DJI, the Chinese drone maker, has received US$75 million funding from Accel Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital which is also investor in Facebook and Dropbox. The deal is concluded at a valuation of US$8 billion, and DJI is in further investment talks with potential partners and investors which are estimated to value the company around US$10 billion.
The Shenzhen-based company previously received two rounds of eight-digit USD investment from Sequoia Capital China and Mansion Capital.
Founded in 2006, the Shenzhen-based company is a global leader in selling commercial and recreational drones, shipping its products to more than 100 countries. A CICC report shows that DJI accounts for more than 60% of the world’s drone market, with 70% to 80% shipped overseas and the rest to the domestic market.
The company has generated a revenue of around US$500 million last year and this figure is expected to exceed US$1 billion this year, according to a Forbes report released this Tuesday.
DJI’s drones have been used primarily for aerial photography and video, but the company is expecting to apply them in more fields with the new funding. “We aspire for DJI to offer a platform for unbounded creativity and exploration across areas as diverse as filmmaking, agriculture, conservation, search and rescue, energy infrastructure, mapping, and more,” said Frank Wang, founder and CEO of the company.
As part of the efforts to achieve this goal, the company has teamed up with Chinese video service Youku Tudou to develop a platform where users can upload DJI videos.
Despite the dominant market share, DJI is facing stiffer competition from new rivals as the whole drone market heats up. One of its most prominent domestic competitors is Guangzhou-based Ehang. The company’s flagship product Ghost is as an easy-to-fly aerial photography drone outfitted with a sport camera and controlled using a smartphone app.
Ehang, one of the Top 5 finalist at TechCrunch Beijing Startup Competition, has received US$10 million in Series A funding at the end of last year. Another Chinese drone maker ZERO just inched partnership with computer peripheral equipment maker RAPOO Technology.
Drones have have been a focus of Accel’s investment recently. The venture capital also made an investment in Skydio, but DJI’s deal is by far the largest investment it has ever made in this area.
Image credit: Technode.com, the DJI Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 models on display at last week’s GMIC conference in Beijing.