Back in 2018, Tencent pledged to put more focus on enterprises as traditional industries in China increasingly tapped technology to boost productivity. The firm’s industrial projects range from using AI to screen medical images to building customer management tools for retailers on its WeChat messenger.
Most recently, Tencent invested in FJ Dynamics, a Chinese startup selling agricultural automation solutions such as smart tractors and rice transplanters as well as unmanned vehicles for ports and factories to clients around the world. The funding from Tencent and other undisclosed investors amounted to “hundreds of millions of yuan” ($1= 6.55 yuan), Tencent said in an announcement on Tuesday.
Founded in 2017, FJ Dynamics has links to several big-name corporations in China. Among its early investors is Dongfeng Asset Management, an investment unit of Chinese state-owned automaker Dongfeng, according to the startup’s business registration filing. Drone-making giant DJI was also an early investor although later sold its stake, according to the company. There are clues in FJ’s name: FJ is short for “Feng” and “Jiang” in Chinese, which are taken from the spelling of Dongfeng and DJI respectively. Its founder and chief executive officer Wu Di also hailed from DJI, where he worked as the chief scientist and led research and development in chips.
Interestingly, DJI has also been making a strong push into agricultural drones itself in recent times.
“Our society is turning to improve productivity, which ushers in growth opportunities for enterprise services,” said Jeffrey Li, managing partner of Tencent’s investment unit, at a speech in April. “In the U.S., a considerable amount of venture capital and private equity fundings go towards enterprise-focused companies; but in China, enterprise-focused businesses take up only a small share of deals compared to consumer-facing companies. The pivot to industries takes time.”
Registered in China, FJ Dynamics claims to have R&D centers in China, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The article was corrected to reflect that DJI is no longer a shareholder in FJ Dynamics.