By Ryan Mac, Frank Bi and Heng Shao
DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer, is seeking to raise money at a $10 billion valuation at least three sources confirmed with FORBES. While it’s unclear how much money the Shenzhen, China-based company is looking to raise, those familiar with the talks said that the funding discussions are in an advanced stage and include the likes of Silicon Valley venture firms Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
A spokesperson for DJI declined to comment. Representatives at Accel and Kleiner Perkins could not be immediately reached for comment.
At $10 billion, DJI would be, by far, the most valuable consumer drone manufacturer in the world, dwarfing the likes of Berkeley-based 3D Robotics, which raised $50 million in February. The two companies are in fierce competition in the nascent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market with DJI launching their new Phantom 3 quadcopter last week. That was shortly followed by the unveiling of 3D Robotics new Solo drone on Monday.
Past estimates put DJI’s 2014 sales at around $500 million, a figure which could double this year. In a recent interview with FORBES, 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson did not disclose his company’s revenues or valuation, but stated that DJI was the clear market leader in terms of units sold. The BBC estimated that 3D Robotics would do $50 million in sales this year.
“We’re the David to their Goliath,” said 3D Robotics Chief Revenue Officer Colin Guinn, who was a former employee at DJI before leaving and subsequently suing the company.
Founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, DJI has a global workforce of more than 3,000 people. Wang remains as CEO and could likely be a billionaire once the latest investment round is completed. He rarely gives interviews and recently did not attend his company’s unveilings of its Phantom 3 product in New York, London or Munich.
“In developing the next generation Phantom, DJI remained committed to providing a top-tier flight experience in one easy-to-use platform,” said Wang in a statement.
In addition to the Phantom, DJI also produces higher-end drones for professional photography and cinematography, including the Inspire 1 and the S-class, both of which retail for several thousand dollars. The company also manufactures a line of gimbals, which are used to stabilize cameras, like a GoPro, during flight.
If it succeeds in closing its round, DJI would be the latest Chinese device firm to raise at an 11-figure valuation. In December, smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion at a $45 billion valuation.