Phyllis Newhouse is the first Black woman to lead a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). She is also a serial entrepreneur and investor, retired military senior officer, and mentor.
While serving in the United States Army on various assignments she specialized in National Security and established the Cyber Espionage Task Force. After a 22 year military career, she decided to shift her focus to entrepreneurship.
In 2002 she founded Xtreme Solutions (XSI). XSI provides state-of-the-art information technology and cybersecurity services and solutions and has employees in 42 states, with 40% of its workforce made up of veterans. XSI revenues are reported to exceed $8 million.
In 2019 she founded ShoulderUp alongside Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting and supporting women on their entrepreneurial journeys.
ShoulderUp Ventures is the first women-founded and led influencer fund providing impact and exclusive access to a diverse portfolio of media, technology companies, and sports entertainment. In 2019 alone its members and affiliates invested over $10 million in companies like Lime, Rent the Runway, and Airbnb.
In 2020, Phyllis co-founded Athena Technology Acquisition Corp., to carry out mergers, capital stock exchanges, asset acquisitions, stock purchases, and reorganizations with one or more businesses in the technology, DTC, and fintech industries.
While Athena is joining over 500 other active SPACs, only 17 of those have a woman as chair or CEO, according to SPAC Track.
In March 2021, Athena closed a $250 million IPO, making it the only SPAC listed on the NYSE with a Black woman CEO. In November 2021,
She told Forbes, “I think about the impact and responsibility that you have to be successful at this. You could be the first Black woman to lead a SPAC, and it could flop, and it would be a disaster, or you could be responsible and own this. “So in my mind, from day one, I had to own this, because I know with the ownership comes a deep responsibility. Others are watching.”
According to a press release, the company currently intends to focus its efforts on identifying businesses in the technology and cybersecurity industries.