The much-hyped Lily drone, the tiny, waterproof drone that seemingly could fly right out of your hands, has reached its end.
The drone’s founders, Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, sent out an email to backers on Wednesday announcing that the company was shutting down.
The company never shipped any drones, despite pre-orders opening up two years ago.
Remember that @lily drone that got $34M in pre-sales?
You guessed it, they folded without delivering anything.
Offering refunds though.
— Dave Jones (@eevblog) January 12, 2017
Here is the complete text of the email:
The Adventure Comes to an End
Dear Lily community,
Antoine and Henry here from the Lily team. When Lily set out on the journey to create a flying camera over 3 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.
Antoine and Henry
At that time, the drone was available for pre-order for $499 and would rise to $999 once on sale. At the time, it was not clear when the drone would actually ship or guarantee that it would. But, presumably from the wide press coverage, it attracted the attention of many, and generated $34 million — that’s about 60,000 units — in pre-orders.
It was brilliant PR and marketing on Lily’s end. Many users thought the Lily drone was available now. Over the past couple years many people have asked me if I’ve flown it and told me something along the lines of, “The Lily drone looks so cool; I’m asking for one for Christmas.”
I’ve had to break the news to them; contrary to popular belief, the Lily drone does not exist.
— Marissa Meyer (@marissameyer) January 12, 2017
I can’t believe it – I wanted this drone so much but Lily was all HYPE!! pic.twitter.com/p1JdfVLxQL
— Ken Rutkowski (@kenradio) January 12, 2017
Exactly for this reason, The Drone Girl has a policy against reporting on drones that are crowdfunded until they have shipped or can prove to me they are close to shipping. (I generally view writing about these projects as giving free advertising to its creators while doing a disservice to readers by promoting a project that has no guarantee of delivering on the way it is advertised. Exceptions to that rule are made only in rare cases). Lily is not the only crowdfunded or pre-order drone to not deliver, but it is arguably the most notable.
Lily drone is yet another in a string of struggling or failed consumer drone manufacturers. Parrot, which makes the Bebop consumer drone, announced Monday a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people — about one-third. GoPro announced in 2016 that it would lay off 200 employees following the recall of its Karma drone, after some customers reported that the drones were losing power and falling from the sky. A few months prior to the GoPro news, California drone company and maker of the “Solo” drone, 3D Robotics, laid off 150 members of its staff. The Solo now sells for less than $300 on Amazon.
Ugh, Lily Camera (https://t.co/QGCirQQrIa) just went belly up. Another drone startup gone too soon. 🙁
— Grant Martin (@grantkmartin) January 12, 2017
On the bright side, everyone who purchased a Lily drone will get a refund. I recommend putting that money toward buying a DJI Mavic. It’s $999, foldable, takes amazing photos, and with a valuation at more than a billion dollars, I don’t think DJI will fold anytime soon.