Telecom heavyweight Verizon has surprised industry observers by abruptly revealing it will be winding down and closing operation of its Skyward drone management business in the next several weeks, shuttering a unit it only bought in 2017.
The shock of learning Verizon’s unexpected decision to close Skyward was accentuated by the news having been revealed in an email sent to clients of the drone services business, the content of which then circulated online. That was followed by a company statement describing the move as a decision to focus on higher near-term growth activities – a reasoning that struck some drone sector observers as odd given the swiftly blossoming promise of commercial UAV operation.
Some estimates put total global UAV market value growing to over $80 billion by next year.
In the email to clients described as “our greatest partners,” Verizon noted it was “not an easy decision” to bring the curtain down on Skyward, whose Drone Management Platform will cease being supported or accessible after June 30.
“The Verizon Robotics team will be focusing on our efforts on ground robot management, connectivity services, and solution development,” from there on, the note said. “We apologize for the inconvenience that this will cause you.”
A short statement the company subsequently released further explained the step as based on “market agility.” It also said Verizon was working with Skyward employees whose jobs will be eliminated by the closure about job possibilities elsewhere in the group.
Inclusion of that detail might have been motivated by news of the decision having been initially circulated on social media platforms as word of the email spread. Some of those posts were made by Skyward staffers who’d learned about the message discussing what it was likely to mean for them.
The decision marks a very abrupt and unexpected end to what many observers regarded as an innovative and promising company.
Founded in 2012, Skyward was one of the early software developers to help enterprise customers manage drone operations, enhance effectiveness of those flights, ensure missions respect regulatory requirements, and retain digital records of that activity.