Fifth Wall real estate investment firm bails on latest plan for SPAC

Fifth Wall real estate investment firm bails on latest plan for SPAC

Fifth Wall had taken steps to become a blank check company that focused on investing in proptech companies.

Fifth Wall, a venture capital firm that has raised funds for proptech companies seeking to go public, is hitting the brakes on its latest attempt to take a startup public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, according to documents filed late last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Less than a year after Fifth Wall announced its intention to create the blank check company, known as Fifth Wall Acquisition II, the firm filed to withdraw its request with the SEC on Friday. The withdrawal is only the latest apparent struggle among proptech companies or its investors, with stocks struggling on Wall Street and the delay of another big proptech merger.

The $150 million, Deutsche Bank-backed SPAC, which would have marked the firm’s third one last year, would have traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker FWAB. The news was first reported by tech news site dot.LA, which was founded by former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies have no specific business plan, other than to help with company mergers or acquisitions on their own journey to become publicly traded.

While it wasn’t clear whether Fifth Wall had plans to invest in specific companies after the SPAC went public, it said it would target its investments in the real estate industry and technological innovation.

Emerging real estate technologies, the company said, have “the potential to create trillions of dollars of enterprise value over time.” 

Fifth Wall had recently shown the types of proptech companies it was interested in.

Fifth Wall helped bring SmartRent public in 2021. Fifth Wall helped to raise $450 million for the company, which focuses on providing a platform and smart technology for property owners.

“Fifth Wall also launched a third SPAC that raised $275 million upon going public last May,” dot.LA wrote. “That blank-check entity currently trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker FWAC but has yet to merge with another company, a la SmartRent.”

The news comes amid uncertainty for other real estate companies that are looking to go public by merger with investment firms, and as proptech stocks struggle on Wall Street.

Fifth Wall said that five proptech companies it had invested in had gone public in 2021: Procore, Blend, Doma, Hippo and SmartRent. Each company’s stock is down significantly compared to its public trading debut.

Better HoldCo, an end-to-end real estate platform backed by SoftBank and other investors, had planned to go public during the fourth quarter of 2021 through a SPAC merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp. 

But the merger was postponed after the deal terms were revised on Nov. 30, and CEO Vishal Garg fired about 900 Better employees over a Zoom call the next day. The amendment to the merger agreement extended the outside date for calling off the merger from Feb. 12, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2022.

Better HoldCo — the parent company of Better Mortgage Corp., Better Real Estate LLC, Better Settlement Services LLC, and Better Cover LLC — has continued to shed top executives, including Christian Wallace, who headed up the company’s real estate brokerage operations.

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