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Can’t stop won’t stop: Social Capital Hedosophia just filed for its fourth SPAC, says new report

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 19: Founder/CEO of Social Capital, Chamath Palihapitiya, speaks onstage during "The State of the Valley: Where’s the Juice?" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

According to a new report in Bloomberg, Social Capital Hedosophia has filed plans confidentially with the SEC to raise $500 million for its newest blank-check company.

It will be the fourth special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to be raised by the outfit, which is headed up by Chamath Palihapitiya and Ian Osborne. Astonishingly, dozens more may be in the works. On the “All-In Podcast,” co-hosted by Palihapitiya, he revealed recently that has reserved the symbols from “IPOA” to “IPOZ”

on the New York Stock Exchange. He also said he has $100 million of his own involved in each deal to demonstrate his alignment with potential investors.

What’s the play? In the podcast, Palihapitiya pointed to the Federal Reserve’s economic and interest rate forecasts and its plans to keep interest rates at zero for years to come. “I mean, quite honestly,” Palihapitiya said, “there’s no path to any near-term inflation of any kind whatsoever.”

It’s why he thinks investors are going to “get paid to be long [on] equities, because your risk-free rate is zero and will soon be negative. And what are you supposed to do if you’re an asset manager?”

Here’s how he framed it: “Let’s say you’re the California pension system, you have hundreds of billions of dollars, and you need to generate five or 6% a year to make sure that your pension isn’t insolvent, and the government is paying you zero. When everybody is in that situation, you’re overwhelmingly long equities . . .So all of these opportunities are generally buying opportunities, and I’m more bullish now than I was before.”

Indeed, when it comes to private or public market investing, said Palihapitiya, “I think it really is just public companies [that are worth getting behind]. . . I mean like, no offense, but if you’re a very good stock picker in the public markets, you’re generating better returns [than] Sequoia, Benchmark — name your best venture fund.  I see all these people spouting off on Twitter about how good they are in the early-stage markets, but it’s all kind of small dollars and not that meaningful.”

Certainly, he has reasoned to feel emboldened. The first SPAC of Social Capital Hedosophia, raised in 2017, ultimately merged last year with the space tourism company Virgin Galactic, and it’s now valued at slightly more than $4 billion by public market shareholders.

The outfit’s second fund, which was raised in April, announced yesterday that it will merge with Opendoor, a company that buys and sells residential real estate and that might have had trouble going public through a traditional IPO process, given its still-uncertain economics.

Social Capital Hedosophia’s third SPAC, also raised in April, has not yet named its target but the company has said it will use its IPO proceeds to buy a tech company that’s primarily outside of the United States.

Certainly, SPACs — which haven’t had a stellar reputation historically — have a growing number of other investors intrigued. According to SPACInsider, nearly 100 SPACs have been raised in 2020 already up from just 7 a decade ago.

Though Sequoia Capital is having a stellar year — given its stake in Zoom, Bytedance, and Snowflake, among many other headline-leading companies — its U.S. head, Roelof Botha, suggested in an interview yesterday that Sequoia hasn’t ruled out the possibility of forming SPACs, even while he implied that it was unlikely. “I love the fact that there’s more innovation” around the IPO process, he said. “It gives more choice to the companies.”

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