Skift Take

Two blank-check outfits that will try to buy something in travel later debuted on the stock market this week. No Airbnb-style IPO pops, however, because no one knows what the acquirers might score in the travel sector.

Thayer Ventures Acquisition Corp., a travel-focused blank-check company tied to Chris Hemmeter of venture capital firm Thayer Ventures and Mark Farrell, the former mayor of San Francisco, debuted on the stock market on Friday under the symbol TVACU.

The debut came the same day that Altitude Acquisition, a similar entity, closed its effort to raise $300 million in an initial public offering that launched Wednesday to search for investments in the travel industry. Altitude is run by CEO Gary Teplis, the top boss of corporate travel agency Teplis Travel.

The two companies have gotten one step closer to going on the hunt, having completed their initial public offerings. A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), or blank check company, is a shell company with no operations but created to acquire or merge with another company. Both Thayer and Altitude will target the travel and transportation technology sector.

“Now we’re legally allowed to go shopping,” said Mark Farrell of Thayer. “We’ve spent a great deal of time putting together our target list, and we look forward to hitting the ground running next week.”

Like many such entities, both offered their stocks at $10 a share on their debuts this week. Investors gave both stocks a slight price bump. Thayer’s closed Friday at $10.38 despite broader market turmoil that had the popular Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down during the three days to Friday. Altitude, under ticker symbol ALTUU, closed at $10.29 on Friday.

Earlier this week, Thayer amended its initial public offering filing to reduce the offering size to “up to $150 million” from $175 million. Underwriters exercised their options to cover over-allotments, so gross proceeds from the initial public offering came to $172.5 million on Friday.

The initial public offerings of the two companies weren’t as dramatic, of course, as Airbnb’s initial public offering on Thursday, which priced at $68 per share Wednesday evening, with the first trade coming at $146 a share.

Altitude raised $261 million on Wednesday by offering 26.1 million units at $10 each. That was lower than it’s proposed offering of 30 million units earlier in the month, Renaissance Capital noted.

“The Airbnb IPO is a great marker for sentiment around the ultimate recovery of travel,” Farrell of Thayer said.

Both blank check companies are part of a trend in investors targeting the travel sector.

Debuting in August, travel blank check company Go Acquisition Corp., is led by Certares founder and Liberty Tripadvisor Vice Chairman Greg O’Hara and Noam Gottesman. It debuted a $500 million initial public offering of Go Acquisition Corp.

“This is an incredible time to put capital to work,” said Mark Farrell of Thayer. “We believe our SPAC could uniquely benefit a private company in our space that is looking to access the public markets and enjoy the benefits like Airbnb of being a public company.”

Opportunities remain on the venture capital side, too.

Thayer Ventures’s third venture capital fund is “close to fully invested at this point,” Farrell said. “We’ve had the ability to put capital to work in companies that have incredible stories that we believe are poised to get on the offense as we come to the end of the Covid-19 environment.”


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Tags: investments, mergers and acquisitions, spac, spacs, thayer ventures, venture capital

Photo credit: Chris Hemmeter, managing director of Thayer Ventures, talked at Skift Tech Forum in June 2018. Skift

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