Victoria Grace, Queen's Gambit Growth Capital Chief Executive Officer joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the blank-check company led entirely by female executives.
ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." We've been talking a lot about SPACs here in 2021 as we continue to see a record number of funding go to those Special Purpose Acquisition Companies. We want to spotlight one that is gaining a lot of attention, considering this is International Women's Day, one that is being led by an all-female team of executives. That would be, of course, the aptly-named Queen's Gambit Growth Capital.
And we're joined by the CEO of Queen's Gambit Growth Capital here, Victoria Grace, who's also a founding partner, I should note, that other chess name-inspired Colle Capital Partners, which invested into highly on one of those EV and renewable companies in the trucking space we've been highlighting here.
But, Victoria, thanks for coming on. Excited to get to chat with you today, just because, you know, is a SPAC that caught a lot of people's eyes based off the name here. But similarly, looking for a lot of targets in this space of disruptive, sustainable developments, talk to me about what you've seen in the space, as well as what the experience has been like with an all-female executive team?
VICTORIA GRACE: Sure, thanks for having me. You know, it's complicated the markets that we're entering here. And I think there's a lot of opportunities in all three verticals that we're focused on, which is health care, fintech, and logistics. We see a ton, obviously, in EV space, as you pointed out. There's just a lot of excitement around it.
But we're looking across the board. We're seeing really high quality companies. Our focus is all-around, public-market-ready high-growth opportunity with great management and where we can add value on the backend. So the female angle is interesting and differentiating for us.
We purposely wanted to have an impact on multiple fronts. And adding value, obviously, on the back end, with diversity and ESG present is going to be helpful. But ultimately, we have incredibly accomplished group of individuals around the table, operators, CEOs who've taking companies public, public markets representatives, public board representatives. And I think that's going to be an important differentiator for us as we help these companies grow into being a public company, which is just as important as finding the right target.
ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, it's interesting, because there was an opinion piece in Bloomberg talking about SPACs and the SPAC boom potentially being over because of rising interest rates here and what we're seeing kind of play out in the market as of late. Hyliion was one of those ones, as I mentioned, that you were an early investor in, went public via a SPAC.
We have seen shares kind of come down a bit since that happened. I mean, when you look at the space now, would you agree that maybe some of the wind's coming out of the sails as we see kind of this rotation through away from some of these more speculative bets?
VICTORIA GRACE: I think rotation is a key factor here, people going towards value. And tech is obviously getting some reduction valuations as a result of that. I do think-- I go back to my original point, which is, companies who have businesses being public and have the right management team, right DNA, right growth story, those companies will be fine in the public markets.
And we are long-term investors. We're not here just for immediate satisfaction, taking somebody public, and then kind of moving on. We really want to add value. And if you have a long-term [INAUDIBLE] like we do, I think, today, the valuations of public markets kind of not that relevant, from our standpoint.
But, you know, you have to be very disciplined on how you value the company that you're going to partner with, what upside potential you see. And, obviously, you know, we're excited about what we're seeing. And we're really excited about the quality of companies that we're in discussions with. Because that's been improving over the last 12 months, I would say.
And it was one of the key drivers for us to actually raise our SPAC. Because we want to make sure we partner with a company that's going to be a stellar sort of growth story many, many years down the road.
AKIKO FUJITA: And, Victoria, when you think about the VC space, there's been a lot of talk about the need for more diversity. And yet, when you look at the amount of money that went to startups, female-led startups, it can be quite discouraging. Just 2.3% of overall funding that went to startups last year were led by women. Why do you think we've taken a backseat to that? Because that's a decline from the previous year.
VICTORIA GRACE: Yeah, I think-- you know, I think-- it gets even worse, actually, if you look at SPAC market. So you would say, you know, SPACs have made tremendous strides in the last year within finance. And it's a great instrument. And it's fantastic development. Yet, there's a lot less than the percentage you quoted around VC funding that actually going into the SPAC run by female management.
So I think, you know, it's a numbers game, obviously. Women have less representation in general, absolute numbers, in technology, in space in general. So I think that's a byproduct of it. Hard to tell why on absolute numbers they're going down. And my hope is that things will change. And as we have more and more VCs run by women, have much more open lens. I think that that will be an improvement.
We don't have a lens with Colle Capital or at Queen's Gambit where we have to fund a female-run company. We are very agnostic around that. We certainly hope to find a really strong target that has gender diversity around it. But at Colle Capital, we have over 40% of our companies run by women and minorities, which is interesting.
I mean, we very much have a prism of best-in-class management team and a target that we get to invest in. And so it's encouraging to see that, when you have female CEOs or VCs, they seem to be more open minded, from my purview, at least.
AKIKO FUJITA: We've seen the NASDAQ, for example, move forward with a requirement for diversity on the board, not just women. But also, we've seen states like California, for example, move forward with requirements for female representation on the board too. Is that the kind of thing that is going to be a bigger driver, do you think?
VICTORIA GRACE: I think it's good for business. Diversity is just-- you know, is something that everybody has been looking at. And very little action in a meaningful way have been taken. And I'm really encouraged to see California and NASDAQ standing behind it and encouraging companies to have this diversity. Certainly, that's one of our value propositions to a target because we will be adding one or two of our board members, or advisors, or team members to the board of a target post this SPAC. So that would be a really good, you know, contribution on diversity from our standpoint. But I think it must development. And it has to take place. And I wish it was moving at a faster pace, to be honest with you.
ZACK GUZMAN: All right, Victoria Grace, Queen's Gambit Growth Capital CEO, appreciate you coming on here to chat all that. We'll be watching. We'll see what happens, where that money flows. But thanks again for coming on.