Joby Aviation is a United States venture-backed aviation company, developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that it intends to operate as an air taxi service. Joby Aviation is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, and has offices in San Carlos, California; Marina, California; and Munich, Germany.
|Formerly||Joby Aero (2009–2021)|
|Founded||September 11, 2009|
|US$−259 million (2021)|
|US$−180 million (2021)|
|Total assets||US$1.5 billion (2021)|
|Total equity||US$1.3 billion (2021)|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
Joby Aviation was founded on September 11, 2009 (called Joby Aero) as one of several projects incubated by JoeBen Bevirt on his ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, using the proceeds from successful exits of previous companies. According to the company's website, the early years were spent exploring different components of electric aviation, including electric motors, flight software, and lithium-ion batteries. This research led Joby to participate in the NASA LEAPTech and X-57 Maxwell projects, before developing its own air taxi concept. Joby's early concept, publicly called the S2, had eight tilting propellers arrayed along the leading edge of its wing and four more tilting propellers mounted on its V-shaped tail. Later, the company moved to a configuration that features six rotating propellers.
By 2015, the company was operating subscale prototypes of its eVTOL aircraft, moving to full-scale unmanned prototypes in 2017, and a production prototype in 2019. In 2018, the company announced a Series B funding round of $100 million, led by Toyota AI Ventures. By 2019, the company was in active conversations with the FAA about certifying the aircraft and announced a partnership with Uber's Elevate division.
Joby has mostly operated in stealth mode, in some cases leading to skepticism of the company's claims. The first journalist granted access to the aircraft in 2018 agreed not to disclose details about the aircraft. In 2020, however, the company began releasing significantly more information, starting with its January announcement of a $590 million funding round, led by Toyota Motor Corporation. At that announcement, the company revealed its production vehicle. In January 2020, Bevirt was a keynote speaker at the meeting of the Vertical Flight Society.
In January 2020, Joby announced plans to manufacture the aircraft in Marina, California at the Marina Municipal Airport. The plans include an initial 55,000 square foot production facility, followed by a 500,000 square foot factory. Late in 2020, Joby Aviation acquired Uber Elevate, and the U.S. Air Force announced it had granted Joby its first eVTOL airworthiness certification as part of its Agility Prime program.
In February 2021, the company announced a partnership with Garmin to provide flight deck equipment and announced that it had obtained a 'G-1' certification basis for its aircraft with the FAA. In May, 2021, a NOVA episode featured Joby.
The City and FAA approved the company's plan in June 2021.
In August 2021 the company announced a 155-mile flight on a single charge in 77 minutes, comparative noise tests against other aircraft and its application for air Part 135 and Part 23 carrier certifications. The battery used 811 NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide) cathode and a graphite anode. On August 11, the company went public using a special purpose acquisition company.
In January 2022, the company registered what it claimed was the fastest eVTOL flight to date, traveling at a true airspeed of 205 mph (330 km/h). On February 16, 2022, a remotely piloted prototype crashed during a test flight in rural California, sustaining substantial damage. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the crash and subsequent fire were caused by an in-flight component failure.
The company was originally self-financed by Bevirt, after the sale of his previous companies, Velocity11 and GorillaPod. On February 1, 2018, Joby Aviation announced it raised $100 million in a Series B round of funding, including from Intel Capital, Toyota AI Ventures, Jet Blue Technology Ventures, and Tesla/SpaceX-backer Capricorn Investment Group. On January 15, 2020, Joby Aviation announced a Series C round of funding, totaling $590 million, led by Toyota Motor Corporation and a manufacturing partnership with Toyota. In December 2020, Joby Aviation acquired Elevate, Uber's air taxi division, and also received a $75 million investment from Uber, bringing Joby Aviation's total funds raised to $820 million.
In January 2021, it was reported that Joby Aviation was exploring a special-purpose acquisition company (also known as "blank check corporation") to become a public company. In February 2021, the company entered into a business combination agreement with Reinvent Technology Partners, a SPAC funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. Shares in the SPAC, incorporated October 2020 in the Cayman Islands in 2020, were traded on the New York Stock Exchange as the symbol RTP. Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named Joby Aviation, and become publicly traded, with its common stock to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange as the symbol JOBY.
Technology and serviceEdit
The Joby aircraft is intended to be a four-passenger commercial aircraft with a pilot, capable of traveling up to 150 mi (240 km) on a single charge at a top speed of 200 mph (320 km/h). Near silent in flight, the aircraft is designed to be 100 times quieter during takeoff and landing than a helicopter. Joby plans to mass-produce its aircraft, with a plan to operate a piloted on-demand air-taxi service. The aircraft will be electrically-powered and operate with zero emissions. The aircraft will be operated as a service with per-trip passenger pricing.
Joby described the Uber Elevate acquisition as a way to accelerate its commercial launch through Elevate's tools and personnel. Elevate had previously operated a service called Uber Copter, which allowed all Uber users in the New York area to book a trip to John F. Kennedy International Airport, with a car taking riders to a heliport and a helicopter then took riders to the airport. While the service used Bell 430 helicopters with Uber branding, the aircraft were operated by a separate helicopter company, Heliflite. Joby Aviation cited Elevate's software tools enabling market selection, demand simulation and multi-modal operations as the reasons to purchase Elevate, suggesting the acquisition may play a significant role in Joby's commercial service. Joby has not commented on whether it will continue Elevate's plans to launch in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Melbourne.
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- NYSE: RTP
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