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ShoulderUp Founder & CEO discusses company's IPO via SPAC

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ShoulderUp Founder & CEO Phyllis Newhouse joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company going public via SPAC and the cybersecurity space generally.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, history made again here, the first ever Black woman to bring a company public via a SPAC, back again with her second of the year, as she's down there at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell with her ShoulderUp team. As the new SPAC looks at interesting opportunities in the cybersecurity space, of course, we've seen cyber crime on the rise in 2021.

And now back with a special advisor in the mix here as well, I want to bring both of them on the show. Very happy to have you both here from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Phyllis Newhouse, ShoulderUp founder and CEO, and Tom Kelly, ShoulderUp senior advisor. And Phyllis, we'll start with you. Back again to do it again in the cybercrime space. Talk to me about what this means for you personally and then the opportunity you're going to be facing.

PHYLLIS NEWHOUSE: Well, I'll tell you what it means to me personally is that this time, I was able to find those very strategic partners and people that I totally respected in the industry. And we're saying ShoulderUp, but it's really about leveraging every opportunity that you have to make and change a difference and whether it's in the industry or in the lives of other people.

And we believe that the cyber is so well needed, we'd love to use our expertise and our experience to bring a company to market to help solve some of what we know are very complex problems that we're having around the world. So we always say no one company can solve all of the issues that we see in the cyber industry, so we're excited to bring ShoulderUp.

AKIKO FUJITA: Tom, talk to me about why you think this deal made sense. And specifically, when you look about cybersecurity, it's not only a space where we're seeing increasing competition, but the threat continuing to rise. What is it that you offer in this larger market that's different from your rivals?

TOM KILLALEA: Just to speak to the threat rising, I mean, the economics of being on the cybercrime side of the equation are getting much, much better in recent months with the rise of ransomware, with the payout to criminals being enhanced through cryptocurrencies, and in some cases, through cooperative government forces that are working against our enterprises. So there's a really significant opportunity there.

And I think Phyllis has done just a remarkable job of bringing together a team that can take a really good look at the breadth of this market and have super relationships in order to be able to identify a target company and add real value with respect to the company that we identify, so that we can help them on their journey. Because I think so many companies, when they get to this stage of their fundraising and so on, they may have great product market fit, but they could have gaps in terms of with people, in terms of how to get to that next level. And Philip has really assembled a first class team to help ShoulderUp to really add value.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and I mean, Phyllis, when we look at, obviously, you did this already earlier this year, where we chatted about Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. But now when you look at cybercrime and the opportunities there that we're kind of-- that you're looking at, I mean, with your background, right, and kind of what you've been able to do, working at the Pentagon, obviously, a veteran as well, we've heard President Biden mention cybersecurity as a national security issue top of mind for him. I mean, where exactly do you see the biggest opportunity here in solving it? What's the piece that you guys are really clueing in on?

PHYLLIS NEWHOUSE: Well, this is a great opportunity right now because if you look at the board and the team members that we've assembled, we have people that are-- Vincent Stewart, who's chair of the board, came out of the Pentagon, in the US Cyber Command out of the Pentagon. Danelle Barrett, she was over at the US Cyber Operations. We have, as you know, Tom's background of many years, a 16-year veteran from Amazon. And then when you look at what we believe is the landscape, we truly understand the landscape and the issues that are so complex in cyber.

So in that critical infrastructure bill, we see that this is a much needed dollar value that need to be put into cyber. This is on the prior of every public forwards company today are facing cyber threats. And they're allocating dollars to combat those threats. So we believe that with the expertise that we have, understanding where that money should be spent and the solutions that we need to be thinking about to solve these very complex problems, that we have the team to bring that company forward to do that.

AKIKO FUJITA: And finally, Phyllis, when you look at the SPAC space overall, it feels like we kind of reached the peak early on in the year. There were questions about regulation around some of these structures. And yet, we've started to see the deal numbers tick up again. Give me a sense of what you're seeing in this market in terms of opportunities to take companies public through a SPAC. And are we starting to see the momentum shift again?

PHYLLIS NEWHOUSE: Well, I'm sure Tom will agree with me that most companies are looking for quality teams that bring value and that bring the expertise. And we believe that we have that on this team. So even when the market is a little-- you know, people say, oh, there's turbulence in the market. Why would you launch a SPAC now? Because we believe we have with those companies out there looking for-- they're looking for quality.

They're looking for the expertise and the experience and people who truly understand the landscape. We believe that we have the team to do that. And every company out there who wants to go through this process of going through a SPAC, we believe that those are the companies that will look at this team and say, wow, you know, this is a quality world class team. And we want to do a business combination with them.

ZACK GUZMAN: You have to keep us posted on what you guys find out there in the cyber arena. Phyllis Newhouse, ShoulderUp founder and CEO, alongside Tom Killalea, ShoulderUp senior advisor, thanks again, and congrats down there on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.