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Dear Readers,

Travel & Mobility Tech is off to a busy start in 2020. 


Toyota and few others have just invested $590 million into secretive air-taxi startup Joby Aviation – most likely turning the California-based company into the first air-taxi unicorn ever.

Good news from Germany: Berlin-based Omio (formerly GoEuro) – one of the country's three unicorns in Travel & Mobility Tech – is taking a major step forward by launching its train, bus, and flight booking services in North America. Chapeau!

Meanwhile, Chinese air-taxi startup EHang also made its US debut by flying autonomously over American soil for the first time (with FAA approval). 

And leading consumer-tech conference CES brought to light that Delta airlines is integrating weather, traffic, security, wait-time information and ride-hailing features in their app to become a one-stop-shop for travelers. This is a bold move for an airline but something absolutely essential in order to stay relevant in today's highly competitive mobile app landscape 
as we proclaimed before.

Oh, and space tourism just became affordable not only to the ultra-rich. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa seeks a girlfriend for his Moon voyage on a SpaceX rocket. You can
apply right here. His requirements:

  • Single women aged 20 or over
  • Bright personality and always positive
  • Want to enjoy life to the fullest
  • Be someone who wishes for world peace
If you're like "why not" but want to learn more about the alternative use cases in going to space first, check out our previous piece on how private companies aim to monetize the space industry.

For more details on all the latest happenings in our sector, take a look at today's extended Must Reads section. But before, let's kick off the new decade the right way: with data. Coming to you at supersonic speed. More on that below.

Lennart Dobravsky
Director Research & Intelligence, Lufthansa Innovation Hub

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 Research 

How much would you pay for flying in half the time?

Until the shocking Concorde disaster in 2000, many of us believed that one day, flying at twice the speed of sound would become the norm, not a novelty.
 
Almost 20 years have passed since the tragic event. While supersonic planes have been the subject of many conceptual studies over the past two decades, none of them seem nowhere near market-ready.

However, there has been an exciting wave of promising startups arising, eagerly working towards the return of supersonic air travel. Technological advancements, new aviation laws, and a growing investor appetite could help speed that comeback.

But don't get hyped up too soon

Yet alongside all the excitement, some important questions remain: 
  • Will it be affordable to the masses or only available for the ultra-rich?
  • What about the environment?
  • And why does anyone need to go that fast? 
We looked into these critical questions in more detail. And we analyzed the results of one of the first-ever price sensitivity surveys about supersonic flying.

Sneak peak: Economy-class passengers are more interested in supersonic flying than business and first-class travelers.
READ IN FULL
 Press Picks 

Our recommended must reads 

THE FIRST AIR-TAXI UNICORN? – Joby  Aviation has raised a $590 million Series C round of funding, including $394 million from lead investor Toyota Motor Corporation, the company announced yesterday. 
 Read more in TechCrunch
AIRLINES EXPAND BEYOND FLYING – Delta Airlines is revamping its app to become a one-stop-shop for travelers, featuring weather, traffic, security and wait time information. Now, Delta is exploring the option to allow travelers to pay for Lyft rides with miles.
 Read more in CNBC
THE AMERICAN DREAM – Omio launches in North America with 20 partners and 23,000 routes, among them providers such as Amtrak, VIA Rail Canada, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, OurBus, and Academy; more routes and providers will be added in the coming months.
 Read more in Phocuswire
THE AMERICAN DREAM PT.II – Chinese aerial passenger drone startup EHang received approval by the FAA and flew its two-seat self-flying taxi fully autonomously in North Carolina.
 Read more in TechCrunch
SUPER-APP AMBITIONS – India’s largest online travel agency MakeMyTrip has made several moves in the past few years to expand its offerings - adding ground transportation, loyalty programs, business travel services, and experiences. Latest update: it's adding destination videos to its mobile app to inspire travelers and trigger travel bookings.
 Read more in Phocuswire
HOW HELICOPTERS SHAPE THE AIR-TAXI CONCEPT – Voom is one part of a multi-pronged effort by Airbus to position itself for the emerging eVTOL and urban air mobility market. The service is currently available in Mexico City, São Paulo, Brazil, and San Francisco.
 Read more in Vertical Mag
ON-DEMAND AIRLINES BECOME A REALITY – Soaring above the rush-hour traffic in a private plane used to be the sole purview of the mega-rich, but due to growing demand and emerging technology, more people can afford to commute by air.
 Read more on CBC
END OF THE E-SCOOTERS HYPE? – After two years of explosive growth, scooter companies have entered a new phase—survival of the fittest in a capital-intensive, money-losing industry. E-scooter startup Lime just announced to shut down operations in 12 markets, laying off 100 people. 
 Read more in Axios
NEWS ON CARBON OFFSETTING – U.S. airline JetBlue announced that it will offset carbon-dioxide emissions from jet fuel for all domestic JetBlue flights beginning in July 2020 in times of CO2-offsetting becoming the new normal.
 Read more in JetBlue's press release and Phocuswire
THE AIRBNB M&A STORY – Since its launch in 2008, Airbnb has gone from a startup renting air mattresses to a multi-billion dollar global travel company. Here’s a list of all the companies Airbnb has bought up over the past twelve years.
 Read more in Business Insider
 Funding Update 

Most recent Venture Capital deals

 = Exit Alert (startup listed at the stock exchange or got acquired)

 = Unicorn Alert (post-deal company valuation at >$1B) 


Joby Aviation – the American air-taxi manufacturer raised a $590 million Series C round of funding, including $394 million from lead investor Toyota Motor Corporation.

ToursByLocals – the Canada-based local guides platform raised $33M from Tritium Partners. 

Sono Motors – the Munich-based solar electric vehicles raised around $30M via crowdfunding. 

The Guild – the US-based hospitality startup that converts apartment and office properties into hotel suites raised $25M from Venture firm Maveron, Convivialite Ventures and ATX Venture Partners. 

Skyryse – the Silicon Valley-based air mobility startup that retrofits existing helicopters with semi-autonomous features raised $13M from William Clay Ford Jr. (Ford Motor Co. Chairman), and further investors. 

Comtravo – the Berlin-based corporate travel startup raised $10M from Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, Joop Drechsel (former CEO of BCD Travel), and further investors. 

DAQ Soft – the China-based smart tourism company raised $5.8M from Sichuan Culture Industry Fund. 

bob.io – the Madrid-based luggage solution startup raised $3.33M from K Fund, Big Sur Ventures, and further investors. 

Hellotickets – the Madrid-based event booking platform raised $3.4M from Pillar VC. 

Beonprice – the Spanish hotel revenue management startup raised $2.78M from Adara Ventures. 

Whizar – the Tel Aviv-based airfare prediction startup raised $2.7M from Anna Partners, and Talma Travel and Tours. 

Icelolly – the UK-based online travel comparison startup raised $2.6M from Silicon Valley Bank, and further investors. 

Your.Rentals – the Danish SaaS for owners and managers of short-term rental accommodation raised $2.2M from several angel investors. 

HalalBooking – the UK-based travel search platform for halal-conscious travelers raised $2.5M from Azar Gurbanov (co-founder of FSAstore.com), and further investors. 

Shep – the US-based business travel technology startup that lets companies manage bookings that occur outside of corporate travel policy raised an undisclosed amount from FCM Travel Solutions. 


  Yapta – the US-based provider of airfare and hotel price assurance technology was acquired by Coupa Software for an undisclosed amount. 

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