- San Francisco commercial drone operating system startup Airware has announced a $30 million venture capital fund-raising round led by Next World Capital, Forbes reported. John Chambers, executive chairman and former CEO of Cisco Systems — which was also an investor in the round — joined Airware’s board of directors as well.
- Analysts estimated that, post-round, Airware could have a valuation as high as $190 million, although company officials would not provide a figure. The startup has raised more than $70 million since its 2011 inception.
- Airware’s core business is its "Aerial Information Platform," which allows commercial drone operators to customize the system’s hardware and software. The company's enterprise focus includes the construction and agriculture industries.
Airware CEO Jonathan Downey told Forbes that the company has altered its business model to allow for direct interaction with enterprise customers, rather than using commercial drone manufacturers as intermediaries, and said the company has teamed up with State Farm, for example, in the "highly competitive" insurance industry to perform home roof inspections.
Downey said the most recent investment round will support development of operations and a possible expansion into Europe, helped along by Next World Capital contacts, Forbes reported.
Drone technology has taken off in the construction, surveying and real estate industries in the last year, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to launch expedited online drone registration beginning this spring. The Engineering News-Record said the FAA action was "good news for engineering and construction firms that use such aircraft for business purposes," making it easier for companies to legally use drones.