Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Jay-Z Backed JetSmarter Weighs IPO in 2019

  • CEO says company also considering its other strategic options
  • Chartered jet service aspires to offer commercial prices

JetSmarter’s Chief Executive Officer Sergey Petrossov said the members-only chartered-jet marketplace is considering fundraising options, including going public in 2019, as it rapidly ramps up flights around the world.

"The company is big enough now" to go public, Petrossov said in an interview Wednesday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where he participated in a lunch with South Florida executives. "But it will be very well-positioned in ’19."

Petrossov stressed that nothing was a foregone conclusion and the business sees advantages in raising more capital in private markets, including more freedom and less investor scrutiny. "There’s a time for everything, but I’d say don’t go public before you need to," he said.

The company aspires to make the chartered-jet business more efficient, in part by taking advantage of seats that otherwise would remain empty. Its stated goal is to ultimately offer private flights at commercial prices. Its growth trajectory suggests it’s finding success in a highly-regulated business where others, such as BlackJet, have failed. BlackJet, originally backed by Uber Technologies Inc. co-founder Garrett Camp, closed down in 2016.

JetSmarter has attracted funding from rap mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and the Saudi royal family. A December fundraising valued the company at $1.6 billion, and in August, it announced another undisclosed round from Clearlake Capital Group and Leucadia National Corp., the parent of Jefferies Group.

For a story on tech and venture capital in Florida, click here.

Petrossov said the Fort Lauderdale-based charter company currently has 12,000 members spending about $24,000 annually, and expects to end the year with about $300 million in run-rate revenue, meaning if the latest figures were annualized, they would imply that revenue on a 12-month basis. 

Users pay for membership, after which the company says it can provide flights for about $1 a mile, which would mean a New York-Florida route for $1,000. Flights provided through the service have roughly tripled in the past 12 months to as many as 150 a day, he said.

"We’re looking to -- if not double -- then triple our business in 2018," Petrossov said.

Members pay a premium if they want to originate a flight themselves with the freedom to set the schedule.

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