If you’ve been following the SPAC boom, you may have noticed something about these blank-check vehicles that are springing up left and right in order to take public privately held companies. They are being organized mostly by men.
It’s not surprising, given the relative dearth of women in senior financial positions in banking and the venture industry. But it also begs the question of whether women, already hustling to overcome a wealth gap, could be left behind if the trend gains momentum.
Consider that studies have shown women investors are are twice as likely to invest in startups with at least one female founder, and more than three times as likely to invest in startups with female CEOs. It’s not a huge leap to imagine that women-led SPACs might also be more inclined to identify women-led companies with which to merge and take public.
More, the SPAC sponsors themselves are reaping financial rewards. In return for sponsoring a SPAC in its pre-IPO stage, sponsors typically receive 25% of the SPACs founder shares, which can mean a lot of money in a short amount of time, given that SPACs typically aim to merge with a target company in two years or less. In fact, even if the SPAC performs terribly — say the company with which it merges is later accused of fraud — those sponsors get paid.
Eventbrite cofounder Kevin Hartz, who is overseeing a $200 million SPAC, explained it to us in August this way: “On a $200 million SPAC, there’s a $50 million ‘promote’ that is earned.” But “if that company doesn’t perform and, say, drops in half over a year or 18-month period, then the shares are still worth $25 million. (Hartz himself called this guaranteed payout “egregious,” though he and his partner in the SPAC, Troy