The Next Big Thing

Drone maker DJI secures US$75 million in new funding from Accel Partners

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 10:14am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 June, 2015, 12:00pm

Chinese drone maker DJI said it has secured US$75 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners, the largest investment it has received yet.

The funding, one of Accel’s largest single investments, would help the Shenzhen-based maker of remote-controlled quadcopters expand globally and extend its reach into new industrial applications, the two companies said in a statement.

“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, DJI's chief executive and founder, in the statement.

DJI has been at the forefront of the consumer drone craze, and has quickly become the world’s top maker of the gadgets. It has been seeking funding to expand, and some reports have said its valuation could rise to as high US$10 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable start-ups.

It received US$30 million in investment from Sequoia Capital last year in its first round of investment.

Demand is growing for drones to monitor public safety, shoot film footage and search disaster areas, but businesses are also using the technology in new ways, including farming, firefighting, real estate and archaeology.

Additional details about the partnership between DJI and Accel would be officially announced in the coming weeks, the statement said.

Palo Alto, California-based Accel has previously backed start-ups including Facebook, Spotify and Dropbox. It said it saw a strong potential in the development of drones.

“The democratisation of the skyways is well underway with affordable access to UAVs allowing people and companies to rethink what’s possible,” said Sameer Gandhi, partner at Accel.

DJI, founded in 2006, now has about 2,800 employees, including in Beijing and Los Angeles.