#66 Dan Magy: From Citadel to Firestorm, a journey through drone and counter-drone technology

#66 Dan Magy: From Citadel to Firestorm, a journey through drone and counter-drone technology

Welcome back to The Vertical Space! Today we're joined by Dan Magy, founder and CEO of Firestorm, a California-based company developing low-cost and modular military UAS systems. Dan's entrepreneurial history includes the founding of Citadel in 2016, a counter drone company employing various technologies, including radio-frequency jamming to detect and mitigate unauthorized drone threats. 

As you can imagine, Dan's rich background sets the stage for a really insightful conversation. We kicked things off by framing the counter UAS challenge, highlighting the inadequacy of most technologies developed in the past decade in mitigating modern drone threats, particularly on the battlefield. Dan talks about the founding and early days of Citadel and what it was like to navigate the complexities of selling to the government while responding to the urgent need of countering small drones in various hotspots in the world. 

We then explore the evolving nature of the drone threat and how this is leading to a sophisticated cat-and-mouse dynamic. We talk about the new realities that warfighters and drone operators in regions like Ukraine are adjusting to and how this is shaping the counter UAS landscape. 

Throughout the conversation, Dan draws parallels to Firestorm's strategy of overwhelming adversaries with mass and modularity. We also touch upon the significance of product and user interface simplicity, how to ensure long-term defensibility of drone companies, the reasons why U.S. drone companies are struggling in Ukraine, and some emerging technologies on the horizon that Dan is excited about.

04:45 Framing the Counter-UAS Challenge
07:22 Early Days of Counter-Drone Technologies and the Founding of Citadel
14:18 Electronic Warfare 2.0 and the Insights from the War in Ukraine
21:17 Promising Counter-UAS Technologies
22:48 Left-of-Launch
26:24 Overwhelming with Mass and Modularity
30:54 Technology vs. Sledgehammer
33:30 Human Operators and the Future of Drone Swarms
38:01 Keep It Simple and Easy To Use
39:52 Why U.S. Drone Companies Struggle in Ukraine
42:32 Automating the Kill Chain
47:05 What Will Make Drone Companies Future-Proof
53:11 Interesting Technologies on the Horizon
54:51 Commercial Opportunities and the Drone Supply Chain


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