Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti to Go Public in $1.5 Billion Deal with Zillow Co-Founder's SPAC

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.

Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti to Go Public in $1.5 Billion Deal with Zillow Co-Founder's SPAC

A shell company co-created by former Zillow CEO and dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff revealed today that it's merging with quantum computing company Rigetti in a $1.5 billion deal.

Based in Oakland, Rigetti is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "RGTI" once the merger with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is complete. The announcement follows the public debut of another quantum computing firm, IonQ, which recently started trading on the same exchange via a similar merger.

Bloomberg recently reported that Rascoff's blank-check company — Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II — was in talks to merge with restaurant data startup Buyers Edge Platform. At the time, the report noted the deal was not final and "the talks could fall apart."

Instead, the deal with Rigetti is expected to leave the quantum computing firm with $458 million to "accelerate development of multiple generations of quantum processors and grow its commercial business," according to a joint press release.

Rascoff's first SPAC took real estate tech company Offerpad, a Zillow competitor, public in a $3 billion deal. Today the company was trading under the ticker symbol "OPAD" below $8 per share with a market cap of about $1.70 billion. That's a noteworthy drop from Offerpad's recent peak share price of $13.63.

In an op-ed on SPACs published in October 2020, Rascoff called them "today's best option for an IPO." One year later, excitement around the trend seems to be dying down.

A prolific investor, Rascoff appears to have a finger in every pie. In addition to dot.LA and Zillow, Rascoff co-founded the $1.5 billion real estate startup Pacaso, co-founded HotWire.com and launched L.A. venture fund 75 & Sunny.

He also sits on the board of the controversial data-mining startup Palantir. Previously, Rascoff was a board member of Zillow, TripAdvisor, Zulily and Julep. Crunchbase has tracked 57 personal investments made by Rascoff since 2012.

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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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Amazon Launches $150M Fund to Back Underrepresented Founders

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

side of Amazon building
Photo by Bryan Angelo on Unsplash

Amazon Catalytic Capital will invest $150 million to venture capital funds backing Black, Latino, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders at the pre-seed and seed capital stage capital. Their goal is to support developing startups through mentorship and partnership opportunities.

The fund has already funneled money into Collide Capital, Elevate Future Fund, Techstars Rising Stars Fund and Share Venture. Amazon plans to support 10 funds and 200 companies within the fund’s first year.

“We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs—from companies offering inclusive health services for women, to startups helping companies mitigate climate impact for underserved communities—and we’re convinced that an inclusive investment strategy leads to better returns and innovation,” said Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide corporate development, in a statement.

Share Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry, hones in on tech that measures and enhances human performance. Launched in 2020, the studio invests across health tech, future of work, people tech, fintech, transportation and purpose tech.

Though it is headquartered in Colorado, Techstars has a heavy presence across Los Angeles. The company relaunched its local healthcare accelerator last month and it has backed multiple startups through its accelerator program. Its Rising Stars Fund focuses on providing founders of color with pre-seed venture capital and personalized mentorship.

Amazon’s investment is sure to add to the growing number of funds across Los Angeles specifically highlighting underrepresented groups. L’Attitude Ventures backs Latino entrepreneurs seeking Series A funding, and Jumpstart Nova supports Black healthcare startups. But the L.A. venture capital scene still lacks diversity even as founders of color make waves in the startup world.

Amazon itself has invested in underrepresented founders through the recently launched AWS Impact Accelerator and the Alexa Fund. Its previous investing initiatives, however, have been criticized after Amazon created products similar to those pitched by startups it had considered investing in. In addition, Amazon is grappling with its own internal diversityissues even as its new fund promises mentorship and guidance to diverse founders.

At the very least, Amazon Catalytic Capital aims to bring more attention to startups that often have more difficulty obtaining funds while encouraging others to take similar investing initiatives.