Andretti SPAC’s shareholders to vote on proposed merger with AI firm

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The shareholders of an Indianapolis-based blank check company started by former IndyCar driver Michael Andretti are set to vote Feb. 13 on the company’s previously announced merger with Boston-based artificial intelligence startup Zapata AI.

The deal would merge Zapata with Andretti Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company that launched in 2022. (A SPAC is a shell company formed with the intent of acquiring another company and taking it public.)

Assuming the Andretti Acquisition Corp.’s shareholders approve the merger, the deal is expected to close shortly after the vote, and shares of the combined company will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol ZPTA.

The combined company will be based in Boston and will operate under the Zapata name.

The companies first announced the proposed merger in September, saying in a press release that the deal valued Zapata at $200 million and that the value of the combined company was expected to be between $281 million and $365 million.

Zapata operates in the realm of generative AI. Generative AI refers to technology that can respond to a user’s prompt by creating something new such as written text, images or computer code.

Public documents related to the proposed merger describe Zapata as “an industrial generative AI software company that develops generative AI applications and provides accompanying services to solve complex industrial problems.”

Zapata, which started at Harvard University in 2017, has yet to turn a profit. According to public documents, between its founding in late 2017 and June 2023, the company had posted losses totaling about $69.6 million, and it expects to continue losing money “for the foreseeable future.”

In December, the Andretti SPAC and Zapata entered into a funding agreement with Chicago-based Lincoln Park Capital Fund LLC in which Lincoln Park agreed to purchase up to $75 million of Zapata stock over a 36-month period, public documents show.

The Andretti SPAC is separate from Indianapolis-based Andretti Global, which operated under the name of Andretti Autosport until a rebranding last year. Andretti Global has been and will continue to be a Zapata customer, a Zapata spokesperson told IBJ.

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