Date
25 September 2017
Wang Tao says technology theft and staff quality are some of the top concerns he needs to address. Photo: HKEJ
Wang Tao says technology theft and staff quality are some of the top concerns he needs to address. Photo: HKEJ

China’s drone king has a big headache

This year’s Hurun Rich List ranks Wang Tao, the world’s first drone tycoon, No. 1 among billionaires born in the 1980s with an estimated net worth of US$3.4 billion.

Since he was a child, Wang has been a big fan of remote control (RC) planes.

While at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, he often skipped classes to set up his own RC plane company.

DJI, now the biggest drone maker in the world, was born in 2006.

But the company didn’t set out to make drones.

When Wang was pitching another product, he learned from a New Zealand agent that more and more people were using drones to shoot videos.

Tao immediately shifted to drones, launching “Phantom” in 2013. Affordability and easy-to-control design soon opened up a big market.

Last year, DJI’s sales hit US$500 million. The company is now worth an estimated US$10 billion.

“Most Chinese believe imported products are superior. I want to change that perception,” Wang told the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly.

But to stay on top amid competition from major foreign players such as Go Pro and 3D Robotics, Wang needs to solve one key problem — technology theft.

Some DJI workers have been stealing technology and selling it to competitors.

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RA

EJ Insight writer

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