Archer Aviation appeared from nowhere in late May, 2020. The company had quietly moved from A to Z without even passing ‘GO’. Archer was already on par with the leading eVTOL pioneers and had blessings from the business elite.
Yet, the company was an enigma. evtolnews.com enlightened the public with an article headed: Archer (Unnamed five seat eVTOL).
We learned the Californian-based company had launched on May 21st, 2020; was developing multiple models of eVTOL aircraft including one (unnamed) carrying four passengers and one pilot for up to 60 miles at speeds close to 150 mph.
The marketing of Archer focused around the co-founders, two young, good-looking and highly intelligent and successful men called Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein who, we discovered, were serial entrepreneurs and had recently sold marketplace start-up Vettery to The Adecco Group for over USD100 million.
From then on, Archer and these projected golden boys of the emerging eVTOL industry were marketed as one. You couldn’t read an article or view a video about the company without quotes from the two. They appeared joined at the hip; came over as best buddies; looked great and professional on screen; were highly ambitious and dedicated to their cause.
And so this projection happily continued until last month, when out of the blue, news emerged that Adcock was stepping down as co-CEO.
The Archer marketing machine went into overdrive. evtol.news picked up the initial story. “Brett Adcock is stepping down from his role as co-CEO of the company, leaving Adam Goldstein as the sole CEO of Archer. The company said this decision was made to ‘help simplify its operating structure,’ but most importantly, Adcock would remain as one of the company’s board of directors. “He is fully committed to the success of Archer,” stated the company press release.
Interestingly, the former co-CEO would not provide further comments on his departure or what his next venture might be.
Then, the inevitable happened. News later broke that Adcock had also stepped down from the Board, taking his Archer shares with him, while leaving behind an ongoing company legal battle with competitor Wisk. Some media reports quoted a tweet posted on May 9th from Adcock mentioning diverging visions with other Archer board members on where to steer the eVTOL startup. The tweet was later deleted.
dronedj.com wrote, “(This) invites speculation that Adcock may have felt Archer, and its pace moving the eVTOL craft toward certification and operation under United’s (Airlines) wing, may have been pushing too fast for its own long-term good.”
The website then contacted an Archer representative who said, “We are disappointed that Brett used social media to announce his decision to resign from Archer’s Board of Directors instead of coordinating with the company. Under the leadership of CEO Adam Goldstein and his experienced management team, Archer remains committed to its vision of bringing urban air mobility to market…”
On March 31st, Archer reported a net loss of USD59.2 million, based on total operating expenses of USD63.5 million, which had grown compared with the last quarter of 2021, as investments in personnel and equipment have increased. At that time, it held cash totalling USD704.2 million.
The company forecast that operating expenses for the second quarter of this year will further grow to between USD80 million and USD86 million. It pointed to some uncertainty over costs associated with stock-based compensation in a possible reference to a separation agreement with the departing Adcock.
Meanwhile, Archer says it will soon resume test flights with its Maker eVTOL demonstrator after a gap of close to six months and its first hover flight on December 16th, 2021. The company told financial analysts at a briefing on May 12th, it will gradually increase trials to several per week until it is ready to make a full transition from vertical to horizontal flight by the end of this year.
And like Joby, Archer does not anticipate delays to its goal of being ready to start commercial air taxi services by the end of 2024, despite recent reports that the FAA is seeking to revise the eVTOL certification process. CEO Adam Goldstein has described this potential policy shift as a ‘minor change’ and that he does not expect ‘it will have a material impact on our certification timeline’.
(Pics: Archer Aviation)