Header image

Stay informed: Tim Hwang, co-founder and CEO of FiscalNote

FiscalNote offers legal and policy analytics products for companies looking to navigate regulatory complexities. Tim Hwang, co-founder and CEO of FiscalNote, talks with Acuris Capital Intelligence about challenging regulation markets, its recently announced merger with blank-check company Duddell Street Acquisition Company, as well as future acquisitions.

Interview by Sydney Halleman

Q. What markets are seeing significant regulatory changes?

If you keep your ear to the ground in Washington, you get a sense what policymakers are thinking about. From our perspective, those markets are cryptocurrencies; autonomous vehicles; national, state and federal cannabis legislation; environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG); and the future of labor as it relates to the gig economy.

These are Wild West areas in regulations where, almost every single day, there are quite significant levels of regulatory change. These things don’t only affect the technology industry—traditional industries are also being affected by the new regulatory regimes that are being proposed.

Q. What other strategies were you evaluating when you decided to merge with Duddell Street Acquisition?

We were looking at a bunch of different options. We were looking to go public and we debated both an IPO and a SPAC in addition to a private capital raise. It was a pretty close call, but this SPAC was unique and interesting. We spoke to a number of different SPAC sponsors and managers but this one really stood out.

When you look at the transaction structure, the fully back-stopped redemption as well as anchoring the private investment in public equity (PIPE) effectively meant that the sponsor was going to be underwriting the entire deal. When we signed the term sheet and stared down the pathway of going public, we had complete certainty about the amount of capital, the pricing and this deal closing.

Q. US regulation and policies can often have a global impact—which international regions are you targeting for growth?

The most regulated geography in the world is the European Union. We've been looking at a number of different deals in the European market.

With respect to emerging markets, we've been looking heavily in Asia, particularly in places like Korea, Japan, Singapore and others. We've also looked at deals throughout Latin America, particularly where there's a significant growing opportunity for people to interpret the actions of policymakers.

Q. What target capabilities are you looking at post-merger?

There are two types of acquisitions. Number one is a data information bolt-on. If there's a particular data set or content area that we really want to access—let's say a country's regulatory information or specific, unique content around a particular industry—then that's a pretty easy tuck-in for us.

The second type of business that we're looking at is workflow software, something that essentially takes the data that we have and does something unique or interesting with it. Historical examples are Oxford Analytica, which we purchased earlier this year, that gave us some emerging market regulatory data and information in that content category.

We're looking at businesses that really extend the use case of our opportunity into the regulated sectors of the future, in areas where there's a significant level of regulatory complexity or political challenges that might exist for customers.

A bit of background: Tim Hwang is the founder and CEO of FiscalNote, a global technology and information services company focused on global policy and market intelligence, with headquarters in Washington, DC. The company focuses on delivering timely and relevant policy information via its core technology, which includes software tools, AI-driven insights, comprehensive domestic and international data sets, as well human-authored news and analysis.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.