Accel Partners joins drone party with $75m investment into China’s DJI

Chinese drone technology company DJI is raising more capital in an effort to expand its offering globally.

Accel Partners, the global venture capital firm that counts Facebook and Dropbox among its portfolio companies, has invested $75 million into Chinese drone technology developer DJI, the world’s biggest drone company.

The drone company, which a Chinese banking group estimates represents over 60 percent of the world’s drone market, is also in talks with other investors including venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in April. It wants to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to promote its products and services throughout the global agriculture technology industry while expanding into new industrial applications, Agri Investor learned.

The various capital-raising negotiations value the company at $10 billion, according to the WSJ. DJI sells 70 percent to 80 percent of its products sold overseas, according to China International Capital Corp.

DJI founder Frank Wang Tao built the company from an enthusiasm for remote-controlled helicopters in the early 2000s and a dream of building a flying robot, he told Forbes magazine in a recent interview.

But DJI is not without its competitors; 3D Robotics, a Californian drone company, recently raised $64 million in an increased Series C round of funding, taking its total capital raising to over $100 million including an undisclosed commitment from Virgin Group’s Richard Branson. 3DR also has China on its radar.

“China is emerging as a world leader in drone technology and production, and many of the innovative companies there are already using 3DR platforms,” Chris Anderson, chief executive of 3DR, commented about the Series C financing in a statement. “We see tremendous opportunity to work with investors and experts in these markets to extend that lead and work more closely with innovative young companies.”

In the first quarter of 2015, agtech companies focused on drones and robotics raised $97.7 million from VC firms, according to fundraising platform AgFunder.