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Airware shuts down drone business after burning through $118M

Last Friday, Airware, a drone operating system company, suddenly shut down its business. The company informed employees that it would seize operations effective immediately after having burnt through $118 million from investors. The funding came from top firms such as Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Google’s GV and Caterpillar. First rumors about the shutdown were leaked in a Slack screenshot and later confirmed in a statement. The company does thank its customers on their website and says that a representative will reach out soon. CEO Yvonne Wassenaar acknowledges shutting down the business as well in a series of tweets. 

Airware shuts down drone business

The company was founded in 2011 by Jonathan Downey to help companies to collect data with drones by having them fly pre-programmed routes. The company targetted industries such as mining, inspection, construction, insurance, and property management.

Airware was well funded with $118 million from top investors such as Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Google’s GV and Caterpillar. This allowed them to hire the best (and most expensive) people in the industry. They also took a shot at developing their own drone. Launch their own commercial drone fund and acquire the drone analytics startup Redbird in 2016. The company recently opened an office in Tokyo.

Unfortunately, in the end, the deep pockets did not prevent Airware from having to stop its operations. Last Friday, TechCrunch broke the news of its demise with a screenshot of a conversation in Slack where the news was first discussed.

Airware’s official statement

TechCrunch did reach out to Airware and received the following statement:

“History has taught us how hard it can be to call the timing of a market transition. We have seen this play out first hand in the commercial drone marketplace. We were the pioneers in this market and one of the first to see the power drones could have in the commercial sector. Unfortunately, the market took longer to mature than we expected. As we worked through the various required pivots to position ourselves for long term success, we ran out of financial runway. As a result, it is with a heavy heart that we notified our team, customers, and partners that we will wind down the business.

This is not the business outcome we had worked so hard for over the years and yet we are deeply proud of our company’s accomplishments and our leadership in driving the adoption of drone powered analytics to improve productivity, mitigate risks, and take workers out of harm’s way.

As we close the book of Airware; we want to thank the partners and customers who believed in us and helped us along the way. And, while it is difficult to say goodbye to our team, we want to thank them for all they have contributed to Airware and the industry. We look forward to seeing how they will take their learnings from Airware to fuel continued innovations in the world around us.”

Yvonne Wassenaar, who replaced Jonathan Downey as Airware’s CEO in 2017, acknowledged the sad news in a series of tweets.

What happens to the employees?

Reportedly. employees of the company will receive one week’s severance, insurance until November and their unused time will be paid out. Skydio was quick to follow up with a tweet, saying: “Airware folks looking for somewhere to land:” with a link to their current job openings.


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo