-B Exchange, one of the world’s largest networks of ADS-B/Mode S/MLAT feeders and providers of real-time and historical flight data. The acquisition is the second of what the company anticipates will be several future acquisitions as JETNET expands its data-driven product offerings for the aviation industry.

Founded in 2016 by Dan Streufert, ADS-B Exchange aggregates approximately 750,000 messages per second worldwide via receivers hosted by aviation enthusiasts around the world. The acquisition of ADS-B Exchange will enable JETNET to expand its flight data solutions with real-time information.

“ADS-B Exchange was founded as the go-to resource for aviation and flight-data enthusiasts,” said Dan Streufert, President and Founder of ADS-B Exchange. “Joining forces with JETNET is the perfect match as we look to meet the business needs of our users while maintaining our enthusiast roots and unfiltered data. With a long history of providing highly valuable data to the aviation industry, JETNET offers the resources we need to accelerate our growth.”

Like JETNET, ADS-B Exchange serves numerous constituents across the aviation industry, including Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul (MRO), airport operations, and aircraft leasing. In addition, its real-time data is used by dozens of commercial customers across numerous end markets, including aerospace & defense, government, research/academic, and financial services.

“We are committed to providing our customers with innovative product offerings which provide the information and intelligence they rely on to make critical business decisions,” said JETNET CEO Derek Swaim. “We’ve long admired ADS-B Exchange and know how strategic the company’s real-time data offerings are to the aviation industry. Dan has done an incredible job building a fast-growing business that customers love. We believe he, and the ADS-B Exchange platform, will bring significant value to our customers.”

About JETNET

As a leading provider of aviation market information, JETNET delivers comprehensive and reliable business aircraft research to its exclusive clientele of aviation professionals worldwide. JETNET is the ultimate source of information and intelligence on the worldwide business, commercial, and helicopter aircraft fleet and marketplace, comprising more than 110,000 airframes. Headquartered in its state-of-the-art facility in Utica, NY, JETNET offers comprehensive, user-friendly aircraft data via real-time internet access or regular updates. JETNET is a portfolio company of Silversmith Capital Partners.

ADSBExchange.com is an open source aggregator of ADS-B aircraft tracking data, contributed by volunteers who are all mostly running RTL-SDR radio dongles and Raspberry Pi based feeders. ADS-B data is transmitted at 1090 MHz and can be used to track aircraft movements.

Outrage over the sale has been expressed on Discord by various ADSBx open source co-developers who objected to the sale and appear to have received no compensation from the deal. The outrage has resulted in some co-developers actively encouraging that volunteer feeders remove their station from the ADSBx network. Several hundred of the over 9000 feeders have already disconnected their feeding stations, and the count is dropping (at the time of this post there were 9234 feeders).

Unlike similar ADS-B aggregators like FlightAware, FlightRadar24 and RadarBox, ADSBx is open source and promises to never censor the ADS-B data of billionaires, political leaders, military, police or other sensitive private aircraft. This has caused discussion over whether this free speech absolutist stance is either less or more moral. At the moment it is unclear if the acquisition will result in any ADSBx censorship policies changing.

Famously the @elonjet account (now @ElonJetNextDay) on Twitter used data from ADSBx. This account was used to automatically tweet out the location of Twitter owner Elon Musk's private jet in real time. The @elonjet account along with the @adsbexchange account was banned from Twitter shortly after Elon Musk's child had an altercation with a stalker. Legal action was threatened against @elonjet and "organizations who supported harm to [Elon Musk's] family" which could imply that ADSBx is in the legal action firing line.

While the sale may be discouraging to some, the project is still entirely open source, so it seems that only the branding and rights to the data collected have been sold. The following is entirely speculation on our behalf, but given that ADSBx was likely not very profitable and struggling to cover operating costs from donations only, and the threat of substantial legal action being taken against it's sole owner, the sale seems like the smart decision for the founder. We hope that the co-developers will receive some fair compensation as well.

ADS-B Exchange has been key to projects like "Dictator Alert" which tracks the real time location of the private jets of known dictators.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has also made use of ADS-B Exchange data in the past to uncover the role that US civilian aircraft contractors are playing in the East African "kill chain".

Media have also used ADS-B Exchange to track the movements of the military aircraft like Black Hawk Helicopters and CBP Predator drones that were used to monitor crowds during the George Floyd protests.  

On Twitter John Wiseman @lemonodor has also been using ADS-B Exchange data for various projects like "Advisory Circular Bots" which automatically detects circling aircraft (which may be of interest, as a circling aircraft may indicate an incident in the area), and for highlighting areas of the globe with possible GPS jamming which can be inferred from the GPS location data transmitted by aircraft. He also uncovered a massive, secret FBI operation involving the use of 'spy planes' operating over American cities.

Unrelated to ADS-B Exchange, live ADSB tracking is also used by hedge fund investors to gain an edge by tracking the movement of company aircraft in order to try and predict deals and by UN investigators investigating arms embargo violations.

ADSBExchange.com interface
ADSBExchange.com interface
Viewing the tracks of 1-day of police helicopter activity in the new ADSBExchange tar1090 interface.
Viewing the tracks of 1-day of police helicopter activity in the new ADSBExchange tar1090 interface.

13 comments

  1. Graeme

    I am not surprised at this announcement .I stopped feeding to these websites years ago after i sent emails to them questioning there ethics.
    We have all spent a fortune setting up our own systems to decode adsb,vdl2,acars (via satellite) etc.
    In return what was gained from feeding to these websites NOTHING.
    What we really look for is up to date lists of aircraft details to download for our own use.
    A number of years ago i used a piece of software MMS2 which connected to other private feeders through out the uk ,europe and global. Any body remember this ?
    I found out that the code had been slightly changed and now our data was diverted to a popular website.
    Sneaky i thought as it was supposed to be for private feeders to share amongst our selves.
    Anyway,it is so easy to disconnect and concentrate on your own systems which i see has already started ,judging by the comments.
    The ball is really in your court now and so are the maths.

  2. Pepito Grillo

    I also disconnect my station, I will not collaborate with any company that earns money at my expense, without reimbursing my expenses

  3. bottom-left bottom

    lmao, who would have throught.

    thinking objective and reasonable, that asshole who sold it should be publically (and if we’re at it, the owners of that “marketing company” too, as marketing only empowers rich people), for he betrayed this projects cause, and every single contributor (whether direct project members or data contributors).
    just dump the existing historzed data somewhere before its locked behind a paywall, and stop feeding them – or, feed falsy data (check how many receivers are crossreferenced for a confirmed fix on that project’s github.)

    • Deep A

      Removal / disabling the services:

      sudo bash /usr/local/share/adsbexchange/uninstall.sh

      If the above doesn’t work, you may be using an old version that didn’t have the uninstall script, just disable the services and the scripts won’t run anymore:

      sudo systemctl disable –now adsbexchange-feed
      sudo systemctl disable –now adsbexchange-mlat

  4. David

    IMO the descriptions of ADS-B Exchange and JetNet are incompatible. I am skeptical anything good will come out of this for us ADS-B Exchange volunteers. My fingers are crossed though. I just hope JetNet remembers my ADS-B Exchange node that I built, run, and pay for 24x7x365 has an OFF switch on it!

      • David

        “Just disconnect it from the ADSBx network already.”

        No; I’ll give them some time to show us who they really are – but color me skeptical. I am not a Progressive-Marxist. Making money can be a very good thing for everyone involved, provided if it is done responsibly. Let’s give them a chance. After all it’s just an ADS-B network – not a Crypto-Lepto Ponzi Scheme like FTX, where many billions of stupid people’s real money was simply redirected to one political party where it “POOF”- simply vanished.

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