Drone delivery company Zipline bagged $190 million in new funding that now puts the value of the company at a colossal $1.2 billion. The Rise Fund, a global impact investment vehicle managed by the multi-billion dollar private equity firm TPG, joined previous investors Baillie Gifford, GV, Katalyst Ventures, Temasek, Bright Success Capital, Goldman Sachs, Oakhouse Partners, Toyota Tsusho Corp, and the Design to Improve Life Fund, in committing to the $190 million financing.
Justin Hamilton the Zipline spokesman said that the company which delivers medicine, blood, and various medical supplies to remote areas in east and west Africa via autonomous drones, intends to use the money raised to increase its worldwide workforce three-fold at the end of the year to 600 people. Reports suggest this will mean expansion of Zipline’s service from two African countries, Rwanda and Ghana, to other countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia.
Zipline’s drone technology development and its assembly line is based in South San Francisco, drone testing conducted in Davis and it runs operation distribution centers around the world with teams of local operators. Healthcare workers send medical supply orders through text messages to the distribution centers, which then dispatch drone deliveries that arrive on average within 30 minutes. The drones drop the package, which is tethered to a parachute, onto a designated spot at the health center. Zipline’s drones have a range of 160 kilometers, a cruising speed of 110 kilometers per hour, and can carry 1.75 kilograms of cargo.
Zipline carries its experience in Africa to the U.S. In May 2018 the company was accepted into the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). Out of 149 applicants, the Africa-focused startup was one of 10 selected to participate in a drone pilot in the U.S. — and started testing beyond visual line of sight medical delivery services in North Carolina.
Keller Rinaudo, Zipline CEO, in a statement said, “Zipline wants to establish a new model for success in Silicon Valley by showing the world that the right technology company with the right mission and the best team can help improve the life of every person on the planet.”
— CNBC Disruptors (@CNBCDisruptors) May 17, 2019
A third of Zipline’s more than 13,000 deliveries have been life-saving emergency medical supply deliveries. Zipline recently announced a national program in Ghana, which adds to its work with the Rwandan government — one of the company’s first customers.
The logistics giant UPS came in to partner with Zipline on the Rwanda program through its non-profit foundation. Rinaudo acknowledged Zipline’s collaboration with the UPS Foundation saying, “They’re providing funding to build a lot of the infrastructure required, they are an adviser to us and they provide some logistical support in moving equipment.” Zipline has also received grants and support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pfizer. Rinaudo also confirms Zipline is considering moving cargo other than medical supplies.
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