Fredrik Eklund-backed listings app tries SPAC to go public

Real Messenger merging with blank-check firm after drop in vehicle’s favor

Fredrik Eklund-backed listings app tries SPAC to go public
From left: Douglas Elliman's Fredrik Eklund and REAL Messenger's Thomas Ma (Getty, Douglas Elliman, REAL Messenger)

UPDATED, March 29, 3:15 p.m.: More than seven months after its official launch, Real Messenger, a listings app backed by Fredrik Eklund of Douglas Elliman’s top-producing Eklund-Gomes team, announced its intention to go public.

The platform formed a special purpose acquisition company with blank-check company Nova Vision Acquisition Corp., a Singapore-based company focused on proptech, fintech and supply chain management led by former UBS Group AG banker Patrick Ngan. 

The founders of Real Messenger said they invested $12 million in the app, which includes a social platform and a chat feature that gathers buyer, seller and broker profiles with the ability to curate listings. 

The app has been downloaded more than 350,000 times and is in use in 35 countries, according to the company, with a user base that includes the 100-person Eklund-Gomes Team. 

The company’s plans to monetize the platform include charging users for posting long videos of listings and maintaining a custom branding page, Ma said.

The announcement comes after a time of disenchantment with SPACs. 

The vehicle was touted as an efficient and faster way to take a company public compared to initial public offerings, which can take years to orchestrate. However, an initial frenzy landed with a thud last year, when the SEC moved to ramp up regulatory scrutiny on SPACs before a series of major players backed off planned mergers. 

The market has seen a glimmer of life in recent months, even if a far cry from the height of its craze in 2020. The Chera family, one of New York’s biggest retail landlords, has renewed a plan to take a tech-oriented real estate company public through a merger with a blank-check company five months after its first attempt failed. 

Thomas Ma, co-founder and chief executive officer of Real Messenger, said SPACs will make a comeback because traditional financing for tech startups has become tougher, what with the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a major lender to venture capital and private equity firms.

“Many tech companies go for private rounds,” Ma said. “We are skipping that and going straight to public.”

Being listed on a stock exchange could also serve as a vote of confidence to possible investors and customers, Eklund said. “This helps us speed up our development, our programming,” he said. “Being on NASDAQ later this summer will be very powerful for us.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the founders of Real Messenger claimed invested $20 million in the app, but the company later clarified their investment came to $12 million.

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