Zulily co-founder latest to join SPAC mania

Zulily co-founder Mark Vadon speaks at the 2014 Mekhato Summit.

Mark Vadon, the Seattle e-commerce entrepreneur who co-founded Zulily and Blue Nile and served as chairman of Chewy, is joining the SPAC craze.

Vadon has emerged as the chairman and CEO of Big Sky Growth Partners, a blank check company that’s looking to raise $300 million via an initial public offering.

Joining him in the SPAC are:

  • Paul Ferris, a general partner with San Francisco venture capital firm Azure.
  • Lauren Neiswender, the former general counsel at Blue Nile who previously worked as an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
  • Darrell Cavens, the former CEO of Zulily, serves as a director of Big Sky Growth.
  • And Mary Alice Taylor, the former CEO of HomeGrocer.com who previously served on boards including Allstate, Autodesk, Sabre Holdings and Blue Nile also is a director.

In a SEC filing, Big Sky Growth says it has not yet identified a target acquisition. The filing does not go into detail about the type of company Big Sky plans to go after, but the e-commerce experience of the team certainly points in that direction. It plans to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker BSKYU.

We will seek to partner with a company that is successfully capturing market share in a large addressable market with significant future opportunity,” the company writes in the filing. “We will focus on those companies for which rapid growth and customer adoption is fueled by their compelling consumer value proposition versus those for whom growth is derived primarily from significant marketing spend.”

SPACS, special purpose acquisition companies, are one of the hottest financial instruments. They essentially allow a shell company with no business operations or product offerings to go public, with the hopes of acquiring a target company in the future.

Vadon keeps a low profile around Seattle, but he’s one of the most experienced leaders in the field of e-commerce and has found niches in which to compete with Amazon. He’s also an investor in Seattle area consumer-oriented companies such as Rad Power Bikes and Flyhomes.

In a rare appearance at the 2014 Mekhato Summit, Vadon spoke about the need to keep quiet when building new ventures.

“When you are drilling and you hit an oil patch, the last thing you want is people coming and drilling right next to you,” said Vadon.

Vadon also has plenty of experience on Wall Street.

Online pet product marketplace Chewy went public in 2019 at $22 per share, and is now trading at $104 with a market value of $43 billion. Zulily priced its IPO in 2013, and later sold to Qurate Retail Group for $2.4 billion.  And online jewelry retailer Blue Nile, which Vadon founded and led for a number of years, completed an IPO in 2004.

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