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Cambridge rowing startup Hydrow in talks to go public via SPAC as pandemic boosts interest in at-home fitness

Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, rows along the Charles River as he is being broadcast live to Hydrow rowers around the world for their rowing workouts.
Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, rows along the Charles River as he is being broadcast live to Hydrow rowers around the world for their rowing workouts.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

(Bloomberg) -- Cambridge startup Hydrow, a maker of rowing machines, is in talks to go public through a merger with Sandbridge X2 Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The companies are in discussions about a transaction that values the combined entity at more than $1 billion, some of the people said. Sandbridge X2 is in talks with prospective investors about raising a private investment in public equity, one of the people added. Terms aren’t finalized and it’s possible talks could fall apart.

Hydrow and Sandbridge representatives declined to comment.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Hydrow, led by Chief Executive Officer Bruce Smith, had been exploring options such as an initial public offering or merging with a special purpose acquisition company, Bloomberg News reported in June. The company, which offers live and on-demand workouts — also sells heart-rate monitors, headphones, yoga blocks, resistance bands and foam rollers, its website shows.

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A camera streams video of Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, as he rows along the Charles River.
A camera streams video of Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, as he rows along the Charles River.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Hydrow competes in the at-home fitness market against companies including industry behemoth Peloton. Its investors include LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton; Rx3 Ventures, co-founded by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; Sandbridge Capital; Activant Capital and Winklevoss Capital Management, PitchBook data show.

Sandbridge X2, led by Chairman and CEO Ken Suslow, raised $238 million in a March IPO. The SPAC has said it intends to focus on a target in the consumer sector. Sandbridge’s first SPAC combined with Owlet Inc., a maker of baby monitors and other products.

In other at-home fitness deals, Beachbody and Myx Fitness went public through a SPAC, merging this year with Forest Road Acquisition Corp. to form Beachbody Co.