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Why founders in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere are leveraging SPACs to take their companies public

Co-authored with Allen Taylor (Endeavor Catalyst)

Photo by on Unsplash

Last month, Grab announced it would go public via SPAC. This is an incredible milestone in the world of SPACs (“Special Purpose Acquisition Companies), a sector that has exploded in the last two years. Grab’s SPAC deal — valuing the company at nearly $40B — is the largest in history globally, more than double the previous record.

While that in of itself is noteworthy, it isn’t the punch line.

Grab is not a traditional Silicon Valley company. Instead, it is the leading super app in South East Asia, with a primarily emerging market user…

Number Crunch

Blank-check companies are running out of viable companies to acquire

An illustration featuring the Number Crunch logo next to the text “370: The number of SPACs, or blank-check companies, that are actively looking for a target company to merge with and take public. Source: CNBC” over a background of a blank check.

370: That’s how many “blank-check companies,” otherwise known as special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), are actively looking for a target company to merge with and take public, according to CNBC.

SPACs are companies that raise funds on public markets for the explicit purpose of merging with a private company and taking them public, thereby allowing the target company to bypass the lengthy and expensive process of a traditional IPO. Last year saw a boom in the number of companies that went public via SPAC, with sports betting platform DraftKings and battery company QuantumScape among them.

And the SPACs just keep on…

Money Talks

A boom in blank-check IPOs is setting off alarms, but they solve a very real problem for some companies

A graph trending upwards with a giant bubble floating beneath the arrow and pushing it up
Illustration: Pablo Delcan

Money Talks is a column that explores what happens when business, the economy, and culture collide.

In 1720, the English economy was gripped by a speculative mania known as the South Sea Bubble. The hysteria began with a steep rise in the stock price of a government-connected firm called the South Sea Company, but soon investors were happily bidding up stock prices across the board. In response, a host of new companies offering a wide array of unlikely products and services quickly incorporated and sold shares to hungry investors. One company described its business as trading in hair. …

Number of the Day

Everyone’s favorite new route to going public is having quite a year

Marker # of the Day: 46% — The share of the $103 billion raised in IPOs this year that went to SPACs. Source: Dealogic
Photo illustration, source: Michael Raines/Moment/Getty Images

46%: That’s the share of the $103 billion raised through October 2 in U.S.-listed initial public offerings this year that went to Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, or SPACs, according to financial data provider Dealogic.

So far, 2020 has been an unusually frothy year for public markets, which is on track to overtake the boom years of 1999 and 2000 in terms of the money raised in IPOs. While there’s no reason to think this is a repeat of that era’s dot-com bubble, what’s especially unusual this year is how many companies have opted to go public via SPACs (127 to…

The traditional route to going public is too slow for companies that want to cash in on hype

Image: John Lund/Photodisc/Getty Images

Special purpose acquisition companies (or SPACs) have raised record amounts in the last few years. Some 28 SPACs have had IPOs this year, raising $8.9 billion, according to At the current rate, that’s on pace to reach $16.5 billion by the end of the year, beating last year’s $13.6 billion and massively ahead of the 2011–2015 average of $1.7 billion.


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