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Air Taxi Start-Up Joby to Go Public Via SPAC Deal

By Lou Whiteman - Updated Feb 24, 2021 at 10:08AM

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The company has a lot of big-name backers, including Toyota and Uber.

Air taxi start-up Joby Aviation will go public via a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners (RTP), a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Microsoft's LinkedIn, and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus.

Joby has spent more than a decade developing piloted electric passenger aircraft capable of vertical takeoffs and landings. The craft has more than 1,000 test flights conducted to date, and the company hopes to begin air taxi services in 2024.

Terms of the deal value the combination at $6.6 billion, with Joby set to take in about $1.6 billion in gross proceeds. That includes funding from a group of investors including Uber Technologies (UBER 3.47%), the Baupost Group, and funds managed by BlackRock (BLK 0.21%), Fidelity, and Baillie Gifford.

Joby's air taxi in flight.

A Joby air taxi. Image source: Joby Aviation.

Joby has some intriguing investors, including Uber and Toyota Motor (TM 0.26%). In December, Joby bought Uber Elevate, a business set up to explore air taxis and delivery drones, in a deal that also included Uber making a separate investment in the start-up.

Hoffman issued a statement saying: "In Joby we see a remarkable founder-led team that has quietly delivered the most advanced technology we've seen in this sector. With valuable strategic partnerships including Toyota and Uber, a compelling business model and an unparalleled track-record of executing against its targets, we believe Joby is well-positioned to create a transformative new human-centered mobility network."

As part of the deal, Hoffman will also join Joby's board.

Joby intends to use the proceeds from the SPAC deal to fund itself through the launch of service, including securing aircraft certification and building out its manufacturing facilities. The company expects to begin work this year on a 450,000-square-foot factory with assistance from Toyota, which led a $620-million private venture round in Joby last year.

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