Morning Markets: So much for VC being boring.
Quick hit this Friday about Boom, a company that I didn’t think had a real shot at success. For those keeping score, brilliant thoughts like that one are why I’m a writer and not an investor.
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Boom, a Y Combinator company, has closed a $100 million round that includes “$56 million in new investment as well as previously-announced strategic investments,” it announced today. The new capital was led by Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective. YC’s follow-on fund took part along with other investors and angels. It also brings the company’s total raised to $141 million, according to the company.
It’s a lot of players betting on a company that is trying to do something really hard. Namely, build a supersonic jet that will fly across the Atlantic at speeds of — Boom claims — Mach 2.2. That’s incredibly fast.
Boom describes its jet, dubbed the “Overture,” as the “world’s first economically viable supersonic airliner.” Concorde disses aside, I hope the company is right, and that it succeeds.
I’m mostly being selfish, as I’d like to get to London faster than I can today on some lumbering van from Airbus or Boeing. And if Boom can come up with a way to fly from Boston to San Francisco at Mach 2.2, I will personally put up a kidney. Flying is too slow today, and it drives me nuts.
But what hits me in particular about Boom is that it isn’t enterprise software or a social app with a known path to virality. It’s not a new game, or a VR helmet, or a nifty way to store lots of data on someone else’s cloud or protect passwords at scale. It’s not software, it’s hardware. And silly-hard hardware at that. Which makes it incredibly risky, with the chance of a huge payout for investors, and, as mentioned above, a huge chance at bankrupting me personally if I can leave United and its fleet of 7xx airplanes for good.
It feels very venture capital, in other words. Perhaps that’s way Japan Airline, and Palm Drive Capital, and 8VC, and RRE Ventures, and Hone Capital, and Caffeinated Capital, not to mention YC and Emerson are putting up the money.
Can you imagine the bragging rights if it works?
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias