Skift Take

This is now the third "blank check" company in three months to say it will buy and invest in travel companies. The sudden spike in such financial innovation underscores investor faith that the travel sector offers many bargains and promising opportunities right now.

Thayer Ventures, a venture-capital firm mainly focused on investing in travel tech startups, filed documents this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $175 million in an initial public offering for a company focused on investing in primarily travel and transportation companies.

Thayer’s new company will be the latest so-called SPAC targeting travel. A special purpose acquisition company, or blank check company, is a shell company with no operations but created with the purpose of acquiring or merging with another company.

Thayer Ventures Acquisition Corporation will be led by co-CEOs Mark Farrell, the former mayor of San Francisco, and Christopher Hemmeter, co-founder and managing director of Thayer Ventures. At the proposed deal size, Thayer Ventures Acquisition would command a market value of $219 million, said consultancy Renaissance Capital.

“We believe there is a “supply-demand imbalance” that presents an opportunity for a capital provider and acquirer with scale to purchase, integrate and grow an attractive business in our chosen sectors [of travel and transportation] that would benefit from access to the public markets,” the company founders said in its S-1 filing with the SEC, which it filed confidentially in late August.

The new Valencia, Calif.-based special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, follows on the heels of other “blank check” companies targeting the travel sector. Thayer Ventures already has investments in tech-enabled hospitality brands Sonder and Life House and about 40 other travel and transportation-related companies.

Go Acquisition Corp. held a $500 million initial public offering in August with the intent of going shopping for mergers in the travel and travel-adjacent arena. Certares founder and Liberty Tripadvisor Vice Chairman Greg O’Hara are behind that company.

Altitude Acquisition filed paperwork late last month to raise $300 million in an initial public offering to go target mergers, acquisitions, and investments in the travel industry. Its CEO is Gary Teplis, who is CEO of corporate travel agency Teplis Travel.

Thayer Ventures’ move also comes on the heels of it closing an $80 million fund to invest in young despite the coronavirus pandemic. Thayer Ventures is one of the rare firms to focus primarily on travel, which is why the sector sees it as a bellwether for the state of equity financing. The San Francisco-based company prioritizes early-stage, business-to-business companies, though it also considers other opportunities.

The new company listed some criteria that would make some potential investment more appealing than others. It plans to look at companies focused on sectors facing long-term disruption that have competitive advantages, high revenue growth, and knowledgable leaders.

Thayer Ventures Acquisition Corporation will list on Nasdaq under the symbol TVACU.

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Tags: mergers and acquisitions, spac, startups, thayer, thayer ventures, travel startups

Photo credit: A sign on Wall Street in New York City's financial district. Thayer Ventures, a venture-capital firm, plans to raise up to $175 million in an initial public offering for a company investing in travel businesses. Adobe

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