Proptech VC Fifth Wall Halts $150 Million SPAC Amid Stock Market Woes

Harri Weber

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

Proptech VC Fifth Wall Halts $150 Million SPAC Amid Stock Market Woes

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Proptech-focused venture capital firm Fifth Wall has pulled the plug on its $150 million plan to take another real estate tech firm public via a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, a filing with the SEC revealed on Friday.

The Marina del Rey-based firm unveiled its second SPAC last March, with designs on listing the blank-check company on the Nasdaq under the ticker FWAB and issuing 15 million shares at $10 apiece. Fifth Wall tapped Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs, Citi and Deutsche Bank as joint underwriters on the deal, according to IPO research firm Renaissance Capital.


Yet Fifth Wall has now withdrawn the SPAC’s registration, putting an end to those plans. While the venture capital firm did not respond to requests for comment on the move, startups that have gone public via SPAC mergers have had a difficult time on the market as of late—though that hasn’t slowed down SPAC sponsors from issuing more blank-check companies. Meanwhile, the broader stock market continues to teeter on correction territory, with the stocks further roiled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With its first SPAC, Fifth Wall took Arizona-based home automation company SmartRent public last August, in a deal that raised $450 million for the startup. SmartRent’s stock subsequently rose north of $14 per share in early September, but has since shed more than half of its value and closed trading Monday at $6.45 per share—mirroring the wider downturn in the SPAC market.

Fifth Wall also launched a third SPAC that raised $275 million upon going public last May. That blank-check entity currently trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker FWAC but has yet to merge with another company, a la SmartRent.

The venture firm is also raising funds for a late-stage climate tech fund, per another new SEC filing. Fifth Wall did not disclose how much it intends to raise for the new fund. It has secured at least $140 million for a similar fund focused on early-stage climate tech startups, as dot.LA reported last year.

Earlier this month, Fifth Wall announced that it had raised roughly $159 million for its first European fund. (Disclosure: Fifth Wall co-founder and managing partner Brendan Wallace is an investor in dot.LA.)

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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