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Paul Ryan jumps onto the SPAC train

August 21, 2020, 2:49 PM UTC

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It seems as if just about everyone is getting into the SPAC hype.

Former House speaker Paul Ryan is starting a special purpose acquisition company that will seek to raise about $300 million, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources. Ryan, who was also the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, is set to serve as chairman of the SPAC known as Executive Network Partnering Corp. Solamere Capital, a private equity firm run by Mitt Romney’s son, is set to be the main sponsor.

SPACs, also known as blank check companies, as their main purpose is to acquire a business, have raised an unprecedented $31.2 billion so far this year, surpassing the $13.6 billion raised in all of 2019. The funding vehicle has gained traction amid the pandemic as private equity shops, hedge funds, CEOs seek to take advantage of the market dislocation. Just two days ago, the CEO of bed-in-a-box mattress company, Casper, also filed to raise $300 million via a SPAC.

Of note: The SPAC structure has also been gradually shifting. The largest blank check company, which raised $4 billion this year with Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman, was among the first to shake it up: While the creators of the SPAC typically take a 20% cut of the vehicle for a nominal price, Pershing Square decided to forego that form of compensation, receiving options to buy shares after investors get a 20% return on the merger price. 

“Twitter for celebrities” gets hit by a lawsuit: Community, a Santa Monica-based company messaging platform focused around celebrities, is now embroiled in a lawsuit. Co-founders Charles Buffin and Max Levine are accusing CEO Matthew Peltier of fraud, saying the executive misled them about the value of the company, leading Buffin and Levine to each sell 10% of their shares of the company back for $22,002. It was after the sale that the duo alleged that they learned the company was working with celebrities Guy Oseary and Ashton Kutcher in 2019.

Now, they allege Community and Peltier caused them damages in excess of $30 million. Community, which is backed by Ashton Kutcher, is raising funding at a valuation of over $450 million, the lawsuit says.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Waterdrop, a Chinese crowdfunding medical expenses firm, raised $230 million in funding. Swiss Re and Tencent led the round.

- Lambda School, an online computer sciences academy, raised $74 million in Series C funding. Gigafund led the round.

- Drizly Group, a Boston-based alcohol delivery firm, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Avenir led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global.

- Science 37, a Los Angeles-based clinical trials platform, raised $40 million in funding. Lux Capital, Redmile Group, and PPD, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPD) led the round, and are joined by investors including Novartis, Amgen, Sanofi Ventures, GV, Glynn Capital, LifeSci Ventures and Mubadala Ventures.

- Shef, a San Francisco-based homemade food marketplace for cooks to sell meals, raised $8.8 million in seed funding from investors including Y Combinator, Craft Ventures, and M13.

- See-Mode Technologies, a Singapore-based medtech startup, raised $7 million in Series A funding. MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia led the round and was joined by investors including Blackbird Ventures, Cocoon Capital, Entrepreneur First, and SGInnovate.

- Showbie, a Canada-based classroom workflow platform, raised CAD$5 million ($3.8 million) of Series A funding. Rhino Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Point Nine Capital and Azure Capital.

- iFarm, a Helsinki-based startup that agriculture tech startup, raised $4 million in funding. Gagarin Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Matrix Capital, Impulse VC, and IMI.VC.

- PANDA AI, a Seattle-based company using AI to organize information for individuals and teams, raised $3.3 million of seed funding. Investors included Pioneer Square Labs Venture Fund, the Allen Institute for AI Seed Fund, and Ascend VC.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- KKR acquired Citation Group, a UK-based provider of HR and employment law services, from Hg. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Nautic Partnersformed HES Facilities, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based  provider of maintenance services to K-12 and higher education institutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CTS Bioprocessing, backed by 3i Group, acquired Sani-Tech West, a Southern California-based maker of medical components. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Mammoth Holdings, backed by Red Dog Equity, acquired Mr. K Car Wash, a Montgomery, Ala.-based car wash. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Wirecard inked a deal to sell its assets in Brazil. Read more.

- Lifesize acquired Kaptivo, a San Mateo, Calif.-based digital whiteboard tech company. Kaptivo investors previously included Draper Esprits and HarbourVest Partners, per Pitchbook. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Experity acquired Calibrater Health, a feedback management company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Kadenwood agreed to acquire EcoGen Laboratories, a CBD products company, valuing the combined company at $250 million. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOS

- Horizon Acquisition Corp., a blank check company led by the CEO of Eldridge Industries, Todd Boehly, raised $500 Million in an IPO. Read more.

- Nano-X Imaging, a Neve Ilan, Israel-based medical imaging systems, raised $165 million in an offering of 9.2 million shares at $18.

- Kymera Therapeutics, a Watertown, Mass.-based developing therapies for inflammatory diseases, raised $174 million in an offering of 8.7 million shares at $20.

EXIT

- Kingspan Group will acquire Trimo, a European maker of building envelope solutions, from Innova Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.

F+FS

- March Capital launched the March Gaming Fund with $60 million to invest in seed and series A companies.