The once stealthy eVTOL developer Joby Aviation has gone public in a big way, displaying its prototype electric air taxi in Manhattan on Wednesday to celebrate the company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Joby announced the completion of its merger with Reinvent Technology Partners on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, shares of RTP began trading under the ticker symbol for the combined company, JOBY.
“Joby has a history of delivering and of executing, and we’re going to take that ethos, that DNA and carry it forward to executing on a public stage,” Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt told eVTOL.com.
The company is the first major eVTOL developer to become publicly traded through a combination with a special purpose acquisition company. SPAC mergers for rival eVTOL developers Archer, Lilium, and Vertical Aerospace are still pending.
When Joby announced plans to combine with RTP in February, enthusiasm for SPACs was still generally high, and the company anticipated receiving most of RTP’s $690 million cash held in trust, in addition to an $835 million private investment in public equity (PIPE).
Since then, investors have lost much of their appetite for speculative tech stocks. When RTP shareholders voted to approve the combination with Joby last week, they also redeemed around 63% of their cash held in trust — money that won’t be going to Joby.
Nevertheless, the transaction still leaves Joby with $1.6 billion in combined proceeds and cash on its balance sheet as of March 31, which Bevirt said will provide the company with enough money to certify and commercialize its five-seat air taxi.
“We entered this transaction with more than $400 million on the balance sheet, and the funds that we’re raising by going public are going to really allow us to accelerate on a couple of different fronts, including the scale-up of our manufacturing and the build out of our infrastructure, our skyport network,” he said. “And so we feel really strong about the financial position that we were already in and even better about the financial position we’re in today.”
How the market feels about the company’s prospects remains to be seen. After reaching $15 shortly before the combination with Joby was announced, RTP stock traded around the nominal share redemption value of $10 for months — as have the stocks of the other SPACs that have announced combinations with eVTOL developers.
Bevirt emphasized that Joby’s executive team and major investors are focused on the long term, something also reflected in the terms of the business combination, which includes a lock-up on founder shares for up to five years. Sponsor shares are subject to a vesting schedule tied to Joby’s stock price, with full vesting not reached until the stock reaches $50 per share, implying a market capitalization of over $30 billion.
“It’s worth highlighting how special the structure that we crafted is,” Bevirt said. “We have a very long-term focused team . . . and we were able to tie that long-term vision and long-term alignment in with our executive team, our existing investors, and the SPAC sponsors, and that really is a demonstration that we’re in this for the long haul.”
Now, the company will need to demonstrate to the market that it can hit the ambitious targets laid out in its investor materials, including certifying its novel aircraft by 2024.
“We’ve set out a series of milestones that we’re going to execute against over the quarters and years to come. And we’re going to build the trust of our new investors just like we’ve built the trust of our existing investors, by continuing to execute,” Bevirt promised.