Colin Kaepernick Targets a Socially-Driven Billion-Dollar Company With New SPAC

Originally published by Andrew Beaton, The Wall Street Journal

Colin Kaepernick is leading a group taking a blank-check company public, as the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback turned activist tries to bring his social justice causes to the booming SPAC industry. 

Mr. Kaepernick will serve as the co-chair of Mission AdvancementCorp. , which will seek to raise up to $287.5 million in an initial public offering, according to documents filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.  

Mission Advancement says it will emphasize the racial and diversity issues Mr. Kaepernick has championed on and off the field through its investment in the growing environmental, social and governance investment field. It aims to target consumer businesses with an enterprise value of more than $1 billion. 

Mission Advancement will be co-chaired by Jahm Najafi, who runs the private-equity firm Najafi Companies and is a minority owner in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Together, they lead a board that is made up of members who are majority female and 100% Black, indigenous and people of color. Other board members include Katia Beauchamp, the CEO and co-founder of Birchbox and Omar Johnson, a former executive at Apple and Beats by Dre.

The sponsorship money is coming from Najafi Companies and Mr. Kaepernick, and they intend to invest in a business that “delivers a significant impact financially, culturally and socially,” according to the filing.  

Other listed advisers to the company include award-winning director Ava DuVernay, who’s leading a Netflix series on Mr. Kaepernick’s youth, and Ben Horowitz, co-founder of the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. 

Mr. Kaepernick joins the flood of people creating blank-check companies that are also known as special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. The model is based on going public and raising large sums of cash before acquiring a business and has grown in popularity, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Notable SPAC formations recently have involved British billionaire Richard Bransonand former House speaker Paul Ryan.

Mr. Kaepernick, 33 years old, last played in the NFL in 2016, the season he launched player protests during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism. The movement kicked off years of political controversy for the league, especially as Mr. Kaepernick went unsigned after that season. Later, Mr. Kaepernick settled a multimillion-dollar grievance with the NFL that alleged the league and its 32 teams colluded to keep him unsigned over his outspoken political views. 

This SPAC adds to the growing portfolio of business endeavors Mr. Kaepernick has launched since his NFL career abruptly halted. In the past year alone, Mr. Kaepernick has struck a partnership with Disney to produce content surrounding the social issues he has advocated on; joined the Medium board of directors; had a vegan Ben & Jerry’s flavored titled “Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled” named after him; and launched the Netflix series with Ms. Duvernay. 

He has also been a prominent endorser for Nike as the face of both a major ad campaign in 2018 and a shoe release in 2020. Last year, Mr. Kaepernick started a publishing company, aimed at lifting diverse voices. In addition, his charity, Know Your Rights Camp, has also been active during the Covid-19 pandemic and helped pay legal bills for protesters after the killing of George Floyd

Mission Advancement will seek to align with those socially driven efforts and “advance a company that is addressing systemically consequential issues,” the SEC filing said. 

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