JetBlue Technology Ventures: Bringing External Innovation In House

By Robert A. Burgelman, Joseph N. Golden, Amit Sridharan
2019 | Case No. E660 | Length 40 pgs.
Since its founding in the late 1990s, JetBlue Airways has been known as an innovator in the U.S. airline industry. This case explores how in the mid- to late-2010s, JetBlue sought to drive further innovation by setting up a corporate venture capital arm. Led by Bonny Simi, a long-time JetBlue executive, commercial airline pilot, former U.S. Olympian, and Stanford alumna, JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV) seeks to bring external innovation in house. The case relates the history of JTV’s establishment, details its investment decision-making criteria and processes, and examines the governance structures put in place to ensure strategic alignment with its corporate parent. Considerable attention is also paid to the ways in which JTV helps integrate into JetBlue Airways new technologies developed by the start-ups it invests in. Overall, the case assesses how JTV tries to achieve both financial and strategic objectives, which has historically been a challenge for corporate venture capital arms set up by other large companies across a variety of industries.

Learning Objective

Using JetBlue Technology Ventures as an example, this case offers students a window into the corporate venture capital industry. Students will gain an appreciation for how a well-structured corporate venture capital arm aims to achieve both financial and strategic objectives through the investments it makes. The case also illustrates the management and Board-level linkages that allow for effective oversight and monitoring of a corporate venture capital arm by its parent company.
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