The stock market was mixed last week, Dow Jones rose 0.6%, S&P 500 fell 0.1%, and Nasdaq fell 1.1%, even as the 10-year US Treasury yield tumbled 22 basis points to 3.28%, a seven-month low. Global startups raised US$76 billion in the first quarter—a figure that includes US$10 billion raised by OpenAI and US$6.5 billion raised by Stripe—a steep decline from the same period last year. Instacart boosted its valuation 18%, mirroring stock market bounce. Marketing software company Klaviyo has hired bankers and is targeting a public debut as early as this fal. C3.ai plunged 26% after a short-seller said the buzzy AI company has ‘serious accounting and disclosure issues’. The world’s largest AI fund, the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF to a stronger start in 2023 than even the red-hot Nasdaq 100. Google’s CEO said Chatbot feature is coming to search. Ahead of Apple’s US$3k headset, only 4% of teens who own a VR device actually use it. Walmart is building a nationwide electric vehicle fast charging network. Tesla’s cut prices in the US yet again, this time by as much as US$5,000. In Canada, Vancouver-based Web3 startup LayerZero Labs is now valued at $3 billion after closing a $120 million Series B funding round. WonderFi, Coinsquare, and CoinSmart will merge as Canada’s crypto industry consolidates. Sophic Client, Jasper Commerce closed a second and final tranche of a Convertible Debenture unit financing, raising a total of $900,000 from insiders and a new institutional investor. Sophic Client UGE reported fiscal year 2022 financial results, and on the earnings call, highlighted positive expected balance sheet milestones. Sophic Client LuckBox announced strong March KPIs & record Q1, as March Global Betting Handle was $5.0 million, up from February’s record $2.8 million, and the registered player base reached 387,000. Sophic Client Swarmio Media, introduced a new payment solution, to drive accretive revenue growth. The company and etisalat by e& (largest telecom operator in the MENA region) also launched a promotional campaign for gamers in the Arena esports platform.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Sophic Client Jasper Commerce Inc. (JPIM-TSXV) closes second and final tranche of Convertible Debenture unit financing.
Jasper Commerce Inc has closed the second and final tranche of its previously announced non-brokered private placement offering of units. The aggregate subscription price for the Units issued in the second tranche totals $263,500, bringing the total size of the Offering to $900,000. As certain officers, directors and 10%+ shareholders of the Company participated in the Offering, the Offering is considered a “related party” transaction subject to and in accordance with Multilateral Instrument 61-101 policy 5.9 of the Exchange. http://bit.ly/3UnHAu0
Sophic Client UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) reports fiscal year 2022 financial results.
UGE International reported its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2022. In 2022, UGE continued to grow its business of developing, building, financing, owning, and operating commercial and community solar and energy storage facilities. The Company executed on its strategic plan in 2022, by growing its project development backlog, moving its projects towards construction, expanding its operating portfolio, and scaling both its balance sheet and leadership team. https://bit.ly/3m7IOgh
Sophic Client LuckBox (LUCK-TSXV, LUKEF-OTC) announces strong March KPIs & record Q1.
Real Luck announced another positive month of operational growth during March. In March, the Company once again generated a new record in Global Betting Handle of $5.0 million, up from February’s record $2.8 million. This was mainly driven by the positive increase in active players, new markets and player revenue. Global Betting Handle and player revenue are the key performance measurables in B2C growth. Real Luck Group will continue to simultaneously focus on driving player value from the Company’s registered player base, which now stands at 387,000. http://bit.ly/3Ufrlii
Sophic Client Swarmio Media (SWRM-CSE, SWMIF-OTC) and etisalat by e& launch Ramadan promotional campaign for gamers in the Arena esports platform.
Swarmio Media launched a major nation-wide promotional campaign in collaboration with its telco partner, etisalat by e&, during the month-long Ramadan holiday. The Ramadan Campaign is intended to encourage gamers to sign up to and play games inside the Ember platform, which was rolled out to etisalat by e& customers in the UAE under the brand name “Arena Esports” in November 2022. Revenues generated from transactions made inside the Arena Esports platform are subject to a revenue share agreement between Swarmio and etisalat by e&. http://bit.ly/3nXHyMY
Sophic Client Swarmio Media (SWRM-CSE, SWMIF-OTC) introduces new payment solution, Eco VoicePay, to drive accretive revenue growth on its Ember gaming and esports platform.
Swarmio Media launched a new payment solution, Eco VoicePay. The Eco VoicePay solution will allow gamers from anywhere in the world to dial a phone number and pay for in-game items using long distance credits provided by their mobile carrier. They will then receive Ember points vouchers via SMS, which they can redeem in the Ember online store to pay for in-game digital items and accessories including skins, upgrades, value packs and subscriptions. Eco VoicePay is being launched initially in Sri Lanka and North Africa , before it is rolled out to additional regions. The launch of Eco VoicePay is an important catalyst in Swarmio’s overarching strategic growth plan. http://bit.ly/3MnN59O
WonderFi (WNDR-TSX), Coinsquare, CoinSmart (SMRT-NEO) to merge as Canada’s crypto industry consolidates.
A trio of regulated Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges have decided to join forces in a landmark deal for Canada’s crypto sector. WonderFi, Coinsquare, and CoinSmart Financial announced that the three companies reached an agreement to combine and create what they claim will be “Canada’s largest regulated crypto asset trading platform.” Collectively, Vancouver-based WonderFi, and Toronto’s Coinsquare and CoinSmart have over $600 million in assets under custody and more than 1.65 million users. This three-company combination deal comes months after Coinsquare backed out of its agreement to acquire CoinSmart amid reported talks about a merger with WonderFi. CoinSmart first rejected and then eventually accepted Coinsquare’s move, but announced its intention to seek monetary damages in court. Today’s deal appears to mark an end to this saga. As part of the merger agreement, TSX-listed WonderFi will issue about 270 million common shares to Coinsquare investors, and approximately 119 million common shares to CoinSmart’s shareholders. Once complete, Coinsquare shareholders will own 43 percent of the combined firm, WonderFi shareholders will own 38 percent, and CoinSmart shareholders 19 percent. http://bit.ly/3mfZKRy
LayerZero Labs raises $120 million at $3 billion valuation to enable more multi-blockchain apps.
Vancouver-based Web3 startup LayerZero Labs is now valued at $3 billion after closing a $120 million Series B funding round. LayerZero said 33 investors participated in the financing, including Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto fund, BOND, Christie’s, Circle Ventures, OpenSea Ventures, Samsung Next, and Sequoia Capital. LayerZero previously had a valuation of $1 billion when it raised $135 million in March 2022. That round saw participation from notable firms in both the FinTech and crypto spaces, such as Dapper Labs, Coinbase Ventures, PayPal Ventures, as well as FTX Ventures. LayerZero closed this latest round as venture capitalists continue to bet on long-term growth for crypto, despite a volatile market. CryptoRank released a report in February about the state of crypto fundraising and found an uptick in funding rounds that took place since the start of 2023. According to CryptoRank’s data, February 2023 alone saw US$7.80 billion in funding raised across 106 rounds. In comparison, November 2022 saw US$791.25 million raised across 80 rounds. http://bit.ly/43d7SCZ
Brizo Data raises $12 million to bring data insights to foodservice industry.
Québec City-based Brizo Data has secured over $12 million for its Series A round as it looks to “become the source of truth on the foodservice and hospitality industries.” The round was co-led by Framework Venture Partners and BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, the latter of which includes food tech as one of its principal investment areas. Brizo originally raised the majority of its Series A round last year, telling BetaKit in November that it was a mix of equity and debt. A spokesperson for the company said the full $12 million includes $2.5 million in debt, and $250,000 in grant financing, with the remainder being equity. After recently holding the final close on the round at the end of March, Brizo has raised a total of around $13 million since it was founded three years ago. Its first, $1.3 million seed round was led by Branded Hospitality Ventures, which invests in food tech companies. Branded Hospitality Ventures re-invested as part of its Series A, alongside undisclosed angel investors from the tech and restaurant spaces. BetaKit has reached out to confirm the full list of investors. http://bit.ly/3KBakfn
High performance computing platform Agnostiq closes $8.22 million seed extension.
Toronto-based Agnostiq closed a $8.22 million seed extension funding round to accelerate the development of its high performance computing (HPC) platform. The round was led by Differential Ventures, with additional investors including Scout Ventures, Tensility Venture Partners, Green Egg Ventures, and Rob Granieri, principal at Jane Street Capital and president at telecommunications construction company MC Communications. The startup previously raised $2.4 million in seed funding in 2021. It has raised a total of $9.83 million in funding to date. Agnostiq claims that major hardware and cloud providers are investing heavily in HPC systems to power the next generation of AI applications. According to Statista, HPC-based machine learning revenue worldwide will likely reach US$1.57 billion in 2025, a 110 percent increase from US$747 million in 2018. http://bit.ly/40GATW9
VCCI-backed Kensington Capital Partners secures $158 million first close for third venture fund.
Toronto-based Kensington Capital Partners has raised $158 million in the first close of its third government-backed venture fund, putting it over halfway towards its $290 million target. Kensington is one of four fund managers selected by the Government of Canada set to receive funding from the latest round of its Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI), and the first of this group to announce that it has closed financing. The other three—Boston’s HarbourVest Partners, Montréal-based Teralys Capital, and Toronto’s Northleaf Capital Partners—have yet to publicly announce plans for their latest funds. With its first close for Kensington Venture Fund III (KVFIII), Kensington has surpassed the size of its last venture fund, which reached $150 million. Through VCCI, the federal government has committed to provide 25 percent, or $72.5 million of Kensington’s $290 million target for KVFIII. In addition to VCCI money, KVFIII’s LPs include BDC, Kensington Private Equity Fund, TD Bank, and several undisclosed individual investors and family offices. http://bit.ly/3Uf0GlX
Canadian privacy commissioner launches investigation into ChatGPT.
The Canadian privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) said on Tuesday that the case was launched in response to a “complaint alleging the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information without consent.” BetaKit has reached out to OpenAI and the OPC for comment. This investigation follows a series of recent moves by the federal government and members of the AI research community in regulating the development and deployment of the technology. http://bit.ly/3KGbXbU
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Startup funding fell 53% in first quarter.
Global startups raised US$76 billion in the first quarter—a figure that includes US$10 billion raised by OpenAI and US$6.5 billion raised by Stripe—a steep decline from the same period last year when companies collected US$162 billion, according to new data from Crunchbase. There was a slowdown in funding across all stages. Capital invested in seed deals fell 44%, while late-stage funding dropped 54%. Still, investors remain excited about opportunites to invest in artificial intelligence companies. AI startups accounted for about 20% of capital invested in the first quarter. https://bit.ly/3zF0H9c
Instacart boosts its valuation 18%, mirroring stock market bounce.
Privately held tech firms have spent the past year slashing their internal valuations, but a modest recovery among public tech stocks could reverse the trend. Instacart recently boosted its common stock price 18% due partly to the stock appreciation of some of its publicly traded peers, The Information reported. The grocery delivery firm has been waiting for the better part of a year for an opening to go public. Its common shares still carry a higher valuation multiple than publicly traded DoorDash so it will need to show investors a strong path toward profits if it wants to maintain its valuation. https://bit.ly/3GrM9xn
Substack financial statements show massive losses.
Substack, the publishing platform, burned through roughly US$25 million in cash in 2021, newly disclosed financial statements reveal, reflecting the expansion undertaken that year after Substack raised US$65 million in a fundraising. In 2020 Substack had burned through just over US$1 million. Substack’s financial statements were filed with the SEC just a couple of weeks after the company began trying to raise a small amount of money from individual writers, at its 2021 valuation of US$650 million. The financial statements don’t include 2022 results, making it difficult to assess the current state of the business. But they do show that Substack’s expenses skyrocketed as a result of its expansion in 2021, causing enormous losses, and explaining why the company last year took steps to cut its spending. For instance, in 2021, Substack had gross revenue of US$11.9 million, mostly from subscriptions. But Substack pays out most of the subscription revenue to the writers which publish on its platform. The financial statements show that Substack paid out to writers more than it took in, because it had guaranteed some writers a minimum amount of income. As a result, Substack reported negative revenue, which is unusual. In addition Substack had to pay salaries of its own staff and other expenses. The statements also reveal that Substack borrowed money from JP Morgan Chase and arranged another credit facility last year, although the company’s current debt levels weren’t disclosed. https://bit.ly/3GqfQ1O
Klaviyo hires bankers, targeting IPO this year.
Marketing software company Klaviyo has hired bankers and is targeting a public debut as early as this fall, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, in a sign that the IPO market could start to thaw later this year. Klaviyo, which was founded in Boston in 2012, hired Goldman Sachs to be the lead underwriter for its initial public offering, which could take place as soon as September, the report said. The company, which helps companies send marketing emails and text messages, has seen a surge in demand for its products following Apple’s 2020 changes that tightened up third-party access to customer data, which has made it more difficult for online sellers to reach shoppers through digital ads. Klaviyo raised US$100 million from investors including Shopify and Cross Creek Advisors in July 2022 at an undisclosed valuation and was valued at almost US$9.5 billion in a May 2021 funding round. The Journal also reported Klaviyo brought in US$575 million in recurring revenue last year. https://bit.ly/407vqGZ
C3.ai plunges 26% after short-seller says the buzzy AI company has ‘serious accounting and disclosure issues’.
C3.ai, the buzzy artificial intelligence stock that has soared amid the ChatGPT hype, plummeted on Tuesday after short-seller Kerrisdale Capital released a letter accusing the company of serious accounting issues. C3.ai shares tumbled shortly after Kerrisdale released an open letter to C3.ai’s own audit committee, Deloitte & Touche executives, and regulators at the Security and Exchange Commission on Tuesday afternoon. Shares ended the day down 26% to close at US$24.95. Kerrisdale Capital said in a letter that C3.ai has inflated metrics to meet analyst estimates. “The American public markets have no place for deceitful accounting,” Kerrisdale wrote. http://bit.ly/3ZHNMxW
The world’s largest AI fund has surged 23% this year, beating even the red-hot Nasdaq index.
The rise of ChatGPT has spurred a renewed spike in investor interest in the artificial intelligence sector. That’s led the world’s largest AI fund, the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ), to a stronger start in 2023 than even the red-hot Nasdaq 100. The US$1.7 billion ETF has gained 23%, while the Nasdaq 100, coming off its second-strongest quarter in a decade, is up 19%. The fund’s top holding is Nvidia, which was the top-performing name in both the S&P 500 and more tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 during the first quarter. The chipmaker, which makes up roughly 9% of the ETF’s net assets, has climbed 88% in 2023. Amid the strong fund returns, BOTZ has seen US$135 million of inflows so far in 2023, including US$80 million in March. Among 325 professional investors, 56% plan to add AI- and robotics-themed exposure to their portfolios this year. That compares to 46% in 2022, and the category beat out all others except internet and technology. http://bit.ly/3UjzClp
Google to cut down on employee laptops, services and staplers for ‘multi-year’ savings.
We want to be upfront that there are also areas where we’ll realize savings that will impact some service Googlers use at work and beyond. We set a high bar for industry-leading perks, benefits and office amenities, and will continue that into the future. However, some programs need to evolve for how Google works today. We’re adjusting our office services to the new hybrid workweek. Cafes, Microkitchens and other facilities will be tailored to better match how and when they are being used. Decisions will be based on data. Similarly, we’ll consolidate microkitchens in buildings where we’re seeing more waste than value. We’ll also shift some fitness classes and shuttle schedules based on how they’re being used. We’ve also assessed the equipment we provide Googlers. Today’s devices have a much longer lifespan and greater performance and reliability, so we have made changes to what’s available and how often it’s replaced. Because equipment is a significant expense for a company of our size, we’ll be able to save meaningfully here. http://bit.ly/418W3vX
Samsung to cut memory chip output after worst profit since 2009.
Samsung Electronics Co. said it’s cutting memory chip production after reporting its slimmest profit since the 2009 financial crisis, a significant step toward ending a supply glut that had cratered prices across the industry. Shares rose. Operating profit at the world’s largest maker of memory chips plunged more than 95% to 600 billion won (US$450 million) for the three months ended March, missing the average analyst estimate of 1.4 trillion won. Sales fell 19% to 63 trillion won. https://bloom.bg/3KDAoXk
Tesla first quarter car deliveries rise 36%.
Tesla said it delivered 36% more electric vehicles to customers during the first quarter than it did in the same period a year earlier. The results were far below the 68% growth in deliveries that Tesla reported in the first quarter of last year compared to the same period in 2021. Tesla has been grappling with the economic slowdown and rise in interest rates, which has curbed demand for its luxury vehicles. In January, it cut prices on its vehicles to boost sales. For the quarter ended March 31, Tesla said it delivered 422,874 vehicles and over 97% of them were the company’s more affordable cars, the Model 3 and Y. Tesla said it produced slightly more than 440,000 vehicles in the first quarter. https://bit.ly/3MvSdZE
Ladbrokes owner Entain buys sports media business 365scores.
British gambling group Entain Plc said on Wednesday it acquired sports media business 365scores for up to US$160 million to improve its interactive content and experience for users. The acquisition includes contingent payments of up to US$10 million, Entain said in a statement. 365scores, founded in 2012, offers coverage of 10 different sports and more than 2,000 competitions across the world. Over the years, Entain added several betting groups to its portfolio, including five in 2022, when it expanded into Canada, the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. Entain’s most popular brands, Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin, were bought through acquisitions. https://reut.rs/3ZOeMvD
Saudi PIF to buy mobile gaming company Scopely for nearly US$5 billion.
Saudi Arabia-backed Savvy Games Group is buying mobile gaming company Scopely, which makes games such as “Scrabble Go” and “Star Trek Fleet Command,” for US$4.9 billion. Savvy Games Group said it’s wholly owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, or PIF, which recently started disclosing its partnerships with nearly 40 U.S. VC firms, The Information previously reported. The fund has been making inroads with entertainment, sports and gaming companies for years. For example, it has stakes in Activision Blizzard and Nintendo. These efforts have been part of a campaign to distance the sovereign wealth fund from the politics of Riyadh, especially following the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in one of the country’s consulates. Within video gaming, Savvy Games said last year that it plans to invest nearly US$38 billion into initiatives aimed at making Saudi Arabia a global hub for gaming, according to reports. https://bit.ly/41goiZL
Amazon’s iRobot takeover investigated by U.K. antitrust regulator.
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday that it’s investigating Amazon’s proposed takeover of Roomba maker iRobot, adding to the already sizable regulatory challenges facing the US$1.7 billion deal. The British antitrust regulator wrote that it’s investigating whether the acquisition would lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” and requested public comment on the deal. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has already been investigating the deal for months. FTC staffers are leaning toward trying to stop the deal and could file a lawsuit in the next few months, Politico reported in March. iRobot shares ticked down 0.3% to US$41.80 on Thursday morning. The stock has been trading around 30% below Amazon’s proposed takeover price of US$61 per share in recent weeks, indicating widespread skepticism among investors that the deal will close. The iRobot news comes just one day after the U.K.’s communications regulator raised “significant concerns” about potential anticompetitive practices by Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud computing units and recommended that the CMA open an investigation. https://bit.ly/40J81MZ
Amazon plans to cut employee equity awards in 2025.
Amazon is planning to cut how much equity it awards employees “by a small amount” in 2025 due in part to economic concerns, Insider reported on Wednesday, citing internal documents. Meanwhile, the company is considering giving employees a higher percentage of their compensation in cash. While Amazon will reportedly reevaluate its 2025 equity-award plan next year, the proposed cut, paired with the possible shift toward cash, is significant because it raises the possibility of a new approach to compensation at Amazon. The e-commerce giant has tended to use stock for a higher percentage of employees’ compensation than other tech companies, a strategy that has paid off during periods when Amazon’s share price has soared, such as during the 2010s and early 2020s, while leading to frustration among the company’s workforce last year as the company’s shares tumbled. In 2022, Amazon gave employees the opportunity to earn more cash than before by more than doubling its maximum salary from US$160,000 to US$350,000. https://bit.ly/3zHtfPn
Google CEO says Chatbot feature is coming to search.
Google plans to add conversational artificial intelligence to its search engine, CEO Sundar Pichai told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. A chatbot integration would be a major shift in how Google delivers search results—a process that has changed minimally over more than 20 years. Google has already launched an experimental chatbot in March called Bard that can do things like write jokes or summarize books, but the product isn’t widely available. A wider rollout could radically change the economics of Google’s search business, given that industry observers estimate that chatbot responses are more expensive to generate than traditional search results. It’s also unclear whether the search giant would seek to show ads to customers using the chatbot. If it doesn’t, that could potentially hurt its search ad business, which accounts for more than half of revenue. Traditional search results featuring links to other sites are likely to still be better for some search queries, such as those involving shopping. https://bit.ly/41dMDiz
Ahead of Apple’s US$3k headset, only 4% of teens who own a VR device actually use it.
Reported by CNBC, the new AR survey by Piper Sandler got feedback from 5,600 teens. 29% of the teens identified as already owning VR hardware but just 4% of them said they use it daily. And only 14% of them said they use their VR device weekly. Another piece of data from the study, teens are not excited about future AR/VR devices. Looking forward, only 7% of them “said they planned to purchase a headset, versus 52% of teens polled who were unsure or uninterested.” Notably, last month, Meta cut the price of its Quest 2 and Pro VR headsets after a tough 2022 that saw its Reality Labs division lose a massive US$13.7 billion dollars. While Meta’s Quest 2 now goes for under US$500, Apple’s Reality Pro headset is expected to be priced far into the premium territory ~US$3,000. But unlike Meta, Apple is expected to go after developers and professionals with its first headset. That could help it build enticing use cases, but as Piper Sandler points out in its study, we’re still in the “early days” of AR/VR. http://bit.ly/3UeD3tw
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Brands increase TikTok spending despite threat of US ban.
Advertisers are increasing their spending on TikTok, despite the threat of an imminent US ban of the Chinese-owned viral video app over national security concerns. Advertising on TikTok in the US grew by 11 per cent in March, with companies including Pepsi, DoorDash, Amazon and Apple among the top spenders, according to data from app analytics group Sensor Tower. Brands largely plan to continue spending on TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, while leading advertising agencies, including WPP’s GroupM and Omnicom, have held back from advising their clients to lower their investment, according to several ad executives and agency leaders. Digital advertising is the main source of TikTok’s US$10 billion global revenues. Over the past year, it has fought for market share by offering cheaper advertising rates than Meta and Google, as well as delivering a higher return on investment with newer advertising formats, industry insiders say. TikTok is forecast to book US$14.15 billion in revenues in 2023, up from US$9.89 billion in 2022, according to estimates by research group Insider Intelligence. http://bit.ly/3Kga5VB
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
Twitter punished Substack after Substack announced competing product.
Twitter on Friday appeared to limit users’ ability to retweet, reply to or “like” tweets that linked to websites hosted by newsletter software provider Substack. The move came one day after Substack announced Substack Notes, a product that could compete with Twitter. “We hope this action was made in error and is only temporary,” Substack co-founder Hamesh Mackenzie tweeted on Friday. This isn’t the first time the Elon Musk-owned social media app has taken action against rivals. Late last year it moved to prevent users from sharing links to rival social media apps. Twitter reversed the action after a strong outcry from notable Twitter users. Twitter’s apparent effort to hurt Substack is ironic because some writers who use Substack to host and distribute their work have previously supported Musk and worked with him to publish tweet threads about alleged attempts by Twitter’s prior managers to censor certain content, a series dubbed “The Twitter Files.” Substack and Twitter also share a key external investor—Andreessen Horowitz. In the meantime, some Substack writers have begun to encourage their followers to find them on other social media platforms—and on Substack Notes. https://bit.ly/41bmUY9
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Elon Musk revives old banking dream in pursuing US$250 billion Twitter valuation.
So far, Twitter has made only nascent moves toward a payments and finance future. In November, the company took one of the first steps toward becoming a payments processor, filing paperwork with the U.S. Treasury. It now has to register for a license in each state where it plans to do business. Twitter hasn’t yet registered in California, according to a government database. “I’m going to execute the X.com game plan from 22 years ago with some improvements,” Mr. Musk said last year at a conference, where he talked about his ambitions for Twitter. “There’s a product plan I wrote…in July 2000 where I thought it would be possible to make the most valuable financial institution in the world, and we’re going to execute that plan…which amazingly no one has done,” he said. With Twitter, he is updating his earlier web-banking vision for the app economy, framed in terms of using the social-media company to jump-start the creation of a so-called super app. Such an app could be a platform that is a mix of content, communication and commerce similar to those offered by the tech giants in China, such as Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and Ant Group Co.’s Alipay. “We don’t even have an app that’s as good as WeChat in China,” Mr. Musk said on a podcast last year hosted by a fan club. “My idea would be, like, How about we just copy WeChat?” Those companies in China benefited from less-mature banking and digital messaging systems compared with the U.S. and an exploding user base on mobile devices, which for many customers was their only internet access. https://on.wsj.com/3mlkpE4
Dogecoin jumps more than 30% after Musk changes Twitter logo to image of shiba inu.
Dogecoin rose over 30% after Twitter changed its logo to an image of a shiba inu dog, the digital coin’s symbol. Twitter CEO Elon Musk has touted the token for years. Last Friday, Musk asked a judge to dismiss a $258 billion racketeering lawsuit accusing him of pumping the cryptocurrency. https://cnb.cx/43fvvLm
Japan to spend US$7 billion on chip gear in 2024, the biggest spending jump in world.
Japan is poised to sharply raise its chip-gear spending in an attempt to boost its position in the global semiconductor market, as it tightens exports amid a US-led push to limit China’s tech ambitions. Japan is expected to spend US$7 billion on fab equipment next year, which would mark a 82% jump from this year — the largest in the world — according to data from SEMI, a global association of chipmaking equipment producers. That compares with a 2% increase forecast for China and the total amount would be higher than the combined spending of the Europe and Mideast markets. http://bit.ly/417tYoF
Google says its AI supercomputer is faster, greener than Nvidia A100 chip.
Alphabet Inc’s Google released on Tuesday new details about the supercomputers it uses to train its artificial intelligence models, saying the systems are both faster and more power-efficient than comparable systems from Nvidia Corp. Google has designed its own custom chip called the Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU. It uses those chips for more than 90% of the company’s work on artificial intelligence training, the process of feeding data through models to make them useful at tasks such as responding to queries with human-like text or generating images. The Google TPU is now in its fourth generation. Google on Tuesday published a scientific paper detailing how it has strung more than 4,000 of the chips together into a supercomputer using its own custom-developed optical switches to help connect individual machines. Google also hinted that it might be working on a new TPU that would compete with the Nvidia H100. http://bit.ly/3Udi0b3
Walmart is building a nationwide electric vehicle fast charging network.
Walmart is planning to build out a nationwide electric vehicle charging network at thousands of its stores, including Sam’s Club locations. The company says it plans to have the network built by 2030 and will help make EV ownership “more accessible, reliable, convenient and affordable.” Walmart believes it is “uniquely positioned” to build out a convenient charging solution for EV owners. The company says its stores and wholesale warehouses are located “within 10 miles of approximately 90% of Americans.” Walmart is aiming to offer shoppers “Every Day Low Cost charging” at its many stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Clubs. The company says its charging locations will be “clean, bright, and safe” for EV owners. In addition to expanding electric vehicle charging, Walmart plans to make its own logistics emissions-free by 2040 and has incorporated EVs into its Walmart Plus shopping deliveries. Walmart’s been working with companies like GM’s BrightDrop and Canoo to build last-mile delivery fleets, the latter of which, however, had been embattled with the SEC and just paid a US$1.5 million settlement. http://bit.ly/3UeFooB
Tesla’s cut prices in the US yet again, this time by as much as US$5,000.
Tesla has cut prices on two of its most expensive cars in its fifth reductions this year as the US prepares to bring in new rules on EV tax credits. Elon Musk’s electric carmaker has slashed US$5,000 off both the Model S and Model X, according to the company’s website. The price of the Model 3 sedan has been lowered by US$1,000 and the Model Y by US$2,000 respectively. The reductions comes after the US Treasury Department and IRS issued new guidance in March on which EV models can qualify for tax credits of US$3,750 or US$7,500, with the new rules coming into force this month. https://bit.ly/3MsY1TN
Rivian sticks to 2023 production goal for EVs despite quarterly dip.
EV automaker Rivian said Monday it produced 9,395 vehicles at its factory in Normal, Illinois in the first quarter, lower than the previous period but still on track to hit its 50,000 production goal for the year. Rivian said it delivered 7,946 of those vehicles in the first quarter. Rivian’s first-quarter delivery numbers just missed analysts’ expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet expected Rivian to deliver about 8,000 vehicles. Shares fell 4.3% following the announcement. Those Q1 numbers were higher than the same quarter last year, a time when Rivian was grappling with supply chain constraints in the midst of scaling up production. Still, they were lower than its Q4 results. Rivian produced 10,020 EVs in Q4 and delivered 8,504 in the same period. Rivian has struggled with supply chain problems — specifically semiconductors — since production of its R1T truck began in late 2021. Those problems didn’t abate in 2022, forcing the company to scale back production guidance from 50,000 to 25,000 vehicles for 2022. Even with that lower, more conservative guidance Rivian didn’t quite hit the mark. Rivian produced 24,337 vehicles and delivered 20,332 vehicles in 2022. http://bit.ly/43h1L0O
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