I'd love for United to hire me to light money on fire for them.
This is a ridiculous concept to invest in for a lot of reasons.
Please expand on those reasons. Quite a few people have said this is ridiculous without giving any sort of indication as to why. I'm guessing UA has a solid business case behind investing in this company, why do you think you have a better understanding of their own finances than they do?
Its a battery powered helicopter. Since they are targeting relatively short range low capacity transportation, I have a hard time believing it would be efficient or cost effective versus self driving personal vehicles from a consumer's perspective. From their press release they want to go 60 miles at 150mph, which is wildly unimpressive and mostly pointless outside of maybe NYC. To add to that color me skeptical that production and support of a new generation of aircraft is somehow more "green" than any of the alternatives now or in the short term future. IMO, the overall $1 billion (if it comes to fruition) would almost certainly be better spent on improving existing infrastructure/transportation links. Hell buying a fleet of self driving Teslas operating as their own United branded limo service would probably be better.
Not to mention Archer will be facing the same production challenges from a chip, battery, and raw materials that all of the auto-manufacturers are currently facing trying to ramp up their EV lines. Only they are 5 years behind in terms of access to the supply chain to hit the market relative to the competitors (stated in this thread) that already have prototypes, not to mention competitors that already have production lines that will emerge from changing market dynamics (other existing helicopter manufacturers pivoting)
Ignoring the pros/cons of Archer's product for the moment, historically the airlines have continued to get themselves into financial trouble by pissing away money on a wide variety of investments. Today (and the past year) they are bleeding historic amounts of money with no certain end date, combined with a strong headwind of possible long term structural changing business dynamics (% of on-site versus remote), and finally the whole concept of dumping $20 mil into this SPAC while laying off/furloughing big chunks of the workforce IMO negates any amount of advertising or goodwill they may have generated.
Its not hard to imagine a world in which United becomes somewhat profitable again, but rolling govt. restrictions, and shifting corporate travel structures prevent them from returning to the pre-covid gravy train. Then $1 billion comes due when these hit production on something only tangentially related to their core business, with the possibility that the target market has a superior alternative available.
I'm all for investing in new ideas, technology and whatnot. However, the amount of great innovation that has come out of silicon valley SPACs and start-ups is mirrored by the amount of s**t companies that have concepts that never see the light of day and become investment money pits for a variety of reasons.