Walt Anderson, Founder & CEO
Born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, Walt Anderson has gone on to create and support numerous innovative organizations throughout the United States during his decades-long tenure in the telecommunications and space industries. Walt Anderson, who also goes by Walt Anderson or Walt C. Anderson, established himself early in his career, with a tenacity and vision that has brought forth a track record of success.
Today, Walt Anderson serves as Founder & CEO of Avealto, a UK-based company whose mission is to finance, build, and operate a fleet of High Altitude Platforms (HAPs). Avealto envisions hundreds of uncrewed stratospheric, long duration telecommunications platforms to provide mobile telephony, broadband communications, backhaul, broadcasting, and other hosted payloads. Avealto’s HAPs will integrate seamlessly with existing communication infrastructure to provide low-cost connectivity for underserved regions of the world, mobile operators, and for maritime and aeronautical world customers alike.
Walt Anderson has helped to generate over US$2.1B in shareholder value for the company. Avealto completed its feasibility testing related to High Altitude Platform vehicles. They were granted a Certificate of Airworthiness from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in August 2018 related to a 28 meter (96 foot) test vehicle. The company is now in the final stage of development for the full-size commercial Concept demonstrator, which will be the prototype for the vehicles to be produced by Avealto’s UK fabrication site.
Prior to Avealto, Walt Anderson founded Mid-Atlantic Telecom, where he served as Chairman & CEO until the company was acquired by Frontier Communications for US$19M in 1993. Headquartered in Washington D.C., Mid-Atlantic Telecom created and operated a state-of-the-art digital network for voice and data in the Mid-Atlantic regions. Walt oversaw the company’s voicemail integration into a telecom switch, making Mid-Atlantic Telecom the first organization to successfully offer this feature.
Walt Anderson is a celebrated serial entrepreneur, but it wasn’t just because of Mid-Atlantic Telecom and Avealto. He also founded numerous other telecommunications companies early in his career, including Esprit Telecom, Plc. (ESPRY – NASDAG & EASDAQ), which took advantage of early telecommunications deregulation in the EU countries and sold for US$985M in 1999, Telco Communication Group, Inc. (TCGZ – NASDAQ), which provided a discount “dial around” service through the United States and sold for US$1B in 1997, and Erol’s Internet, the largest dial-up internet provider in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, which sold for US$35M in cash and US$49M in stock in 1998.
In addition to his contributions to the telecommunications sector, Walt Anderson was an early-stage investor in various private space ventures throughout the 1990s to today. New Scientist Magazine named Walt as one of the “Top 10 Influential Space Thinkers” for his influence on the development of outer space. On this list are other prominent figures like Arthur C. Clarke, Sergei Korolev, and James Webb. One year earlier, Walt also received the Space Frontier Foundation’s Founders Award.
One of his first undertakings in the space industry was co-founding the International Space University in 1988. Located in Strasbourg, France, the ISU is dedicated to the discovery, research, and development of outer space for peaceful purposes. Their international and multidisciplinary graduate space studies programs help create the future leaders of the world space community. Walt Anderson not only funded the university’s initiatives, he also offered advice and guidance to the University’s President and Board of Directors during its first six years of start-up operations.
Walt was one of the first leaders in promoting the commercial development of space, paving the way for the ‘astropreneurs’ of today. He believes this initiative is about more than space exploration, it’s about resolving the challenges that exist on Earth today and working towards a better tomorrow for all mankind. Walt Anderson was also one of the biggest supporters of the Space Frontier Foundation during their initial stages of development. Additionally, he created and endowed FINDS (Foundation for the Nongovernmental Development of Space) to promote the competitive, market-based development of space. FINDS has funded essential projects like “Space Electrical Tether”, which can reduce the costs of altitude reboost for low-earth orbit space stations, and sponsored the CATS (Cheap Access to Space) Prize.
One of Walt Anderson‘s most high-profile space investments was founding MirCorp, which was formed to lease, renovate, and commercially operate Russia’s Mir space station. Walt was responsible for negotiating the arrangement to privatize and commercialize Mir. MirCorp oversaw the first private launch to a commercial space station and were in the midst of planning for the first-ever ‘space tourist’, Dennis Tito, when the U.S. government illegally interfered and coerced the Russian Space Agency to order the de-orbit of Mir into the Pacific Ocean. Because of Walt’s advocacy and efforts, however, NASA eventually completed Dennis Tito’s launch into space as a MirCorp client, officially making him the world’s first Space Tourist.
Outside of his professional endeavors, Walt Anderson is an avid philanthropist and supporter of human rights. He has funded organizations such as Voters for Choice, which advocated for legal and accessible abortion services for all women and later merged with Planned Parenthood in 2004, and Amnesty International. He has also volunteered for the Feral Friends Network and Alley Cat Allies, which promotes the practical and educational support for the humane treatment of feral cats. Walt is also passionate about surrealist art, science fiction novels, and traveling.