Getty Images/Hellofresh/privat/Rocket Internet/Lakestar; Collage: Gründerszene
For a few months in 2021 they were the hype topic in the German startup scene: Spacs. Who has just founded one and who already has a suitable takeover target in mind? Spacs are empty company shells that are founded to first buy up tech companies and then take them public through a merger.
Many scene heads also started their own Spacs in Germany in 2021, such as the creators of the VC fund 468 Capital, Lakestar boss Klaus Hommels, Hellofresh boss Dominik Richter and Rocket Internet founder Oliver Samwer. As is often the case, the role model was the USA, where there had been a trend towards company covers for a long time. But when the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed new regulatory hurdles against the Spac activity, the enthusiasm of the US Spac makers faded as quickly as it had come. In Germany too, the hype was over before it had really begun.
What remained were empty company shells whose founders were desperately looking for takeover targets. They usually have two years to do this. In most cases these have now passed. Time for an assessment of the German startup Spacs.
Some Spacs crushed again
Some of the Spac companies were unable to find a suitable company by the end of the deadline. So they abandoned their plan again. The dazzling biotech investor Christian Angermayer, for example, gave the shareholders back their shares in his Spac in March, and Rocket Internet boss Oliver Samwer also dissolved his Spac in March 2023. In early summer, Hellofresh co-founder Dominik Richter and his Spac partner Roman Kirsch also announced the end of their company vehicle.
Roman Kirsch told Gründerszene that there were options and interest from various companies, but in the end they decided against taking over the company. For the benefit of investors, as he says. Because the financing climate has deteriorated drastically, not only for Spacs but for all tech companies in general: “Any listing of a private company would mean that our investors would almost inevitably have lost money. That’s why we were so honest that we said: We’d rather give the money back and write off our own costs instead of making an investment that would inevitably be loss-making for investors.” The investors got their original investment from Kirsch and Co plus interest received, which was around two percent in the case of the Richter Kirsch Spac.