JetSmarter this week raised $105 million in funding, at what it says is a $1.5 billion pre-money valuation. This makes it the first business aviation unicorn (a private company with a valuation of $1 billion).
The company said the Series C funds came from new investors including an Abu Dhabi growth equity fund, operator JetEdge, London venture capital firm KZ Capital, and a Qatar private equity fund. Some existing investors also participated, although possibly at a different valuation.
The $1.5 billion valuation is astonishing.
Avinode, the online charter market, estimates the total value of the global business aviation charter market at between $10 billion and $12 billion a year – although this does not include flight sharing, something that JetSmarter is pioneering.
Uber – which claims to have raised funds at more than a $62 billion valuation – is the most valuable and best known of more than 170 Unicorns (although many analysts disagree with many of the valuations of companies on this list). Although JetSmarter is often referred to as being like Uber for business jets, it has a very different model. JetSmarter sells first year memberships at $15,000 and says it has more than 6,700 members.
Members can book normal private charter, fly for free on regular shuttle services, charter shared flights and fly for free on empty legs. It does not own aircraft, instead chartering them from operators like XOJET, JetEdge and others.
The company says that it will use the new cash to launch new scheduled shuttles as well as launch in Asia and South America.
This is arguably the biggest business aviation story of 2016. JetSmarter was launched in 2012 and is now apparently valued at $1.5 billion. In comparison, Textron – the parent of Cessna which builds aircraft used by JetSmarter and was founded in 1927 – has a market cap of $13.6 billion.