Joby Aviation has acquired Uber Elevate in a deal that continues the partnership between the eVTOL manufacturer and the mobility service company, with Uber Technologies investing $75 million in Joby and both companies agreeing to integrate their respective services into each other’s apps.
“The team at Uber Elevate has not only played an important role in our industry, they have also developed a remarkable set of software tools that build on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “These tools and new team members will be invaluable to us as we accelerate our plans for commercial launch.”
The Elevate team has been reported to be about 80 employees — people deeply involved in laying the foundations for commercialization of eVTOL aircraft. Many of them also have deep knowledge of the eight announced, and likely more unannounced, vehicle partners in the ecosystem — many now direct competitors of Joby. Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, will stay on as Joby’s head of product.
Joby has long taken a highly vertically integrated approach to development of its aircraft, largely out of necessity; there isn’t much of an electric aviation supplier base to draw from today, and there certainly wasn’t 10 years ago when the team began testing early prototypes. The costs associated with this approach are compounded by Joby’s intent, now quite clear, to operate its own aerial transportation service and accompanying app.
Joby also disclosed that Uber had previously invested $50 million during the company’s Series C funding round in January. Joby’s total funding now sits at $820 million — an amount that dwarfs the war chest of its competitors in the eVTOL space, but more than likely will not be enough to bring the company’s first aircraft through certification to serial production while it simultaneously lays the groundwork for a transportation service.
“Advanced air mobility has the potential to be exponentially positive for the environment and future generations,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber. “This deal allows us to deepen our partnership with Joby, the clear leader in this field, to accelerate the path to market for these technologies. We’re excited for their transformational mobility solution to become available to the millions of customers who rely on our platform.”
The app-sharing agreement is not exclusive in either direction, a representative for Joby told eVTOL.com, with nothing to prevent Uber from enlisted other aircraft manufacturers on its platform or Joby from partnering with other mobility platforms in markets around the world.