Toyota-backed air taxi startup Joby explores deal to go public through SPAC merger

A 2014 image of Joby Aviation's prototype. Credit: Joby Aviation social media

Electric passenger aircraft developer Joby Aero Inc is exploring a deal to go public through a merger with a blank-check acquisition firm at a valuation of around $5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Joby has hired investment banks to solicit interest from so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) about a potential deal, the sources said.

The sources requested anonymity because the discussions are confidential and cautioned that no deal is certain. Joby declined to comment.

Joby is developing an all-electric, zero-emissions vertical aircraft which it is aiming to deploy as an air taxi service by 2023 at the earliest. The Santa Cruz, California-based company last month agreed to take over Uber Technologies Inc’s flying taxi unit Elevate. Uber took a stake in Joby as part of the deal.

Joby has raised more than $800 million in private funding since it was founded in 2009 and in 2020 was valued at $2.6 billion, according to PitchBook, which tracks private fundraisings. Joby’s backers include Toyota Motor Corp and Intel Corp.

A SPAC is a shell company that raises funds in an initial public offering (IPO) with the aim of acquiring a private company, which then becomes public as result of the merger. For the company being acquired, the merger is an alternative way to go public over a traditional IPO.

SPACs emerged last year as one of the most popular investment vehicles on Wall Street.

A deal for Joby would come on the heels of another SPAC deal in the sector. Air taxi company Blade Urban Air Mobility agreed to merge last month with Blade, Experience Investment Corp, driving up the latter’s shares by 50%.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.