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Trump Media, Buzzfeed, Beachbody top list of biggest SPAC busts

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Using special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to take firms public was all the rage on Wall Street in 2020 and 2021. The stock market was booming and SPAC mergers represented a fast-tracked way to circumvent the traditional IPO process. By early 2021, critics started warning that the SPAC bubble was about to burst. Instead, the market saw more SPAC mergers than ever before. But it didn’t mean those companies would be successful. We have some of the most disastrous SPAC mergers in this week’s Five For Friday.

#5: Beachbody

With the COVID-19 pandemic came the home fitness craze. Beachbody tried to ride the Peloton wave with a SPAC merger with Shaquille O’Neal-backed Forest Road Acquisition Corp. But the company became another casualty when gyms reopened and its stock went on a steep decline. It didn’t help that a number of other big companies, like Apple, moved in on the fitness streaming game. Celebrity-backed SPACs became so common that regulators issued a bulletin, warning, “It is never a good idea to invest in a SPAC just because someone famous sponsors or invests in it.”

#4: Trump Media and Technology Group

Speaking of celebrity-backed SPACs, our No. 4 features a celebrity president. Trump Media and Technology Group joined the blank check boom with plans to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp. Supporters bought up shares before Truth Social even came to market. The SPAC’s price jumped immediately following the merger announcement but has now plunged nearly 70% after a bungled app launch made worse when investors learned the SEC is now investigating the merger.

#3: Buzzfeed

This development was a real buzzkill for other digital media companies looking to go public using a shell company. Buzzfeed, the site that brought you, “15 Hedgehogs with Things that Look Like Hedgehogs,” was hoping its SPAC merger would help raise enough money to buy up other websites to expand its brand. But the CEO said the company saw the SPAC market go “ice cold” in the process of making the deal. Buzzfeed’s stock has plunged more than 80% since December.

#2: 23andMe

You can’t make it through the holidays without someone talking about their 23andMe kit. But chatter doesn’t equal great returns. Billionaire Richard Branson’s SPAC merged with 23andMe, taking it public with a valuation of $3.5 billion. A series of poor earnings outlooks has spooked investors with 23andMe’s stock tanking more than 70% since its inception.

#1: View Inc.

Every bubble has a poster child – Pets.com is the most famous flop of the dot-com – and for SPACs, it might just be View Inc. They make smart windows that auto-tint when hit by sun rays so you don’t need window coverings. But View burned through $2 billion since launch and it costs more to manufacture the product than they can earn selling it. View’s stock was even at risk of being delisted after failing to release an earnings report for a year. All of that is just part of the reason its stock has fallen 80% since going public.

SIMONE DEL ROSARIO:

USING SPACS TO TAKE PRIVATE COMPANIES PUBLIC WAS ALL THE RAGE ON WALL STREET STARTING IN 2020. THE MARKET WAS BOOMING AND IT’S A FAST-TRACKED WAY TO AVOID THE IPO PROCESS. BUT IT SURE DIDN’T MEAN THOSE COMPANIES WOULD BE SUCCESSFUL. HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST DISASTROUS SPAC MERGERS IN THIS WEEK’S FIVE FOR FRIDAY:

WITH THE PANDEMIC CAME THE HOME FITNESS CRAZE. BEACHBODY TRIED TO RIDE THE PELOTON WAVE WITH A SPAC MERGER WITH SHAQ-BACKED FOREST ROAD ACQUISITION CORP. BUT THE COMPANY QUICKLY BECAME ANOTHER CASUALTY WHEN GYMS OPENED BACK UP, IT’S STOCK ON A STEEP DECLINE. AT THIS POINT CELEBRITY-BACKED SPACS HAD BECOME SO COMMON. REGULATORS FELT FORCED TO SPELL OUT: “IT IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO INVEST IN A SPAC JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE FAMOUS SPONSORS OR INVESTS IN IT.”

NUMBER 4 BRINGS A CELEBRITY PRESIDENT INTO THE MIX. TRUMP MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY GROUP JOINED THE BLANK CHECK BOOM, WITH PLANS TO MERGE WITH SPAC DIGITAL WORLD ACQUISITION CORP. SUPPORTERS BOUGHT UP SHARES BEFORE TRUTH SOCIAL EVEN HAD A PRODUCT ON THE MARKET AND NOW THE SPAC’S PLUNGED NEARLY 70 PERCENT AFTER INVESTORS LEARNED THE SEC IS INVESTIGATING THE MERGER.

NUMBER THREE IS A REAL BUZZKILL FOR OTHER DIGITAL MEDIA COMPANIES LOOKING TO RIDE THE SPAC TRAIN. BUZZFEED, THE SITE THAT BROUGHT YOU “15 HEDGEHOGS WITH THINGS THAT LOOK LIKE HEDGEHOGS,” WAS HOPING THAT GOING PUBLIC VIA SPAC WOULD HELP RAISE DOUGH TO BUY UP OTHER SITES. BUT THEIR CEO SAID THEY SAW THE SPAC MARKET GET “ICE COLD” DURING THE PROCESS. BUZZFEED’S STOCK HAS DROPPED MORE THAN 80 PERCENT SINCE DECEMBER.

NUMBER 2 SHOWS A LOT OF CHATTER DOESN’T MEAN GREAT RETURNS. YOU CAN’T GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS WITHOUT SOMEONE TALKING ABOUT THEIR 23ANDME KIT.THAT’S WHY IT WENT PUBLIC WITH BILLIONAIRE RICHARD BRANSON’S SPAC WITH A VALUATION OF $3.5 BILLION. BUT A SERIES OF POOR EARNINGS OUTLOOKS MADE THE STOCK TANK MORE THAN 70 PERCENT SINCE ITS INCEPTION.

VIEW INC MAKES SMART WINDOWS THAT AUTO-TINT – SO YOU DON’T NEED BLINDS. SOUNDS PRETTY GREAT, THAT’S WHY THEY ENTERED A $1.6 BILLION SPAC MERGER. BUT VIEW BURNED THROUGH $2 BILLION SINCE INCEPTION AND IT COSTS MORE TO MAKE THE PRODUCT THAN THEY CAN SELL EM FOR. ONE OF THE MANY REASONS IT’S DOWN MORE THAN 80 PERCENT SINCE THE SPAC LAUNCH.

IF THERE’S ONE SILVER LINING – AT LEAST THESE SPACS MADE IT TO MERGER! THERE ARE TONS OF EMPTY SHELL COMPANIES STILL OUT THERE THAT HAVEN’T. IF THERE’S NO DEAL IN TWO YEARS, IT’S ALL FOR NOTHING. BUT AT LEAST SHAREHOLDERS WILL GET THEIR MONEY BACK – OVER LOSING IT IN THE MARKET. THAT’S YOUR FIVE FOR FRIDAY. I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO FOR JUST BUSINESS. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.

Using special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) to take firms public was all the rage on Wall Street in 2020 and 2021. The stock market was booming and SPAC mergers represented a fast-tracked way to circumvent the traditional IPO process. By early 2021, critics started warning that the SPAC bubble was about to burst. Instead, the market saw more SPAC mergers than ever before. But it didn’t mean those companies would be successful. We have some of the most disastrous SPAC mergers in this week’s Five For Friday.

#5: Beachbody

With the COVID-19 pandemic came the home fitness craze. Beachbody tried to ride the Peloton wave with a SPAC merger with Shaquille O’Neal-backed Forest Road Acquisition Corp. But the company became another casualty when gyms reopened and its stock went on a steep decline. It didn’t help that a number of other big companies, like Apple, moved in on the fitness streaming game. Celebrity-backed SPACs became so common that regulators issued a bulletin, warning, “It is never a good idea to invest in a SPAC just because someone famous sponsors or invests in it.”

#4: Trump Media and Technology Group

Speaking of celebrity-backed SPACs, our No. 4 features a celebrity president. Trump Media and Technology Group joined the blank check boom with plans to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp. Supporters bought up shares before Truth Social even came to market. The SPAC’s price jumped immediately following the merger announcement but has now plunged nearly 70% after a bungled app launch made worse when investors learned the SEC is now investigating the merger.

#3: Buzzfeed

This development was a real buzzkill for other digital media companies looking to go public using a shell company. Buzzfeed, the site that brought you, “15 Hedgehogs with Things that Look Like Hedgehogs,” was hoping its SPAC merger would help raise enough money to buy up other websites to expand its brand. But the CEO said the company saw the SPAC market go “ice cold” in the process of making the deal. Buzzfeed’s stock has plunged more than 80% since December.

#2: 23andMe

You can’t make it through the holidays without someone talking about their 23andMe kit. But chatter doesn’t equal great returns. Billionaire Richard Branson’s SPAC merged with 23andMe, taking it public with a valuation of $3.5 billion. A series of poor earnings outlooks has spooked investors with 23andMe’s stock tanking more than 70% since its inception.

#1: View Inc.

Every bubble has a poster child – Pets.com is the most famous flop of the dot-com – and for SPACs, it might just be View Inc. They make smart windows that auto-tint when hit by sun rays so you don’t need window coverings. But View burned through $2 billion since launch and it costs more to manufacture the product than they can earn selling it. View’s stock was even at risk of being delisted after failing to release an earnings report for a year. All of that is just part of the reason its stock has fallen 80% since going public.

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