November 07, 2012      

Chris Anderson resigned a few days ago as editor in chief of Wired magazine to focus full-time on his entrepreneurial dream of selling DIY drones as CEO of San Diego-based 3D Robotics. Already, 3D Robotics is experiencing positive changes as today the company announced it has raised an additional $5 million in venture funding to expand its business. The investment came from two San Francisco venture firms, True Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV).

Anderson co-founded 3D Robotics in 2009 and has been interviewed numerous times expressing his passion for aerial robotics. He continues to run the non-profit fan site, DIY Drones, for fellow enthusiasts. Anderson has been known to fly drones equipped with cameras and GPS devices to capture aerial photographs of “hidden” areas such as the Google compound.

“What Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak did with the Apple II, taking computing away from governments and putting them in the hands of everybody, we’re hoping to do with robotics,” Anderson has said in a Bloomberg interview.

XCONOMY: True Ventures’ Jon Callagahan and OATV’s Bryce Roberts also will be joining 3D Robotics’ board, along with Chris Michel, whom Anderson identifies as an investor, long-time entrepreneur, and former Naval flight officer.

In a blog post of his own, Roberts said he noted that interest in drones was mushrooming among “the alpha geek crowd,” and he alludes to an interesting parallel between the emergence of DIY Drones and the Homebrew Computer Club, Silicon Valley’s early computer hobbyist group.

“Visit any hacker space or Maker Faire these days and you will see drones in all of their varieties,” Roberts says. “And if you’re familiar with our investing philosophy, you’d understand that when we see these flare ups of activity, particularly among hobbyists, that we take note and begin to form our own thoughts around where commercial opportunities might emerge.”

After reaching out to Anderson, who founded DIY Drones, Roberts says it was clear that “this side project had taken hold of Chris and that his heart was set on making it far more than something to fill his nights and weekends.”

In the meantime, Anderson writes, “I’ll be opening an office in the SF Bay Area (3DR North), which will focus on sales/marketing and community development,” Anderson says. “Our San Diego headquarters will continue to be the R&D and engineering center, while our Tijuana manufacturing [site] is expanding to handle more and more of our production. My co-founder, Jordi Munoz, will take over the role of President, overseeing operations.”
Anderson says 3D Robotics, which now employs 40 people, also plans to hire more hardware and software engineers in San Diego, and to fill out the ranks of its sales, marketing, and community management services near Berkeley, where Anderson lives.