The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Bonny Simi, JetBlue Technology Ventures
Bonny Simi is president of JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), the wholly-owned venture subsidiary of US-based JetBlue Airways.
JetBlue Technology Ventures, named GCV’s new entrant of the year in 2016, is regarded as the only Silicon Valley corporate venture unit focusing exclusively on travel and hospitality.
It is a first in a long tradition for the company. Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways: said: “JetBlue has always been an innovator. First, in so many things, whether it’s live TV on the back of the seats or free broadband WiFi on the airplane. But we knew there were so many other ideas out there that could make us either a better company or make us more relevant in the travel space. So, we created JTV to really help give us that insight and give us that knowledge.”
Since its inception, JTV has identified and reviewed more than 2,500 startups, and made 18 investments as of April 2018. Its portfolio includes startups that will reduce cost, increase revenue, improve customer service and optimise operations.
Recent investments include Joby Aero’s $100m B round for building a fully-electric vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft optimised to deliver air-transportation-as-a-service, and Climacell, which offers next generation hyper-local weather prediction.
As Simi said at the time of the Joby deal: “At JetBlue Technology Ventures, we believe the regional transportation ecosystem is ripe for disruption and startups like Joby Aviation will revolutionise how people move across urban areas.
“We are excited about the transformative potential of eVTOLs and believe Joby Aviation is the most advanced company in this emerging sector. Its vehicle platform will be the standard to beat.”
Earlier investments range from an internet-of-things mesh network startup, to electric-hybrid aircraft manufacturer Zunum Aero that aims to be the “Tesla of aircraft”, to the $15m round for internet-of-things technology developer Filament. Its first strategic investment was a $1m commitment to Flyr, a US-based firm operating a data-analytics platform for flights.
JetBlue plans to expand beyond the US and into other brand extensions beyond air travel. The funding comes off the JetBlue balance sheet and the team is based in San Carlos, California, appropriately at an airport.
Simi has been with JetBlue for 15 years in a variety of leadership and operational positions, and is still an active captain at the airline. She is a graduate of Stanford Business School and Stanford Engineering School, and is a three-time Olympic athlete in the sport of luge, a form of sled racing.