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Tech provider Presto is going public via SPAC

It will merge with Ventoux Acquisition Corp. and begin trading on NASDAQ to raise funds for its digital ordering systems.
Presto tablet
Presto's products include tabletop ordering tablets. / Photograph courtesy of Presto

Presto, a provider of digital ordering systems for restaurants, is going public by merging with Ventoux, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the two announced Wednesday.

The combined company will be valued at $1 billion. It will change its name to Presto Technologies and expects to trade on the NASDAQ.

SPACs are shell companies that take funds from public investors and use them to acquire a private company, taking it public in the process. It has become a popular way for companies to go public amid the pandemic.

The public funds will allow Presto to continue developing its products. It uses a variety of technologies, including artificial intelligence and speech recognition, to do things like automate drive-thru orders or allow customers to order and pay using a tablet at the table. The goal is to make staff more productive and improve customers' experience. It has shipped more than 250,000 of its systems to restaurants including McDonald's and Chili's.

The transaction comes at a time when restaurants are trying to do more with less staff amid the ongoing labor crisis.

"With our deep experience in hospitality operations, we see Presto’s advanced technologies addressing and solving the industry’s most pressing needs in today’s challenging labor environment," said Ventoux CEO Ed Scheetz in a statement. "Presto’s track record of successfully deploying large scale enterprise-wide solutions sets the company apart from competitors and positions it for accelerated growth."

Redwood City, Calif.-based Presto was founded in 2008 by Raj Suri, who dropped out of MIT to form the company. He spent a year waiting tables and used that experience to develop Presto's first pay-at-the-table device.

The company's merger with Ventoux will be funded by $172.5 million from Ventoux's trust account as well as a private investment in a public entity (PIPE) of $70 million from investors including Remus Capital, Apollo, and franchisees of McDonald's, Applebee's, Outback Steakhouse and Yum Brands.

As part of the deal, Presto is adding some members to its board, including former Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup; Blythe McGarvie, a board member for real estate investment trust Apple Hospitality; and Ventoux's Scheetz, who has a background in the hotel industry.

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