Transportation

Beta becomes latest electric vertical aircraft unicorn with Amazon's Climate Fund, Fidelity backing

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Key Points
  • Beta Technologies announced a $368 million funding round led by Fidelity and Amazon's Climate Fund.
  • It values the electric vertical aircraft start-up at $1.4 billion.
  • Beta rivals recently agreed to go public via SPACs: Joby with a $6.6 billion valuation and Archer with a $3.8 billion valuation.
BETA Technologies' electric vertical aviation aircraft.
BETA Technologies

Beta Technologies on Tuesday announced a $368 million funding round led by Fidelity and Amazon's Climate Fund, valuing the electric vertical aircraft start-up at $1.4 billion.

"These are top tier investors. It's awesome to have the validation," Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark told CNBC, speaking of breaking the so-called unicorn status of $1 billion. He added he envisions a future where Beta EVAs are used for Amazon Prime delivery.

"The Climate Pledge Fund is set up to allow technologies like ours to mature into the goals of Amazon," Clark said. "There's sustainable solutions in buildings and obviously in ground-based vehicles, but aviation doesn't have a solution."

"We support Beta Technologies' mission to reshape air transportation through zero-emission aviation." Kara Hurst, vice president and head of worldwide sustainability at Amazon, said in a press release announcing the funding round. "The development of sustainable and decarbonizing technologies will help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the planet for future generations."

BETA Technologies' electric vertical aviation aircraft.
BETA Technologies

EVAs also known as eVTOLS — electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft — can take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane.

Beta agreed in April to sell 10 of its Alia-250 EVAs to United Parcel Service in a deal with an option for an additional 140. UPS plans to test the aircraft for its express delivery in small and medium markets. Beta also announced last month a deal to supply as many as 20 EVAs to Blade Air Mobility for short-haul passenger flights. The Vermont-based start-up, founded in 2014, also has deals with the Air Force and United Therapeutics.

The emerging technology has seen major developments in 2021. In March, Joby Aviation announced that it's going public in a special purpose acquisition company deal at a $6.6 billion valuation. A month earlier, Archer said it would go public via SPAC at $3.8 billion valuation.

The Federal Aviation Administration must still certify the EVAs being manufactured by each company before they can start flying. Beta hopes to receive certification by 2024.

"I'm incredibly confident that we can achieve certification of this vehicle [Alia 250]," Clark said. "This is serious business, we're putting people's lives at stake and we have to get it right and therefore we are not going to take any shortcuts."