Colin Kaepernick Sets Mission-Based SPAC With Najafi Cos.; Ava DuVernay Is Board Advisor

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jill Goldsmith
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Football great Colin Kaepernick has entered the ballooning word of SPACs, or special purpose acquisitions companies, and will be co-chairman of a new one called Mission Advancement Corp.

He’s partnering with Najafi Cos. a private investment firm with holdings in consumer, retail, ecommerce, sports, media, and technology. They have assembled an all diverse board of directors for the SPAC with advisors including leading filmmaker and activist Ava DuVernay.

More from Deadline

According to an SEC filing, the SPAC will target companies worth north of about $1 billion “with a focus on high quality brands with scalable business models and a direct relationship with an established customer base in the United States.” The idea is to identify targets with operations and ESG-related characteristics that align with the partners’ business strategy of supporting companies that currently have or have the potential to generate a positive social impact along with potential to grow and create shareholder value.

ESG – which stands for environmental, social and governance — is one of the fastest growing investment sectors.

SPACs are shell companies that raise money by going public and search for acquisition targets, which then become public companies themselves — an easier and cheaper route to the stock market for many. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick and Jahm Najafi — founder and CEO of Najafi Cos. — will seek to raise around $250 million by taking Mission Advancement public. They will be co-CEOs of the venture.

The SPAC’s independent board is made up entirely of Black, Indigenous and people of color, the majority of whom are women, the filing said. Former Apple executive Omar Johnson will serve as one of the directors. Others include Attica Jaques head of Global Brand Consumer Marketing at Google); Katia Beauchamp (co-founder and CEO of commerce beauty business Birchbox); and Stacie Olivares (a Trustees of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System).

Advisors, in addition to award-winning DuVernay, include Adriana Cisneros, CEO of Cisneros; Ryan Nece, investor, entrepreneur and former NFL player (whose career includes a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz; former Macy’s CFO Paula Price; entrepreneur and fund manager Valerie Mosley; investment professional Richelle Parham; former Jamba CEO James White; and Ibrahim AlHusseini, founder and managing partner of environmental growth fund FullCycle Climate.

The SEC prospectus called Kaepernick an ideal partner as owner “of both a media and a publishing company and through his partnerships with world-class brands” and his success in creating global marketing and PR operations and campaigns and leveraging his likeness, intellectual property and platform. “We believe his understanding of how to interweave mission-driven principles into an operating company in ways that are both authentic and accelerate growth will be attractive and valuable for our prospective target company.”

Kaepernick founded and runs Ra Vision Media to support stories by Black and Brown artists and storytellers and
Kaepernick Publishing, which has a multi-project deal with Audible. Last year, he joined the board of directors of
Medium; Netflix greenlit a scripted TV series (by DuVernay) about his early years; Kaepernick, Bob Iger and Disney announced a cross-platform first look deal across properties; and Ben & Jerry’s honored him with a new lifetime flavor called ‘Chang.’

Kaepernick’s football career derailed in 2016 after he started to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, drawing both praise and censure – including from former President Donald Trump – and creating a wider protest movement. He became a free agent and remained unsigned. In the fall of 2017 he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the game. That was later settled privately.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.