3DRobotics bit the dust, Karma was a full-fledged GoPro Dharma bomb, Parrot continually posts losses (Chris Anderson makes up some informative graphs when he’s not rubbing #ChiComms in DJI’s face), and Insitu is laying folks off. DJI gave Airmap the Ike Turner treatment in public and is in desperation mode trying to wipe the sting of humiliation off of the brand. Some of the other larger drone dabblers have enough money to bury any bad news in the sandbox.
The only bright spot on the scoreboard is PrecisionHawk. They just got their pockets lined with private equity, and their CEO is heading up the reconstituted DAC. If that wasn’t enough, they just on-boarded LoBo (Frank LoBiondo for you Best Buy bumpkins) as an advisor. They’ll be no stopping this company, as they are hell-bent for leather or hail Mary-ing for VC funding.
The AUVSI has lost 20% of their membership, and it feels like the selfie drone show pool is evaporating. A little consolidation can be expected in any industry, but not one forecasted to have 250% year over year growth and on the way to an $82 billion (and sometimes $127 billion) future. The ex-CEO of AUVSI was purportedly overheard saying that they way underestimated the actual value in the forecast. I guess Ag is now 180% of the market? It sounds like there is a snow-job in here somewhere.
The FAA fiddling while the US drone industry dried up and blew away from being under the regulatory jackboot of a ten-year commercial prohibition. We also had the AUVSI employing an active “let’s not work ourselves out of a job by getting anything done” agenda. The AMA, was the champion of the RC hobby? Both of these groups spent a boatload of money lobbying Congress and the end-user, and the hobbyist got collectively hosed.
What did we get? We got an FAA symposium with a $769 gate fee replete with moderators/facilitators filtering the questions for people whom our tax dollars pay a generous wage. The RC hobbyist got a summer without flying in controlled airspace and a hobby LAANC to look forward to. The FAA was soft selling USS providers that this was an additional and potentially lucrative income stream. Why have one profitable version of free LAANC when you can have two ways to hustle a mandated customer base? Good news: AUVSI and AMA are purportedly getting $5 million for education, and I suppose that the bread will help ease the pain from losing dues-paying members for both associations.
Why anyone would be a member of either group is beyond the throngs of folks who have left the ranks. How much money have the DoD vendors lavished on the AUVSI, and what did they get? The people over at the UASIO call them “pros” even though no one on the Hill trusts AUVSI or holds them in high, or even medium, regard. The old “if you’re not part of the AUVSI, you’re nowhere” is over. AMA is a notch below in the regard department, as they have painted themselves with the broad brush of sell-out just looking for funds.
How much longer are the VCs (Grandma’s retirement money) going to fund the liquored-up it’s more than a drone dying show? Rumors are swirling that some of the cellphone app companies are burning through a million dollars a month. Drones as a Servicio are dealing with a down-the-drone-aisle-square-peg-round-hole business model, and the AUVSI would purportedly be on the ropes without the FAA handouts. Let me try and make it country simple for you: the regulation is falling into place that will preclude most of you from the unmanned airline business. That truth is becoming just too big to paper over with braggadocio.
Do you just read Egan recreationally, or is it medicinal too? I’m not here to judge, so it doesn’t really matter what you’re telling yourself about your habit: don your Acapulco shirt and head over to Twitter for some daily @TheDroneDealer