Beta Technologies Stock and IPO: Will the Electric Plane Company Go Public?
Beta Technologies makes electric airplanes. It has attracted investments from some big-name venture capitalists and even received orders for its planes. Find out more about the company and whether it plans to go public below.
Matt Johnston Updated March 31st, 2022
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What is Beta Technologies?
Beta Technologies is an aerospace company that designs and manufactures electric airplanes. But not just any type of electric airplane: it builds electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. In addition, the company designs and builds charging systems. Its electric charging network will comprise nearly 60 sites. Beta also offers flight training using flight simulators and virtual reality (VR).
Beta’s founder and CEO, Kyle Clark, earned an applied math degree from Harvard University. Clark founded the aerospace startup in 2017 in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont. Clark, who has hundreds of hours of electric airplane flying time, leads a team of around 350 people. That team includes experienced engineers who have worked at world-leading technology companies, such as Boeing, Tesla, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric. One of the team members is a former project officer with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
However, the electric plane maker would not have gotten off the ground without the help of biotech entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt, the founder of biotech firm United Therapeutics, is developing technology to help reduce the supply shortage of organs used for transplants. She decided that eVTOL airplanes would be the perfect solution to get perishable organs to hospital helipads.
To bring her idea to life, Rothblatt asked the helicopter manufacturer Piasecki to develop an airplane for organ transport. That’s how Rothblatt met Clark, who had been hired by Piasecki to build eVTOL electric power systems. Impressed by Clark, Rothblatt gave him $52 million to start Beta.
What makes Beta Technologies special?
Unlike its competitors, Beta started out building airplanes for transporting cargo instead of people. Recall that Rosenblatt wanted to fund Clark so that Beta could transport perishable organs to hospitals in a quick and environmentally friendly way.
Most of the company’s competitors, including Kitty Hawk and Joby Aviation, got into the eVTOL-making business to move people. In contrast, Clark wanted the company to take advantage of the large market for carrying e-commerce packages to and from suburban warehouses.
The ALIA-250c, the company’s sole airplane (pictured above), is inspired by the Arctic tern, a bird that migrates farther than any other bird. ALIA can carry loads of up to 1,500 pounds, and recharging it takes about 50 minutes. Clark says that the time for recharging the airplane needs to be about the same time it takes to unload and reload packages.
Beta’s first customers include United Therapeutics, the U.S. Air Force, and UPS, the package delivery company. United Therapeutics plans to use ALIA for organ transport. The Air Force gave its first-ever airworthiness approval for a manned electric airplane to ALIA.
UPS ordered 10 ALIAs in April 2021, with expected delivery in 2024. The company has an option to buy 150 more aircraft. Although UPS already owns a lot of regular planes, Clark estimates that an eVTOL will cost about half as much to operate as a cargo plane, helping UPS save money.
Blade Urban Air Mobility, an air taxi company, is also interested in ALIA planes. Beta’s primary focus may be on cargo, but that does not preclude them from transporting human passengers. ALIA can transport up to six people.
ALIA’s range also beats other eVTOLs. For example, Lilium Air Mobility and Joby Aviation are building eVTOLs with a flight range of roughly 150 nautical miles on a single charge, below ALIA’s 250 nautical miles.
Last but not least, ALIA produces zero carbon emissions, making it better for the environment than airplanes that run on fossil fuel-based aviation fuel.
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Is Beta Technologies publicly traded?
Beta Technologies is a private company that does not have publicly traded shares. They have not disclosed plans to go public like many other eVTOL startups. Having said that, Beta doesn’t seem to have trouble raising funds. So far, the startup has raised $511 million.
In its first round of funding in early March 2021, Beta raised $143 million. Only two and a half months later, in mid-May 2021, the company raised another $368 million. Fidelity Management and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund led the series A funding round, valuing the company at $1.4 billion. Beta said that it would use the proceeds to refine its electric propulsion systems and controls and build manufacturing facilities.
Of course, Beta may need to raise more money in the future. To attract new investments, the company may need to show that it is making progress toward obtaining a safety certification from the FAA. So far, the FAA has not even certified a conventional airplane with an electric propulsion system, never mind an eVTOL.
How to buy Beta Technologies stock
Beta Technologies does not have common shares that you can trade on an exchange, but that doesn’t mean there is no way to invest. In fact, you can buy shares in Beta through a pre-IPO investing platform.
Two pre-IPO platforms, EquityZen and Forge (formerly Sharespost), let investors buy shares from an employee or investor in a private company. Of course, you should always bear in mind that employees and early investors know more than you do, and private companies don’t have the disclosure requirements of publicly traded companies.
Shares of Beta are currently only available on Forge, though you have to be an accredited investor to purchase those shares. An accredited investor is someone who meets at least one of the following three conditions:
- Has earned income over $200,000 in each of the past two years (or $300,000 with a spouse) and expects the same this year
- Has a net worth of more than $1 million (alone or with a spouse), excluding their primary residence
- Holds one of three special licenses issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
Beta Technologies stock alternatives
If you are not an accredited investor but still want to invest in eVTOLs, there are some publicly traded alternatives. They include:
- Joby Aviation (JOBY)
- Vertical Aerospace (EVTL)
- Embraer (ERJ)
- Archer Aviation (ACHR)
- Lilium (LILM)
- Blade Air Mobility (BLDE)
- Ehang Holdings (EH)
🔔 Learn more about publicly traded eVTOL stocks.
NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. The content is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as investment advice.