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Flying taxi startup Joby Aviation plans NYSE debut with help from Reid Hoffman

Fast Company logo Fast Company 2/24/2021 Christopher Zara

It feels like we’ve been hearing about our brave new future of flying taxis forever. Experts insist the skies will be filled with them soon enough, but for now, one of the biggest hurdles is noise pollution. Urban dwellers who have to deal with the obnoxious sound of noisy air traffic on a regular basis will not exactly be thrilled with the idea of hearing thousands of helicopters in the air.

Joby Aviation, a startup based in Santa Cruz, California, has been working on a quieter fix. For the last 10 years, the company says it’s been developing an all-electric vehicle that can take off and land without making a lot of noise and is “near silent” when it’s in flight mode. In a new video released on Wednesday, Joby debuted the aircraft in action. It looks a bit like a giant drone, complete with six propellors protruding from a lightweight base that seats four people. The aircraft is emissions-free and can travel up to 150 miles, according to the company.

In a separate announcement, Joby also said it plans to make its market debut on the New York Stock Exchange, merging with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special-purpose acquisitions company (SPAC) founded by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. Hoffman tweeted about the deal—which values the combined company at $6.6 billion—on Wednesday morning.

The merger comes as some experts are warning that the recent SPAC boom is showing signs of a bubble. So-called blank check companies—which are formed with the purpose of finding an acquisition target and taking it public, an alternative to the traditional IPO process—raised a record $26 billion in January, according to The New York Times.

Electric vehicles have been an especially ripe area for SPACs. Tesla rival Lucid Motors merged with a SPAC just yesterday.

In a statement, Hoffman cited Joby’s strategic partnership with Toyota and Uber and said Joby has an “unparalleled track-record of executing against its targets.” Joby hopes the vehicles will be in commercial operation by 2024.


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