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Short-Term Rental Company Sonder To Go Public Through SPAC Deal At $2.2B Valuation

A Sonder bedroom

The boom of special-purpose acquisition companies isn't dead yet, as another has found a unicorn of the lodging industry to take public.

Sonder, which leases and manages blocks of apartments for short-term rentals, will go public through an acquisition by a SPAC called Gores Metropoulos II, Reuters reports. The SPAC raised $450M when its two founders, private equity buyout billionaires Alec Gores and Dean Metropoulos, took it public in January.

Sonder's SPAC deal values the company at $2.2B. It first cracked a $1B valuation through private investment in July 2019. The deal is expected to generate $650M in cash proceeds, having been financed with $200M in private stock sold to investors like Fidelity Management & Research Co., BlackRock and Senator Investment Group ahead of Sonder's appearance in public markets, Reuters reports.

Goldman Sachs advised Sonder in the transaction, while Morgan Stanley advised Gores Metropoulos II, Reuters reports. Fidelity had been a lead investor in Sonder for a previous private fundraising round.

Sonder's most frequent method of acquiring space to rent out for vacationers or business travelers was by master leasing either blocks of apartments within multifamily buildings or entire buildings, designing and managing them to function more like hotel rooms than permanent living accommodations.

The model left some landlords with massive vacancies when the coronavirus pandemic's squashing of the travel market forced it to pull back some of its operations, leading in at least two cases to lawsuits from landlords. Representatives from Sonder said in January that it had kept occupancy above 70% through 2020, and its operations were certainly less deeply affected than traditional hotels.

In a presentation to investors, Sonder co-founder and CEO Francis Davidson expressed his ambition for the company to be "the Amazon of hospitality" and projected reaching $4B of revenues in 2025, Commercial Observer reports