Bill Gates–backed EV battery startup to go public using Wall Street’s latest buzzy trick

September 3, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

Amid strong investor appetite for electric-vehicle companies, a startup backed by Bill Gates plans to raise $1 billion by going public.

QuantumScape, which is developing quick-charging batteries for electric cars, says it will merge with Kensington Capital Acquisition, an already publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and issue more equity to raise $1 billion. Once merged, QuantumScape, which is still working on its battery technology, would be valued at $3.3 billion.

The deal comes as investors send the stock prices of EV companies soaring, led by Elon Musk’s Tesla. Though Tesla’s share price declined 6% on Wednesday, it’s still up more than fivefold this year. Meanwhile, Chinese EV maker Nio is up almost fivefold, while three-wheeled electric-vehicle maker Arcimoto and charging network Blink are up almost fourfold. That has prompted a number of similar startups, ranging from QuantumScape to Fisker to Canoo, to go public by merging with SPACs.

QuantumScape was founded in 2010 by CEO Jagdeep Singh, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and sold companies including Lightera Networks, bought by Ciena in 1999 for $1 billion.

Singh’s QuantumScape has partnered with Volkswagen to develop batteries for electric cars and trucks that would double the range of existing battery technology and enable faster recharging. Volkswagen says vehicles with QuantumScape batteries probably won’t be available in cars until 2025, however.

QuantumScape has previously raised a total of $800 million from investors including Microsoft founder Gates and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. The latest deal has attracted Fidelity Management & Research and Janus Henderson Investors.

“To replace all of the existing cars we need batteries that charge quickly, that take up less space, that cost less and give cars the same range as their gas-powered rivals,” Gates said last week in a video about the company. “QuantumScape has a great battery that is part of the solution to this challenge.”

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