Relentless business mogul, Charlie Ergen – the founder of Dish Network and a former professional gambler – popular for his fierce approach to business, from playing hardball with TV networks, to counting cards at blackjack, recently announced his intentions to place his chips on a new bet. He’s creating a Black Check company which will be known as CONX CORP and is soliciting a $1 billion fundraise from investors in an IPO. This way, he and a fellow Dish executive can use a private company in the technology, telecom, or media space as a channel to take public.
Black Checks, also known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACS), at the moment are looming really big. In only this year, SPACs have raised over $48 billion, according to the industry tracker SPAC insider. This is way bigger than the previous 5 years combined.
Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp, Sloan and Sagansky’s newest SPAC, revealed intentions to bring the mobile gaming platform Skillz public last month. Having merged Draftkings through their Diamond Eagle, the sports betting and gaming company’s stock price has risen from $10 to $60 today making it the most successful SPAC merger of all time.
Jason Robins, Draftkings CEO is partnering with Todd Boehyl’s Eldridge industries and MRC co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu on a $500 million SPAC called Horizon Acquisition Corp. II, which is aiming towards a “market leading company in the media and entertainment industry that delivers a unique product or service to consumers,” according to MRC.
However, in the midst of the boom and flourish, there is an uncertainty as to whether there are really enough attractive private companies who would easily align with one to go public as there are advantages as well as some disadvantages in merging with a SPAC.
“You can develop the story with investors for a long time and if it doesn’t fly, you don’t announce it, you never market it, no one ever finds out about it,” Sloan says.
Kohn also recalled their ill-fated IPO of Endeavor last year, citing it as an example of a move when the market wasn’t right. “You have spent all this time putting your organization through something, and then you have nothing to show for it.”
Thus, SPAC founders turn to their strengths when searching for potential companies be it financial strength in a particular industry or even experience in the SPAC space itself.