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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Blade, a short-distance aviation company best known for helicopter rides from airports to city centers, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) affiliated with KSL Capital Partners.

Why it matters: Blade wants to become the first publicly traded company to offer electric vehicles in the air.

  • It doesn't plan to own electric planes, just like it doesn't own its helicopters, but rather provide the physical and digital infrastructure for manufacturers and pilots — kind of like the core Uber model.
  • One manufacturer it's unlikely to work with, however, is eVTOL developer Joby Aviation, which just struck a deal to buy Uber's air taxi unit.
  • KSL, via its private equity fund, owns Ross Aviation, a fixed-base operator with locations at 14 U.S. airports, including in Westchester, N.Y. Ross isn't formally included in the Blade deal, but the common ownership could help Blade get airport space to build infrastructure for landing helicopters and electric vehicles.

Details: The deal values Blade at $850 million, including a $125 million PIPE investment from an investor group that includes David Geffen and existing investors like Barry Diller. Directors will include former FAA administrator Jane Garvey.

  • Blade had raised around $50 million in VC funding, most recently at a $140 million valuation in 2018, and also secured a PPP loan earlier this year.
  • Once the reverse merger closes, Blade will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol BLDE.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Joby vehicles would appear exclusively on Uber's app. That was not accurate.]

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Nerdy, the parent company of online learning platform Varsity Tutors, announced on Friday that it will be acquired by a SPAC called TPG Pace Tech Opportunities at a valuation of $1.7 billion. Axios had previously reported on the deal talks.

Why it matters: This is the first tech SPAC deal affiliated with private equity giant TPG, and comes as more and more legacy investment firms are hopping on the blank check bandwagon.

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Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.