Joby Aviation is a California-based venture-backed aerospace company, developing an eVTOL aircraft which it intends to operate as an air taxi service. The company was founded by JoeBen Bevirt, a serial entrepreneur, and has raised more than $800 million in capital. Joby Aviation's goal is to “save a billion people an hour a day." Joby Aviation is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, and has disclosed offices in San Carlos, California, Marina, California, and Munich, Germany.
|Founder/CEO: JoeBen Bevirt(Gorillapod creator)|
Executive Chairman: Paul Sciarra (Pinterest co-founder)
Number of employees
|700+ (Feb 2021) |
Joby Aviation was founded in 2009 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 potential electric aircraft, including electric motors, flight software, and lithium-ion batteries. This research led to Joby participating in the NASA LEAPTech and X-57 Maxwell projects before developing its own air taxi concept. Joby's early concepts, 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. At some point, however, the company moved to the current configuration, which 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.
Over much of Joby's history, it has been shrouded in secrecy, in some cases leading to skepticism of the company's claims. The first journalist granted access to see the aircraft in 2018 was required to avoid disclosing any details about the aircraft and that the test site was somewhere in California "between Santa Barbara and Monterey." 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 also revealed its production vehicle. And 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 2021, the company announced a partnership with Garmin to provide flight deck equipment and announced that it had agreed a 'G-1' certification basis for its aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing a clear path to certifying it for commercial operations.
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 has 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 SPAC IPO. In February 2021, the company entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company by well-known investor and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. 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.
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. According to the company website, Joby intends to get people to their destination five times faster than driving, reduce urban congestion, and accelerate the shift to sustainable modes of transit. The aircraft will be operated as a service with per-trip passenger pricing. Over time, Joby claims the price should approach the cost of ground transportation.
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 UberCopter, which allowed a small group of 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.
Joby has stated its plans to manufacture the aircraft in Marina, California. As of January 2020, the company planned to build an initial 55,000 square foot production facility in Marina, followed by a 500,000 square foot factory.
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