Skyward Acquired by Verizon

Congratulations to the team at Moment portfolio company Skyward on their acquisition by Verizon! We’re always excited when good things happen to good people, and Skyward founder and CEO Jonathan Evans is no exception.

A former military aviator, Jonathan set out a few years ago with the goal to organize the skies for the coming commercial drone revolution, and he set off to build the world’s first fleet management platform specifically designed for commercial drone operators. Based in Portland, Skyward is one of Moment’s Infrastructure of Everything companies building a new device ecosystem, in this case, for drones. Skyward’s flight management platform enables enterprises to safely use and manage drone fleets for use in a variety of applications, including inspection, insurance, construction, agriculture, media & entertainment and warehouse management. Jonathan was initially introduced to me in late 2014 by a mutual friend up in the Pacific Northwest, and we hit it off right away as we saw the synergies with our investment thesis. This is the 4th liquidity event for our debut fund that we closed in October 2015, and you can read about the Verizon transaction here.

Drones, Clones & No Fly Zones

In late 2014, the drone industry had barely entered the world’s consciousness, as it was just a year earlier when the general public was formally introduced to a future that would involve drones by Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes. During that time, while most of the other early drone startups focused on fancy and very capital-intensive drone hardware platforms, Jonathan recognized early on that if the drone industry was to become a true commercial success, the industry would need to put in place an infrastructure platform to enable the safe and organized operations of drone fleets whereby any drone from any manufacturer could be safely used in commercial applications.

Commercial operators would need to track their drone flights, know where they could and shouldn’t fly drones, certify pilots to operate these new machines and manage entire drone fleets as if they were small airplanes. In addition, Skyward plays an active role on regulatory body committees to help work out issues involving small drone form factors that could be used commercial applications. The company launched its drone flight management platform in 2015 with integration partnerships with leading commercial drone manufacturers. It’s still early days, as we believe the commercial drone industry is still in its infancy with the FAA only recently establishing commercial drone flight rules in 2016.

All About IoT Fleet Management

Drones are essentially flying computers, connected to the overall IT ecosystem as a new Internet endpoint, which is why we found Skyward to be an early pioneer in the Infrastructure of Everything. Skyward has become one of the thought leaders in the drone industry and is solving some of the critical pieces needed for the industry to take off, so it’s no surprise that in late 2016, Verizon began to express interest in acquiring the Company to bolster its fleet management offering to include drones and other IoT device categories. There is still a lot of work ahead to organizing the skies and preparing the common enterprise and the communities surrounding their properties for safe and secure drone applications. While we would have supported a decision for Skyward to continue building its business on its own, we also see the synergies in their union as this kind of thing is right down Verizon’s alley.

We are proud to have been part of Skyward since the Company’s early days, and believe that the acquisition of Skyward by Verizon is a great boost for the nascent commercial drone industry. Congratulations to the Skyward team!

This post originally appeared on the Moment Ventures blog.

Clint Chao is a General Partner at Moment Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund based in Palo Alto, CA. You can reach/follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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