Joby Aviation's all-electric aircraft takes off and lands vertically, and can carry four passengers up to 150 miles.
(Bradley Wentzel / Contributed / Courtesy Joby Aviation)
Business & Technology

Joby Aviation goes public with massive merger, setting sights on launch of air taxi service in 2024

Under a deal with Reinvent Technology Partners announced Wednesday, Joby is set to receive $1.6 billion in capital — cash the company plans to use to launch its commercial air taxi service.

Joby Aviation, headquartered in Santa Cruz County, is going public on the wings of a major merger that pegs the implied valuation of the electric aviation company at $6.6 billion.

Under a deal with Reinvent Technology Partners announced Wednesday, Joby is set to receive $1.6 billion in capital — cash the company plans to use to launch a commercial air taxi service in 2024. The deal also sets up Joby for an expected public listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Underscoring the milestone, Joby on Wednesday released the first footage to date of its futuristic aircraft in flight. The company’s electric-powered vehicle seats four passengers and a pilot. Its six rotors allow it to take off and land vertically, with a range of 150 miles and reaching speeds of up to 200 mph.

Founded in 2009, the air taxi company for years maintained a low profile as it developed and tested its tech out of its remote Bonny Doon headquarters.

But founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt — a native of Santa Cruz County’s North Coast — has always dreamt big.

“Growing up, I dreamt of building an airplane that I could fly from the meadow amidst the redwoods where I was born — a new form of quiet and clean mobility,” said Bevirt, a serial inventor who found his first widespread commercial success with the GorillaPod flexible tripod.

Bevirt’s dream now is to build a fleet of electric flying taxis he hopes will one day save a billion commuters an hour each day worldwide.

Joby is working with auto manufacturer Toyota to develop a 450,000 square-foot production facility in nearby Marina. Uber has also made significant investments, and last year offloaded to Joby its own air taxi experiment, Elevate.

Joby now boasts a workforce of 700 people with offices in Bonny Doon, Marina, San Carlos, Washington D.C. and Munich, Germany.

Reinvent Technology Partners is a special purpose acquisition company — a so-called “blank check” company founded to facilitate a merger or acquisition. Reinvent is helmed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Zynga founder Mark Pincus and investor Michael Thompson.

Hoffman said in a statement that he views Joby’s technology as the most advanced in the sector. And in a CNBC interview Wednesday he called Joby “the Tesla meets Uber of the air.”

According to a company release, the boards at both Reinvent and Joby unanimously approved the merger, which is expected to close by the end of second quarter, 2021.