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Jane Park on SPACs, the immigrant ethos, and brands in the Amazon era

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Jane Park, the CEO of newly public Athena Consumer Acquisition Corp., hadn't imagined herself leading a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, before accepting the job. She decided to consider the pitch from venture capitalist Isabelle Freidheim for one reason. “It took some convincing, a little bit. I wasn’t sure if I had the right capabilities. I have always sat on the entrepreneur side. So to be on the acquiring/money side is a new perspective and vantage point for me,” she said. “I don’t think I would have taken the call if it wasn’t the fact that it was an all-female SPAC.” That's how the Seattle entrepreneur ended up with Freidheim and the Athena team at the New York Stock Exchange this week, as they rang the opening bell a week after raising $230 million in an initial public offering. Next on Athena's agenda is the process of identifying and acquiring a consumer-oriented company, leveraging those funds. Park is believed to be the first Korean-American woman to take a company public as CEO on the NYSE. A Yale Law School graduate and former Starbucks executive, she went on to found and lead Julep Beauty, a physical retail chain and e-commerce brand that was acquired by private equity giant Warburg Pincus. She went on to found sustainable gift-wrap company Tokki, leading the company through a pivot during the pandemic. She’s also a board member of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, which holds its 2021 OpportunityTalks Breakfastat 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9. On this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, Park talks about the ambitions of Athena's team, the future of consumer brands in the Amazon era, her family's experience as immigrants, and her own life story. With GeekWire's Todd Bishop and John Cook; Audio editing by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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