Skydio, a California-based, leading U.S. drone manufacturer, has raised $171 million in Series D funding led by Andreessen Horowitz’s growth fund. It has become the first US drone maker to be valued at more than $ 1billion, pitting it as the next big thing in the drone wars against China, signaling broader confidence for the American enterprise.
China has dominated the consumer drone sector, which has forced an early exit for US companies in this sector like GoPro and 3D robotics, which abandoned consumer sales. But a recent step by the US government that placed China’s drone manufacturer DJI on the commerce blacklist, banning US companies from assisting it with parts, has opened new avenues for the US-based drone maker.
The decision was jointly taken after the US armed forces, Pentagon, Department of the interior security grounded drones with Chinese parts over espionage fears. Though DJI still dominates the consumer sector with almost 70% of the market share, it can’t deal with US government agencies with recent sanctions in place.
Since its inception in 2018, Skydio has been a consumer-oriented company. It has cemented its position in the market by building the best-known self-flying tech in this segment, which allows the airborne device to autonomously navigate obstacles and track users on the ground.
The company made its debut in the drone market in 2018, with the $2500 R1. Later in 2019, it placed itself smartly in the market by introducing the much cheaper Skydio 2 priced $ 999 aimed at expanding its influence in the consumer market. Recently it announced the X2, which is being improvised for capturing the defence and the enterprise sector.
“The initial wave of hype around enterprise drones passed many years ago, but we’re now seeing these markets really mature. Autonomy is the key for drones to reach scale, and Skydio has established themselves as the defining company in this category. We’re excited to continue to invest in this magical combination of breakthrough technology, rapid growth, and an incredible team in a market that’s going through an inflection point,” said David Ulevitch, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
The recent infusion brings total funding raised to over $340 million with a current valuation of over $1 billion. Andreessen Horowitz, which also led the Series A, is joined in this round by existing investors Linse Capital, Next47, and IVP, along with new investor UP. Partners.
Skydio has made notable progress in most market categories. Skydio 2 has been received well by the consumers and at the same time the company has made giant leaps with enterprise deal with EagleView for a residential roof inspection, to the down selection for final integration as part of the Army Short Range Reconnaissance Program, Skydio has been chosen in a myriad of deployments across companies.
“This is an important milestone for us as a company, but also for the U.S. drone industry. Together with our customers, we’re proving that a U.S. company can lead the way in this industry through AI and autonomy. Things are already pretty exciting, but we are just scratching the surface of what autonomous drones can do,” said Adam Bry, CEO, and Co-founder of Skydio.