Category: special-purpose acquisition company

How to prepare for M&A, your most likely exit avenue



Despite the plentiful headlines about mega billion-dollar M&A transactions, record IPOs and the rapid growth of SPACs, small deals will continue to be the most likely exit for the vast majority of tech startups. In the over 30 years I’ve worked on M&A at White & Case, Barclays and my current firm Ascento Capital, I have seen too many startups that are not prepared for an exit via a merger or sale. This article will provide specific recommendations on how to prepare your startup for M&A.

While it is good to strive for a billion-dollar-plus sale, a successful IPO or a SPAC deal, it is practical to prepare your startup for a smaller transaction.

Global M&A hit record highs in the second quarter with a total deal value of $1.5 trillion, but smaller transactions vastly outnumber mega billion-dollar deals. The U.S. saw a total of 16,672 deals in the year ended June 31, but only 583, or 3% of that number, were valued at more than a billion dollars (FactSet). The IPO market is healthy again, but M&A still represents 88% of exits: So far this year, there were 503 IPOs and 5,203 deals, according to the CB Insights Q2 2021 State of Venture Report. After the SEC announced in early April that (Read more...)

Digital lending platform Blend valued at over $4B in its public debut



Mortgages may not be considered sexy, but they are a big business.

And if you’ve refinanced or purchased a home digitally lately, you may or may not have noticed the company powering the software behind it — but there’s a good chance that company is Blend.

Founded in 2012, the startup has steadily grown to be a leader in the mortgage tech industry. Blend’s white label technology powers mortgage applications on the site of banks including Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, for example, with the goal of making the process faster, simpler and more transparent. 

The San Francisco-based startup’s SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform currently processes over $5 billion in mortgages and consumer loans per day, up from nearly $3 billion last July.

And today, Blend made its debut as a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, trading under the symbol “BLND.” As of early afternoon, Eastern Time, the stock was trading up over 13% at $20.36.

On Thursday night, the company had said it would offer 20 million shares at a price of $18 per share, indicating the company was targeting a valuation of $3.6 billion.

That compares to a $3.3 billion valuation at the time of its last raise in January — a $300 million Series G funding round that included participation from Coatue and Tiger Global Management. Also, let’s not forget that Blend only became a unicorn last August when it raised a $75 million Series F. Over its lifetime, Blend had raised (Read more...)

Nextdoor’s SPAC investor deck paints a picture of sizable scale and sticky users



The SPAC parade continues in this shortened week with news that community social network Nextdoor will go public via a blank-check company. The unicorn will merge with Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co. II, taking itself public and raising capital at the same time.

Per the former startup, the transaction with the Khosla-affiliated SPAC will generate gross proceeds of around $686 million, inclusive of a $270 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, which is being funded by a collection of capital pools, some prior Nextdoor investors (including Tiger), Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar and Khosla Ventures itself.

Notably, Khosla is not a listed investor in the company per Crunchbase or PitchBook, indicating that even SPACs formed by venture capital firms can hunt for deals outside their parent’s portfolio.

Per a Nextdoor release, the transaction will value the company at a “pro forma equity [valuation] of approximately $4.3 billion.” That’s a great price for the firm that was most recently valued at $2.17 billion in a late 2019-era Series H worth $170 million, per PitchBook data. Those funds were invested at a flat $2.0 billion pre-money valuation.

So, what will public investors get the chance to buy into at the new, higher price? To answer that we’ll have to turn to the company’s SPAC investor deck.

Our general observations are that while Nextdoor’s SPAC deck does have some regular annoyances, it offers are clear-eyed look at the company’s financial performance both in historical terms and in terms of what (Read more...)

Nextdoor’s SPAC investor deck paints a picture of sizable scale and sticky users



The SPAC parade continues in this shortened week with news that community social network Nextdoor will go public via a blank-check company. The unicorn will merge with Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co. II, taking itself public and raising capital at the same time.

Per the former startup, the transaction with the Khosla-affiliated SPAC will generate gross proceeds of around $686 million, inclusive of a $270 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, which is being funded by a collection of capital pools, some prior Nextdoor investors (including Tiger), Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar and Khosla Ventures itself.

Notably, Khosla is not a listed investor in the company per Crunchbase or PitchBook, indicating that even SPACs formed by venture capital firms can hunt for deals outside their parent’s portfolio.

Per a Nextdoor release, the transaction will value the company at a “pro forma equity [valuation] of approximately $4.3 billion.” That’s a great price for the firm that was most recently valued at $2.17 billion in a late 2019-era Series H worth $170 million, per PitchBook data. Those funds were invested at a flat $2.0 billion pre-money valuation.

So, what will public investors get the chance to buy into at the new, higher price? To answer that we’ll have to turn to the company’s SPAC investor deck.

Our general observations are that while Nextdoor’s SPAC deck does have some regular annoyances, it offers are clear-eyed look at the company’s financial performance both in historical terms and in terms of what (Read more...)

Bird reportedly prepares to go public via SPAC, aims for 2023 profitability



Micromobility startups are following the lead of EV companies going public via mergers with special purpose acquisition companies, a financial instrument that came back en vogue in 2020.

Bird Rides, the California-born micromobility company that now operates in more than 100 cities across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, plans to merge with Dallas-based blank-check company Switchback II Corporation, reports dot.LA. Switchback was formed in 2019 and led by former executives at oil and gas driller RSP Permian, Scott McNeill and Jim Mutrie.

Bird is the second scooter company this year to eschew the traditional IPO path and instead opt for the trendy SPAC tool. In February, Helbiz, a micromobility startup in Europe and the U.S., also became a public company via SPAC in a merger with GreenVision Acquisition Corp. Many micromobility companies saw ridership fall during the pandemic last year, so we might expect to see more go the SPAC route in order have access to capital quickly, without the time or expense of a traditional IPO process. 

Bird has not responded to a request for comment. 

At the start of 2020, Bird was valued at $2.85 billion. It has had its struggles, particularly during the pandemic when revenue dropped to $95 million in 2020, a 37% decrease from the previous year, according to the pitch deck viewed by dot.LA. In 2020, Bird laid off 406 employees, or about 30% of its workforce, to cut costs.

The impending transaction valued the company at $2.3 billion below (Read more...)

Beyond the fanfare and SEC warnings, SPACs are here to stay



The number of SPACs in the deep tech sector was skyrocketing, but a combination of increased SEC scrutiny and market forces over the past few weeks has slowed the pace of new SPAC transactions. The correction is an inevitable step on the path to mainstreaming SPACs as an alternative to IPOs, but it won’t cause them to go away. Instead, blank-check vehicles will evolve and will occupy a small and specialized — but important — part of the startup financing landscape.

I believe that SPAC financings can solve a major problem for all capital-intensive technology startups: the need for faster — and potentially cheaper — access to large amounts of capital to fund product development over multiple years.

The tsunami of SPAC financings sparked commentary from all corners of the capital markets community, from equity analysts and securities lawyers to VCs and fund managers — and even central bankers. That’s understandable, as more than $60 billion of SPAC deals have been announced since the beginning of 2020, plus $55 billion in PIPE capital, according to investment bank PJT Partners.

The views debated by finance experts often relate to the reasonableness of SPAC pricing and transaction structures, the alignment of incentives for stakeholders, and post-merger (Read more...)