NGK Spark Plugs launches $100M corporate venture fund, will seek M&A opportunities

NGK Spark Plug, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automative spark plugs, announced a new $100 million fund to invest in startups and find potential merger and acquisition deals. The fund was launched with Pegasus Tech Ventures, the “venture capital as a service” firm that has also worked with corporations like Sega Sammy Holdings, Asus and Aisin Seiki to launch venture funds.

While best known for its automotive components, NGK Spark Plug also manufacturers many other hardware components, including for semiconductor production equipment, cutting tools, medical equipment, industrial ceramics. In recent years, the Nagoya, Japan-headquartered company has begun focusing on new technologies, like solid-state electric vehicle batteries.

NGK Spark Plug’s new corporate venture fund is an opportunity to work with startups and expand into new businesses, said Anis Uzzaman, general partner and chief executive officer of Pegasus Tech Ventures.

The company is looking for software and hardware startups in the United States, Europe, Israel and Asia and will focus on three themes: smart health, decentralized utilities and smart mobility.

“The selection of those areas is based on global trends and data. The global rate of poverty is decreasing and more people need healthy food, clean water, access to energy, mobility and easy access to healthcare,” Uzzaman told TechCrunch in an email.
“NGK is using its material and sensors expertise, as well as its sales channels in automotive, to establish systems and solutions to address major pain points in those areas.”

For smart mobility, this means tech like charging solutions, solid state batteries, ADAS systems, service platforms and power inverters. In decentralized utilities, NGK Spark Plug will look at food tech and agriculture startups, with the goal of creating safer and more sustainable food supplies and reducing pollution. It is also interested in air purification technology.

The fund will invest in early to late stage startups, with check sizes ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars. NGK Spark Plug plans to work closely with portfolio companies, helping bring their tech to maturation, investing in them at multiple stages and remaining open to potential mergers and acquisitions, Uzzaman added.

LINE Ventures merges with YJ Capital, launches $271M fund

LINE completed its merger with Yahoo! Japan owner Z Holdings last month, and now the two firm’s venture capital arms have also combined. Z Holdings announced today that its subsidiary, YJ Capital, has merged with LINE Ventures to form Z Venture Capital.

The new firm also announced the launch of a 30 billion JPY (about $271 million USD) fund, which it claims makes it one of the largest corporate venture capital funds in Japan. The fund will look in Japan, as well as global markets like South Korea, the United States, China and Southeast Asia, for investment opportunities, with the aim of creating collaborations between startups and Z Holdings’ commerce, media and fintech services.

In Japan, Z Venture Capital will focus on data and AI technologies in sectors like healthcare, cybersecurity and B2B, investing in all stages of startups from seed to late-stage.

The firm will take a “sector-agnostic in principal” approach to its global investments based on local market trends, but plans to hone in on consumer internet, e-commerce, fintech and mobility companies. In the United States, it will also look for robotics, deep tech and blockchain opportunities.

Sequoia Capital India on its early investment in Appier, the fund’s latest exit

Chih-Han Yu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Appier Group Inc., right, holds a hammer next to a bell during an event marking the listing of the company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, at the company's office in Taipei, Taiwan on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chih-Han Yu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Appier Group Inc., right, holds a hammer next to a bell during an event marking the listing of the company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, at the company’s office in Taipei, Taiwan on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Appier’s initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday was a milestone not only for the company, but also Sequoia Capital India, one of its earliest investors. Founded in Taiwan, Appier was the fund’s first investment outside of India, and is now also the first company in its portfolio outside of India to go public. In an interview with TechCrunch, Sequoia Capital managing director Abheek Anand talked about what drew the firm to Appier, which develops AI-based marketing software.

Before shifting its focus to marketing, Appier’s founders—chief executive officer Chih-Han Yu, chief operating officer Winnie Lee and chief technology officer Joe Su—worked on a startup called Plaxie to develop AI-powered gaming engines. Yu and Su came up with the idea when they were both graduate students at Harvard, but found there was little demand at the time. Anand met them in 2013, soon after their pivot to big data and marketing, and Sequoia Capital India invested in Appier’s Series A a few months later.

“It’s easy to say in retrospect what worked and what didn’t work. What really stands out without trying to write revisionist history is that this was just an incredibly smart team,” said Anand. “They had probably the most technical core DNA of any Series A company that we’ve met in years, I would argue.” Yu holds a PhD in computer science from Harvard, Wu earned a PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis and Su has a M.S. in computer science from Harvard. The company also filled its team with AI and machine learning researchers from top universities in Taiwan and the United States.

At the time, Sequoia Capital “had a broad thesis that there would be adoption of AI in enterprises,” Anand said. “What we believed was there were a bunch of people going after that problem, but they were trying to solve business problems without necessarily having the technical depth to do it.” Appier stood out because they “were swinging at it from the other end, where they had an enormous amount of technical expertise.”

Since Appier’s launch in 2012, more companies have emerged that use machine learning and big data to help companies automate marketing decisions and create online campaigns. Anand said one of the reasons Appier, which now operates in 14 markets across the Asia-Pacific region, remains competitive is its strategy of cross-selling new products and focusing on specific use cases instead of building a general purpose platform.

Appier’s core product is a cross-platform advertising engine called CrossX that focuses on user acquisition. Then it has products that address other parts of their customers’ value chain: AiDeal to help companies send coupons to the customers who are most likely to use them; user engagement platform AIQUA; and AIXON, a data science platform that uses AI models to predict customer actions, including the likelihood of repeat purchases.

“I think the number one thing that the company has spent a lot of time on is focusing on efficiency,” said Anand. “Customers have tons of data, both external and first-party, that they’re processing to drive business outcomes. It’s a very hard technical problem. Appier starts with a solution that is relatively easy to break into a customer, and then builds deeper and deeper solutions for those customers.”

Appier’s listing is also noteworthy because it marks the first time a company from Taiwan has listed in Japan since Trend Micro’s IPO in 1998. Japan is one of Appier’s biggest markets (customers there include Rakuten, Toyota and Shiseido), making the Tokyo Stock Exchange a natural fit, Anand said, even though most of Sequoia Capital India’s portfolio companies list in India or the United States.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange also stood out because of its retail investor participation, liquidity and total volume. Some of Appier’s other core investors, including JAFCO Asia and SoftBank Group Corp., are also based in Japan. But though it has almost $30 billion in average trading volume, the vast majority of listings are domestic companies. In a recent report, Nikkei Asia cited a higher corporate tax rate and lack of potential underwriters, especially for smaller listings, as a potential obstacles for foreign companies.

But Appier’s debut may lead the way for other Asian startups to chose the Tokyo Stock Exchange, said Anand. “Getting ready for the Japanese exchange meant having the right accounting practices, the right reporting, a whole bunch of compliance stuff. It was a long process. In some ways we were leading the charge for external companies to get there, and I’m sure over time it will keep getting easier and easier.”

Google starts trialing its FLoC cookie alternative in Chrome

Google today announced that it is rolling out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a crucial part of its Privacy Sandbox project for Chrome, as a developer origin trial.

FLoC is meant to be an alternative to the kind of cookies that advertising technology companies use today to track you across the web. Instead of a personally identifiable cookie, FLoC runs locally and analyzes your browsing behavior to group you into a cohort of like-minded people with similar interests (and doesn’t share your browsing history with Google). That cohort is specific enough to allow advertisers to do their thing and show you relevant ads, but without being so specific as to allow marketers to identify you personally.

This “interest-based advertising,” as Google likes to call it, allows you to hide within the crowd of users with similar interests. All the browser displays is a cohort ID and all your browsing history and other data stay locally.

Image Credits: Google / Getty Images

The trial will start in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines. Over time, Google plans to scale it globally. As we learned earlier this month, Google is not running any tests in Europe because of concerns around GDPR and other privacy regulations (in part, because it’s unclear whether FLoC IDs should be considered personal data under these regulations).

Users will be able to opt out from this origin trial, just like they will be able to do so with all other Privacy Sandbox trials.

Unsurprisingly, given how FLoC upends many of the existing online advertising systems in place, not everybody loves this idea. Advertisers obviously love the idea of being able to target individual users, though Google’s preliminary data shows that using these cohorts leads to similar results for them and that advertisers can expect to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.”

Google notes that its own advertising products will get the same access to FLoC IDs as its competitors in the ads ecosystem.

But it’s not just the advertising industry that is eyeing this project skeptically. Privacy advocates aren’t fully sold on the idea either. The EFF, for example, argues that FLoC will make it easier for marketing companies that want to fingerprint users based on the various FLoC IDs they expose, for example. That’s something Google is addressing with its Privacy Budget proposal, but how well that will work remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, users would probably prefer to just browse the web without seeing ads (no matter what the advertising industry may want us to believe) and without having to worry about their privacy. But online publishers continue to rely on advertising income to fund their sites.

With all of these divergent interests, it was always clear that Google’s initiatives weren’t going to please everyone. That friction was always built into the process. And while other browser vendors can outright block ads and third-party cookies, Google’s role in the advertising ecosystem makes this a bit more complicated.

“When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were excited about the direction, but worried about the immediate impact,” Marshall Vale, Google’s product manager for Privacy Sandbox, writes in today’s announcement. “Excited because we absolutely need a more private web, and we know third-party cookies aren’t the long-term answer. Worried because today many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we had seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy-invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies outright without viable alternatives for the ecosystem was irresponsible, and even harmful, to the free and open web we all enjoy.”

It’s worth noting that FLoC, as well as Google’s other privacy sandbox initiatives, are still under development. The company says the idea here is to learn from these initial trials and evolve the project accordingly.

Google starts trialing its FLoC cookie alternative in Chrome

Google today announced that it is rolling out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a crucial part of its Privacy Sandbox project for Chrome, as a developer origin trial.

FLoC is meant to be an alternative to the kind of cookies that advertising technology companies use today to track you across the web. Instead of a personally identifiable cookie, FLoC runs locally and analyzes your browsing behavior to group you into a cohort of like-minded people with similar interests (and doesn’t share your browsing history with Google). That cohort is specific enough to allow advertisers to do their thing and show you relevant ads, but without being so specific as to allow marketers to identify you personally.

This “interest-based advertising,” as Google likes to call it, allows you to hide within the crowd of users with similar interests. All the browser displays is a cohort ID and all your browsing history and other data stay locally.

Image Credits: Google / Getty Images

The trial will start in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines. Over time, Google plans to scale it globally. As we learned earlier this month, Google is not running any tests in Europe because of concerns around GDPR and other privacy regulations (in part, because it’s unclear whether FLoC IDs should be considered personal data under these regulations).

Users will be able to opt out from this origin trial, just like they will be able to do so with all other Privacy Sandbox trials.

Unsurprisingly, given how FLoC upends many of the existing online advertising systems in place, not everybody loves this idea. Advertisers obviously love the idea of being able to target individual users, though Google’s preliminary data shows that using these cohorts leads to similar results for them and that advertisers can expect to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.”

Google notes that its own advertising products will get the same access to FLoC IDs as its competitors in the ads ecosystem.

But it’s not just the advertising industry that is eyeing this project skeptically. Privacy advocates aren’t fully sold on the idea either. The EFF, for example, argues that FLoC will make it easier for marketing companies that want to fingerprint users based on the various FLoC IDs they expose, for example. That’s something Google is addressing with its Privacy Budget proposal, but how well that will work remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, users would probably prefer to just browse the web without seeing ads (no matter what the advertising industry may want us to believe) and without having to worry about their privacy. But online publishers continue to rely on advertising income to fund their sites.

With all of these divergent interests, it was always clear that Google’s initiatives weren’t going to please everyone. That friction was always built into the process. And while other browser vendors can outright block ads and third-party cookies, Google’s role in the advertising ecosystem makes this a bit more complicated.

“When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were excited about the direction, but worried about the immediate impact,” Marshall Vale, Google’s product manager for Privacy Sandbox, writes in today’s announcement. “Excited because we absolutely need a more private web, and we know third-party cookies aren’t the long-term answer. Worried because today many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we had seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy-invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies outright without viable alternatives for the ecosystem was irresponsible, and even harmful, to the free and open web we all enjoy.”

It’s worth noting that FLoC, as well as Google’s other privacy sandbox initiatives, are still under development. The company says the idea here is to learn from these initial trials and evolve the project accordingly.

IBM brings its Quantum System One to the Cleveland Clinic

IBM has installed a couple of its own Quantum System One machines across the world in recent years, but today it announced its first private-sector U.S. deployment thanks to a new ten-year partnership with the Cleveland Clinic. This not only marks IBM’s first U.S. install of one of its quantum computers outside of its own facilities, but also the first time a healthcare institute purchases and houses a quantum computer. And thanks to this deal, Cleveland will also get access to IBM’s upcoming next-gen 1,000+ qubit quantum system.

We’re still in the very early days of commercializing quantum computing and for most current users, having access to a system over the cloud is sufficient for the experiments they are running. But increasingly, we are seeing research institutes and even some commercial users who are looking to install on-premises quantum computers to have full access to a dedicated machine.

This new deal is part of a larger partnership between IBM and the Cleveland Clinic, which also involves IBM’s hybrid cloud portfolio for high-performance computing and its AI tools. The partnership also forms the foundation of Cleveland Clinic’s new Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health, which is supported by $500 million in investments from the State of Ohio, Jobs Ohio and Cleveland Clinic.

“What we’re announcing here is the first — I’m going to call them private sector or nonprofit — but still, it’s the first sort of non-government organization that is going to have not only fully dedicated systems, but what is really, really remarkable is our commitment for the decades,” Dario Gil, IBM’s SVP and Director of IBM Research, told me. “In a way, they are partnering with us for the entire roadmap. So it’s not only taking receipt and getting access to a fleet of quantum computers and the next-generation quantum computer for next year. They’re also the first ones who are signing up and says, ‘I want the first 1,000+ qubit system.”

He noted that it takes a very forward-looking organization to invest heavily in quantum computing today. It’s one thing for a nation-state to start working with this nascent technology, given the potential it has in a wide variety of fields, but it’s another for a non-profit to make a similar bet. “The level of ambition is really, really high on their end because they’re thinking about the future,” Gil said of the Cleveland Clinic’s leadership.

Gil noted that as part of the overall deal, Cleveland Clinic’s researchers will also get access to IBM’s entire quantum portfolio in the cloud. IBM will maintain and support the on-premises quantum computer and they will remain IBM-owned machines, similar to its deals with government research labs in Japan and Germany, he explained.

“Maintaining it and supporting it is really critical,” Gil said about why that’s the case. “And they need us and our expertise to be able to do that. And also, you know, we do it because it’s like one of the most sensitive technologies that we have in IBM. So we are exquisitely focused on maintaining the security and safety for the machines.”

As part of the overall deal, IBM and Cleveland Clinic will also work on building skills among Cleveland Clinic’s researchers in quantum computing, but also AI and high-performance computing.

“Through this innovative collaboration, we have a unique opportunity to bring the future to life,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. “These new computing technologies will revolutionize discovery in the life sciences and ultimately improve people’s lives. The Discovery Accelerator will enable our renowned teams to build a forward-looking digital infrastructure and transform medicine, while training the workforce of the future and growing our economy.”

Investors Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt are coming to TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

The transportation industry is abuzz with upstarts, legacy automakers, suppliers and tech companies working on automated vehicle technology, digital platforms, electrification and robotics. Then there are shared mobility companies from cars to scooters and mopeds to ebikes. And who can forget the emerging air taxi companies?

At the center of this evolving industry are the investors. Simply put: TechCrunch can’t hold an event on mobility without hearing from the people who are hunting for the best opportunities in the industry and tracking all of its changes. That’s why we’re happy to announce investors Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund, Quin Garcia of Autotech Ventures and Rachel Holt of Construct Capital will join us on our virtual stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021. The virtual event, which features the best and brightest minds in the world of mobility, will be held on June 9.

p.s. Early Bird tickets to the show are now available – book today and save 35% before prices go up.

Brenner, Garcia and Holt will come on stage to discuss their near and long-term investment strategies, overlooked opportunities, and challenges that face startups trying to break into the transportation sector. They’ll lean on their considerable experience to provide the advice and insight that will help attendees understand the state of the industry and where it is headed.

Brenner is a serial co-founder. She is co-founder and managing partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs solving urban challenges. Urban Innovation Fund has backed curbflow, Electriphi and Kyte among others. She also co-founded Tumml, a startup hub for urban tech that provided 38 startups with seed funding and mentorship, and hosts events around urban innovation. In 2014, Forbes listed her as one of its “30 Under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship.

Garcia, a lifelong ‘car guy’ with an MS degree in management science and automotive engineering from Stanford University, is managing director at Autotech Ventures. He’s also a board director, board observer and advisory board member to a number of mobility companies including Lyft, Peloton Technology, and Connected Signals.

Garcia has been on the ground floor of startups, notably as part of the initial team at the electric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place, where he was responsible for partnerships with automakers and parts suppliers while living in Israel, Japan and China.

Holt is co-founder and Managing Partner of early-stage venture firm Construct Capital, which is focused on finding founders that are trying to change foundational industries such as manufacturing and supply chain, logistics and transportation. The company’s transportation-focused investments include ChargeLab. Holt also sits on the board of MotoRefi.

Prior to Construct, Holt was at Uber, where she was one of the company’s first 30 employees. During her 8.5-year stint at Uber, Holt rose through the ranks of the company, including roles running the U.S.  and Canada “Rides” business as well as global marketing and customer support. She was a longtime member of the company’s executive leadership team. Her last position at Uber was leading the company’s new mobility organization, which focused on its e-bike and scooter businesses as well as running its incubator, which funded and developed new products and services.

Rachel began her career at Bain & Company, advising companies in the private equity, financial services and healthcare industries. She was ranked No. 9 on Fortune’s 40 under 40 and was named by Fast Company as One of the Most Creative People in Business.

We can’t wait to hear from this investor panel at TC Sessions: Mobility on June 9. Make sure to grab your Early Bird pass before May 6 to save 35% on tickets and join the fun!

SIP Global Partners announces first close of its $150M fund to bring U.S. startups into Japan

Japan is often under discussed as an expansion target for American startups, but in the past few years it has become a top market for companies like Slack, Salesforce, Twitter and, more recently, Clubhouse. Today SIP Global Partners is announcing a new fund to invest in early-stage U.S. startups that have the potential to expand into Japan, and potentially other Asian markets, too. The fund has raised a $75 million first close of its $150 million target, and already invested in five companies.

SIP’s new fund will look at late seed to Series B-stage companies that have a product, or one about to come to market, that is ready to expand internationally. The team will work closely with portfolio companies, helping them launch operations in Japan and other Asian markets.

Managing partner Justin Turkat told TechCrunch that Japan is a promising market for foreign startups partly because an undercapitalized venture capital ecosystem means there is a smaller pool of entrepreneurs, with many of the country’s top tech talent opting to join conglomerates or the government instead.

While Japan’s startup market has a lot of potential, he added, it is still nascent. On the other hand, Japan is now the largest source of outward foreign direct investment in the world, and with about 125 million consumers and large corporations in need of scalable solutions, it’s a ripe market for new tech.

“If you look at what’s happened in the last couple of years, I think Japan is open for business with U.S. startups with an urgency that I’ve never seen before, and we think there is a lot of tailwinds around it. You look at investments and partnerships with U.S. startups, it’s at record levels over the last five years and deal counts are increasing every year,” Turkat said.

The fund is being launched by four investors, based in the U.S. and Japan. Turkat and founder and managing partner Shigeki Saitoh, former director of the Japan Venture Capital Association, are in Tokyo, while general partner Jeffrey Smith and founder and managing partner Matthew Salloway are in Boston and New York, respectively.

“The reason we started this really has to do with the team. We’ve all dedicated our careers to cross border, as both operators and investors, across the U.S. and Asia,” Turkat said. “All the four partners on average have about 20-plus years of experience doing this.”

Over the years, they’ve observed global expansion happening earlier in a startup’s life, he added. “I think it used to be an axiom that if you’re a U.S. startup and you’re venture-backed, you’re not thinking of expanding overseas until your Series D round,” but companies are now eyeing foreign markets as early as their seed rounds.

SIP’s new fund is looking for startups in three areas: creativity (augmented and extended reality, synthetic media and web-based platforms), productivity (artificial intelligence and machine learning, edge computing, the Internet of Things and semiconductors) and safety (digital health and information security).

Turkat said it is focusing on companies that provide core infrastructure or the economic layer for emerging technology.

For example, “on the infrastructure layer, we’re looking at 5G being rolled out globally simultaneously, then the edge computing, semiconductors, security and AI and machine learning, all around this infrastructure layer,” he said. Companies in the fund’s current portfolio that fit into this category include OpenRAN startup Parallel Wireless and Croquet, an ultra-low latency collaboration platform.

“Then you have the economic layer with all of these advancements, the platforms and applications sitting on top of it,” Turkat added. These include the fund’s three other investments so far: Fable, a browser-based motion design platform, Tilt Five, an AR gaming platform, and Kinetic, an industrial IoT startup focused on workplace safety.

As a strategic investor, SIP works closely with startups as they expand into new countries. This includes hiring talent and finding initial business partners, including for distribution channels or potential joint ventures. After Japan, SIP also helps startups enter other Asian markets, especially in ASEAN, including Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Scrum Ventures launches new program to connect startups with Japanese corporations

Masami Takahashi, the president of Scrum Studios

Masami Takahashi, the president of Scrum Studios

Headquartered in San Francisco and Tokyo, Scrum Ventures is known for its accelerator programs focused on sports, food and smart city tech. Today it announced the launch of a new incubator program that will help startups from business partnerships with Japanese corporations.

Called Scrum Studio, it will be spun out as an independent entity from Scrum Ventures, and headed by Masami Takahasi, who was previously strategy officer and general manager for WeWork Japan. Before that, he led Uber’s operations in Japan.

Takahasi told TechCrunch that Scrum Studio is currently focused on the startups in its current accelerator programs (Sports Tech Tokyo, SmartCityX and Food Tech Studio), but plans to launch new programs in the future that also center on specific verticals. Through Scrum Studio, startups will be able to establish subsidiaries in Japan, or form joint ventures with Japanese companies.

Scrum already has more than 50 Japanese corporate partners, including Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance, energy company Idemitsu Kosan Co and East Japan Railway Company for Smart City X, and Fuji Oil Holdings, Nissin Food Holdings and ITO EN for Food Tech Studio.

“We are looking to work with startups and technology that can help solve some of the challenges that our society faces today,” Takahasi said in an email. “These include, but are not limited to, sustainability, health, safety, waste reduction, and efficiency of cities and their people.”

Satellite constellation operator Spire Global to go public via $1.6 billion SPAC

Monday brings with it not one, but two space SPACS – there’s Rocket Lab, and there’s Spire Global, a satellite operator that bills itself primarily as a SaaS company focused on delivering data and analytics made possible by its 100-plus spacecraft constellation. SPACs have essentially proven a pressure-release valve for the space startup market, which has been waiting on high-profile exits to basically prove out the math of its venture-backability.

Spire Global debuted in 2012, and has raised over $220 million to date. It will merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called NavSight Holdings, in order to make a debut on the NYSE under the ticker ‘SPIR.’ The combined company will have a pro forma enterprise value of $1.6 billion upon transaction close, which is targeted for this summer.

The deal will provide $475 in funds for the company, including via a PIPE that includes Tiger Global, BlackRock and Hedosophia. Existing Spire stockholders will wind up with around 67% of the company after the businesses combine.

Spire’s network of satellites is designed to provide customers with a ‘space-as-a-service’ model, allowing them to operate their own payloads, and access data collected via an API their developers can integrate into their own software. The model is subscription-based, and is designed to get customers up and running with their own space-based data feed in less than a year from deal designs and commitment.

Existing investors in Spire Global include RRE Ventures, Promus Ventures, Seraphim Capital, Mitsui Global Investment and more, with its most recent round being a raised of debt financing. The company has launched satellites via Rocket Lab, its companion in the Monday SPAC news rush. The satellites it operates are small cube satellites, and it has launches on a wide range of launch vehicles, including SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the Russian Soyuz, ISRO’s PSLV, Japan’s H-2B, ULA rockets, Northrop Grumman’s Antares and even the International Space Station.

Spire got its start from very humble origins indeed – tracing all the way back to a Kickstarter campaign that was successful with just over $100,000 raised from backers.