By JACK NICAS and DOUGLAS MACMILLAN
Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co. secured a $75 million investment this week that values the company at roughly $8 billion, according to people familiar with the situation, propelling the firm into an exclusive club of startups and signaling Silicon Valley’s high hopes for the commercial promise of flying robots.
Venture-capital firm Accel Partners said its $75 million investment in SZ DJI Technology Co. is one of its largest ever.
“We think [the drone sector] is still an early market, but one that we think is a new global technology category,” said Sameer Gandhi, who led the investment for Accel, based in Palo Alto, Calif. “This is the company we believe is going to be the leader in that category.”
The Accel deal flows out of broader DJI fundraising talks reported last month by The Wall Street Journal that could ultimately value the drone maker at around $10 billion. Those talks continue with other potential investors, according to one of the people familiar with the situation.
DJI says venture firm Sequoia Capital already is an investor.
DJI, based in Shenzhen, China, has quickly become the world’s top consumer drone maker by revenue, expecting to exceed $1 billion in sales this year, compared with $130 million in 2013, according to people familiar with its finances.