Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. Leads All Female SPAC

Isabelle Freidheim, Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. founder and chairman of the board, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss their new SPAC and the need for diversity in finance.

Video Transcript

EMILY MCCORMICK: The SPAC Athena Technology Acquisition Corporation II is one of the latest listings. Its founder and chairman of the board, Isabelle Friedheim, joins us now. Isabelle, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on your third all-woman SPAC. Tell us about the goal of Athena Technology II and how you're building on your prior SPACs.

ISABELLE FREIDHEIM: Absolutely, thank you. We built Athena-- we start-- we launched Athena I back in March. And we announced a combination with Heliogen, which is a company that has a unique solution and value proposition as it relates to making the world a better place, backed by Bill Gates and founded by Bill Gross. And that leads me to the current state of the SPAC market. Just like any market that has attractive economics, it will draw competition. And over the course of the past 12 months, there's been increased competition. And as we stand here today, there's 600 SPACs looking for combination partners.


And at the same time, there's a universe of growth equity investors interested in SPACs. And there are many reasons why SPACs are still attractive companies. Those reasons haven't changed. There's the certainty of valuation. There's the length of time and the distraction required versus a traditional IPO that still makes SPACs very attractive. There's the ability to present projections. There's the ability to engage with investors and craft a storyline. And those are real reasons why SPACs are attractive.

But with the intensity of competition, there's going to be a rightsizing among sponsors of SPACs. Many people who don't have experience taking a company public raised SPACs. Because of the yield play, hedge funds can borrow 90% to buy into a SPAC IPO, then turn around and sell it and pocket the warrants. So there's a lot of competition. And as we sit here today, the pipe market has largely stabilized. It's not free money anymore. Those are people who want an attractive return.

So what we are going to see is rightsizing of sponsor groups. And it is harder for new market entrants. But competition has been our friends because it has created an opportunity for us at Athena to offer a differentiated solution with the highest quality execution. So when I created Athena--

ADAM SHAPIRO: Can I-- whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't want you to go the whole five minutes. We want to learn about what you're doing because I think a lot of people want to get in on this if that's possible. So in the notes that were sent, you talk about women have been left behind in other financial trends. Now we see powerful women taking their rightful place at the table. And your Athena SPACs are not only bringing women in, but also immigrants in. How do you find more of those companies to bring to market and to help us all take part in that?

ISABELLE FREIDHEIM: Yes, so Athena was born out of that necessity to continue to increase the number of women in the capital markets. But what was most important was to make sure that our talent was second to none. Otherwise, you do a disservice to all other women out there. So if you look at the bios of all the leaders across the Athena family of SPACs, they are the most qualified group in the SPAC markets.

We have company founders, we have CEOs. We have operators, regulators, investors, experienced board members. The board members on our teams have been on some of the biggest corporate boards. And those include Citigroup, Oracle, Comcast, EDA, Aetna, BlackRock, Johnson & Johnson, American Airlines, and many others. And this is a group that all happens to be all women. And same thing with the other Athena SPACs that we've launched.

So when I think about the accomplishments of the women, in the room this morning when we rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, you would think that we were at an awards ceremony. And I just named the nominees for 2022 corporate leader of the year, but they are all the team that is Athena Technology. And in fact, we've raised over $2 billion in demand for our collective Athena SPACs. We were getting reverse inquiries from companies because private companies are hearing about the talent pool that we have at their service.

And we are a group focused on the mission, and that mission is to succeed. It is to bring the technology leaders of tomorrow to market. And as we have done with others, we are going to do everything we can to drive value to them. And so we, as a group of women, we are making a difference for our investors. We're making a difference for each other, women. And we are making a difference for our daughters.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Yeah, and Isabelle, just to pick up as well on your SPAC strategy, one of the things you mentioned in your notes is that you're aiming to build a family of SPACs that dig deeper into the spaces that you're in. So with the Heliogen deal with Athena I focused on renewable energies, what kinds of companies are you looking for with Athena II to complement this?

ISABELLE FREIDHEIM: So we launched-- this is the third Athena. We launched Athena Consumer back in October. Athena is looking at the consumer sector. And this is, again, another lineup of women, the founder of Gilt, the founder of Thrive, the founder of Shift, the company that went public through a SPAC a year ago, and again, corporate board members and leaders and investors. So that SPAC is looking specifically at the consumer sector and fills a gap in the market with regards to SPACs targeting the consumer sector.

And Athena Tech II is obviously focused on tech. And that is a SPAC that is looking at similar sectors that are fast growing companies that we can be well-positioned to bring to markets, again, technology leaders of tomorrow. But yes, it has been incredibly exciting to bring a team of overly qualified women.

And as you mentioned earlier, we are also immigrants. All of us in the management team in the SPAC happen to all be immigrants. I grew up in France with my father. And my mother grew up in Romania under dictator Ceausescu. And I know firsthand the differences in opportunity and the power of free market capitalism. The differences are remarkable. So we're the first immigrant team to go public at the New York Stock Exchange. But we are also women, and we understand the responsibility that carries with each. We either stifle or create opportunities for those that follow us.