Joby Aviation lands $180M equity investment from returning backer Baillie Gifford

Baillie Gifford is buying nearly 44 million newly issued shares in Joby Aviation, a purchase that will provide a $180 million injection of capital into the company as it continues to develop all-electric aircraft for a commercial passenger service.

Joby Aviation said Wednesday as part of its first-quarter earnings report that it will sell 43,985,681 to the investing group at a price of $4.10 per share, a move that bolsters its balance sheet amid a stormy economic environment. The stock sale is expected to close May 5.

Joby Aviation shares closed Wednesday 1.49% higher at $4.10.

Notably, Joby said the funds "are expected to be used to accelerate Joby's early production, enabling the business to capitalize on near-term revenue opportunities without impacting the funds available to carry the company through to type certification of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft."

That "near-term revenue" opportunity is the key phrase here and connected to Joby's announcement last week that it secured a $55 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense. Under that deal, Joby will produce and supply nine aircraft to the military. The first two will be delivered to Edwards Air Force Base in early 2024.

"That's a really critical milestone as we think about shifting gears from R&D into real operation and, in turn, real revenue for the first time," Joby Chairman Paul Sciarra said in an interview Wednesday.

Baillie Gifford's investment allows Joby to protect its existing $978 million in cash, funds that are being used to develop and receive Federal Aviation Administration certification of its electric aircraft as well as launch a commercial taxi service, while also fulfilling its contract with the Department of Defense.

"As we think about kind of steeping up that earlier production curve, building more aircraft than we might otherwise, delivering those to the new customer — when it comes to the sort of cash flow, you know, we felt like it made sense to ensure that we had a little bit more buffer so that we had an opportunity to really capitalize on what we think is a big opportunity, Sciarra explained on Wednesday's earnings call.

Baillie Gifford is already a Joby investor. In January 2020, the company invested $15 million as part of Joby's $590 million Series C funding round that was led by Toyota. A year later, Baillie Gifford made a $49 million investment in the private investment in public equity (or PIPE) that was associated with Joby's IPO via a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company from well-known investor and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.

Joby has been working for more than a decade to develop, certify and produce an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will be used as a commercial taxi service in cities.

“Already in 2023 we’ve achieved significant milestones in production, testing and funding, and I’m incredibly excited about our progress as we move towards our goal of launching commercial service in 2025," Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said in a statement. “The decision by Baillie Gifford to invest further in Joby is a testament to their long-term belief in the electrification of transportation and their track record speaks for itself. We couldn’t be more proud to have their support."

Joby reported Wednesday a net income loss of $113.4 million, an 82% increase from the $62.3 million loss in the same period last year. The company said the higher net loss compared to the first quarter in 2022 was primarily due to lower income of of $45.7 million and higher operating expenses of $5.4 million. Joby doesn't generate revenue from its taxi service since the company is still in the process of certifying its aircraft. The reduction in other income was due to unfavorable revaluation of derivative liabilities in the first quarter and the non-recurrence of income from our equity method investment, partly offset by higher interest income on our short-term investments, according to the report.

As any company that has yet to commercialize its product, Joby is spending capital. But the company did still have $978 million in cash and short-term marketable securities at the end of the quarter. That figure doesn't include this fresh $180 million from Baillie Gifford.

This story is developing ...