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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

SPAC Route Guide Near to Public Capital

Near Intelligence Holdings Inc. a technology company that provides place and people data to marketers, is merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and will go public on the Nasdaq.

Anil Mathews, founder and chief executive of the Pasadena company, said there were two reasons why it decided to go public in conjunction with KludeIn I Acquisition Corp.
A public company gains more credibility, he said, and it gets access to the capital needed to grow and expand inorganically, or through acquisitions.

“The combination of these two means it would be a good idea to go public,” Mathews added.
Near provides data to large and medium-sized businesses including CBRE Group Inc., the commercial real estate services and investment firm; Dunkin, one of the largest coffee shop and donut shop chains in the world that is a subsidiary of Inspire Brands Inc.; Ford Motor Co.; and German supermarket chain Aldi.

Simply put, Mathews described Near as an analyzer of data from consumers in both the physical and digital worlds to help its clients better understand their own customers.
During the pandemic, consumer behavior changed. People who had been going out to stores migrated to shopping online.
What has happened with retailers and restaurants is they are struggling to understand how those changes are impacting their business, Mathews said.

Suppose you are a retailer and the biggest challenge you face is that the business understands its customers really well when they are in the store – they know what they are buying and in which aisles they are spending the most time.
But the moment the customer goes out the door, that business loses them, Mathews said.
So, they come to Near for data on the customers habits outside the store – whether they are going to a competitor, where they live and work, how much time they spend buying groceries or getting gas, he said.

“They would use (the data) to understand consumers better and engage with them better and to figure out basically how to bring more of their competitor’s customers to themselves,” Mathews explained.
Near gets its data from a variety of sources – telecommunications companies, apps and Wi-fi providers among them. All of that data is stripped of identifying information such as names, phone numbers or IP addresses and then aggregated, or collected, into a data set.

Matt Glaeser, senior vice president of digital media & data insights at Palisades Media Group, a marketing and advertising firm headquartered in Santa Monica, said that working with Near gives the company a leg up on the competition with data sets that it hadn’t seen before.
“As an agency we are looking for the things that other people haven’t discovered yet so we can have a competitive advantage in the market,” Glaeser said.

He added that Near has a really unique product offering and that there are a lot of businesses in the location data space that promise the world and don’t deliver it.
“Near actually delivers on their promises,” Glaeser said. “Their data holds true.”
Near’s data sets are interesting because they connect locations with demographics, he continued.

Near CEO and founder Anil Mathews speaks with his executive assistant Christina Handal at his office in Pasadena, CA.  May 25, 2022. Photo by David Sprague
Near specializes in capturing and analyzing data about consumers’ habits.

That allows him to get really granular insights into who is visiting a retail partner versus who is visiting the competitor down the street. That allows Glaeser to search for the target growth opportunity when placing media buys.
“It is definitely different from how I have seen it elsewhere,” he added. “It is something that hasn’t had a lot of questions from clients, but when we bring it up they say, ‘That is very interesting. How do we get more of that?’”

Subscription model

Near makes money through subscriptions to its platform. The average cost is around $300,000 per customer a year, Mathews said.
But the planned SPAC deal with KludeIn will bring in more money – about $268 million. The combined companies will have a pro forma market cap of $1 billion.
The platform has massive potential and claims to be the largest source of human mobility data in the world. “We have 1.6 billion monthly active user IDs across 44 countries,” Mathews said. “We have only scratched the surface of the platform.”

Three areas are earmarked for money from public investors. First is new products, such as Near Pinnacle, introduced this month at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas.
The company’s latest and most accessible module to date, Near Pinnacle will unlock real value to help enterprises of all sizes monitor the competition, profile visitors, define trade areas and sharpen marketing campaigns. The module will be generally available in the early third quarter in North America, Australia and New Zealand and in other parts of the world later this year, according to a release from Near.

The second area of focus will be in acquiring new kinds of data, while the third area will be in acquiring other companies. Near has already bought two other firms in the past 18 months or so. In November 2020 came the purchase of Teemo, a location-intelligence company based in Paris. And in April of 2021 it acquired UM, the company formerly known as UberMedia that gave Near its Pasadena headquarters. Former UM Chief Executive Gladys Kong is now chief operating officer at Near.

Upon closing, the company is expected to be named Near Intelligence Inc. and its common stock will trade under the ticker symbol NIR.
Narayan Ramachandran, chief executive of Berkeley-based KludeIn, said that he was thrilled to partner with Mathews and the entire Near team as they continue to help businesses better understand consumer behavior.

“We believe this merger is highly compelling based on the diversified global customer base, superior (software-as-a-service) flywheel and network effects of Near’s business,” Ramachandran, a former head of Morgan Stanley India, said in a statement.

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