Helicopter Service Startup Blade Lands $6M Series A

The Wall Street Journal
By Patience Haggin
July 18, 2016


Blade, a startup best known for providing helicopter rides between New York and the Hamptons, has raised $6 million in Series A funding.

Raine Ventures, the venture fund managed by the private-equity firm Raine Group, and Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav led the round. Blade has also named Kenneth Lerer, managing partner of Lerer Hippeau Ventures, the chairman of its board.

The company’s Blade Bounce service allows customers to book a helicopter and depart within 20 minutes of booking, which Chief Executive Rob Wiesenthal described as the “closest we’ll probably ever get to on-demand helicopters.” He credited the service’s rapid growth to its popularity on Instagram, where users sometimes share photos marked with the hashtag “#helfie,” short for “helicopter selfie.”

“I’m not sure in our first year we would have had that the velocity of growth if it were not for Instagram,” said Mr. Wiesenthal.

On Memorial Day weekend Blade launched a highly publicized partnership with Uber Boston to offer Boston passengers flights to Nantucket and Hyannis, through the Uber app under the name UberAIR. Blade now serves 22 destinations in five states.

The New York-based company, incorporated as Fly Blade, raised a $6 million seed round in May 2015.