JetBlue Airways' new venture capital fund has made its first investment, backing 16-employee Flyr, a San Francisco startup whose technology helps airline customers decide whether to buy tickets at current prices--or wait for fares to go down.

"In just a few short weeks, we have heard from hundreds of startups with incredible ideas about the future of travel," said Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, in a statement. The fund, which launched in February, ultimately chose Flyr because "they share our belief that predictive analytics can provide value to travelers and will change the travel experience in ways we have yet to imagine."

Neither JetBlue nor Flyr disclosed the financial terms of the deal.

For Flyr co-founder and CEO Jean Tripier, the JetBlue investment capped what had already been a successful month of fundraising. On March 3, Flyr closed $3.7 million in seed financing. The JetBlue investment is part of a new, ongoing round of funds.  

"I'm very happy they decided our technology was something they were interested in investing in," said Tripier, who first met the JetBlue investors last month through mutual travel industry connections. "It's an important form of validation for us."

Flyr makes its money through commissions from the travel companies, online travel agents, meta search engines, and airlines who use its back-end systems to lock in fare prices and sell those fares to travelers. Tripier declined to reveal the company's revenues thus far, but said he'd use the funds raised to finance the company's expansion into European markets. 

Meanwhile, he's thrilled to have JetBlue on board with Flyr's mission. And not just because of the money. "It's a company that is very well run and has very strong human values," he says, noting that, in his experience, all of JetBlue's employees embody those values, "no matter who you talk to, a flight attendant all the way to the CEO." (Tripier met JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes during the deal-making process.) 

Launched on Feb 11 on the 16th anniversary of the first JetBlue flight, JetBlue Technology Ventures is the first venture capital subsidiary in Silicon Valley backed by a U.S. airline, located at the ballyhooed GSVlabs campus in Redwood City.

Published on: Mar 30, 2016