The last few years have seen a considerable boom in the drone industry. This growth may surprise a lot of people, especially as sales continue to rise in the private sector for recreational use. Market trends seem to seriously suggest that drones could well become a daily institution. The timeline is still hazy and subject to much debate, but as time passes the argument for their productive utility and popularity for personal use strengthens. In Silicon Valley, a new investment fund has become the talk of the town. Dupped SkyFund, the venture exists for the expressed purpose of empowering companies making software and add-on gadgets for drones. An equal venture between Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners and Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, the fund holds a relatively tiny $10 million, but has already garnered substantial press from the likes of The New York Times.
SkyFund intends to launch an entirely new sector of the consumer economy. That’s quite a mission. So, it can be somewhat curious that it is, in the grand scheme of Silicon Valley, incredibly small. $10 millions is considerably less than most successful companies get from top-tier venture capital firms in a single investment round. Accel has previously given more than seven times that amount to DJI during an investment round. It is less than the annual salary of many Silicon Valley executives. In a world where profits are measured in the billions, $10 million is honestly chump change.
So what, then, is the end game? Frankly, the greatest returns the drone industry will enjoy from SkyFund likely have very little to do with the companies it funds, and much more to do with the press coverage it earns. Most likely, Accel is aiming to help facilitate a more open culture of sharing between American and Chinese companies working in drone design. Any company that accepts money from SkyFund will have to share intellectual property with DJI. A more fluid rate of open exchange of ideas and the faster the industry can develop. An additional benefit is that the aches and pains caused by intellectual property theft by Chinese hackers, a common deterrent to US tech company partnership, will be offset.
Consider SkyFund as an under-the-radar PR endeavor that creates genuine business opportunity as the happy byproduct of boosting public attention, education, and entertainment in promoting the blossoming aerial economy.