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Where top VCs are investing in travel, tourism and hospitality tech

The venture community has been fixated on travel and hospitality since the dot-com era and early-2000s, when mainstays like Kayak and Airbnb were still Silicon Valley darlings. As the multi-trillion-dollar global travel and hospitality market continues to grow, VCs are still foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to redefine the ways we move and stay around the world.

Despite the cyclical nature of the travel sector, deal flow in travel and hospitality has remained strong and largely stable over the last half-decade, according to data from Crunchbase and PitchBook. Over the same period, we’ve seen more than a handful of startups in the space reach unicorn status, including companies like Klook, Sonder, Flixbus, Vacasa, Wheels Up, TripActions and others.

High-profile funding rounds also appear to be popping up across travel and hospitality’s various sub-sectors, including bookings, activity marketplaces, short-term rental, tourism and hotel platforms. And companies are continuing to pull in funding rounds in the hundreds of millions to billion-dollar range, such as India hotel network company Oyo, which raised $1.5 billion in funding as recently as December.

While VC investment in the space has remained resilient, some investors are predicting it’s only a matter of time before the travel startup world hits a downturn. To get a temperature check on the state of the travel market, the outlook for fundraising and which sub-sectors might present the most attractive opportunities for startups today, we asked five leading VCs at firms spanning early to growth stages to share what’s exciting them most and where they see opportunity in travel, tourism and hospitality tech:

Source:

Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

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Joby Aviation raises $590 million led by Toyota to launch an electric air taxi service

Joby Aviation has raised a $590 million Series C round of funding, including $394 million from lead investor Toyota Motor Corporation, the company announced today. Joby is in the process of developing an electric air taxi service, which will make use of in-house developed electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will in part benefit from strategic partner Toyota’s vehicle manufacturing experience.

This brings the total number of funding in Joby Aviation to $720 million, and its list of investors includes Intel Capital, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and more. Alongside this new round of funding, Joby gains a new board member: Toyota Motor Corporation EVP Shigeki Tomoyama.

Founded in 2009, Joby Aviation is based in Santa Cruz, California. The company was founded by JoeBen Bevirt, who also founded consumer photo and electronics accessory maker Joby. Its proprietary aircraft is a piloted eVTOL, which can fly at up to 200 miles per hour for a total distance of over 150 miles on a single charge. Because it uses an electric drivetrain and multi rotor design, Joby Aviation says it’s “100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent when flying overhead.”

These benefits make eVTOL craft prime candidates for developing urban aerial transportation networks, and a number of companies, including Joby as well as China’s EHang, Airbus and more are all working on this type of craft for use in this kind of city-based short-hop transit for both people and cargo.

The sizeable investment made by Toyota in this round is a considerable bet for the automaker on the future of air transportation. In a press release detailing the round, Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda indicated that the company is serious about eVTOLs and air transport in general.

“Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky,” Toyoda is quoted as saying. “As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space, we tap the potential to revolutionize future transportation and life. Through this new and exciting endeavor, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky.”

Joby Aviation believes that it can achieve significant cost benefits vs. traditional helicopters for short aerial flights, eventually lowering costs through maximizing utilization and fuel savings to the point where it can be “accessible to everyone.” To date, Joby has completed sub-scale testing on its aircraft design, and begun full flight tests of production prototypes, along with beginning the certification process for its aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the end of 2018.

Source: TechCrunch