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Twentysomethings With Fat Checkbooks Join the SPAC Rush

Growing numbers of young people are raising funds for deals in a challenge to Wall Street elites.
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Illustration: Sam Island for Bloomberg Businessweek

The trajectory of so-called blank-check companies—effectively vast pools of cash in search of investment opportunities—is shaping up to be a classic Wall Street feeding frenzy. In the past two years, they’ve morphed from a niche product aimed at financial pros into a mass-market phenomenon hyped on Twitter and CNBC. Almost 600 of these special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are trading in New York, and high-profile financiers such as hedge fund titan Bill Ackman, Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son, and Citigroup Inc. veteran Michael Klein have jumped in. This year, some 450 SPACs have completed U.S. initial public offerings, with a total value of $130 billion—more than one-and-a-half times the massive haul of 2020—and hundreds more are waiting to list.

Now the kids are joining the party. More than a dozen people age 30 and younger have been named as executives or board members at blank-check companies that have filed listing plans since June, according to data provider SPAC Research. These include a 27-year-old who got a master’s in project management from Georgetown University in 2020, a 29-year-old Atlantan who’s involved in four of them, and a pair of 23-year-old fraternity brothers from Cornell who list a $9 million, seven-bedroom mansion as their headquarters. With so many aspiring entrants, the SPAC market today looks like “a pile-on after the match is over,” says Brett McGonegal, chairman of advisory firm Capital Link International Holdings Ltd. “The most important thing on Wall Street is timing. If you come at the wrong time for a product that’s lost its luster, it’s going to hurt.”