In a major move to become a player in the larger Internet of Things and, specifically drones, Verizon ((NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ)) has acquired Skyward. It is a significant development in the growth and maturity of the drone industry and marks a something of a milestone. Along with Intel, Verizon is a Fortune 500 company making a bet on the emerging markets for drone technology.
Skyward brings drone operations management to the Verizon IoT portfolio, simplifying drone operations and management for organizations of any size. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Internationally, companies rely on Skyward for managing operations, improving safety and lowering operating costs. Through this acquisition, businesses small and large will now have a single source for integrating, managing and wirelessly connecting their drone operations – linking all the people, projects and equipment involved into one clear and efficient workflow. Skyward has been successful in establishing partnerships with a number of cloud based drone data analytic companies including PrecisionHawk, DroneDeploy, and senseFly. With the acquisition Verizon will weave itself well into the drone ecosystem.
Mike Lanman, senior vice president – Enterprise Products and IoT at Verizon, said: “Last quarter we announced our strategy to drive innovation and widespread adoption for in-flight wireless connectivity through our Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative, a new service to simplify certification and connectivity of wireless drones. This acquisition is a natural progression of our core focus on operating in innovative, high-growth markets, leveraging our network, scale, fleet management, device management, data analytics and security enablement capabilities and services to simplify the drone industry and help support the adoption of IoT.”
Skyward founder and CEO Jonathan Evans said: “Drones are becoming an essential tool for improving business processes at large companies, but scalability has been a challenge. Skyward’s drone operations management platform combined with Verizon’s network, reliability, scale and expertise in delivering enterprise solutions will allow organizations to efficiently and safely scale drones across multiple divisions and hundreds of use cases.”
Thanks to advances in technology and regulations, organizations are looking at drones to help run their business. From agriculture to telecommunications and from industrial construction to film production, major corporations, small businesses, and individuals are using drones to save time, improve safety, and operate more efficiently. The value is clear, but scaling and managing a drone program can be complex.
With Skyward’s technology, Verizon will streamline the management of drone operations through one platform designed to handle end-to-end activities such as mission planning, complex workflow, FAA compliance support, supplying information about restricted airspace and pilot credentialing, drone registration and provisioning rate plans for drones on Verizon’s network. All of this is designed to help developers and businesses create and manage a wide-range of services backed by Verizon’s mobile private network, secure cloud interconnect and data analytics capabilities.
Through investments and strategic business and industry partnerships, Verizon continues to drive innovation via its Verizon Labs technology organization and Verizon Ventures, the company’s venture capital division. Verizon Ventures brought Skyward in as a portfolio company and was the first wireless service provider to become a member of the Small UAV Coalition (SUAVC). The acquisition of Skyward speaks to Verizon’s strategy to operate in innovative, high growth markets leveraging core assets to help accelerate IoT adoption. In 2016, revenue from Verizon’s internet of things business approached $1 billion.
In connection with the transaction, GCA Advisors LLC acted as financial advisor to Skyward, and Perkins Coie LLP acted as legal advisor.
The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Regardless, notice has been served that that drone technology is an asset and a growth opportunity for large companies like Verizon that have tapped out the vein of their legacy markets and are looking to continue to transform themselves and stay vital.