PrecisionHawk has announced a duo of acquisitions as the commercial drone company looks to build the biggest network of commercially licensed drone pilots in the U.S.
Founded out of Raleigh, North Carolina in 2010, PrecisionHawk supplies drones, software, and services for companies to put unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to use across numerous industries such as insurance and construction.
The two startups that have been bought by PrecisionHawk are Rhode Island-based Droners, a platform dedicated to helping drone operators hire licensed drone pilots specializing in aerial photography; and Ontario, Canada-based AirVid, which serves as a platform for finding all manner of drone pilots dealing in photo, video, cinematography, surveying, mapping, and more.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed new rules back in 2016 allowing drones to be used commercially in the U.S. Buoyed by this green light, the commercial drone market is now estimated to become a $127 billion industry by 2020, according to PwC, and investors are lining up to take a piece of the new wave of UAV startups. An estimated $454 million was thrown at UAV startups in 2016 alone, and PrecisionHawk itself has nabbed around $104 million in funding — $75 million of which came just two weeks ago.
At the time of its big raise last month, PrecisionHawk said that “strategic acquisitions” would be one of the avenues it would pursue as part of its growth, and it hasn’t hung around. These latest transactions represent PrecisionHawk’s second and third known acquisitions, after it snapped up aerial imagery company Terraserver in 2015.
Drones need pilots (but maybe not for long), which is why PrecisionHawk wants to create a wide-reaching network of licensed drone pilots which companies can call upon to not only maneuver the drones, but capture imagery as required by the client.
The company said that it plans to merge both companies under the “Droners” brand to form an immediate network of 15,000 drone pilots, which will be used not only as a channel for connecting drone pilots with companies directly, but will also serve PrecisionHawk’s own enterprise client base. Droners founder Dave Brown will head up the new PrecisionHawk pilot network development team, while AirVid founder Patrick Egan will stay on as a consultant and assist with integrating the respective platforms.
“Droners and AirVid share our mission of helping drone operators turn their passion into a profession,” noted PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen. “Combined with PrecisionHawk’s expertise in providing professional drone services to the enterprise, this merger enables us to build the best platform for drone pilots while simultaneously providing our enterprise clients with the on-demand services they require.”