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BLADE CEO talks going public, says 'next battle is in the air'

Samuel Dorman
·3 min read

The red-hot SPAC market -- 165 through the end of October -- is expected to continue into 2021 and helicopter start-up BLADE will be one of those companies taking flight.

"It should be first half of next year," Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of BLADE Urban Air Mobility told FOX Business anchor Neil Cavuto.

Urban air mobility is expected to be a $125 billion market by 2025 and grow to $650 billion over the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley Equity Research. "it’s really really exciting because right now, there is just an absolute, incredible amount of interest in ground mobility," said Wiesenthal, "It’s radically been transformed by battery technology and software and, as evidenced by the numerous amount of companies that have gone public in terms of electric vehicles, lidar, charging stations."

BLADE will become a public company after merging with Experience Investment Corp in a SPAC transaction (where a shell corporation takes companies public without going through the traditional IPO process).

The deal reportedly values Blade at $850 million, including a $125 million private investment in public equity (PIPE) from a group that includes music mogul David Geffen and existing investors including IAC chief Barry Diller and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav.

"It’s clear the next battle is in the air," said Wisenthal, "That’s where we are."

While speaking with Cavuto, he expressed confidence that his business could weather short-term fears surrounding travel.

BLADE MANDATES CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO FLY

"This is a brand new world. Investors are looking for a pure-play on the electrification of aviation," he said.

"So, this is really about what’s happening much more three, four years from now than today. But what we've been doing over the past couple years is building a network of infrastructure, technology, and consumers in getting them to enjoy vertical transportation, using conventional aircraft today, helicopters, so we can seamlessly transition them to eVTOL, which do not emit carbons, are inexpensive, lower their costs so more people can enjoy them, and are quiet. That’s what people are betting on. That’s what the investment’s about," he said.

Wiesenthal added that since the pandemic, his company has helped people commute to work from 90 miles away.

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"We've gone from largely, in many markets where they would be a weekend business to a seven-day-a-week business," he said.

"So, as usage has changed, as office working has changed, as leisure has changed, we've been able to take advantage of that here and also in India ... so, it really seems to be working and it's only going to be catalyzed when we move to electric."

In its announcement of becoming a public entity, the company stated it "expects to use proceeds from the transaction to fund expansion into new markets, including the Northeast Corridor and West Coast in the United States, as well as internationally in Asia."

Once the deal closes, Blade will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol BLDE.

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