Update 1/11/2017: Lily sent out an official update announcing the shutdown of the company. The email reads:
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
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).
It was May 2015 when consumers (and the press) went mad for Lily, a waterproof and compact drone for the selfie-crazed. The company, founded by UC Berkeley students Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, received millions of dollars in pre-orders. Oddly enough, customers have yet to receive their promised Lily drone — nearly two years since pre-orders opened.
First reported by DroningON, Lily could be nearing collapse. The company first raised concern with its failed shipping deadlines, pushing each new shipping date months forward. Lily was exceptional at providing pre-order customers with company and product updates but nothing has been posted on the company website since mid-December.
To further the suspicion, neither company or drone was present at the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is a huge opportunity for budding startups like Lily. It’s the perfect event to display upcoming products to hundreds of press outlets, but according to the official CES exhibitor list, Lily was absent. That’s a red flag.
The company is somewhat active on social media — one of the latest Tweets posted in December suggested the Lily drone would ship later that month (and until 2017). Customers on Lily’s Facebook page (which has been dark since October) have raised questions, and some are even requesting refunds. One disgruntled customer went as far as knocking on the company’s door in San Francisco, but Lily refused to show a physical product and demonstration. That’s weird. You’d think by now something would be taking flight (enough to show an eager customer). Furthermore, Lily’s Instagram account has become a cesspool of enraged customers. The last posting (13 weeks ago) is filled with refund and contact requests in the comments.
In addition to the lack of product updates, Lily has no open positions as of today. There are a couple employees that, to my lack of knowledge, have left or have been fired as late as December, but the majority of the team is still there.
In December, there was speculation that Snapchat was looking to acquire Lily. Why? Perhaps Snapchat wants in the consumer drone craze; the company has already launched its own hardware product, Spectacles. A simple and portable drone like Lily is likely of interest to the company. Business Insider reports no deals are on the table right now.
As for Lily drone alternatives, you’re somewhat in luck. It’s not waterproof, but DJI’s Mavic Pro is a foldable quadcopter capable fo 4K video. The drone is extremely portable (about the size of a water bottle) and can automatically follow moving subjects. Simplebotics has full coverage on the Mavic Pro here.
I’ve reached out to Lily’s media contact for questions but there’s been no response yet. Simplebotics has daily updates on Twitter @simplebotics, so please follow us for the latest news. If you’re one of the early customers wanting a refund, you can reach out Lily support via email here. There’s no guarantee of a refund — many customers have complained about the lack of support from the company. Emails sent out suggest it could take 90 days for a refund to be issued. That sucks.