Lily, the autonomous camera drone that sold a whopping $34 million in preorders, has announced they are shutting down.
In an email sent to customers about an hour ago, the startup says that they were unable to raise an additional round of funding which would have allowed them to start production of the drone. So they announced that they will be winding down the company, and offering an automatic refund to all preorder customers.
Letter to Lily’s supporters:
Antoine and Henry here from the Lily team. When Lily set out on the journey to create a flying camera over three years ago, we were determined to develop and deliver a product that would exceed your expectations.
In the past year, the Lily family has had many ups and downs. We have been delighted by the steady advancements in the quality of our product and have received great feedback from our Beta program. At the same time, we have been racing against a clock of ever-diminishing funds. Over the past few months, we have tried to secure financing in order to unlock our manufacturing line and ship our first units – but have been unable to do this. As a result, we are deeply saddened to say that we are planning to wind down the company and offer refunds to customers (details below).
We want to thank you for sticking with us and believing in us during this time. Our community was the drive that kept us going even as circumstances became more and more difficult. Your encouraging words through our forums and in your emails gave us hope and the energy we needed to keep fighting.
Before we sign off, we want to thank all the people who have worked at Lily, who have partnered with us, and who have invested in us. Thank you for giving your all, nights, weekends and holidays, in the effort to deliver a great product.
After so much hard work, we are sad to see this adventure come to an end. We are very sorry and disappointed that we will not be able to deliver your flying camera, and are incredibly grateful for your support as a pre-order customer. Thank you for believing in our vision and giving us the opportunity to get this far. We hope our contribution will help pave the way for the exciting future of our industry.
Lily will be offering a refund to customers over the next 60 days. We will be initiating refunds to the payment card used for the original transaction (no action is required on your part; please allow 14 days for the refund to appear on your statement).
If the card you used is expired, please fill out this form so we can work with you on providing a refund by other means (e.g., PayPal or check).
Lily’s demise has been a slow one. The startup had delayed shipping multiple times before, first to summer 2016 and then to early 2017. They did raise a $14M Series A round a year ago from high profile investors like SV Angel, Spark Capital, Steve Aoki and Joe Montana – which was supposed to help get them to production.
Lily was one of the first autonomous AI-assisted camera drones ever announced, and was supposed to revolutionize the personal camera drone industry. But in the time it took Lily to ship, others drones like Hover hit the market, and DJI developed autonomous flight modes for the Phantom and Inspire (and now Mavic), arguably the three best drones on the market.
While they weren’t able to ship in quantity, Lily was able to produce prototypes, and even start a beta program so customers could test its hardware in the wild. Part of this timeline was shared by the company, with the latest schedule showing the drone ready to enter mass production in mid-November 2016 and the first devices being delivered a few weeks ago in mid-December 2016. But it seems that instead of pushing back the date yet again, the company decided that there was no sustainable path forward without another infusion of capital.