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Trump’s new social media SPAC is soaring. Also, what is a SPAC?

This week, a company that doesn’t do any business saw its stock soar as much as 400 percent on word it would help launch Donald Trump’s social media platform. The same day, another “blank check” company helped power WeWork’s Wall Street debut — two years after the work-sharing company ditched plans for an initial public offering amid skepticism about its finances and leadership. Both ventures are centered on special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which exist solely to raise money from investors and find a private company with which to merge and go public. Although SPACs in their current form have been around since the early 2000s, they have exploded in popularity in recent years, drawing in celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Jay-Z and the former president. But they’ve also drawn regulatory scrutiny, the ire of investors who got burned and some harsh pullback from the market. Here’s what you need to know about this IPO alternative. SPACs are essentially shell companies that