The Chinese Startup That Launched the Drone Industry
DJI’s affordable yet technically superior drones have made the company one of the world’s most valuable unicorns. It has nevertheless become a target for U.S. sanctions.
Valued at $15 billion, DJI is the foremost manufacturer of commercial drones worldwide. Founded and based in Shenzhen, China, the company accounts for nearly 80% of commercial drone sales worldwide and over 70% in China, where it competes with other Chinese companies like Yuneec and Autel.1 DJI’s preeminence also extends to the U.S. market, where it accounted for 54% of U.S. commercial drone sales in 2021.2 The company has at least 14,000 employees, with up to 4000 being engineers or researchers.3 DJI is privately held with about 40% owned by its 42-year-old founder and CEO Frank Wang, who has a net worth of $4.3 billion as of March 2023.4