3DR Back on Top: $53 Million Raised in Series D Funding Round
BY Zacc Dukowitz2 May 2017
To say 3D Robotics has bounced back would be an understatement.
The company recently announced that they raised $53 million in a series D funding round. That is a LOT of money, and especially for a company that not too long ago looked like it might be on its last legs.
According to a statement released by 3DR, the funding round included “both new equity and conversion of debt equity,” was led by Atlantic Bridge, and included investments from the Autodesk Forge Fund, True Ventures, Foundry Group, Mayfield, and a number of other investors.
“We are excited to lead this round in 3DR and see tremendous opportunity for the deployment of Site Scan across a wide range of industry use cases. The end-to-end reality capture provided by Site Scan, combined with Autodesk software, provides the most comprehensive platform for the measurement and monitoring of progress on construction sites, resulting in potentially huge efficiency gains for the industry.”
– Brian Long, Managing Partner at Atlantic Bridge
This news comes at a time of high turmoil in the drone industry. Recently we’ve seen Lily Robotics fold, and a whole slew of companies like Parrot, Autel, GoPro, and Yuneec go through significant layoffs.
Site Scan, 3DR’s New Focus
3DR has pivoted a few times. First they were a DIY drone company, then they were a commercial drone company, with the 3DR Solo drone as their flagship product.
Their final pivot was to to Site Scan, “a drone data platform for the construction and engineering industries.”
Site Scan helps construction teams monitor and report on progress in real time, identify issues in big projects, and collect actionable data that integrates with Autodesk and GIS tools, so that the flow of information between those doing the building and those doing the planning is quicker, more efficient, and much more accurate.
And honestly, when we first heard about this last pivot, we thought that it wasn’t going to work.
We’re thrilled to say that we were wrong. Because who doesn’t want to see these guys succeed? 3DR has been around forever, they have one of the coolest creation stories out there, and at this point they’re a kind of underdog in the industry. We’re happy to admit we did more than a few fist pumps when we first read the news about their latest round of funding.
What This Augurs for the Industry
As 3DR notes in their recent press release about the series D funding round, construction is an $8 trillion global industry.
Some other noteworthy facts are that a typical commercial construction project runs 80% over budget and 20 months behind schedule. Most of these delays and budgetary misalignments have to do with disconnects between the design and the actual building—disconnects where UAV data collection could have a huge impact.
3DR proposes to help close the gap between planning and execution using drones, as described in the section above on Site Scan.
They’re certainly not the only ones proposing such a solution (Kespry, for instance, already has a huge foothold in the same sector). But a key point here is that the construction industry is probably plenty big enough for several drone companies to succeed in it.
The layoffs we’ve seen of late could just be a part of the industry’s growing pains, as companies start focusing not on where we all thought drones would be the most used and the most purchased when they first started gaining popularity—aerial cinematography and related applications—but on where the money actually is.
Of course, the fact that commercial construction represents a massive business opportunity is no surprise to companies like Yuneec, who recently unveiled their Typhoon H, or DJI, whose whole Matrice series, including the Matrice 200, is aimed at tough commercial applications.
We do find it a sign of things to come that 3DR has made such a success out of this final pivot. It seems the winds of change are blowing—the next big rollouts in the industry may be less in the B2C (business-to-consumer) realm of camera drones sold directly to end users, and more in highly targeted applications for construction.