Sixteen Years After Creating a Customer-Focused Startup Airline, JetBlue Forms First U.S. Airline-Backed Venture Capital Subsidiary for Next Generation of Travel Start-ups
JetBlue has announced the launch of JetBlue Technology Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary that will invest in, incubate and partner with early stage startups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality. As the first corporate venture capital subsidiary in Silicon Valley backed by a U.S. airline, JetBlue Technology Ventures will operate from the GSVlabs campus in the heart of Silicon Valley.
By partnering with incubators, venture capital firms, universities and other organizations inside and outside Silicon Valley, JetBlue Technology Ventures will build relationships with a range of startups across the travel and hospitality spectrum. The initiative will serve as a launch pad for innovations that improve customer and crewmember experiences, increase the airline’s operational efficiency and expand the JetBlue brand to new markets.
Bonny Simi will serve as president of the subsidiary, reporting to Eash Sundaram, executive vice president and chief information officer of JetBlue. As head of the JetBlue Technology Ventures oversight/advisory committee, Sundaram will lead and shape the strategic direction of the subsidiary, and will also facilitate integration of successful startup programs into JetBlue’s overall corporate innovation and technology initiatives. Simi is a JetBlue pilot and officer with over a decade of leadership experience holding talent, customer experience and other roles within the airline, and over 25 years in the airline industry. Simi also has deep roots in the Silicon Valley community as a graduate of both the Stanford Business and Engineering schools.
“Innovation has always been part of JetBlue’s DNA, and JetBlue Technology Ventures builds on our history of staying a step ahead of the status quo,” said Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue Technology Ventures. “We will be casting a wide net to find technologies across the travel spectrum that further the award winning customer-focused experience we are known for.”
JetBlue, founded in 2000 with the mission of bringing humanity back to air travel, has launched a number of firsts in the airline industry. It instantly became known for free satellite television at every seat, an innovation it continues to improve on today. It was the first airline to incorporate new technology to power at-home call centers for customer support. More recently, it was the first airline to launch free high-speed wireless Internet and streaming video inflight, and has installed Next-Gen navigations systems in its fleet to improve the efficiency of flying.
“The work being done today in the startup community will define travel for years to come,” said Simi. “We can offer our knowledge and resources to bring early-stage ideas to life. We won’t limit our thinking to traditional airline operations, and instead consider possibilities at every stage in the travel experience.”