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Welcoming 3D Robotics

By Jon Callaghan, November 5, 2012

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We’re thrilled to announce our lead investment behind groundbreaking innovator and visionary Chris Anderson at 3D Robotics. As most in our industry know, Chris is accomplished in many, many things: he is former Editor in Chief of Wired magazine, creator of GeekDad, author of the awesome book “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution” and Founder of 3D Robotics, the revolutionary company behind DIY Drones.





Chris is also, as he announced this morning, the newest Founder in the True Ventures community.

Chris is incredibly special because he is not just creating a product; he is creating a movement. 3D Robotics is on the forefront of the next wave of innovation and manufacturing: using the software of today to build the hardware of tomorrow.

While the past 15-20 years focused on the tremendous growth of software capabilities, we are entering a new era of innovation focused on using that digital technology (or bits) to create hardware (or atoms) that could never have existed before. In the case of DIY Drones, it’s a combination of open source design, CAD software and a community absolutely obsessed with building new and better unmanned aerial vehicles. All these factors come together to form a company that is having a huge impact on the maker community.

At True, we have long believed that “hardware is the new software” and are investing behind some of today’s most innovative maker companies: littleBits, Fitbit, Makerbot, Sifteo and Tinkercad. We began investing in hardware in 2008, when we first realized that capital efficiency, mainstream device proliferation (i.e. iPhones) and web distribution could potentially combine to power an entirely new manufacturing sector. We underestimated both the speed and power of all of these waves, and today we find ourselves in the early stages of, to quote Chris, a “new industrial revolution.” This is immensely disruptive, and we believe there are tremendous companies to be built in the years to come.

With its ridiculously cool (and getting cooler) drones, 3D Robotics is one such company. My family has been involved in aviation for decades, and as an avid pilot, I’ve seen the impact of new technologies on the industry. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit NASA last week, and I was honored and humbled to walk around the Atlantis Space Shuttle, watch the Saturn V launch movie and talk to the incredible astronauts who literally “dented the universe.” NASA is the reason so much science has progressed so fast. It expanded our world, inspired generations of kids worldwide to pursue science and math and brought the world closer together. NASA made the past happen (and happen in a wonderful way), but the future of space is being defined by a handful of Silicon Valley startups like SpaceX. Now, a startup can launch a rocket at a much lower cost than NASA, and now, the only U.S. space vehicle is flown by a privately held startup. This is the power of software, as expressed in atoms. The same disruptive cost curves and advances that we are experiencing in software and the Internet are cascading into the largest manufacturing industries, and yes, even space.

We see 3D Robotics as a powerful example of this trend, and we believe the company has the potential to create the same kind of change in aviation and autonomous vehicle industries. While we’re still in the industry’s very early days, it’s clear that the applications for unmanned aerial vehicles are enormous.

With manufacturing in the U.S. and Mexico, rapid iteration thanks to low-cost components, open source designs and the power of the community of the web, 3D Robotics is an example of the manufacturer of the future: an open source hardware company leading a large community of open source software developers who support the hardware. Oh, and it also helps that their market is enormous and growing rapidly.

Chris and the entire team are leading us into the future. Make no mistake that this is an enormous movement for technology, innovation and the global economy.

We couldn’t be happier to welcome 3D Robotics into the fold, and to join with OATV’s Bryce Roberts in support of Chris and his team.

Chris and everyone at 3D Robotics, welcome to True!