Flying taxi developer Joby Aviation is getting some help from the blank-check company helmed by LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, the Financial Times (FT) reported. A merger would value Joby Aviation at $5.7 billion.

Tech entrepreneur Mark Pincus, who founded the video game maker Zynga, is also involved in the deal along with Hoffman, FT reported, and the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) they run is called Reinvent Technology Partners. The SPAC raised $690 million in a public listing in 2020 and is currently finalizing an agreement for the Joby Aviation deal that could be announced later this month.

Joby will be able to access a listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) if the deal is successful. Joby’s current backers include Japanese carmaker Toyota and British investment manager Baillie Gifford.

The exact timing of the merger will depend on the speed at which Hoffman and Pincus can raise funds from additional institutional and private investors. One source said the transaction could fall apart if Reinvent fails to secure more funding, FT reported.

But the pair is banking on the increasing popularity of the electric car and aviation startup market, even despite uncertain revenue prospects and the fact that some businesses are still in the early stages, according to FT.

Joby Aviation was founded in 2009 and has over 500 employees, FT reported. In December, it acquired Uber Elevate, the ridesharing giant’s air taxi arm. Uber has invested $125 million in the company, and Eric Allison, former Uber Elevate head, is now head of product at Joby.

SPACs have done well in the unusual climate of the past year, enthusiastically received with 248 SPACs going public last year and raising $81 billion total.

Another change came as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a plan by the NYSE to allow for “direct” listings from companies to allow them to come to market without the usual large banks as underwriters, eliminating the heavy fees that bring the companies to institutional and retail investors.



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