Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, GMSQF-OTC) announces US$3.0 million Private Placement led by Goff Capital and the Jones Family and a new strategic investor to further strengthen the Company’s shareholder base. In a recent report, we examine, Sophic Client, Edge Total Intelligence (CTRL-TSXV) offerings as edgeTI’s software provides enterprises a single point of control software enabling the rapid coordination and execution of informed decisions. This is a US$23 billion industry, and edgeTI is establishing itself to grow in this industry. Shopify told employees on Thursday that it will raise all employees’ base salaries, The Information has learned. The salary increases will come into effect starting in July, according to a person familiar with the matter. The move follows The Information’s report that Shopify was suffering from staff defections, even as Shopify’s stock plunge this year has reduced the value of recent stock grants. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) today announced that it has invested US$425 million in VerSe Innovation Private Limited, one of India’s leading content technology platform companies. PokerStars and FanDuel join forces to strike major partnership deal with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Gartner forecasts global tech spending to hit US$4.4 trillion this year, up 4%. Buffett’s Berkshire reveals stake in HP; shares surge almost 10%. Twitter shares surge after disclosure Elon Musk has taken stake. Amazon, Alphabet and others are quietly rolling out drone delivery across America. Cash App discloses security breach impacting over 8 million users. Apple Pay surpasses Venmo and PayPal as teens’ favorite payment app, shows Piper Sandler survey. Meta Platforms’ financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, the Financial Times reported.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, GMSQF-OTC, Sophic Client) announces US$3.0 million Private Placement led by Goff Capital and the Jones Family and a new strategic investor to further strengthen the Company’s shareholder base.
The fully subscribed US$3.0 million financing, which adds a new strategic investor to strengthen its shareholder base and also strengthens the Company’s cash position. The non-brokered private placement was co-led by Goff Capital, the Jones Family, owners of the Dallas Cowboys, and a NY-based fund with large, long-term esports investments. https://bit.ly/3x8P8Ho
Eguana (EGT-TSXV) enters into a US$10 million Loan Agreement with Western Technology Investment.
Eguana entered into a loan agreement for general working capital for up to US$10,000,000 (the “Loan”) on April 1, 2022 with Silicon Valley based Western Technology Investment (the “Lender”). “We have expedited full turnkey manufacturing and supply chain activities to Omega EMS and this growth capital will be immediately utilized to support further production capacity increases, Enfuse launch volumes, and battery module supply” commented Eguana CEO Justin Holland. “WTI has remained a key partner for Eguana for a number of years, recognizing the strategic market position the team has put in place and the near term revenue opportunities with both the storage solutions and the micro inverter launch.” https://bit.ly/3LOmwaq
Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) announces base pay increase at town hall.
Shopify told employees on Thursday that it will raise all employees’ base salaries, The Information has learned. The salary increases will come into effect starting in July, according to a person familiar with the matter. The move follows The Information’s report that Shopify was suffering from staff defections, even as Shopify’s stock plunge this year has reduced the value of recent stock grants. Shopify has historically offered low base salaries relative to tech companies in the U.S., The Information previously reported. In the past that was offset by the value of stock compensation. But Shopify’s stock price has dropped 53% so far this year, making stock grants less valuable. The value of the salary increase will vary based on employees’ role. There are signs that unhappiness about Shopify’s low pay may be driving increased turnover. Last month, three data science executives, including the head of data, Solmaz Shahalizadeh left the company. The across-the-board pay rise is something of a reversal for Shopify, whose executives have made clear they don’t believe pay should be the sole motivation for working at the company. The town hall was called after employees raised concerns about Shopify’s pay structure following The Information’s previous reporting, Business Insider reported. https://bit.ly/3xizQzM
CPP Investments announces US$425 million investment in VerSe Innovation.
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) today announced that it has invested US$425 million in VerSe Innovation Private Limited, one of India’s leading content technology platform companies. Following an initial equity investment of US$50 million in VerSe Innovation’s previous funding round, CPP Investments acted as a lead investor in the latest round with a further $375 million USD equity investment. https://bit.ly/3O9hpDV
Liquid MarketPlace raises $10 million, unveils new era in collectible ownership and trading.
Liquid MarketPlace, a large-scale platform where people can buy, sell, own, and trade portions of rare collectibles in real-time, launched today. Powered by blockchain and crypto technology, the platform offers a new way for collectors of every demographic to purchase pieces of rare, high-valued items with both crypto and government-backed fiat currencies, by turning physical items into tokens that can be traded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. https://prn.to/3rcpv4E
With $7.1 million in SDTC funds, Spark Microsystems aims to make wireless tech more energy efficient.
Montréal-based Spark Microsystems has secured $7.1 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). The grant comes as part of the cumulative $27.2 million that SDTC invested into seven Canadian tech companies to advance their clean technology innovations. https://bit.ly/3LPUuLL
MyComply closes $5.6 million to sell construction tech platform to US companies.
MyComply has secured $5.6 million and the support of construction industry angel investors to expand the presence of its construction workforce compliance and management platform across the United States (US). https://bit.ly/3xdZdTe
Cosm Medical raises $4.7 million for its custom gynecological prosthetics.
Medtech startup Cosm Medical has secured $4.7 million in an oversubscribed seed round to create custom medical devices for women suffering from pelvic floor disorders. https://bit.ly/3v0vvPa
Uplinq raises $4.4 million to help small business lenders make accurate decisions.
Toronto-based FinTech startup Uplinq has closed a $4.4 million pre-seed round. The financing was co-led by venture capital firms N49P and Surface Ventures, with participation from MoVi Partners, Impulsum Ventures, Magic Fund, Assure Syndicates, and the DVC Syndicate. Uplinq noted that several FinTech executives also invested in the round, though their names were not disclosed. https://bit.ly/38DYBfB
Cybrid secures $3.8 million seed round to help challenger banks launch crypto.
As crypto and DeFi products become more mainstream, a Canadian startup is looking to make it easier for FinTech startups and challenger banks to offer these services to consumers. Calling itself a “crypto banking-as-a-service provider,” Cybrid Technology has secured $3.8 million in equity seed financing to bring its technology to market. https://bit.ly/3umXzgh
Sollum secures $2.5 million from SDTC to jumpstart $14 million “Sun-as-a-Service” project.
Montréal-based Sollum has secured a $2.5 million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for its second phase of funding from the government agency. Cleantech company Sollum was created by François Roy-Moisan, Gabriel Dupras and Jacques Poirier in 2014 while they were students at the École de technologie supérieure in Montréal. There, they assembled a lighting system designed for painting restoration that recreates the lighting environment at the time the piece was painted so that its appearance was as close to the original colouring as possible. https://bit.ly/3vaXT18
Cognito Health secures $1.1 million for cross-Canada expansion of its mental health offering.
Cognito Health has raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding in its mission to bring mental healthcare to all Canadians. The startup plans to use the funds for cross-Canada expansion. https://bit.ly/375k4xp
PokerStars and FanDuel join forces to strike major partnership deal with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
PokerStars and FanDuel Sportsbook announced their partnership together with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). The strategic partnership sees the FanDuel Sportsbook designated as an official sports betting partner, and PokerStars as an official gaming partner. The two will unite in this major deal to offer fans and gaming players in Ontario a powerful combination of entertainment through leading sports, poker and casino gaming experiences. The launch of PokerStars is subject to successful registration by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and execution of an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario. https://bit.ly/3Kr7abw
Liberal government tables legislation to force online giants to compensate news outlets.
The federal Liberal government introduced legislation Tuesday to force digital giants to compensate news publishers for the use of their content. The new regulatory regime would require companies like Google and the Meta Platforms-owned Facebook — and other major online platforms that reproduce or facilitate access to news content — to either pay up or go through a binding arbitration process led by an arms-length regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). https://bit.ly/37tmHci
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Gartner forecasts global tech spending to hit US$4.4 trillion this year, up 4%.
The respected analyst firm Gartner Inc. said in its latest forecast that worldwide information technology is expected to top US$4.4 trillion in 2022, rising by 4% from the year before. Gartner Distinguished Research Vice President John-David Lovelock said 2022 is already proving to be one of the “noisiest years on record” for chief information officers, what with inflation, currency fluctuations and geopolitical disruption adding to the existing supply chain challenges that have persisted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “Yet contrary to what we saw at the start of 2020, CIOs are accelerating their IT investments as they recognize the importance of flexibility and agility in responding to disruption,” Lovelock said. “As a result, purchasing and investing preference will be focused in areas including analytics, cloud computing, seamless customer experiences and security.” One of the reasons for the increased spending forecast is that technology service providers are raising their prices. Gartner says that reflects a dearth of IT talent that’s forcing tech companies to pay more competitive salaries, and those costs are being passed on to buyers. As a result, software spending could rise by 9.8% this year, to US$674.9 billion, while IT services spending will grow by 6.8%, to US$1.3 trillion. Gartner said software spending is also being driven by digital transformation and the growing prominence of enterprise application software, infrastructure software and managed services. https://bit.ly/3v1J80p
Binance.US raises over US$200 million in first seed round.
Binance.US raised over US$200 million in its first external funding round, putting its pre-money valuation at US$4.5 billion as it builds out a roadmap for an initial public offering (IPO), its CEO Brian Shroder told TechCrunch. The company is targeting an IPO in two to three years from April 6, Shroder said. This is the first time Binance.US has taken external investor capital, and no valuation has been shared publicly before, he added. https://tcrn.ch/37vhrop
Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX US is taking a stake in ‘Flash Boys’ exchange IEX to bolster access to digital assets by retail and institutional investors.
The US-based arm of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX crypto exchange said Tuesday it’s taking a stake in stock exchange operator IEX Group to expand retail and institutional investors’ access to digital assets. The companies said in a joint statement they will work together to establish a “clear, simple, and transparent” market structure for buying, selling, and trading digital asset securities. https://bit.ly/35TckhF
Bolt is buying crypto startup Wyre for US$1.5 billion.
Checkout software firm Bolt on Thursday announced it will acquire Wyre to enable crypto payments through its checkout technology. Bolt is slated to pay US$1.5 billion for the startup, which offers blockchain software that lets merchants accept cryptocurrency, in a cash and stock deal, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal, which is set to close in the third or fourth quarter of this year, comes five months after Bolt acquired the Swedish company Tipser, which develops software that lets shoppers checkout on publishers’ sites, for an undisclosed sum. Bolt, which has raised around US$1 billion since 2014 and is currently valued at US$11 billion, creates software that lets customers input their personal information once when ordering goods on any site that uses Bolt for checkout, without having to log in again for subsequent purchases. Bolt’s acquisition of Wyre, which will integrate its software capabilities with Bolt and not continue to operate independently, will allow Bolt to enable shoppers on its network to be able to buy NFTs. https://bit.ly/3xdKxnf
Shein said to be raising US$1 billion at US$100 billion valuation.
Given its growth, it should surprise no one though that investors are piling in to get a slice of this rising challenger of Zara and Amazon despite its skyrocketing valuation. Last June, the company told us that its valuation was at the “billion-dollar level” as of its last funding round in 2020. Shein is in talks with General Atlantic for this new funding round, according to Bloomberg. The company counts Tiger Global, IDG and Sequoia among its existing investors. https://tcrn.ch/3LMR5NG
NFL, MLB and players unions lead the latest round of investment in rapidly growing Fanatics.
The latest investment totals US$1.5 billion, with the NFL kicking in the largest portion at US$320 million. Fanatics is valued at US$27 billion. The NFL Players Association also made an investment. Other investors include Major League Baseball and its players union, as well as the National Hockey League. https://cnb.cx/3JnixA2
Buffett’s Berkshire reveals stake in HP; shares surge almost 10%.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc disclosed on Wednesday that it has purchased nearly 121 million shares of HP Inc, the latest in a series of large investments by the conglomerate controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett. The investment gives Berkshire a roughly 11.4% stake in HP, worth about US$4.2 billion based on the personal computing and printing company’s closing stock price on Wednesday of US$34.91. https://reut.rs/3xeEf6N
Twitter shares surge after disclosure Elon Musk has taken stake.
Shares of Twitter jumped 25% in premarket trade after a Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed that Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, taken a 9.2% stake in the microblogging service. Last week Musk said he was “giving serious thought” to creating a new social media platform, as he was upset by Twitter’s free-speech approach. https://on.mktw.net/3r8zzvC
Elon Musk joins Twitter board.
Twitter is appointing Elon Musk to its board, CEO Parag Agrawal announced on Twitter, a day after Musk disclosed he had acquired a 9.2% stake in the firm. Musk immediately Tweeted that he looked forward to “working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!” Late Tuesday, Musk updated his securities disclosure about his shareholding, using the classification typically associated with activists rather than passive shareholders. As a board member, he didn’t qualify for the passive investor classification, based on SEC guidelines. Agrawal also tweeted that Musk was “both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on Twitter and in the boardroom to make us stronger in the long term.” As part of Twitter’s agreement to add Musk to the board, the Tesla CEO agreed that he would not buy more than 14.9% of Twitter shares while he was on the board. The agreement was dated on Monday. Musk’s filing tonight showed he has bought the vast bulk of his stake since late January, paying mostly in the low to mid-30s a share. It said he funded the purchase with cash but didn’t give any other details. The announcement is likely to spark questions from the SEC about Musk’s decision to file as a passive shareholder on Monday, although his decision to update his filing may resolve the issue. Still, Musk has previously had numerous run-ins with the SEC over disclosure issues, so this latest episode is sure to reinforce tensions with the securities regulator. https://bit.ly/3jqzbnD
AMD to buy Pensando for US$1.9 billion to build out its data center business.
Shares of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rose 0.2% in premarket trading, after the semiconductor company announced a deal to buy privately held Pensando for about US$1.9 billion. AMD aims the deal for the provider of computing, networking and security services, which is expected to close in the second quarter, to expand its data center offerings. https://on.mktw.net/3xd54br
New Google search tool marries images and text.
Google has created a new search tool that combines image searches with text queries to streamline the results consumers see, a sign of its ambitions to expand and blend the media in which users can search. The new tool uses Google’s latest large artificial intelligence model, called MUM, and advances the complexity of queries its core search function can process, while also making it easier for shoppers to find items they want. Google said the best results from the tool come from shopping searches. Users can take a photo of an object and further filter their search by specifying a brand or color they are looking for. The tool makes good on a Google goal, laid out nearly a year ago at its annual developer conference, to offer more multimodal search. Google has for years struggled to convince more shoppers to start browsing within search. Because shoppers typically have a strong intention to purchase what they are searching for, advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach them by paying to prominently position their brand on a search results page. Google is contending with an evolution in how consumers seek answers and items online, with shoppers often turning to Amazon and young people scrolling through TikTok for entertainment and shopping inspiration. https://bit.ly/3v7IvlS
Amazon, Alphabet and others are quietly rolling out drone delivery across America.
Delivery drones are arriving, at last. After nearly a decade of largely unfulfilled hype about flying robots dropping orders at your doorstep, a handful of companies have started commercial operations in the U.S. involving dozens or hundreds of deliveries a day at each location. The companies are vying to be Americans’ choice when they want a bottle of Advil, a takeout meal, or the next iPhone delivered in under 30 minutes—once federal regulators enable broader rollouts. https://on.wsj.com/3JmKjwB
Amazon secures deals to launch 83 satellites into orbit.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper said it sealed deals with Arianespace, the United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to send 83 satellites into orbit as part of plans to eventually send 3,236 satellites into space. The deals marks a key step in its race against Elon Musk’s SpaceX, formerly known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. The Financial Times said Amazon’s five-year launch deal was the largest ever of its kind. Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of thousands of satellites to provide high-speed internet access from space. It competes with Musk’s Starlink space-based broadband initiative. https://bit.ly/3LPG6mB
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Amazon and Roku extend their streaming deal without any extra drama.
In recent years, Roku has drawn out stalemates with entertainment / internet giants like WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, and YouTube, as its ambitions shift from simply selling TV streaming hardware to advertising and content. However, the company today announced an extension in its deal with Amazon, ensuring that the Prime Video and IMDb TV apps will maintain a presence on Roku devices without any back-and-forth wrangling, threats, or mudslinging that delayed the rollout of HBO Max and Peacock and caused YouTube TV’s app to disappear for a while. https://bit.ly/3v12HpD
Tencent to shut one of its live video-game streaming services.
Chinese internet giant Tencent is shutting down one of its Twitch-like video game streaming services, it said. The move comes amid a broad regulatory crackdown on Chinese internet giants. Tencent’s Penguin E-Sports video streaming service will shut down on June 7, the service said in a statement on its website. Tencent said the move was due to a “change of business development strategy.” Tencent previously attempted to bolster the business by combining it with two other services it had financial stakes in. China’s antitrust regulator blocked an earlier merger deal between Douyu, which Tencent had a significant investment in, and another game streaming firm it controlled called Huya. Penguin E-Sports would have been folded into the new combination. https://bit.ly/3KnVG8U
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
Cash App discloses security breach impacting over 8 million users.
Cash App, the popular peer-to-peer payment platform that also offers crypto and other stock investing features, is disclosing a security breach affecting 8.2 million of its users. Block, formerly Square, disclosed this breach in a filing with the SEC this week. https://bit.ly/3x9EujH
Biden appears to show support for Amazon workers who voted to unionize.
Days after warehouse workers on Staten Island defied Amazon and successfully formed a labor union, President Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind the workers and championed their cause. In remarks to a national conference of unionized trade workers, Mr. Biden spoke directly to one of the world’s most powerful companies and defended the right of employees to unionize. “The choice to join a union belongs to workers alone,” he said during remarks at the national conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions. “By the way, Amazon, here we come. Watch.” https://nyti.ms/3DV3agX
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Apple Pay surpasses Venmo and PayPal as teens’ favorite payment app, shows Piper Sandler survey.
Piper Sandler just shared its 43rd semi-annual Generation Z survey with 7,100 US teens. It shows that Apple Pay dominates teens’ favorite payment apps, while iPhone and AirPods are an important part of their daily lives. https://bit.ly/3rbzabQ
Robinhood has rolled out crypto wallets to its 2 million-strong waitlist — except for people in three US states.
Customers on Robinhood’s 2 million-plus waitlist now have crypto wallets, except for those in New York, Hawaii, and Nevada. The crypto wallets allow customers to send and receive cryptocurrencies and even buy NFTs, the trading platform said Thursday. Robinhood will add the Bitcoin Lightning Network to its platform for “off-chain” transactions. https://bit.ly/37usAGa
Coinbase debuts crypto trading in India.
Coinbase is adding support for the popular UPI payment instrument in India, making its eponymous cryptocurrency exchange functional in the world’s second largest internet market for the first time. The publicly listed firm, which began testing UPI payments a few weeks ago, made the official launch at its maiden event in India on Thursday, saying that it is working to broaden its product offerings in the country. https://tcrn.ch/3v3IAXZ
Facebook parent looking at Zuck Bucks for the metaverse.
Meta Platforms’ financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. So-called “Zuck Bucks” would be in-app tokens controlled by the company, rather than a cryptocurrency on the blockchain, the report said, which is similar to the Robux currency in Roblox. https://bit.ly/3NTGCSu
ESPN is entering the NFT game by launching a collection with legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
The sports channel signed a multiyear deal with Autograph, Brady’s NFT company. The collection will be based on the ESPN+ documentary series “Man in the Arena: Tom Brady.” https://bit.ly/3KqTKMT
Retail investing platform eToro launches US$20 million NFT fund to support artists and brands.
eToro launched an NFT fund in Miami on Thursday, as part of an initiative to support digital arts. The US$20 million fund will buy non-fungible tokens to help artists and musicians. Brands have flooded into NFTs and eToro wants to improve how digital art is valued as the sector matures. According to the eToro website, the company first offered bitcoin trading in 2013, before adding more crypto assets to its platform in 2017. Data on eToro’s website shows bitcoin now has almost 22 million followers on the platform, out of a total 27 million users, with more than 32% of those followers investing in bitcoin. https://bit.ly/3DRUvMx
Fortnite developer Epic Games and Lego partner to build a metaverse aimed at kids.
Fortnite developer Epic Games announced today that it’s partnering with Lego to build a metaverse aimed at kids. The companies say they are going to shape the future of the metaverse to make it safe and fun for children while building an immersive digital experience for kids to play in. https://tcrn.ch/3JsWec1
Q1 crypto losses spike 695% on year following massive hacks.
We’re a little over three months deep into 2022, and with each month it seems the scale of crypto exploits grows as the sector continues to expand. Just last week, play-to-earn Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network announced it was exploited for about US$625 million, making it the largest decentralized finance (DeFi) hack to date. https://tcrn.ch/3v3S05B
Apple chipmaker TSMC announces record revenue for Q1; has worked around lockdowns.
Apple chipmaker TSMC has announced record revenues for the first quarter of the year, despite the continued component shortage and COVID lockdowns in China. The company said that Q1 revenue was 35% higher than the same quarter last year – even though it had faced challenges. TSMC announced its net revenue for March 2022: On a consolidated basis, revenue for March 2022 was approximately NT$171.97 billion, an increase of 17.0 percent from February 2022 and an increase of 33.2 percent from March 2021. Revenue for January through March 2022 totaled NT$491.08 billion, an increase of 35.5 percent compared to the same period in 2021. Bloomberg notes that the company had been able to workaround lockdowns in China by rearranging production to follow changes in demand. TSMC has kept production running in China, even as many other factories suspended operations to cope with the local pandemic policy. The chip assembler said in end-March that it will rearrange production priorities to deal with a shift in demand caused by Covid restrictions in Shanghai and Shenzhen. TSMC wasn’t planning to revise down its sales and capital spending forecasts for 2022, Chairman Mark Liu said at the time. The company had previously cited signs of a slowdown in demand for products like smartphones, but nothing bad enough to need to adjust its overall growth targets. https://bit.ly/3NUKjYb
GM and Honda are working to build electric vehicles that people can actually afford.
Electric cars still cost much more than their gasoline-fueled counterparts, but that may change as automakers around the globe pour resources into developing new vehicles and producing them at scale. General Motors and Honda are working to develop a series of “affordable” electric vehicles, the companies announced on Tuesday. The carmakers expect to begin selling millions of the cheaper models — including compact SUVs — starting in 2027. https://bit.ly/3LOYwE1
Sophic Capital Client Insights
Sophic Client Edge Total Intelligence (CTRL-TSXV): Sophic Insights – Pulling it Together.
Many enterprises cannot extract valuable business and operational insights from data hidden across multiple, unconnected systems. edgeTI’s software solves this extensive issue by providing single point of control software enabling large enterprises, service providers, and governments to rapidly coordinate and execute informed decisions. This is a US$23 billion industry, and edgeTI is establishing itself to grow in this industry. https://bit.ly/3jqDpvv
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