Accel invested $75 million into DJI this month, sparking this new partnership. Skyfund will make $250,000-plus investments in early stage drone startups through convertible notes or traditional seed and Series A rounds. DJI and Accel will have the option to make follow-on investments.
Along with a closer relationship with DJI’s hardware business, portfolio companies will get access to expert advisors, including Dropcam founder Greg Duff, former head of Facebook product management Sam Lessin, Twitter director of developer platform Jeff Seibert, and Emmy award-winning TV producer Dick Wolf, who has used drones in shows like Law & Order.
Both Airware (with its recently announced investment fund) and DJI seem to have realized that the drone industry is too big and the use cases too broad for a single company to build the whole technology stack. Instead, both are trying to become platforms, making flexible core software and hardware that can be customized for niche needs in different verticals. Just like Apple or Facebook didn’t try to build every end application, these drone giants are trying to become the foundation of an ecosystem.
Companies around the world are eager to replace dangerous and expensive helicopters, planes, and satellites, and dangling humans with drones. Airware and DJI could entrench themselves in this budding commercial drone business by building a network of startups around themselves. At this rate, Airware and DJI could emerge as the software and hardware titans of dronetech.
Source: Tech Crunch