Surf Air Gets a $200 Million Lift, Plans to Go Public
Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.
Subscription commuter airline Surf Air has always been favored by wealthy tech executives; now it wants to bring its service to the masses and it's secured a $200 million investment to do it, with an eye toward going public.
The Santa Monica-based company is backed by Global Emerging Markets Group, which has committed to providing the company $50 million once it's listed.
The remaining funds will be distributed over the next three years. CEO Sudhin Shahani shared with dot.LA that they plan to go public through either a direct listing, IPO or SPAC merger but have not yet finalized their decision.
The company wants to use the money to create a zero-emission fleet, bring down the cost of service — now starting around $2,000 — and increase ridership. They are appealing to people that are taking short jaunts under 400 miles.
"As we go through the process of electrification, which significantly makes the cost cheaper and has been moved to shorter routes, we also aim to replace driving," said Shahani.
Earlier this year Surf Air acquired flight-booking platform BlackBird as it beefed up its appeal to wealthy leisure travelers. It also added Airbnb's former global head of transportation Fred Reid as its new chief strategy officer, a nod to its international ambitions.
The investment comes as commercial airlines have been pummeled by the pandemic. Last month, the company began offering charter flights for weekend getaways — a departure from their regular subscription model. And it's teamed up with AutoCamp to offer "glamping" packages as business passengers have declined.
Surf Air currently offers subscriptions for a flat monthly fee, ranging from $2,000 a month per member to $5,000 a month for companies with multiple users.
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As soon as I stepped into the new Amazon Fresh store in Woodland Hills an employee asked if I wanted to shop with a regular cart or use their 'dash cart.'
The 35,000 square foot store that opened to the public on Friday is Amazon's first so-called smart grocery store as the e-commerce giant attempts to remake in-person shopping and push into the supermarket space.
Inside Amazon Fresh Grocery Store
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After California voted to legalize recreational cannabis in late 2016, companies rushed in to be the first big mover in the multi-billion-dollar market. L.A.-based Genius Fund, run by two inexperienced twenty-somethings from well-to-do families and backed by a billionaire Russian oligarch, had the means and positioning to feed growing demand across the state, but things played out differently.
In a rural town just across the California border from Reno, Nevada, in the northernmost portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Genius Fund set up an outpost in early 2019 called Nature's Holiday. There, the company planned to grow 1,000 acres of hemp — which executives wanted to be the largest such farm in the state — for use in CBD products, according to former employees, corporate documents and the company's website.
'Green Rush' Editor's Note<p><em>The story is pieced together from interviews with more than 40 former employees and business associates, active and retired county officials, as well as federal and county law enforcement; state court records, arbitration, arrest and corporate records in the U.S. and Canada; other public records in six California counties; Genius Fund corporate records and emails. Some former employees and business associates spoke to dot.LA on condition that their names not be mentioned out of fear of reprisals.</em></p><p><em></em><em><a href="https://dot.la/genius-fund-collapse-2646865907.html" target="_self">Part 1: Rise and Collapse of LA's Genius Fund</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/cannabis-products-genius-fund-2646866366.html" target="_self">Part 3: A Line of Failed Products</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/green-rush-genius-fund-2646866354.html" target="_self">Part 4: What Went Down in Adelanto</a> | <a href="https://dot.la/dmitry-bosov-genius-fund-2646866356.html" target="_self">Part 5: The Sudden Death of Dmitry Bosov And His Dream of a California Cannabis Empire</a></em></p>
Images from Plumas County Sheriff's Dept.
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