As part of its profitability strategy, Uber is turning over its unmanned aerial vehicle unit, Elevate, to Joby Aviation, which is developing eVTOLs. Uber has now invested $125M total in Joby and is transferring assets. A few days prior, Uber did the same with its autonomous vehicle unit, Advanced Technologies Group (ATG); transferring it to Amazon’s Aurora with a $400M investment and taking a 26% share. These deals follow a similar deal with micromobility startup Lime. Uber also sold off a $500M stake in Uber Freight, but maintains a majority share. Some, if not all, of these ventures will use Uber’s ride-hailing, logistics and/or delivery apps (well, maybe not Lime, but you never know). So where is Lyft? It’s been sticking to its knitting, but also struggling with profitability, especially due to the pandemic.
Joby’s patents are generally hardware and battery power, not vehicle management. Uber has a few more UAV management patents, so this deal puts Joby in a slightly better patent position. Maybe Uber’s ride-hailing patents are the real insurance. Amazon maybe should buy Joby for its technology. Or, it might assert its substantially larger portfolio to drive up fares at Elevate and thereby encourage use of its new Zoox transporter. It looks too chic not to hail, so why fly when you can cruise? BTW, Zoox will probably have Amazon’s IVY for extra services.
Make sure to check out our Patent Forecast® to see who else is working on UAV management. they might have an important patent for Joby to acquire!