Autonomous drone maker Skydio flies to unicorn valuation
Redwood City, California-based drone manufacturer Skydio specialises in autonomous flight.
The company’s offering spans both consumer and enterprise drones. In the former category, its drone can be controlled via a phone app, and uses six 4K navigation cameras to navigate. It also integrates an NVIDIA Tegra TX2 AI computing chip. Its enterprise offerings have seen it with aerial imagery company EagleView to inspect houses - useful to the insurance industry, claims adjusters and government organisations.
The latest tech unicorn
Since being founded in 2014, the company has raised across seven funding rounds. Its latest Series D was led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Growth Fund, alongside Linse Capital, Next47, IVP and UP Partners, and valued the company at over $1bn - meaning it is the latest entrant to the unicorn club (a tech startup worth over $1bn).
“This is an important milestone for us as a company, but also for the U.S. drone industry. Together with our customers, we’re proving that a U.S. company can lead the way in this industry through AI and autonomy. Things are already pretty exciting, but we are just scratching the surface of what autonomous drones can do,” said Adam Bry, CEO and Co-founder of Skydio.
Renewed impetus for drones
The company said it would use the funds to accelerate product development and expand globally.
“The initial wave of hype around enterprise drones passed many years ago, but we’re now seeing these markets really mature. Autonomy is the key for drones to reach scale, and Skydio has established themselves as the defining company in this category. We’re excited to continue to invest in this magical combination of breakthrough technology, rapid growth, and an incredible team in a market that’s going through an inflection point,” said David Ulevitch, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.