3D Robotics announces VC funding, expansion plans!

Last week you may have seen the news that I'm going to be leaving Wired to lead 3D Robotics full time as CEO. Now I'm delighted to announce our other exciting news: last week we closed a $5+ million funding round with two premier firms, which will allow us to accelerate the growth of 3DR and expand into new markets.

 

The round was led by Jon Callaghan at True Ventures and Bryce Roberts of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. Both of them will be joining the 3DR board.  These are two of the most far-seeing VCs in the Valley, and both are part of the "hardware is the new software" trend, including investments in Fitbit, Makerbot, Littlebits and Instructables. And they share our vision of the power of open source, the Maker movement and personal robotics. Chris Michel, an investor and long-time entrepreneur (and former Naval Flight Officer) will also be joining as an investor and board member.

 

I'll be opening an office in the SF Bay Area ("3DR North"), which will focus on sales/marketing and community development. Our San Diego headquarters will continue to be the R&D and engineering center, while our Tijuana manufacturing is expanding to handle more and more of our production. My co-founder, Jordi Munoz, will take over the role of President, overseeing operations.

 

With me joining as CEO and the funding round, we'll be growing the company quickly. We're now at 40 people, but will be hiring more hardware and software engineers in San Diego and sales, marketing and community management people in the Bay Area (probably in the Berkeley/Emeryville area).

 

The aim of this ramp-up is simple: more cool stuff and a great customer and community experience. As part of this, we'll be launching a new 3D Robotics site/store, new product sites, manuals and tech support communities and a expanded customer support team.  And of course a wave of exciting new products, focused on making drones and other aerial robotics technology easier, more powerful and cheaper than ever before.

 

This is going to be fun ;-)

Views: 12759

Comment by CharlieNoFun on November 7, 2012 at 5:06pm

@Chris, Please use something besides Ning for the product forums the ones on here aren't exactly good to use in my opinion. 

Comment by Crasher on November 7, 2012 at 5:11pm
Open source and profit making are not at odds. RedHat and many others have proven that for years. What is interesting is that we seem to have gone from a proud and loud decleration of non-profit company management to "we don't want to talk about that". That's an abrupt change in philosophy, and I expect a lot more change as the result of 5 big ones, NDAs and the dilution of control VC entails. What will be interesting is to measure, in real-terms the benefit of this to the end user.
Comment by Stephen Kelly on November 7, 2012 at 5:25pm

Shouldn't "the community" decides who 'runs' the site - rather than having it dictated to us. Chris, I know you started this community, but your own priorities have now changed to be more focussed on 3DR and at some point in the future there is a potential for conflicting interests. 

@crasher - I agree open source and for-profit can work together well, I just think that there needs to be a clear separation of the two.

I would still have bought the 3D robotics hardware, if I had known it was a for profit company, but I would have prefered to know that when i bought the hardware.  

I am only new here and have yet been able to contribute much as i am just learning about drones, and until i accidently stumbled across this site while looking for something to do with rockets, never realised that amateur drones where a realistic possibility. And from the help that i have receive through the DIYdrones  site,  I now have a working drone ;), for which I am thankful to this community. 

I would be interested to hear the opinion of people who have been here for a long time and whom have contributed heavily to this community.

Chris in my few months here - I have noticed that you have been very active helping people with problems, my comments are not meant to be negative towards you or 3DR. 


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 7, 2012 at 5:26pm

CharlieNoFun: Absolutely! 


Moderator
Comment by David Anders on November 8, 2012 at 1:57am

Chris, firstly, congratulations on making the move from Wired to here in a full time role.  Being able to do what you really enjoy for a living is something that few of us can actually achieve.  I did wonder what that meant to 3DR and DIYD though and it wasn't surprising to hear the plans re expansion - the amount of VC raised was. 

As you know, I am still very new to this site, but have taken to it like a duck to water.  I wasn't worried/surprised when my quad came from 3DR or that there was a backend supplying the parts that you had involvement in.  Seemed somewhat logical/natural.  And the fact that you would pump the profit back into R&D, again, just seemed like the right thing to do.

However, it's the amount of support and help that I have been able to receive, have observed and in some small ways give that has just blown me away and is just the thing when looking at this type of project.  A (99% of the time) supportive community.  It was the threat to this is what went through my head when I read about the amount of VC.  Secondly (and almost an after thought), as stated by many many people before was the threat to open source.  As someone with a CompSci/Hacking background the thought that I may alter things once built and tuned was very appealing.  

I understand that DIYD and 3DR are separate and it's DIYD (the community) that I would be very sad to see have any dramatic change (aside from perhaps more modern forums (;).  Hardware is hardware.  But it's the people that really make it.  There are clearly some very smart people on these forums and I would really like to be around for much longer to benefit from it and eventually get involved as a developer or even on the documentation side to give something more back.

It's long, yes, but finally, congrats Chris and good luck.  DIYD and 3DR are certainly what we're all watching with great interest, now even more so.

 

Cheers,
David.

Comment by Brent Crude on November 8, 2012 at 8:21am

Chris, once you've migrated 3DR fully to another website, will you be allowing other hardware vendors (other open-source autopilot developers) to have space in the store? Will there be competing (and complementary!) sales offerings on DIY Drones?


T3
Comment by William Premerlani on November 8, 2012 at 8:59am

Brent,

As the founder of one of the other open-source autopilots, MartrixPilot running on the UAVDevboard (UDB) sold by SparkFun, I have no interest in space on 3DR. I am quite happy with the way things are, I have the best of two worlds. The MatrixPilot community is free to pursue its own interests using the UDB and at the same time we can buy the accessories from 3DR that we have no interest in developing.

Best regards,

Bill Premerlani

Comment by Brent Crude on November 8, 2012 at 9:18am

Hey William!

I'm a mathematician by training, and after looking through MatrixPilot stuff, I'm very interested. :) Could you point me towards the dev groups?

Comment by W. Joe Taylor on November 14, 2012 at 10:39pm
In reference to Chris' post on Nov 7, thanks for the clarification Chris! It will be great to have manuals that are current for the Apm, etc as each becomes available, and not havevto spend so much time sifting the forum, as fun as that is, it takes too much time. I hope these will continue to support Jani's efforts also...
Comment by Saurabh Srivastava on November 15, 2012 at 7:13am

Congratulations and all the very best !!! Do let me know in case you need any help from India ... ;-)

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