The commitment to drone technology by major U.S. corporations is great news for startups and investors who will need their help to sway regulators over the next few years. First, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a plan in December to deliver packages using drones. Now Google’s advanced-research lab is developing a similar system, the WSJ reports, and the company’s financial and lobbying heft is expected to help overcome technical and regulatory obstacles.
That’s good news for venture firms that have placed bets on drone technology. Those include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital, which in July took part in a $25 million round for Unmanned Innovation, doing business as Airware, a hardware-software platform for reconfiguring drones that last year hired a former government consultant who now sits on two FAA committees developing drone regulations. These kinds of connections, and the backing of heavyweight venture firms, had drone startups moving in the right direction, but the push by Google has attached rocket boosters to the effort.
Google’s support of emerging drone technology also reveals the deep ties among some top-tier drone investors. Its venture arm, Google Ventures, is a backer of Skycatch, a maker of data-collecting drones that is also backed by Ram Shriram, a founding Google board member who worked for Bezos at Amazon and was an early executive at Netscape, the company co-founded by Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com