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Illustration by J. Brill
Startups Markets

What Private Tech Firms Should Watch Out For in SPACs

Photo: Illustration by J. Brill

Blank-check companies, also known on Wall Street as special purpose acquisition companies, have become all the rage over the past few months. They’re the force behind high-flying stocks such as that of electric vehicle maker Nikola. They’re publicly traded firms whose only asset is cash and whose only purpose is to merge with a real business. And for private tech companies looking to go public, they offer a new route for raising money that—unlike a direct stock listing—is faster than a traditional initial public offering.

Several tech firms have gone this route to the public markets, including online lending platform Open Lending, online betting and fantasy sports firm DraftKings, electric truck powertrain maker Hyliion and plant-based–food company Tattooed Chef. More tech deals are in the works. But investors and employees of a business considering this option should beware: Not every blank-check company or SPAC is an ideal merger candidate. 

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