Drone delivery service Zipline raises US$190-million in new funding

Drone delivery service Zipline raises US$190-million in new funding

Latest round values the company at over US$1-billion.

Healthcare drone delivery service Zipline, which is active in Rwanda, Ghana and the United States (US), has raised US$190-million in a new funding round that values the company at over US$1-billion and will be used to scale it into new markets.

Based in California, Zipline designs and operates an autonomous system for delivering lifesaving medicine to the world's most difficult-to-reach places, with its drone delivery service dedicated to expanding healthcare access.

Health workers place orders by text message and receive their deliveries in 30 minutes on average. Zipline's drones take off and land from Zipline's distribution centers, requiring no additional infrastructure at the clinics it serves, with each drone carrying 1.75 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometres an hour, and having an all-weather round trip range of 160 kilometres.

Since launching its drone delivery service in Rwanda in October of 2016, Zipline has flown over one million autonomous kilometres, and made more than 13,000 deliveries.

It now delivers more than 65% of Rwanda's blood supply outside of the capital, Kigali. It expanded this partnership in December, and in last month partnered with the Government of Ghana to launch the world's largest medical drone delivery service.

The expansion of Zipline's operations in both Ghana and Rwanda will increase the number of health facilities the company serves by almost 100 times, and Zipline has now taken on new funding to expand operations even further.

The US$190-million in funding, which takes Zipline's total secured investment to US$225-million and values the business at over US$1.2 billion, came in two phases.

In the Spring of 2018, it raised US$70-million from Katalyst Ventures, Baillie Gifford, GV, Temasek, Bright Success Capital, Goldman Sachs, Oakhouse Partners, Toyota Tsusho Corporation and the Design to Improve Life Fund, while it has just concluded another round worth US$120-million, which included additional investments by Baillie Gifford and a new investor, The Rise Fund, a global Impact fund managed by TPG.

The new investors join previous investors that include Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, and Stanford University, and the new funds will support the global expansion of Zipline's service across Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Americas. This will position the company to serve 700 million people in the next five years.

"There is a growing feeling around the world that technology is not benefitting the vast majority of people," said Zipline chief executive officer Keller Rinaudo. "The old conventional wisdom has been that building a successful technology company requires exploiting people's personal information or hijacking their attention. 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 lives of every person on the planet."