Public Markets

Skillz Opens At $17.89 On First Day Of Trading

Mobile e-sports platform Skillz began trading at $17.89 on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday after completing its planned merger with a SPAC. The company closed out its first day at $22.73.

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Rather than go public through a traditional IPO or direct listing, Skillz was acquired by special purpose acquisition company Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. As Crunchbase News has written before, 2020 is the year of the SPAC

The transaction includes $849 million in funding from investors including Fidelity, Wellington Management and Franklin Templeton, according to a statement from the company. Skillz is trading on the NYSE under the ticker SKLZ.

Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. is headed by Harry Sloan, a media executive who was formerly the CEO of MGM. Sloan was also behind Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., which took fantasy sports platform DraftKings public via SPAC earlier this year. DraftKings and Virgin Galactic going public via SPAC has been cited as bringing attention back to that method this year.

Skillz CEO Andrew Paradise first met the team behind Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. back in 2017 before Flying Eagle had been formed, Paradise said in an interview with Crunchbase News. It was the first time he’d heard of a SPAC, and he mentioned to the team that Skillz was looking to go public around late 2020.

“Fast-forward to this year. We were getting ready to go public on the traditional route and out of the blue a different SPAC sent in a 120-page proposal offering to take us public,” Paradise said.

Skillz began looking into going public via SPAC, and found that a SPAC allowed the company to get to know the new investors longer (since Sept. 2), rather than the few weeks a traditional IPO allows. 

“If you’re really building for 100 years, you really want to get to know the people who invest the capital to build the company,” Paradise said.

It also allowed the company to transition early-stage investors out of the cap table and bring in new investors like Wellington and Franklin Templeton.

Up next, the company plans to expand internationally and enter new genres of video games, Paradise said. Skillz revenue is currently 90 percent from North America, but the company has plans to enter India next.

Skillz is backed by investors including Telstra Ventures and WestCap. Its last venture funding round was a $25 million Series D led by WestCap, according to Crunchbase.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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