Eli Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson in $200 Million Consumer SPAC

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Brendan Coffey
·3 min read
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Retired New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Chargers great LaDainian Tomlinson headline a group of business and sports figures in a new special purpose acquisition company focused on finding a consumer brand that can capitalize on themes of “influence-driven purchases” and “talent as brands.” The SPAC, Brand Velocity Acquisition Corp., is led by private equity investors who have worked with MLB, UFC and Madison Square Garden Sports.

The blank check firm filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today to raise $200 million in an initial public offering. “We believe that thoughtful marketing monetizes innovation and establishes brand value, but many companies often lack the resources or know-how to execute productive marketing strategies,” the business stated in its preliminary prospectus. “As a result, we believe that our management team’s deep marketing expertise and network will significantly enhance the growth trajectory of the business we ultimately merge with.”

The executive team and sponsor of the SPAC are comprised of three of the founding partners of Brand Velocity Partners. Steve Lebowitz, 50, is chairman and CEO of the SPAC. He’s had an internal rate of return of almost 37% over 20 transactions at Brand Velocity, which was started in 2019. Prior to Brand Velocity, he was a corporate attorney and a high school chess champion, according to his bio filed with the regulator.

Drew Sheinman, 63, is also a BVP co-founder. He had been executive vice president at Endeavor, the business formerly known as WME | IMG, which owns Ultimate Fighting Championship, produces film and television content, and houses agents for numerous athletes and performing artists. Sheinman is president and chief marketing officer of the SPAC. Rounding out the management team as chief operating officer and chief financial officer is Austin Ramos, 36, a former tech CEO and founder of RunCap, an investment business affiliated with a family office. He was formerly a pro and collegiate long distance runner.

The Brand Velocity SPAC has a team of seven advisors, people who assist the company in its search for a target company. Suitably for a brand-driven SPAC, the advisors include two of the NFL’s most accomplished players of the past two decades. Hall of Famer Tomlinson is the fifth most prolific runner in league history and is second on all-time touchdown list, having rushed for 145. Tomlinson currently is an analyst on the NFL Network and a special advisor to the L.A. Chargers. Manning won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, in 2008 and 2012, the team with which he spent his entire 16-year career.

Also on the board of advisors are Tracey Deforge, founder of The Players’ Impact, a venture capital platform for pro athletes; Craig Dubitsky, founder of oral care products maker Hello; LinkedIn influencer and author Whitney Johnson; Steve Vargas, the lead analyst on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange’s ESG team; and Gerry Byrne, vice chairman of Penske Media, the parent of Sportico.

Brand Velocity Acquisition intends to find a North American business to bring public, listing nine consumer trends as themes it sees driving business development, including a shift to digital that changes the way consumers find an emotional connection with brands, according to the filing. Still, like other SPACs, Brand Velocity has free rein to merge with any company as long as it can finance the deal.

The blank check seeks to sell 20 million units at $10 apiece, consisting of a share and one third of a warrant, good for buying another share at $11.50 later on. If the SPAC is successful in its IPO, it will have 24 months to make an acquisition or return the IPO money back to investors.

Brand Velocity joins more than 463 SPACs that have already filed for an IPO and/or held it in 2021 alone, according to data compiled by SPACAlpha. It’s also one of more than 100 blank checks that involved sports executives or are seeking a sports-related business to acquire, according to the Sportico SPAC Tracker.

An email seeking comment sent to Brand Velocity Partners wasn’t immediately returned.

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