- The price tag for startups is climbing thanks to the boom in SPACs, according to 451 Research.
- Two of this year’s deals, SoFi and Hippo, are among the biggest SPAC purchases ever made.
- But now there’s a glut of SPACs fighting for startups to buy, and some are looking abroad.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
About 150 special access acquisition companies (SPACs) are searching for a tech startup to buy at the moment, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s 451 Research, yet since the beginning of 2020, there have only been about 80 reverse mergers completed.
That’s a sign that there may be more SPACs in the hunt than there are attractive startups to acquire, the research firm said.
Plus, a key source of funding for SPACs has begun to dry up as well, as private equity firms have slowed their interest, Insider’s Reed Alexander reports.
Private equity firms typically chip in to buy startups when a SPAC plans to pay more for the company than it has in its own coffers.
Some SPACs, aware of the growing competition for US startups, have begun turning their attention abroad, the tech news site Rest of World reported. SoftBank and Rocket Internet are among the firms that have launched SPACs focused on areas such as Latin America. Startups in the region such as Nuvemshop, a Brazilian company that runs a platform for setting up online shops, could be ripe for purchase, according to Rest of World.
SPACs may also be shopping overseas looking for better value. Venture-backed companies are commanding higher prices when they go public via SPAC, according to 451 Research.
The first quarter of 2021 set records for dealmaking, and special-purpose acquisition companies are now spending an average of $2 billion per deal, 451 Research said. The SPAC activity has crowded out established tech companies looking for acquisitions, according to the research firm.
Big acquisitions that were once “reserved for tech’s household names are now being done by indistinguishably named firms with no ongoing business,” analyst Brenon Daly wrote, referring to SPACs, which are also known as blank check companies. A SPAC operates no business. It sells shares to the public and then shops around for a company to buy.
The increased competition is good news for startups who command higher valuations when they’re purchased by SPACs versus acquired by a tech company. So far this year, the median price-to-sales ratio for companies bought by SPACs has been 12.9, versus 4.1 for those bought by other companies, according to 451 Research.
The SPAC purchases that have been announced this year are among the richest ever. SoFi, whose deal totaled $8.65 billion, topped the list of biggest SPAC deals involving venture-backed tech companies so far in 2021, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. Hippo, at $6.22 billion, and Apex Clearing at $5.65 billion, rounded out the top three.
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