It's not just electric-car startups taking advantage of the current excitement surrounding SPAC deals, or reverse mergers as the deals are also referred to.
Joby Aviation, based in Santa Cruz, California, is one of the handful of startup companies in the race to develop electrically powered, low-noise flying taxis capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and on Wednesday the company started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “JOBY” following a successful reverse merger. A rival flying taxi startup, Lilium, also plans to go public via a SPAC deal.
Joby completed a deal with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company whose shares were previously listed. The deal, first announced in February, values the merged company at approximately $6.6 billion. Joby will receive approximately $1.6 billion out of the deal, which it will use to fund operations through to the start of commercial operations, currently estimated for 2024.
There's still a lot work to be done, including finalizing development of the flying taxi, gaining certification, and constructing a 450,000-square-foot plant. The company already has 800 staff and plans to start construction of its plant later this year.
Joby's flying taxi is designed to seat four passengers and operates on electrical power alone. Joby quotes a range of more than 150 miles and speeds of up to 200 mph, and the company has said it has already conducted over 1,000 successful test flights.
The company was founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, who currently serves as CEO, and it boasts Toyota as an investor. The Japanese automaker, which is linked to rival flying taxi company SkyDrive, invested $394 million in Joby in early 2020. Uber is also a key investor, and Joby only last December acquired Uber's flying taxi division known as Uber Elevate. Joby also last December became the first company to receive airworthiness approval for an electric VTOL aircraft as part of the U.S. Air Force's Agility Prime program, designed to accelerate the commercial adoption of electric aviation.