Joby Aviation, the flying taxi company that aims to fill the skies with quieter, greener aircraft, soared on its stock market debut today.
Here’s what to know:
What is Joby?
Based in Santa Cruz, California, Joby (one of Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies of 2021) is a venture-backed aerospace company that manufactures electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs). The eVTOLs—akin to a cross between a multi-propeller helicopter and a large drone—are fairly self-explanatory: They can take flight and land vertically, as opposed to traditional aircraft that need long horizontal runways to launch, thus making eVTOLs more ideally suited for schlepping things and people through dense, congested urban hubs.
So now it’s public?
Joby commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, under the ticker JOBY. It went public through a deal with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), an increasingly popular route for companies looking to fast-track their stock-market debuts. The SPAC that it merged with, Reinvent Technology Partners, is a blank-check company run by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.
Shares skyrocketed as much as 40% above their set price of $10.03 after opening, and were hovering at a rise of around 39% midday Wednesday.
Its backers include Toyota, JetBlue, and Uber. Following its SPAC deal, Joby now boasts a valuation of $4.5 billion—the highest in the industry—and roughly $1.6 billion in cash on hand to commercialize its taxis by 2024.
Is that its goal?
Joby is aiming high: The company wants to create an entirely new form of transportation with its flying taxis—meaning your morning commute to work could eventually happen in mid-air. That also involves designing a grid of skyports and charging stations across the United States. As Hoffman described in a news release ahead of Joby’s debut, it’s “Tesla meets Uber in the air.”
How is it unique?
All eVTOLs are more environmentally friendly than traditional aircraft—they’re electric, thus curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But Joby could tackle another type of pollution as well: noise pollution, as it’s engineering a vehicle that takes off with a soft rush of wind rather than the loud humming and buzzing sounds we’re accustomed to. According to company lore, founder JoeBen Bevirt spent more than a decade tinkering in secret at his quiet ranch nestled in the redwood forests of northern California to achieve this feat.