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Drone Startup Airware Is Shutting Down After Raising $118 Million

Drone operating system startup Airware, which has appeared in a number of stories over the years, announced today that it will be shutting down immediately despite having raised $118 million from investors. ” The startup ran out of money after trying to manufacture its own hardware that couldn’t compete with drone giants like China’s DJI,” reports TechCrunch. “The company at one point had as many as 140 employees, all of which are now out of a job.” From the report: Founded in 2011 by Jonathan Downey, the son of two pilots, Airware first built an autopilot system for programming drones to follow certain routes to collect data. It could help businesses check rooftops for damage, see how much of a raw material was coming out of a mine, or build constantly-updated maps of construction sites. Later it tried to build its own drones before pivoting to consult clients on how to most efficiently apply unmanned aerial vehicles. While flying high, Airware launched its own Commercial Drone Fund for investing in the market in 2015, and acquired 38-person drone analytics startup Redbird in 2016. In this pre-crypto, pre-AI boom, Airware scored a ton of hype from us and others as they tried to prove drones could be more than war machines. But over time, the software that shipped with commercial drone hardware from other manufacturers was good enough to make Airware irrelevant, and a downward spiral of layoffs began over the past two years, culminating in today’s shutdown. Demonstrating how sudden the shut down is, Airware opened a Tokyo headquarters alongside an investment and partnership from Mitsubishi just four days ago. As for the employees, they “will get one week’s severance, COBRA insurance until November, and payouts for unused paid time off,” reports TechCrunch.

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