Sonder CEO Francis Davidson buys Los Angeles home from Pharrell after PSPC move

Francis Davidson and Pharrell with 8520 Skyline Drive (Getty, Zillow, iStock)

The proptech SPAC market is in the dumps. But some founders who managed to go public via the blank check route found themselves with large sums of money to spend.

Francis Davidson, the founder and CEO of hotel startup Sonder, closed a Hollywood Hills mansion owned by entertainer Pharrell just weeks after the company went public through a SPAC merger.

Davidson paid $9.2 million for the home, with the deal closing in mid-February, according to listing sites. Dirt reported earlier that Davidson was the buyer.

Sonder, which focuses on short-term rentals, went public on January 19 through a merger with a blank check company sponsored by billionaires Alec Gores and Dean Metropoulos. The company is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol SOND and its shares were trading below $6 on Wednesday, more than 30% below its IPO price. The SPAC deal had valued Sonder at $1.9 billion; prior to the merger, Sonder had raised at least $560 million in venture capital and was valued at $1.3 billion after a Series E round in June 2020.

Sonder differs from Airbnb in that Sonder, while renting apartments and houses, rents and manages the rentals itself – some outlets have called it a “cross between an Airbnb and a hotel”. Davidson founded the company in 2014, while a student in Montreal; now based in San Francisco, Sonder has grown to include thousands of rentals around the world.

“I never imagined that today we would be sharing that the startup I incorporated in a basement as a student would go public,” Davidson wrote in a January post.

The contractor’s new home is located at 8520 Skyline Drive, on approximately 1.5 acres of ridgeline above Laurel Canyon. The 6,100 square foot mansion was designed by architect Hagy Belzberg, who also designed the LA Holocaust Museum; With sweeping views, the contemporary home features a 70-foot infinity pool, outdoor movie theater, spa, and skate park, according to a listing.

Pharrell, the singer, rapper and producer known for hits such as “Happy,” “Feels” and “Hollaback Girl,” bought the home in 2015 for $7.1 million and listed it for the first time in 2020 for just under $12 million. The property went on the market again in late November for just under $10 million.

SPACs have become an attractive route to the public markets for proptech founders in 2020 and early 2021. But the past few months have been tough; shares of most proptech SPACs are trading well below their IPO levels.

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