Arising out of the smoke and rubble of Nikola's recent battle with short sellers, one electric truck company has casually made its way onto the public markets via a SPAC, making its 28 year old founder a billionaire in the process.
Does it feel enough like 1999 yet?
“We were fortunate on timing,” Hyliion Holdings Corp. CEO Thomas Healy told Bloomberg. His company, founded just 5 years ago in 2015, went public through a SPAC with Tortoise Acquisition Corporation and started trading publicly last Friday. Healy is now one of the world's youngest self-made billionaires.
He started his company after watching Tesla while growing up and says that spurred an interest in electric vehicles. "I thought: Why do we have electric technology in cars and not in trucks yet, since trucks are where you can have the biggest impact?" he told Bloomberg.
Healy had originally planned to go public at the time the coronavirus struck. “If we were trying to close right when the stock market was on that downswing, we might have been having different discussions,” he admitted.
The deal has not only garnered scrutiny due to Nikola's recent fall from grace, but also because the SPAC phenomenon is now being watched closer and through a more skeptical lens. Recall, days ago, we noted that SEC Chair Jay Clayton had said on CNBC that the regulator would "look closer" at the deals.
Like many others who have used SPACs, Healy said the lack of regulation was an obvious benefit. He told Bloomberg:
In the first quarter, we kicked off our next financing round. Going public and being able to bring in more capital than we would staying private was attractive. From that, we considered: do we go down the conventional IPO route? Or do we want a SPAC process? We saw a lot of efficiencies with SPACs. You’re really negotiating a deal with an organization as opposed to going on a roadshow for an IPO that may -- or may not -- be successful. We met with the Tortoise team introduced to us through investment bank Marathon Capital. That was the moment of ‘OK. Let’s do this!’
"From our end, it was a very natural process with Tortoise. We were just going through a conventional financing fundraising process, and then we saw this as the best path," he continued.
"Our goal is you’ll be driving down the highway and the trucks you see will have Hyliion powertrains," Healy said. "There will be other trucks that are electric as well, taking a different approach. We hope all these technologies are successful as ultimately we’re trying to make this shift to electric. The more people are focused on that, the better off we’ll all be."
But don't worry Thomas - even if they don't - you'll still be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.