3DRobotics Solo – What Went Wrong
” On a clear March day last year, Chris Anderson led FORBES onto the outdoor deck at 3D Robotics’ Berkeley, Calif. headquarters to discuss the future of flying robots. As the CEO of North America’s largest consumer drone manufacturer, Anderson, former editor-in-chief at Wired and author of New York Times bestseller The Long Tail, explained why drones would be the next convergence of computing and gadgetry. 3D Robotics was poised to take advantage of a multibillion-dollar opportunity, he said confidently.
“ There are no drones in the sky right now, and that is so weird,” he remarked, pointing to the heavens. “When you talk about a blue sky opportunity, we really are looking at one.”
Drones may still prove to be invaluable pieces of consumer technology like personal computers or smartphones, but the outlook for 3D Robotics is now cloudy and bleak. In 12 months, the company has gone from an industry leading U.S. drone startup to an organization struggling to survive–the result of mismanagement, ill-advised projections and a failed strategy that relied on a doomed flagship drone. As a result, 3D Robotics has laid off more than 150 people, burned through almost $100 million in venture capital funding and completely changed its business strategy.
Forbes spoke with 10 former 3D Robotics employees to understand the company’s predicament. Many said that they were unaware of any problems until the beginning of this year when poor holiday sales and rapidly evolving technology from competitors forced Anderson and his executive team to move away from consumer drones. Others said they saw the collapse coming a little more than a year ago when 3D Robotics stumbled in the production of its first mass market drone, Solo.”