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Um, where is the SEC when it comes to SPACs and conflicts of interest?

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Kirsten Korosec reported that the autonomous vehicle startup Aurora is close to finalizing a deal to merge with one of three blank-check companies that have been formed to date by renowned entrepreneurs Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus and a third partner in these deals, Michael Thompson, who long managed special situation funds.
The development is intriguing for a lot of reasons, including because Aurora’s founders are big wheels in their industry (no pun intended), and having already acquired the self-driving unit of Uber in a complicated arrangement, Aurora could, as a publicly traded entity, snap …

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Max Q: Starship’s good landing (and less good post-landing)

Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Mondays in your inbox.
Sometimes even the biggest successes look like failures on video. That’s the theme of this week, because the biggest news by far was SpaceX’s test launch of its latest Starship prototype in South Texas.
It looked fake — but the fireball proved it wasn’t
SpaceX’s test flight was a launch of the 10th Starship prototype, to a height of around 32,000 feet, at which point it used its Raptor engines to flip into a flop …

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.
Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, …

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As the SPAC frenzy continues, questions arise about how much the market can absorb

Another week and the biggest story in a sea of big stories continues to center on SPACs, these blank-check companies that raise capital through IPOs expressly to acquire a privately held company and take it public. But some industry watchers as starting to wonder: Is the party just getting started, with more early guests still trickling in? Have we reached the party’s peak, with the music still thumping? Or did someone just quietly barf in the corner, an indicator it’s time to wrap things up before something worse happens?
It certainly feels like things are in full swing. …

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Extra Crunch roundup: Edtech VC survey, 5 founder mistakes, fintech liquidity, more

Edtech is so widespread, we already need more consumer-friendly nomenclature to describe the products, services and tools it encompasses.
I know someone who reads stories to their grandchildren on two continents via Zoom each weekend. Is that “edtech?”
Similarly, many Netflix subscribers sought out online chess instructors after watching “The Queen’s Gambit,” but I doubt if they all ran searches for “remote learning” first.
Edtech needs to reach beyond underfunded public school systems to become more sustainable, which is why more investors and founders are focusing on lifelong learning.
Besides serving traditional students with field trips and art classes, …

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Unpacking Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC deals for Latch and Sunlight Financial

This morning, investor and SPAC raconteur Chamath Palihapitiya announced two new blank-check deals involving Latch and Sunlight Financial.
Latch, an enterprise SaaS company that makes keyless entry systems, has raised $152 million in private capital, according to Crunchbase. Sunlight Financial, which offers point of sale financing for residential solar systems, has raised north of $700 million in venture capital, private equity and debt.
We’re going to chat about the two transactions.
There’s no escaping SPACs for a bit, so if you are tired of watching blind pools rip private companies into the public markets, you are not going to have …

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Report: SoFi nears deal to go public in merger with Chamath Palihapitiya’s newest SPAC

Consumer financial services startup SoFi is closing in on a deal to go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp V, the latest blank check company formed by venture capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya.
An agreement to take SoFi public via a SPAC has been rumored for weeks. This latest advancement, which reveals Palihapitiya as the possible SPAC connection, was first reported by Reuters. The deal would reportedly give SoFi a valuation of more than $6 billion.
SoFi, which is now led by ex-Twitter COO Anthony Noto, was founded more than a decade ago to …

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