Venture Capital: Blade, The Short-Hop Uber-Of-The-Skies, To Go Public Via SPAC

The private chopper taxi company is reverse-merging with a blank-check company.

Blade Urban Air Mobility, the helicopter company known for short-haul trips from airports to city centers, is going public by merging with Experience Investment Corp. (NASDAQ: EXPC), a public entity affiliated with KSL Capital Partners. The short hop to listing will make Blade the only publicly traded global urban mobility company. (AXIOS)

The deal

The merger deal with blank-check company Experience values Blade at $ 825 million. It includes $400 million in gross proceeds comprising cash of $275 million travel held by Experience as well as $125 million in the form of a PIPE infusion at $10 per share.

Investors in the latter include affiliates of Hedosophia, HG Vora Capital Management, KSL Capital Partners, and David Geffen, as well as original investors Barry Diller (Chairman, IAC Inc.), David Zaslav (CEO of Discovery, Inc.), and Robert W. Pittman.

All existing investors including Airbus, Lerer Hippeau, Raine Ventures, LionTree Ventures, and Eric Schmidt (former CEO of Google) will retain 100% of their equity in the combined company through the transaction.

Blade’s equity holders immediately before closing are expected to hold approximately 43.2% in the merged company.

Rob Wiesenthal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blade, said: “Ground mobility has been radically transformed by software and battery technology, as evidenced by the rapid adoption of electric vehicles. The next battle is in the air. This transaction provides the capital for Blade to profitably expand its urban air mobility business using conventional rotorcraft today while providing a seamless transition to eVTOL aircraft tomorrow.”

Blade: Uber of the skies

Blade does not own any of its helicopters, operating a so-called “asset-light” model. Instead, it partners with safety-vetted third-party operators to arrange flights for its customers. It buys aircraft time by-the-hour from these operators. Blade enjoys fixed pricing at discounted rates, Blade branded aircraft, and dedicated aircraft availability. Blade only pays if it flies.

Though it currently uses conventional helicopters in its operations, it will transition to electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft once they are available for public use.

“We believe Blade has successfully leveraged its first-mover advantage in urban air mobility with proprietary customer-to-cockpit technology, strategic and exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure as well as a loyal customer base to catalyze growth in the industry,” said Eric Affeldt, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Experience Investment Corp.

Related Story:   Saudi Investment Firm Participates in Electric Air Taxi Startup Funding

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