Late last year, Nautilus Biotechnology CEO and founder Sujal Patel had a decision to make. The biotech startup backed by Jeff Bezos’ venture fund could raise a Series C round of VC funding, as a four-year-old startup would typically do. Or it could go public through a special purpose acquisition company. Patel chose the latter option.
Nautilus is one of a growing number of young startups going public by merging with a SPAC (a shell company that has raised cash for the sole purpose of acquiring another business), according to founders and investors. Space technology company Momentus and autonomous vehicle-technology company Innoviz Technologies, both less than four years old and generating $5 million or less in annual revenue, have also taken this route.
Such listings allow startups to tap intense demand for public tech stocks but may push young companies into the public spotlight before they’re ready. For individual investors, these SPACs mean they have greater access to some of the tech sector’s most promising companies—but with a higher risk of loss.