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A SPAC courts Airbnb

September 3, 2020, 2:28 PM UTC

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In (highly expected) news, Bill Ackman’s mega blank check company reached out to home-sharing unicorn Airbnb about a potential merger.

Given that such companies typically acquire a portion of another company, Ackman’s monster $4 billion Pershing Square Tontine has a pretty limited universe of potential acquirees—it’s one of the reasons you’ll see a lot of blank check companies raising around $200 million to $300 million, where you can cast a wider net. Ackman has narrowed his radar even further, however, saying he plans to acquire a pure-play tech company

Naturally, Airbnb was among the first names to spring to mind. Except Airbnb has reportedly rebuffed this particular mating dance, per Bloomberg, saying it preferred the traditional IPO route, even if it hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of a merger with the special purpose acquisition company.

The story does speak to the hesitancy still felt around SPACs. While 2020 has been a veritable festival for the financing vehicle, with over $32 billion raised so far, some venture capitalists that Term Sheet has spoken to have voiced doubts about the structure.

Regardless of how it happens, Airbnb’s listing will also be much watched for how it deals with the issue of employee equity. As a 12-year-old company, its early employees have been calling for a public offering for a while now. So could Airbnb play with its lock-up period in the case of a traditional IPO, or directly offer employee stock if it were to merge with a SPAC? 

MAGIC EEP: Augmented-reality startup Magic Leap has gone from being a $6.7 billion company to about $450 million in the books of investors between January and June, per The Information. That comes after the company laid off about half its staff and replaced CEO and co-founder Rony Abovitz with Peggy Johnson.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


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