JetBlue is opening a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley to "invest in, incubate, and partner with early stage startups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality," the New York-based airline said today.
JetBlue Technology Ventures will have a "multi-million dollar fund" and be run by former airline executive Bonny Simi. It will be looking to make strategic investments in startups whose programs could be integrated to help with passenger and operational staff efficiency.
The company says that its new subsidiary is the first of its kind in Silicon Valley to be backed by a US airline.
Offices will be at the GSVlabs campus in Redwood City.
JetBlue flies more than 35 million passengers a year and was the first US airline to introduce seatback satellite TVs and free high-speed wireless Internet and streaming video inflight.
That said, Virgin America is the only commercial passenger airline based in Silicon Valley, and the local spirit has infused its experiments with in-flight social networks and tablet interfaces for booking tickets.
NB: Image courtesy JetBlue.