Racing Legend Michael Andretti Bets on AI With $200 Million Zapata Merger
Generative AI software company Zapata AI has agreed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange through a merger with Andretti Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) owned by American racing legend Michael Andretti.
Andretti’s SPAC deal is expected to provide up to $84 million to Zapata’s balance sheet, and the new combined company has received a pre-money equity value of $200 million. Boston-based Zapata spun out of Harvard University in 2017, and the company’s AI tools run language and numeric models for partnered clients such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Nvidia, and DARPA.
Andretti Global, Michael’s racing organization that recently rebranded from Andretti Autosport, has teams across IndyCar, Formula E, and Extreme E that have an existing partnership with Zapata.
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Those teams use Zapata’s AI software Orquestra to analyze tire degradation, fuel-saving opportunities, and run predictive models to help improve strategies during races. Racing teams commonly partner with AI companies to get an engineering edge, such as McLaren’s similar deal with DataRobot.
“Zapata AI’s industrial generative AI solutions have demonstrated their applicability helping enterprises across a range of industries solve complex problems and make better business decisions,” said Andretti in a statement. “We have experienced this firsthand in the AI-driven race strategy solutions and advanced analytics capabilities they are delivering to Andretti Autosport.”
Andretti Global operates in eight motorsports series across six continents, and is “pushing hard” to enter both Formula One and NASCAR, reports the Associated Press. Andretti himself had a distinguished IndyCar Series racing career before getting into team ownership, and he is the son of F1 and NASCAR legend Mario Andretti.
Andretti’s SPAC plans to complete its Zapata merger by the first quarter of 2024. The company will be listed under the stock symbol “ZPTA,” and is aiming to capitalize on the generative AI craze that’s projected by PwC to help push the broader AI economy to $15.7 billion by 2030. Zapata previously raised $4.8 million in July, and a previous $38 million Series B in November 2020.
“We believe generative AI is shaping a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and the capital and relationships afforded through this business combination will only strengthen our market position,” Zapata AI CEO Christopher Savoie said in a press release.