SPAC

Smart Glass Maker View’s Outlook Shatters, Smashing SoftBank SPAC Dreams

View, a maker of smart glass for high-end buildings, saw shares fall to around 50 cents each after reporting it may not be able to continue as a going concern.

The Milpitas, California-based company, which went public last year through a merger with a blank-check acquirer, is one of the more heavily venture-funded companies to fall on hard times. Prior to going public in March of 2021, the 15-year-old company had raised more than $1.8 billion in venture funding.

SoftBank VIsion Fund is the by far the largest holder of View, having backed its $1.1 billion Series H round in 2018. But the company was a prodigious fundraiser over many years, and its list of investors is long. It has at least 16 known backers over the years, per Crunchbase, with private equity firm BlackRock among those holding good-sized stakes.

View raised capital off a compelling story: Its branded smart windows use artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to the sun. This enables buildings and their occupants to minimize glare and provide the optimal level light flow as well as save on heating and cooling costs.

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Having worked on this vision for 15 years, View’s technology isn’t a pipe dream either. Per the company website, View has completed over 300 projects to date. Its smart glass has been installed in over 90 million square feet of buildings, including offices, hospitals, airports, educational facilities, hotels and multifamily residences.

View’s projects

One of its most recent installations includes an Amazon office in Redmond, Washington. In the past couple months, the company has announced other sizable projects, including a renovation for a waterfront office tower in Manhattan and a “sustainable smart building” that will serve as Google’s New York headquarters. The plan, per View’s website, says the “floor-to-ceiling View Smart Windows offer unobstructed, west-facing views of the Hudson River and the widest sunset in New York City.”

But while new project announcements keep rolling out, View has been struggling as a public company. In the past year, share prices have never surpassed the $10 threshold at which SPAC deals initially price. In February, the company disclosed it had received a notice of potential delisting from Nasdaq for failing to file quarterly reports for the periods ended June 30 and September 30, 2021.

In November, View announced that an audit committee investigation found material errors in previously reported warranty accruals related to an older-generation product. This error, the company said, would require a restatement of 2019, 2020 and 2021 financials. Multiple law firms announced shareholder suits against View in the wake of the disclosure, charging that the company breached its fiduciary duties.

While it hasn’t published its missing quarterly reports yet, View did announce Wednesday that its cash holdings are $201 million as of the end of Q1 2022 with no substantial debt on its balance sheet.

That would be a pretty good balance sheet for a lot of companies. But because View operates at a loss, it may not be enough to stay afloat. In the announcement, View says it has “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The company anticipates its reported cash outflow from operations for 2021 ranged from $260 million to $270 million. View also concluded that it “does not currently have adequate financial resources” to fund forecasted operating costs and meet obligations for a year following release of its updated financial statements.

New financing is of course an option. But although it will seek to raise capital, View noted that there “can be no assurance that the necessary financing will be available or will be available on terms acceptable to the company.”

View initially announced plans to go public in November 2020, through a merger with a SPAC called CF Finance Acquisition Corp II that was sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald. Shares began trading under the ticker symbol VIEW after the merger was completed in March 2021.

The troubles at View are one of the latest of numerous negative developments for SoftBank. Per The New York Times, the Japanese conglomerate said on Thursday that it had lost about $27 billion in its two Vision Funds for the year that ended in March, as many tech companies it backs struggle with factors including rising inflation and the broad weakness in global equity markets.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

 

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