Fixed wireless technology developer and service provider Starry will be going public via a merger agreement with FirstMark Horizon Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which is an affiliate of FirstMark Capital. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.
SPAC deals have been popular vehicles to bring companies public in the last year. SPAC deals typically can be completed more quickly than a traditional initial public offering, according to a Wharton blog.
Starry has mostly targeted urban areas and has seen strong growth, but is increasingly eyeing rural markets for expansion. The company’s network covers more than 4.7 million U.S. households in six markets. The company has set a goal of covering 25 million households by 2026 with a projected 1.4 million residential and small business subscribers.
The merger deal is expected to give Starry an extra $452 million in cash on its balance sheet which the company expects to help fund further significant growth. Terms of the deal imply a pro forma enterprise value of $1.66 billion.
“When we set out to build this business, we wanted to transform how broadband networks were built so that we could meaningfully improve people’s lives with faster, better, more affordable internet access,” said Chet Kanojia, Starry co-founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “Nearly seven years later, Starry’s wireless technology has transformed the economics of connecting homes and small businesses to a fiber-quality connection through the air – without having to sacrifice reliability or the customer experience. This business combination with FirstMark will give us the necessary capital to expand our business and reach profitability.
“Importantly, it will allow us to continue to deliver for customers and execute on our mission. We believe broadband connectivity is a social good and, if it is universally available and affordable, that great things will happen for families, for communities and for society as a whole. I cannot think of partners better suited to support our growth than FirstMark and FirstMark Capital and we’re excited to continue our relationship with them to bring HappyInterneting to more places and people.”
Starry was one of the biggest winning bidders in the RDOF auction, which used a reverse auction process to award funding to bring broadband to unserved areas (the company that committed to deploying service to an area for the lowest level of support won).
Starry’s RDOF funding hasn’t been released yet, though, as quite a lot of concerns have been raised about some of the winning bidders and the FCC is being extra-diligent in reviewing the long-form applications that winning bidders submitted after the auction. Starry is one of the companies that won funding to use fixed wireless to provide gigabit service, which is a relatively unproven technology in rural areas and which has raised concerns.