Oct 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

FirstMark Capital raises a "full stack" SPAC

Illustration of a package wrapped in blank checks.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Venture capitalists like to talk about "full stack" when it comes to software investments. Now, some are using it to describe themselves.

Driving the news: FirstMark Capital raised $360 million in an upsized IPO for its first SPAC, whose target universe will include portfolio companies of FirstMark's early-stage and growth-stage funds.

Why it matters: FirstMark can now help fund founders all the way from the garage to the public markets, which could be a compelling sales pitch for both startups and limited partners.

  • It follows a recent SPAC offering from fintech-focused Ribbit Capital, which also has early-stage and growth-stage funds.

Backstory: FirstMark partner Rick Heitzmann says the idea of doing a SPAC dates back three years, when he was at a Credit Suisse tech conference with Jason Robins, CEO of FirstMark portfolio company DraftKings. Per Heitzmann..."Jason said we should have dinner with Harry Sloan [the former MGM CEO who did his first SPAC in 2013]. I said, 'No, that's stupid, let's have dinner by ourselves.' But Jason pointed out that the worst case scenario was that we'd get some really good wine out of it because Harry's rich, so we went. "And Harry tells the SPAC story, and it's 100 times more interesting than I'd thought before. Eighteen months later, Jason begins talking about how it could be the right fit for DraftKings, which it turned out to be, and now we've raised one too with Jason on our board."

Complications: Were FirstMark's SPAC to target a FirstMark portfolio company, there are potential conflicts of interest.

  • Heitzmann says his firm would recuse itself from any relevant board votes, and that portfolio companies would likely set up a special committee that would, among other things, obtain a fairness opinion.
  • He adds that FirstMark doesn't have board control of any portfolio companies.

The bottom line: This is the beginning of a trend, not a one-off.

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