Restaurant-Tech Startup Presto Nearing $1 Billion SPAC Merger to Go Public

, Wall Street Journal

Presto is close to an agreement to combine with a special-purpose acquisition company and go public in a merger that would value the restaurant-technology startup at about $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Founded in 2008 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Presto offers several different technologies that it says automate restaurants and improve the dining experience. It is known for its kiosks and tablets that let guests order and pay directly at tables and uses speech recognition so customers can order by talking to a device at drive-throughs and other settings. It also uses computer vision and analytics to help eateries optimize operations.

Presto has branded itself as a practical solution for restaurants wanting to minimize human interactions during the coronavirus pandemic. It also says it can help address the human-labor shortage in the industry, with many workers electing not to return to service-sector jobs.

Several restaurants use Presto, including McDonald’s Corp., Applebee’s and Chili’s.

The Redwood City, Calif., firm is close to a deal with the SPAC Ventoux CCM Acquisition Corp. (VTAQ), a blank-check company focused on the leisure and hospitality industries, the people said. The merger could be announced as soon as this week.

Presto would join several other technology startups that are working to disrupt industries from manufacturing to advertising in going public by combining with a SPAC. Such mergers have become popular alternatives to traditional initial public offerings, in part because they let the company going public make business projections while raising a large sum of cash.

As part of the deal, Presto is expected to raise a roughly $70 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, the people said. PIPE investors are expected to include some of the restaurant franchises that use Presto, they said.

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