Buying an IPO. Again.

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, September 14, 2017

This is the third time I’ve bought an IPO on its first day of trading, and the second time I’ve bought exposure to a SPAC over the past year — hopefully it will work out as well as the others.

I saw Chamath Palihapitiya speak at the Delivering Alpha conference on Tuesday, along with Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht, and I was impressed (more thoughts from that conference coming in the Friday File tomorrow). They had a fascinating discussion about the future of technology and about investing in venture capital (and real estate, which is Barry’s realm as he invests his Starwood billions), and there were some headline grabbers, like Chamath sayhing that he has been massively long bitcoin since 2013 and that governments will not be able to eliminate it because “the genie is out of the bottle.”

But Chamath is primarily interesting because of his insights into operating technology companies, thanks to his experience, even at quite a young age, as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist (he got his start, and much of his initial seed money, as an early Facebook executive). He talks about going in deep with his venture investments, working with them on operations and improving their data and their technology as well as developing reasonable businesses that have actual cash possibilities — but what was perhaps more interesting than his comments is that he’s launching a “blank check” company that will aim, if you read between the lines a bit and have some imagination, to build a tech empire.

He described his investment firm, Social Capital, as like a “bastard stepchild of Berkshire Hathaway and Blackstone and BlackRock” back in 2015, and this new collaboration called Social Capital Hedosophia that went public this morning (ticker IPOAU, which will become IPOA for the stock and IPOA.WS for the warrants once the units are split to trade stock and warrants separately) is the first opportunity for individual investors to ride along with him. So I’ve bought a few shares.

The S-1 filing is here, and it includes the usual safety features built into a SPAC (like the option to redeem your shares or opt out of a business combination when they do find one, and the liquidation of the money held in trust if they fail to find an investment). There is always a real chance that a SPAC/Blank Check company can fail, either because they ...

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