From Blade Runner to The Fifth Element to Minority Report, people have been promised flying taxis for forty years now. The only guarantee to getting in one has been to become a major movie star and then get cast in a taut thriller set in a future urban dystopia — not an easy ask.
But on Thursday everyone who isn’t Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, or Tom Cruise got closer to their turn at sci-fi reality. Swank helicopter mobility company Blade announced a small — but consequential — deal for West Coast airspace that sets the stage for flying cabs.
Making the Tech Connection
New York-based Blade currently makes almost all of its money using helicopters to shuttle the nouveau riche to and from NYC airports and rosé tastings in the Hamptons. The company’s new $12 million agreement with Canadian flying company Helijet — which operates between Vancouver and two smaller cities in British Columbia — gives it exclusive rights to Helijet’s passenger business, which it plans to connect to Seattle.
- Deloitte analysts predict passenger revenues from US “advanced air mobility” will reach $4 billion in 2025, and then soar to $57 billion by 2035.
- Investors spent $4.3 billion on stakes in companies developing EVAs in the first eight months of 2021, according to McKinsey, as publicly listed Joby Aviation and Lilium reached $4.5 billion and $1.9 billion valuations.
Star Powered: Blade, which went public this year and has a market cap of $600 million, has enough celebrity investors to match the star wattage of Hollywood sci-fi. Two of Cathie Wood’s funds recently disclosed a combined 11% stake, while Discovery CEO David Zaslav, former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and IAC chair Barry Diller all have stakes.