What is a SPAC

The 2020 IPO trend - Special Purpose Acquisition Companies

Anshil Bhansali, Jul 27, 2020

SPACs or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies have recently gotten pretty popular. It is a way for a company to go public. Some of the more traditional ways are the regular IPO, Direct Listing (think Slack, Spotify) and an Acquisition (think Postmates acquired by Uber, Instagram acquired by Facebook).

A SPAC is essentially a 'blank-check company' or a company with no commerical operations at all. The sole purpose for the SPAC is to collect money from its investors during its IPO, and within 2 years, acquire a target company, which the SPAC shares will convert into.

Nikola, the new hot, hydrogen tech, electric vehicle company became public via a SPAC! VectoIQ Acquisition was the shell company that acquired Nikola.

Virgin Galactic, the new cool, tourist space tech company also went public with a SPAC! Investing in a SPAC is basically outsourcing money to be invested by a manager and having no control over what they'll buy.

Bill Ackman, a famous contrarian investor, who recently made billions shorting the market right before the pandemic, recently took a SPAC public, Pershing Square Tontine . Investing in this SPAC, is like giving your money to Bill Ackman, trusting him to find the right target company. He mentions 'mature unicorn' a lot in his S-1 filing.

In my opinion, I would stay on the sidelines, watch the growth of these SPAC investments, and get a better understanding of the risks involved. Yet, it is good to understand these new financial vehicles as a backbone of your knowledge.