Electric air taxi developer Joby Aviation has received a $180 million investment from one of its long-term backers, Baillie Gifford. The British investment management firm, which is also a major backer of Tesla and Amazon, has agreed to purchase 43,985,681 newly issued shares of Joby’s common stock at a public offering price of $4.10 per share, Joby announced Wednesday before releasing its first quarterly financial report of the year.
The news of Baillie Gifford’s equity investment came just days after Joby announced that it had won a $55 million contract extension with the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. As part of that extension, Joby has agreed to deliver up to nine of its five-seat eVTOL air taxis to Air Force bases, where the company will conduct its first revenue-generating operations. In a conference call with investors on Wednesday, Joby executive chairman Paul Sciarra explained that the Department of Defense (DoD) will pay Joby an activation fee for the delivery of each aircraft, plus an annual lease fee and an additional amount per flight hour.
During the quarterly earnings call, several investors raised questions about the timing of Baillie Gifford’s investment, as Joby had not disclosed any fundraising efforts in recent months. In fact, Joby ended the first quarter of 2023 with a comfortable $978 million in cash and short-term marketable securities, not including the new investment. Other big Joby investors include Delta Air Lines and Toyota Motor Corp.
“We are very comfortable with the robustness of our balance sheet, and we were not looking to raise capital at this time,” Joby chief financial officer Matt Field said during the investor call. “However, when Baillie Gifford—an existing long-term investor in Joby since 2020—reached out, looking to increase their investment on behalf of their clients, we agreed that further strengthening our balance sheet was the right thing to do with an investor that is so closely aligned with our mission and shares our long-term perspective.”
Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt added that Baillie Gifford “is known for their track record of investing early in high-impact technology companies and has a reputation of being a patient long-term investor with a vision for sustainable transportation that matches ours.”
Bevirt and other members of Joby’s leadership team noted that the additional investment from Baillie Gifford will allow Joby to scale its pilot production facility sooner. They explained that this will help to expedite the deliveries of Joby’s eVTOL aircraft to its first customers at the DoD without sacrificing the revenues that the company will need to get its aircraft through the FAA type certification process.
Joby expects to have its aircraft certified by 2024, the same year that it plans to deliver the first two aircraft to the DoD. The company also plans to launch and operate a commercial air taxi service for civilians in the U.S. in 2025.