?We were on a roaring success for six years, and then it came to a halt, and I?m reacting to the market.?
?Allan Bignall, president of ReconRobotics
The temperature today in Edina, Minnesota is 9-degrees Fahrenheit, which in that part of the country in January is considered a bit of a warm spell.
For thirty recently laid-off employees at Edina-based ReconRobotics, it might be a very long winter.
Until last week there were 50 employees working at ReconRobotics, now there are 20! Among the departed are Recon?s director of business development and its COO, which, sadly, hints a lot about the near future of this privately-held robotics company.
ReconRobotics is an RBR50 member and came in second in Fast Company?s Top 10 in world robotics for 2013; Recon was sandwiched in-between iRobot and Google.
To paraphrase the poet John Donne: Every robotics company is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, we are all the less.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: ReconRobotics, whose throwable scouting robots are used in defense and law-enforcement jobs, has cut its staff by two-thirds after a deal with the U.S. Army was killed by sequester-related cuts.
The Star Tribune has an interview with Alan Bignall, the CEO of the Edina-based company, who said that the federal cuts ? enacted as part of the budget stalemate between Congress and the White House ? killed the planned sale of 1,000 of its Recon Scout robots. Edina-based ReconRobotics has sold several big orders of the “throwbots” to the Army and Marines, as well as to law enforcement groups.
The company, which had revenue of about $22 million in 2012, could bring back some employees if federal business picks up again this year.
ReconRobotics also lost two high-level executives in the past year; Andrew Borene, its director of business development and the chairman of Robotics Alley, moved to Washington, D.C., while Chief Operating Officer Patrick McKinney left for another local firm.
Recon, which was a Minnesota Tekne Award winner in 2012, introduced its 1.4-pound Scout XL at the 2012 Counter Terror Expo in London.
The device is used by law enforcement and military personnel to conduct reconnaissance on rough ground as well as within cluttered indoor environments. Security forces in Russia are expected to use Recon technology at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Two high-level Recon executives left the company last year. Andrew Borene, a lawyer and former U.S. Marine officer, was the company?s director of business development.
Borene also is chairman of Robotics Alley, a trade group formed partly by Recon to promote robotics technology in the Upper Midwest. Borene, whose expertise is in privacy and intelligence law, has relocated to Washington, D.C., to teach and consult. He declined to discuss specifics of his departure.
?I remain very excited about the overall prospects for U.S. economic growth and local job creation in the fields of robotics, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence,? Borene said in an e-mail statement.
Chief Operating Officer Patrick McKinney, who could not be reached Wednesday, also left Recon and took a job with another area company.
Bignall said Recon is owned by himself and about 100 other investors. The business disruption has for now scotched Recon?s plans to sell to a larger technology or defense firm. It is raising capital.
?We are raising cash as we speak and people are investing,? Bignall said.