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Meet PrecisionHawk's New CEO: Michael Chasen

How he's helping guide PrecisionHawk's future and why he's excited about drones

January 25, 2017

Michael Chasen, PrecisionHawk's new CEO, believes working closely with the FAA is beneficial.
PrecisionHawk, a Raleigh, NC-based commercial drone technology company, announced today that Michael Chasen will take over as CEO.

Bob Young, now former CEO, will retain his position as Chairman of the Board. Christopher Dean, cofounder and president, and Ernest Earon, cofounder and CTO, will remain in their current roles.

“The team at PrecisionHawk has built the world-beating drone-based data collection and analysis platform,” says Lia Reich, vice president of marketing and communications at PreicsionHawk. “Now comes the hard part ― scaling our company to properly serve the avalanche of new partners and customers from across the globe who are reaching out to us to help them solve their data analysis challenges.”

The shared goal of both Young and PrecisionHawk’s board of directors was to find an experienced technology CEO in order to guarantee a smooth transition, as well as the continuing expansion of technology offerings and the company’s ability to serve new markets, says Reich. Michael Chasen was the perfect fit.

Let’s get to know PrecisionHawk’s new CEO, Michael Chasen

Who is he:

Chasen has experience building platforms and scaling global companies. He was the founder and CEO of SocialRadar, a mapping startup that was acquired by Verizon in November 2016, and Blackboard, an education technology platform that went public and was sold to Providence Equity Partners for $1.7 billion in 2004.

Why he joined a more-established company, rather than start something new:

“I never felt the need to come up with the ideas on my own. I always thought the great opportunity was to help build the company and go after these opportunities. When I came across what PrecisionHawk was doing, I thought it was very relevant to the past experience that I had and I thought, quite frankly, it would be a great combination.”

Why PrecisionHawk:

“I was just so impressed, not just with the technology ― certainly with the technology ― but really more so with just the passion and focus and vision of the team.”

Chasen first came across PrecisionHawk while looking into improving the mapping services of SocialRadar. A few months later, while he was in the midst of selling SocialRadar to Verizon, PrecisionHawk reached out to him about the potential for working at the company.

“The people here don’t just work in the drone industry, it’s also their hobby. It’s just such a great, passionate group of people, and to me that’s always one of the most important things about joining [a] company.”

Chasen believes drones will fundamentally change the way many businesses operate, and that thrills him.

“Being in not only an early-stage company, but an early-stage industry — that comes around very rarely."
What excites him about the drone industry:

“You can easily see how drone technology is going to be ubiquitous, used everywhere. I think not just from what [PrecisionHawk’s] doing, which is to do low-level imagery, using sensors to get better data to make stronger business decisions, but everything from delivery [to] emergency uses.”

While many involved in the drone industry can see the vast number of ways drones can and will be used in the future, Chasen believes the average person doesn’t quite have a grasp on how prevalent this technology is going to be. He likens the current state of drone tech to the early stages of internet use in education.

“Similarly, our very first investor with Blackboard called up a bunch of schools and said, ‘Are you going to use the internet in your classroom?’ and all the schools said 'no.' Are you kidding? The luddite professor is never going to want to put his course materials online, and students aren’t asking for it?’ We knew at the time, every school is going to start using the internet."

What he’s looking forward to tackling right away as the new CEO:

“One of the things I’m most excited about is working with our clients to really see how they’re not just using drones as one-off side projects, but how [drones can] become a core component of their business and how they can be more successful using this type of technology."

How he’s helping guide PrecisionHawk’s vision:

“I really consider my role at PrecisionHawk [to be] to make sure that we have the correct resources aligned at continuing to contribute from a policy perspective and growing the company and working with our clients to extend and expand what we do. “

Chasen will also act as a spokesperson for both PrecisionHawk and the drone industry as a whole.

“It’s certainly a global opportunity, and I consider it my job to help build this company and the infrastructure to not only go after this opportunity, [but to] support all of our clients who are using [drone] technology and help them become successful.”
Michael Chasen is like a handful of other drone pilots out there: preparing for the Part 107 Knowledge Test. He says he'll attempt to become a Part 107 certified drone pilot later this year. PrecisionHawk
His experience with drones:

Chasen flies drones for fun, and soon he’ll be registered to take the Part 107 test. He says he needs a bit of time to study, though; after all, he’s only been at PrecisionHawk for a few weeks! If anyone has tips for Chasen, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

His thoughts on collaborating with the FAA in order to advance drone tech, rules, and regulations:

“I think it’s critical. I think one of the most important things that we do as a company is contribute to helping provide the FAA with any additional insight and research from people that are working in the industry every day. That can help give them the right information that they need as they look to expand the ways in which drones can be used in this market.”

When a market first appears, he says, it’s common that it’s highly regulated or that the government has a group that focuses on it closely before it becomes commonplace ― this is what’s happening with drone technology.

Where he sees PrecisionHawk in the next five years:

“I think that this is technology that can be used by some of the top Fortune 500 organizations around the world. I would like PrecisionHawk to be positioned as an incredible partner working with these businesses and deploying this type of technology to fundamentally improve the way that they’re doing business.”

Chasen ups the ante by saying that in just three years, he believes PrecisionHawk will be one of the global leaders partnering with businesses that want to deploy drone technology to get better business intelligence and make better data-driven decisions.

Because we couldn’t leave this out:

Chasen’s three children are extremely excited, to say the least, that their dad got a job at a drone company. So excited that they automatically assumed they’d be getting some drone gifts from their dad’s new workplace. But he couldn’t just give his kids a Lancaster 5, PrecisionHawk’s commercial drone that costs about $20,000.

Though he made sure they weren’t disappointed.

“Their dad went to work at a drone company. So, of course I had to swing by the Apple store and the toy store and buy drones ― and then tell them that this is free stuff from work."
Featured image: PrecisionHawk (3)