Merchant Innovation

'Uber Of Planes' BlackJet Clips Its Wings — For Good

BlackJet Shuts Down

It's said that the true sign of wealth is when it's not necessary to run to catch planes anymore because private jets suddenly wait for you to arrive. In the case of BlackJet, however, it doesn't look like another of its privately chartered planes will every fly again.

Fortune reported that BlackJet, the would-be Uber of the friendly skies, has informed its customers that it has decided to ground its fleet due to sustained financial problems. In an email to members, CEO Dean Rotchin acknowledged the company's uneasy status as of the last few months, as well as a premature report of its impending death by TechCrunch, while pegging much of BlackJet's failure on its inability to drum up funds through membership fees.

"In the last few days, there was some inaccurate bad press that stunted membership sales, a critical team member stepped down unexpectedly, near-term and longer-term financing opportunities were delayed and it became impossible to continue," Rotchin told BlackJet's now-former members. "I personally appreciate the amazing support from most of our members. Perhaps I did not do a good enough job of reinforcing the fact that the membership was the key to the ability to deliver the service."

In an interview with Fortune, Rotchin also embraced the fact that while BlackJet was able to get its planes off the ground, its platform was never able to achieve the kind of critical mass that investors were apparently looking for. To Rotchin, BlackJet "did more with less than anyone," but it wasn't enough to convince VC funding to start flowing its way in the necessary volume.

Despite his experience, Rotchin was confident that somebody would, one day, be able to keep a startup like BlackJet cruising at 33,000 feet.

"There are some aggressive, interesting models out there today; someone will make this work," he said.

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