Why are VCs launching SPACs? Amish Jani of FirstMark shares his firm’s rationale

It’s happening slowly but surely. With every passing week, more venture firms are beginning to announce SPACs. The veritable blitz of SPACs formed by investor Chamath Palihapitiya notwithstanding, we’ve now seen a SPAC (or plans for a SPAC) revealed by Ribbit Capital, Lux Capital, the travel-focused venture firm Thayer Ventures, Tusk Ventures’s founder Bradley Tusk, the SoftBank Vision Fund, and FirstMark Capital, among others. Indeed, while many firms say they’re still in the information-gathering phase of what could become a sweeping new trend, others are diving in headfirst.

To better understand what’s happening out there, we talked on Friday with Amish Jani, the cofounder of FirstMark Capital in New York and the president of a new $360 million tech-focused blank-check company organized by Jani and his partner, Rick Heitzmann. We wanted to know why a venture firm that has historically focused on early-stage, privately held companies would be interested in public market investing, how Jani and Heitzmann will manage the regulatory requirements, and whether the firm may encounter conflicts of interest, among other things.

If you’re curious about starting a SPAC or investing in one or just want to understand how they relate to venture firms, we hope it’s useful reading. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: Why SPACs right now? Is it fair to say it’s a shortcut to a hot public market, in a time when no one quite knows when the markets could shift?

AJ: There are a couple of different threads that are coming together. I think the first one is the the possibility that [SPACs] works and really well. [Our portfolio company] DraftKings [reverse-merged into a SPAC] and did a [private investment in public equity deal]; it was a fairly complicated transaction and they used this to go public and the

4 Tests For Launching A Venture In The Pandemic

Times of rapid and dramatic change can shift the tectonic plates of opportunity. The current pandemic is such a time — meaning that leaders should looking for suddenly-surfaced opportunities around which to  build a new business.

How can you decide which of these new opportunities is the right one for you? I offer students In my Foundations of Entrepreneurial Management course at Babson College a way to think about this question. The most important principle to keep in mind is that most startup ideas people pitch to me don’t work because the founders are trying to solve the wrong problem.

Here are the four tests potential founders should apply to make sure their new venture idea is solving the right problem:

1. Compelling evidence of ‘customer pain.’

I have interviewed hundreds of company founders over the last 10 years and I’ve found that the most common reason they started their company was to solve a painful problem they faced in their own lives.

Many founders have told me that when they failed to find a company offering a solution to that problem, they started a company aiming to provide such a solution. If after a diligent search, you can’t find a solution to your problem, you can be fairly comfortable that you will not face initial competition from a large, more financially-solid rival.

Consider how the pandemic has destroyed old opportunities and created new ones. A fitness trainer saw that Covid-19 would slash demand for his business but with people riding bikes instead would create a need for bike repair.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that fitness trainer, “Ian Oestreich realized by early March that the coronavirus meant his days as a fitness trainer were numbered. So he began hawking his knack for fixing bikes, leading to the

Gaming giant Razer is launching a prepaid credit card that lights up when you make payments



a stereo on a table: Razer


© Razer
Razer

  • Gaming company Razer is launching a prepaid credit card with Visa in Singapore.
  • The card is virtual, similar to the Apple Card, but users can request a premium physical card that lights up when you make payments.
  • Razer is the latest tech company to branch out into the personal finance space, along with Apple and Samsung.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

First there was the Apple Card, now there’s the Razer Card.

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Gaming company Razer just unveiled the Razer Card, a prepaid credit card it created with Visa that will be available in beta in Singapore. Razer previously announced its ambitions to build a prepaid card in partnership with the payments giant last year, but unveiled the card and beta program on October 5.

Similar to the Apple Card, the Razer Card is a virtual card that can be accessed via the company’s Razer Pay service. There’s also an option to upgrade to a premium physical card, which the company says can light up when making a chip or contactless payment. Razer’s physical cards are numberless, the company says, another characteristic is shares with the Apple Card.

The company hasn’t explicitly said whether it will charge users for the light-up card. But it does refer to the virtual and standard cards as complementary, saying the users can upgrade to the premium card — implying that there may be a fee to do so. 

Coming from a gaming company, it’s no surprise that Razer is trying to “gamify” its prepaid card. The company claims its rewards system will differ from that of other cards since it will allow card holders to track and score rewards based on everyday tasks and transactions.

The card offers 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% on purchases

Dead By Daylight Cross-Progression Is “Closer Than Ever” To Launching

Developer Behaviour Interactive has provided an update on cross-progression for Dead By Daylight, saying the feature is “closer than ever” to launching.

While an exact release date for cross-progression has not been announced, the studio did confirm that the feature will make its way to Google Stadia and PC via Steam.

“The other important feature we have been working on for the past month is cross-progression,” the studio said in a Dead By Daylight update blog post. “In the past couple of months, we have continued developing the cross-progression feature for Steam and Stadia. We are working hard on the final details and we are closer than ever to making it available for all on these two platforms.”

When cross-progression does become available, players can transfer their data between Stadia and Steam through a new website Behaviour developed specifically for the feature. Everything from character progress to purchased or unlocked add-on content will carry over between the two platforms.

Behaviour clarified in a separate blog post that cross-progression is not planned for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, saying that while it will continue working on it, there’s no guarantee the feature will make its way to other platforms.

“As of today, we cannot make Cross-Progression available on other platforms and we have no guarantee that it will happen. However, we know that this is a community wish, and we will keep trying to make it happen.”

Still, the studio did confirm that cross-progression will come to Nintendo Switch, allowing players to transfer data between all three platforms whenever they want. A release date for cross-progression for Switch has not been announced, but the feature will be coming “in the near future.”

In August, Behaviour released a Dead By Daylight update that made cross-play available on all platforms. Cross-progression is the

Google’s New Chromecast Is Launching Without An Official Stadia App

The saga of Stadia, Google’s streaming game service that still hasn’t released in many regions around the world, keeps getting stranger. Google has just released a new Chromecast for TVs, and while it comes with over 6500 apps, Stadia isn’t one of them right now.

The Verge got their hands on the new Chromecast, which comes with Google TV, and found that there was no official Stadia app at launch. While they were able to get Stadia working through sideloading, it’s not an ideal solution, and it means that using Google’s service on this Google product at launch is inconvenient.

According to The Verge, the device will be updated to support Stadia officially in “the first half” of 2021. Stadia is officially supported by the Chromecast Ultra, which makes its lack of inclusion here especially confusing. The only way to get the Ultra now is through the Stadia Premiere Edition kit, strangely enough.

The Verge speculates that this might have something to do with the Android TV operating system that the new Chromecast runs on, and the higher expectations for latency and clarity players have when gaming on a television.

Stadia currently doesn’t have an official iOS app, either, although someone has found a way to get the service working on an iPhone.

While the Stadia has had some clear issues, game streaming does not appear to be going anywhere–Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax, for instance, was likely motivated by a desire to get their hands on Bethesda’s Orion streaming technology, as well as their games.

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