The future of aviation received a massive boost this week.
German company Lilium Aviation announced yet another round of successful funding, this time led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holding and at least four other groups, reports Flying Mag.
Add that to their already growing kitty, and the company’s investment fund now sits at a casual $100 million mark.
So what does this company even do? Let’s take a look:
The company expects the fresh investment money will spur additional research and development efforts for the company’s five-seat, electrically powered jet taxi.
Lilium wants to create air taxis capable of short, high-speed flights, something the company expects will become a reality within the next 10 years. When paired with a smartphone app, Lilium wants to make ordering a flying cab as easy as making a phone call. Lilium’s two-seat Eagle prototype successfully completed its maiden flight in April.
Lilium was founded back in 2015 by four graduates [below] of the Technical University of Munich. They set out to design a “more efficient jet-powered air taxi than competing airframes, eliminating the now-traditional use of quad-copter technology”.
The Naspers connection? Well, the South African company has an “unhealthy addiction” to Tencent, suggests Reuters. Whatever does that mean? Well:
Fuelled by an early bet on Tencent, the tech and media group has become South Africa’s largest public company by market value. The problem is, Naspers’ other investments, which span e-commerce in India to online classifieds in Poland, are effectively worth less than nothing to shareholders. As of June 30, the one-third stake in Hong Kong-listed Tencent was worth roughly $113 billion – a third more than Naspers.
The situation echoes the dilemma at Yahoo, where its core business ended up being worth a lot less than its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo fixed that by selling the internet business to Verizon and rebranding as Altaba.
Cool that they invested heavily in Tencent, but you can read about the rest of that mess here.
Back to Lilium:
The company’s Eagle prototype, an electrically-powered jet, takes off and lands like a helicopter, while the larger five-seat, air-taxi craft is expected to carry as many as five people over distances of nearly 200 nm at speeds approaching 210 mph.
Pretty sweet – let’s see how that gets on for Tencent, and I guess in turn Naspers.
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