Drone maker DJI raises US$75m, valuing the company at more than US$8bn

6 May 2015

DJI was founded in a Hong Kong dorm room in 2006 by CEO Frank Wang

Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology has secured US$75m in venture capital investment, in a round that sees it soaring into the unicorn club at a valuation of US$8bn.

The investment is one of the largest ever made by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners.

DJI is the most popular brand among makers of the the fast-emerging robotic flying machines we call drones.

DJI is understood to be on pace to double its sales this year to around US$1bn, compared with sales of around US$130m in 2013.

The Shenzen, China based company was founded in a Hong Kong dorm room in 2006 by CEO Frank Wang and up until recently the company was largely bootstrapped.

Flying high

The company’s most popular drone is the DJI Phantom, which weighs 2.8 pounds, can fly to great heights and can shoot high-definition video.

Drone products range in price from US$700 up to US$3,000.

The device has also attracted some notoriety after raising the blood pressure of US law authorities when one was flown over the White House recently.

Drones are evolving beyond toys beloved of nerds and the company may strike upon new verticals such as drones for agriculture, oil and gas exploration and mining, to name a few.

The US$75m investment follows on an earlier invesment from Sequoia Capital believed to be in the range of US$30m, bringing the estimated venture capital raised by DJI to more than US$100m.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years