UPDATE 3-Printing tech firm Velo3D to go public in deal valued at $1.6 billion

(Add deal details and share performance)

March 23 (Reuters) - Velo3D, a 3D-printing technology firm that counts SpaceX as a client and investor, is going public at a valuation of $1.6 billion by merging with a blank-check firm, the companies announced on Tuesday.

The merger is with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp, which counts tennis star Serena Williams among its board directors. The deal includes $155 million from Baron Capital Group, Hedosophia and other private investors and confirms an earlier report here by Reuters. It will fetch $500 million in proceeds for the combined company.

It follows similar deals announced in recent months by peers Markforged and Desktop Metal Inc.

SPACs are shell companies that raise money in an IPO to pursue an acquisition at a later date. They serve as an alternative to a traditional IPO for companies looking to enter public markets.

Silicon Valley-based Velo3D was founded in 2015 and supplies hardware and software in 3D-printing technology to industrial clients, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer.

Velo3D has previously raised $138 million from venture capital firms including Bessemer Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures.

Founded in 2015, Velo3D generated $20 million in revenue in 2020.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion who joined Jaws Spitfire’s board in December to lend her expertise “as an entrepreneur, investor and brand-builder”, has long been an investor in early stage companies.

She formed her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, in 2014 to back startups that “support diverse leadership, individual empowerment and creativity.”

Williams’ firm has invested in more than 50 companies with a total market value of $14 billion, including online learning platform MasterClass and tech company Propel, its website showed.

Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp was launched last year by Starwood Capital Group Chairman Barry Sternlicht and raised $300 million in an initial public offering in December. Sternlicht previously launched Jaws Acquisition Corp.

Shares of Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp dropped by 5.4% in trading on Tuesday.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Lisa Shumaker