Medium format and aerial camera maker Hasselblad has sold a minority stake to the Chinese Drone giant SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, in what the two companies describe as a 'corporate partnership'. The exact size of the stake has not been revealed, but both sides are keen to point out that there will be no merging of the businesses and from an external viewpoint nothing will change. The deal is almost certainly aimed at strengthening the hand of DJI in its campaign to own the aerial-photography market in both the movie-making and surveying sectors, while Hasselblad gets a significant injection of investment to fund future products.

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In an interview with DPR in June Hasselblad CEO Perry Oosting dropped strong hints that the company was looking to expand beyond the realms of the medium format market, and while he wasn’t specific he didn’t deny that could mean producing DSLRs, compacts and CSCs. He certainly made it clear that the company intended to broaden its audience by 'segmenting and tiering’ the range of products it offers. That sort of activity requires enormous investment, which is where DJI comes in.

Based in Shenzhen, DJI is one of the leading drone manufacturers in the world. Reported to be worth between $8-10 billion, the company has made massive strides in both the commercial and consumer markets, and is claimed to account for over 70% of drone sales. According to figures quoted by Reuters, the company is on target to exceed $1 billion in sales this year. The company has likely gained so much ground because its products cost much less than US and European equivalents, because they are easy to use and because the company has worked hard to smooth the process of gaining commercial exceptions from the US FAA. In addition, sales are almost all online, so the company has kept sales related costs to a minimum.

DJI CEO and Founder, Frank Wang

DJI’s Chief executive, Frank Wang, was quoted in London’s Financial Times as saying 'We aspire for DJI to offer a platform ... across areas as diverse as filmmaking, agriculture, conservation, search and rescue, energy infrastructure, mapping, and more.' The comments came in May as Facebook and Dropbox backer Accel Partners invested $75m to help DJI develop its industrial offering.

Hasselblad's new A5D aerial camera

Hasselblad has significant technology and experience that will benefit DJI's plans, including sophisticated multi-camera synchronization software for detailed aerial surveying, optical skills as well as the ability to create hardwearing products with no moving parts. Hasselblad's first camera was an aerial camera, and its A5D models are a modern reflection of its heritage – and probably what makes a stake in the Swedish company so attractive to an ambitious Chinese drone manufacturer.

For more information see the Hasselblad and DJI websites.

Press information:

Hasselblad and DJI Form Strategic Partnership

DJI acquires minority stake in Hasselblad Group, creating synergies between the world’s leading imaging technology companies Hasselblad Group, the leader in high-quality professional cameras, and DJI, the world’s most-innovative aerial technology company, today announced a corporate partnership through DJI’s acquisition of a strategic minority stake in Hasselblad.

The partnership will allow opportunities and new ways of combining the technical knowledge and inventive spirit of the two industry leaders in their respective fields.

“We are honored to be partnering with DJI, the clear technology and market leader in its segment,” said Perry Oosting, Hasselblad’s CEO. “DJI and Hasselblad are equally enthusiastic about creativity and excellence, and we are looking forward to sharing technical expertise and paving the way for future innovations.”

“Hasselblad and DJI share a passion to provide creative people with cutting-edge, inventive technology to help them take visual storytelling to the next level,” said Frank Wang, DJI’s Founder and CEO. “With this partnership, we combine our strengths to further push the borders of what’s possible in imaging technology.”

Hasselblad and DJI will each focus on their individual strategic directions and related growth opportunities, with marketing and branding platforms continuing to delineate the two companies. Hasselblad cameras and equipment will continue to be handmade in Sweden, and DJI will continue to make products in Shenzhen, China. The partnership further establishes DJI’s leadership in the professional camera technology space.
DJI recently launched the modular Zenmuse camera system, including the Zenmuse X5 Pro and the Zenmuse X5 Raw – the world’s first Micro-Four-Thirds camera optimized for moving in space.

Hasselblad has a history of aerial photography, with its technology used in space on several NASA missions, including the first landing on the moon and several of the Apollo missions. Over the course of the company’s 75-year long history, the majority of Hasselblad’s business has focused on traditional medium-format cameras and photography equipment. In recent years, the company has made meaningful investments and announced significant product launches within the aerial arena, making a partnership with DJI a natural progression of the