Chinese drone maker seeks funding at US$10 bln valuation

April 15, 2015 09:44
DJI has sold tens of thousands of its drones at roughly US$1,000 a piece. Photo: Bloomberg

Chinese consumer drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co. is in talks to raise funding at a valuation of US$10 billion.

Several venture-capital firms including Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have offered to invest, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A deal would put DJI in the company of the world’s most valuable startups, reflecting the company’s dominance of an entirely new electronics category that is quickly gaining mainstream popularity, the newspaper said.

The Shenzhen-based company helped launch a consumer-drone craze in the past two years by bringing to market remote-controlled, four-propeller helicopters that are easy to fly, weigh under 3 pounds and can shoot stable aerial footage.

It has sold tens of thousands of its Phantom drones at roughly US$1,000 a piece, enabling filmmakers, hobbyists and journalists to document the world from a new vantage point.

DJI expects revenue to surpass US$1 billion this year, roughly eight times the US$130 million recorded in 2013.

As of late last year, DJI said it had 2,800 employees and three Chinese factories; it had just 90 workers in 2011.

The company said it has taken minimal outside capital since chief executive Frank Wang founded it in his Hong Kong dorm room in 2006, and instead has largely used cash flow to fund its rapid expansion over the past several years.

Funding could enable DJI to develop drones targeted for specific commercial or industrial applications, where industry officials expect much of the growth over the next several years, the report said.

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