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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 2, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why going electric makes sense for ride-hailing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Deploying electric vehicles instead of gasoline-powered models for services like Uber and Lyft provides outsized climate benefits compared to emissions cuts from electric vehicles for only personal use, per a peer-reviewed study in Nature Energy.

Why it matters: The analysis, based on California data, follows explosive growth in ride-hailing in recent years — and evidence that it's cannibalizing more climate-friendly mass transit.

48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.