After a few weeks of relatively muted capital markets activity, this past week witnessed a bit of on uptick in innovation sector related public market financings. That said, private markets activity was very robust as well, exceeding public market financings. We’re encouraged with the level of support Kneat (KSI-TSXV) has received from investors; a stock we covered for a few years as sell side equity analysts. Sophic Client, AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV), could benefit from anticipation of its MarketWall unit’s business-to-consumer user growth at Intesa Sanpaolo alone. We published a research piece highlighting our conservative estimate of what every 100,000 MarketWall users could add to AnalytixInsight’s share price. We also investigate how the stock could benefit when analyzing potential revenues generated by users. Another Sophic client, Mijem (private) announced an investment by noted technology entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, founder of venture capital firm Ayre Group Ventures and blockchain conglomerate CoinGeek. In the USA, Coinbase released monster Q1/21 metrics ahead of a highly anticipated direct listing this coming week. Following suit, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, could go public as well. We are also looking forward to the public markets debut by Topps, Grab, and Didi.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Playmaker Capital closes $24 million private placement, plans to go public on TSXV.

Toronto-based digital sports media company Playmaker Capital has raised $24 million in financing via private placement, as the firm looks to go public on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV). The private placement closed on April 1. Playmaker issued 48 million subscription receipts at a price of $0.50 apiece, raising gross proceeds of $24 million. These receipts will be exchanged for common shares of Playmaker following the satisfaction of escrow release conditions. The company plans to use the new funding to execute its strategy of “rolling up digital sports media assets and technology.” Playmaker’s co-founder and CEO Jordan Gnat told BetaKit the company plans to use the new funding to execute its strategy of “rolling up digital sports media assets and technology.” Playmaker’s private placement consisted of an approximately $16 million brokered offering led by Canaccord Genuity and including Echelon Wealth Partners, Eight Capital, PI Financial and Scotia Capital, as well as a non-brokered offering that raised nearly $8 million. https://bit.ly/2Rdj4Px

Abaxx Technologies Inc. (ABXX-NEO) announces upsized bought deal financing to $21.5 million.

In connection with its previously announced bought deal financing, the Company and Cormark Securities Inc. and BMO Capital Markets Inc. (collectively the “Underwriters”), have agreed to increase the size of the previously announced financing. The Underwriters have now agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis 5,657,900 units of the Company (the “Units”) at a price of C$3.80 per Unit, representing total gross proceeds of C$21,500,020 (the “Offering”). Closing is expected on or about April 29, 2021 (the “Closing Date”), and is subject to regulatory approval including that of the NEO Stock Exchange. Each Unit will consist of one common share of the Company (a “Common Share”) and one-half of one Common Share purchase warrant (each full warrant, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant will entitle the holder to acquire one Common Share of the Company at an exercise price of C$5.10 for a period of 24 months following the closing of the Offering. https://bit.ly/3d3NCf2 & https://bit.ly/3tcZjGc

Kneat (KSI-TSXV) announces $17.5 million bought deal public offering.

The company entered into an agreement with a syndicate of investment dealers co-led by Cormark Securities Inc. and CIBC Capital Markets Inc. pursuant to which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase 5,833,500 common shares (the “Common Shares”) from the treasury of the Company, at a price of $3.00 per Common Share (the “Offering Price”) and offer them to the public by way of short form prospectus for total gross proceeds of approximately $17,500,500 (the “Offering”). In addition, the Company intends to complete a concurrent non-brokered private placement of Common Shares at the Offering Price to certain shareholders for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $2.0 million (the “Concurrent Private Placement”). https://bit.ly/39YQPe8

mCloud (MCLD-TSXV) announces $12.6 million overnight marketed offering.

The company is commencing an overnight marketed offering (the “Offering”) of up to C$12.6 million of units of the Company (the “Units”). Each Unit will consist of one common share (a “Unit Share”) and one common share purchase warrant of the Company (each common share purchase warrant, a “Warrant”), with each Warrant being exercisable to acquire one common share of the Company. The Offering will be conducted on a “best efforts” basis by ATB Capital Markets Inc. (the “Agent”). A.G.P./Alliance Global Partners is acting as lead U.S. placement agent. https://bit.ly/325cGfo

Hut 8 (HUT-TSX) files final base shelf prospectus and amended registration statement.

These filings will, subject to securities regulatory requirements, allow the Company to qualify the distribution by way of prospectus of up to $500 million of common shares, debt securities, subscription receipts, warrants and units, or any combination thereof (all of the foregoing, collectively, the “Securities”), during the 25-month period that the Base Shelf Prospectus remains effective. The specific terms of any future offering of Securities will be set forth in a prospectus supplement to the Base Shelf Prospectus, which will be filed with the applicable securities regulatory authorities in connection with any such offering. https://bit.ly/2RkDYwd

Sophic Client Mijem: Ayre Group Ventures completes investment in social marketplace company Mijem.

Mijem Inc., the Canada-based social media and technology company, announces that it has closed an investment from noted technology entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, founder of venture capital firm Ayre Group Ventures and blockchain conglomerate CoinGeek. Mijem will use the investment to support the company’s ambitious growth agenda, which includes implementing a unique Bitcoin SV-based cashback loyalty system using the Bitcoin SV blockchain. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Commenting on his investment, Ayre Group Ventures founder Calvin Ayre, said: “Mijem continues to demonstrate the value of the innovative social marketplace model they have pioneered across a growing network of university and college campuses in North America. At Ayre Group Ventures, we share many of the values which have made Mijem successful – speed, efficiency, accessibility – and see a great opportunity to work with their team to further develop the Mijem offering with Bitcoin SV and play a part in their ongoing success story.” https://prn.to/3a2F32m

Loopio secures $252 million to accelerate its growth in RFP software market.

Toronto-based B2B software startup Loopio has secured a $252 million strategic investment from Sumeru Equity Partners (SEP) and Affiliates. SEP is a growth-focused tech investment firm that funds enterprise tech companies. Loopio isn’t the only Canadian software startup SEP has recently funded: the California-based firm led a $126 million investment in Vancouver’s Tasktop. https://bit.ly/3dMVLnq

With Fortune 500 clients, revenue growth, Tasktop raises $126 million in growth equity.

Tasktop has raised $126 million in growth equity financing, following several years of significant growth for the Vancouver-based SaaS startup. The round was led by Sumeru Equity Partners, a growth equity firm headquartered in California. Tasktop’s previous investors, Yaletown Partners and Elsewhere Partners, also participated as part of the round. To date, the firm has raised US$130 million. https://bit.ly/3mFYvXF

Inovia, Shopify back delivery startup Swyft in $22 million Series A round.

Swyft, a Toronto-based digital logistics startup, has raised $22 million in Series A funding in a round co-led by Inovia Capital and with participation from Shopify. With just one year in-market after launching its offering, Swyft has seen positive momentum in its hometown and is now looking to replicate its same-day delivery model across Canada and into the United States. The $22 million round was co-led by Inovia and US-based Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Shopify and existing investors Golden Ventures and Trucks VC. The all-equity, primary capital Series A round follows less than a year after Swyft closed a $3 million seed round. The Series A funding brings Swyft’s total capital raised to date to $21 million. https://bit.ly/3d9n1gV

Algonquin Power Co. (AQN-TSX, AQN-NYSE) announces green bond offering.

The company has offered for sale C$400 million 2.85% senior unsecured debentures with a maturity date of July 15, 2031 (the “Liberty Power Debentures”) pursuant to a private placement in Canada (the “Offering”). The Liberty Power Debentures were offered at a price of C$999.92 per C$1,000 principal amount. The Liberty Power Debenture Offering is a “green bond” offering. Under AQN’s Green Financing Framework, the proceeds of the Offering will be used to finance and/or refinance investments in renewable power generation and clean energy technologies. This is Liberty Power’s second “green bond” offering and aligns with AQN’s commitment to advancing a sustainable energy and water future. Concurrent with the Offering, Liberty Power is entering into a cross currency swap, coterminous with the Liberty Power Debentures, to convert the Canadian dollar denominated proceeds from the Offering into U.S. dollars, resulting in an effective interest rate throughout the term of the Liberty Power Debentures of approximately 2.83%. Liberty Power Debentures are expected to receive final ratings of BBB (stable) by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, BBB (stable) by Fitch Ratings Inc. and BBB (stable) by DBRS Limited. The Liberty Power Debentures are being offered through a syndicate of agents led by CIBC World Markets Inc. and National Bank Financial Inc. The Offering is expected to close on or about April 9, 2021. https://bit.ly/2Qa5AUr

Indigo commits to net-zero emissions by 2035.

“As we plan for our future growth, we honour our responsibility to have a positive impact on the communities we serve, and our planet,” says Nathan Williams, Indigo’s Chief Creative Officer and executive sponsor of Write the Future. https://bit.ly/2Q90ffW

Canadian single-match betting bill passes first round, includes esports.

On 17 February, the Canadian House of Commons voted to approve the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act of 2021. The bill still needs to be formally approved by the rest of parliament to become law, but overwhelming support from the Commons points to a swift enactment. The Act specifically regulates single-game betting, which is currently illegal in several Canadian provinces. The majority of gambling legislation in Canada is regional, but the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act will set national precedence and federally approve single-game bets. Several regional laws currently restrict single-game betting, often demanding parleys or combo bets if allowing them at all. In addition to their traditional counterparts, esports are formally recognised in the wording of the bill. The announcement has already elicited responses from some of the biggest names in esports gambling, with the Esports Entertainment Group among many other major sportsbooks quickly announcing its intention to pursue Canadian customers. The SRSBA passed through the House of Commons by 303 votes to 15. The bill received overwhelming unilateral support from both the Liberals and Conservatives. https://bit.ly/3uFq5qR

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Coinbase’s monster Q1 in context.

In the first quarter of 2021, American consumer cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase grew sharply, generating strong profits at the same time. For Coinbase, the disclosure of its preliminary Q1 2021 results comes a week ahead of its direct listing, an event that will see the company begin to trade publicly. As it is both cash rich and well known, Coinbase is foregoing a traditional IPO in favor of the more exotic method of going public. The growth of Coinbase from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 is so extreme that the company’s year-over-year comparisons are farcical. For example, in Q1 2020 Coinbase’s revenues were US$190.6 million, or just under 11% of its Q1 2021 top line. The company’s adjusted profits alone in Q1 2021 were more than five times its year-ago revenues. The new numbers may help solidify some valuation marks that the company has been discussed as approaching, like the US$100 billion threshold, or even boost them. https://tcrn.ch/3tiRb6I

Bitcoin exchange Kraken considers going public after record trading volumes in the first quarter.

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is considering going public through a direct listing in 2022, after seeing record trading volumes and new clients amid a surge in the price of bitcoin. Founded in 2011, Kraken is one the world’s biggest crypto exchanges. It has more than 6 million clients and is the fourth-largest exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap data.Jesse Powell, Kraken’s CEO and co-founder, said in an interview that the firm had benefited significantly from the bitcoin rally. Bitcoin hit a record high price of over US$60,000 mid-March, with traders attributing the move to institutional investors jumping into the market. “For us, any volatility is good but it’s always better when it’s on the way up,” Powell told CNBC. “The first quarter just completely blew away the entirety of last year. We beat last year’s numbers by the end of February. The whole market has really just exploded.” Kraken saw four times as many new users sign up to its platform in the first quarter of this year than it did in the second half of 2020. Spot trading volumes in the first quarter were 1.5 times higher than in all of last year, reaching a record level of US$160 billion. “We’re looking at being able to go public sometime next year,” he said. “It would probably be a direct listing, similar to Coinbase.” https://cnb.cx/3fZVekJ

Baseball card and NFT company Topps set to go public via SPAC in deal worth US$1.3 billion.

Topps, an 83 year-old baseball card company that also sells Bazooka gum and non-fungible-tokens, is going public via a SPAC merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II. The deal values Topps at US$1.3 billion and will raise up to US$571 million in cash for the company. For Disney CEO and Chairman Michael Eisner will serve as Chairman of the company. Eisner acquired Topps in 2007 via his investment firm Tornante. Topps saw a surge in business in 2020 as the collectible market soared due to the COVID-19 pandemic affording many consumers time to dig up their old playing cards and reminisce. The company saw its revenue grow 23% to US$567 million last year as it expanded into offering digital non-fungible-token cards on the blockchain. This digital business already represents about 25% of the company’s business. Topps is projecting top line revenue growth of at least 20% and adjusted EBITDA of more than US$100 million in 2021, Eisner said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday. https://bit.ly/2OBGu0d

AppLovin to offer 25 million shares in its IPO priced at US$75 to US$85 each.

AppLovin Corp. , a maker of software for mobile app developers, set terms for its initial public offering on Wednesday, with plans to offer 25 million shares priced at US$75 to US$85 each. The company, which is backed by private-equity firm KKR , has applied to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “APP.” There are 18 banks underwriting the deal, led by Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, KKR, BofA Securities and Citigroup. About US$400 million will go to repay a revolving credit facility. The company had a net loss of US$125.2 million in 2020, after income of US$119 million in 2019. Revenue rose to US$1.45 billion from US$994.1 million. https://on.mktw.net/3uDvjDE

Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is filing for an IPO after selling US$189 million worth of diapers and wipes in 2020.

Jessica Alba’s consumer goods startup Honest Company is going public. The company filed for an IPO on Friday with plans to sell shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol “HNST.” It listed a placeholder IPO value of US$100 million. Diapers and wipes accounted for 63% of the company’s US$300.5 million in revenue last year. Skin, personal care, household, and wellness items made up the rest of its sales. While the company’s 2020 revenue grew about 28% from the previous year, it reported a net loss of $14.5 million. It has never been profitable on an annual basis since its founding in 2012. https://bit.ly/321r1tt

Singaporean ride-hailing giant Grab is reportedly set to list in the US via a SPAC merger at a US$35 billion valuation.

The Singapore-based ride-hailing and delivery giant Grab is reportedly set to list in the US via a SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp. 1. The deal values the combined entity at US$35 billion, according to three unnamed sources from The Financial Times, Grab will raise US$2.5 billion in total financing through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) in the deal, with US$1.2 billion coming from Altimeter Growth 1. Grab was founded in 2012 by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling and has raised some US$12 billion thus far on its journey to Southeast Asian rideshare dominance, despite never earning a profit. The company has about US$5 billion in cash reserves and grew revenues 70% year-over-year in 2020. https://bit.ly/3dRm2AZ

China’s Didi picks Goldman, Morgan Stanley for mega U.S. IPO – sources.

China’s top ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing has mandated Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lead its blockbuster IPO and plans to file confidentially for the New York float this month, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Didi, backed by Asian technology investment giants SoftBank, Alibaba and Tencent, is looking to list as soon as July, according to the people. It is eyeing a valuation of at least US$100 billion via the initial public offering (IPO), Reuters reported last month. At that valuation, Didi could raise about US$10 billion if it sells 10% of its shares, making it the biggest Chinese IPO in the United States since Alibaba’s US$25 billion float in 2014. https://reut.rs/3d5OEqS

Clubhouse discusses funding at about US$4 billion value.

Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-based social network, is in talks to raise funding from investors in a round valuing the business at about US$4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal at that price would quadruple its value from January and would reflect the astronomical expectations investors have for the app. Clubhouse is barely a year old but has drawn appearances from some of the biggest names in business and Hollywood and inspired copycats from several of the world’s biggest social networks. Andreessen Horowitz has been a major booster of the app. It initially valued the parent company at US$100 million before the investment in January at 10 times that valuation. https://bloom.bg/3wEkZNz

Cloud company Box says KKR to lead US$500 million investment via preferred stock; shares slide 6% premarket.

Cloud company Box Inc. said Thursday it has reached an agreement with private-equity firm KKR in which KKR funds will lead a US$500 million investment in the company in the form of convertible preferred stock. The investment “will advance the company’s strategy to deliver the Box Content Cloud and enable customers to modernize how they work and drive digital transformation throughout their organizations,” Redwood City, Calif.-based Box said in a statement. Box is planning to use the proceeds of the deal to fund a share buyback program using a ‘Dutch auction” self-tender. The self-tender will be launched after the company reports fiscal first-quarter earnings in May. Shares fell 6.4% premarket on the news, but are up 34% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.6%. https://on.mktw.net/2PISkq1

Strong demand for iPhone 12 sees Foxconn revenue jump 44%.

iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.’s [aka Foxconn] first-quarter revenue jumped 44% on robust demand for Apple Inc.’s new 5G devices and other gadgets that help consumers stay connected at home during the pandemic. Revenue in the three months through March rose to NT$1.34 trillion (US$47 billion), the Taiwanese manufacturer reported Tuesday, in line with the average analyst estimate. Sales in March climbed to NT$441.2 billion. The strong showing from the world’s largest contract electronics maker suggests demand for iPhones, gaming consoles and servers remains robust as consumers snatch up devices for remote work, home-schooling and entertainment needs. Companies are also spending on technology, expanding data-center infrastructure to better serve customers’ online activities. The company said recently that it was “cautiously optimistic” about the rest of the year, but did expect chip shortages to remain an issue for some time yet. Apple is believed to have been largely insulated, because it of course commissions its own A-series chips from TSMC. The company also does advance purchase deals with major component suppliers, up to and including negotiating entire production lines dedicated to Apple. https://bit.ly/3fZltrI

Emerging Technologies

The French army is testing Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot in combat scenarios.

Spot, the quadruped robot built by US firm Boston Dynamics, has appeared alongside soldiers during military exercises carried out by the French army. The robot was apparently being used for reconnaissance during a two-day training exercise, but the deployment raises questions about how and where Boston Dynamics’ machines will be used in future. Pictures of the exercises were shared on Twitter by France’s foremost military school, the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr. It described the tests as “raising students’ awareness of the challenges of tomorrow,” which include the “robotization of the battlefield.” https://bit.ly/3uE2XZJ

Elon Musk’s brain-chip company, Neuralink, released a video of a monkey playing video games with its mind.

Neuralink, a company founded by Musk that is developing artificial-intelligence-powered microchips to go in people’s brains, released a video Thursday appearing to show a macaque using the tech to play video games, including “Pong.” Musk has boasted about Neuralink’s tests on primates before, but this is the first time the company has put one on display. During a presentation in 2019, Musk said the company had enabled a monkey to “control a computer with its brain.” https://bit.ly/3s2bdBa

Near-Vana: A ‘new’ Kurt Cobain track appears courtesy of artificial intelligence.

Arriving a symbolic and symmetric 27 years after he died at the age of 27, a “new” Nirvana song has been released. What makes “Drowned In The Sun” very different to “‘You Know You’re Right” – the last track Nirvana recorded in 1994 but which was not released until 2002 – is that Kurt Cobain did not write it and no members of Nirvana played on it. https://bit.ly/3wzxCcJ

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Sony’s movies return to Netflix.

Sony’s movies are coming back to Netflix in a new deal that takes effect in 2022, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Under the terms of the deal, Netflix will get such blockbusters as any sequels to its Spider-Man franchise. For Sony, it’s a bit of a homecoming. The movie studio–which is one of the few entertainment companies without its own streaming service–used to have a deal with the Starz premium channel to carry its movies. And Starz signed a somewhat infamous deal back in 2008 with Netflix to carry its shows and movies—including Sony’s— at a rockbottom price, giving the then-nascent streaming service momentum that helped it become the giant it is today. Of course this deal is certainly quite a bit more costly for Netflix than that deal back then. But given the increasing competition among the streaming services, it may make  sense for Netflix to pay up for some tentpole movies. https://bit.ly/3tb3p1w

Streaming services have finally run out of new shows. kind of.

The number of originals Netflix has released so far this year has declined 12% from a year ago. This might seem slight, but seeing as Netflix ramps up its output quite a bit each year, that decline is notable. The number of licensed titles has dropped a whole lot more, which reflects other studios pulling their programs back for their own services. This is not unique to Netflix. If anything, Netflix is still in a stronger position than most of it competition. https://bloom.bg/3a0DbqN

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Digital taxes of US$1 billion could provoke trade war between US and UK.

The UK government’s introduction of digital taxes on companies like Apple and Google could provoke a new trade war between the US and UK. The digital taxes apply to online products sold within the UK such as App Store purchases, and have been estimated to total of almost a billion dollars a year. The Digital Services Tax apply to a group’s businesses that provide a social media service, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500 million and more than £25 million of these revenues are derived from UK users. If the group’s revenues exceed these thresholds, its revenues derived from UK users will be taxed at a rate of 2%. Revenues are usually derived from UK users if the revenue arises by virtue of a UK user using the service. Bloomberg reports that the US Trade Representative (USTR) is planning retaliatory tariffs.The U.S. is pressing ahead with plans to hit six nations that tax Internet-based companies with retaliatory tariffs that could total almost US$1 billion annually. https://bit.ly/3t4ZtPO

Peter Thiel calls bitcoin a Chinese financial weapon and suggests a US ban on TikTok.

Thiel, an outspoken Silicon Valley supporter of former US president Donald Trump and a major investor in cryptocurrencies, shared his opinion in an online seminar centred on US Big Tech and China held by the Richard Nixon Foundation. “From China’s point of view … they don’t like the US having this reserve currency, because it gives us a lot of leverage over Iranian oil supply chains and all sorts of things like that,” he said. Thiel also expressed concerns over what he sees as a security threat posed by TikTok, owned by Beijing-based start-up ByteDance. “The thing that is problematic about TikTok is that … it has this sort of incredible exfiltration of data about people. You are sort of creating this incredibly privacy-invading map of … a large part of the population of the Western world,” he said. https://bit.ly/3dQ2ay9

P&G involved in Chinese effort to work around Apple privacy policies.

Procter & Gamble has worked with a trade group in China seeking ways around new Apple privacy policies that could interfere with targeted advertising. The Wall Street Journal reported that P&G, the consumer products giant behind Charmin toilet paper and Gillette razors, joined with the China Advertising Association on an effort to develop a new technique for tracking iPhone users for ad-targeting purposes. Apple is planning software updates in the coming weeks that will force app developers to ask users for permission to track them across other apps and web sites. Large companies that depend on the advertising business, such as Facebook, are wringing their hands about the Apple changes. P&G’s involvement shows that big advertisers are also looking for ways to adapt to the coming changes. https://bit.ly/2PQxFAc

Alibaba Group hit with record US$2.8 billion fine amid increased government scrutiny of billionaire Jack Ma’s tech empire.

China on Saturday fined Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group a record US$2.8 billion for abusing its leading market position. Alibaba Group said in a statement that the penalty came from the State Administration for Market Regulation, which had been investigating it since December.  The fine was yet another sign that Chinese regulators have taken a more critical stance towards the tech empire built by Ma, one of the country’s wealthiest moguls. Speaking at a conference last fall, Ma made negative comments about international financial regulations. Chinese President Xi Jinping then reportedly halted a planned US$37 billion initial public offering by Ant Group, another Ma company. The fine was equal to about 4% of Alibaba’s annual sales in China, according to Xinhua News, a quasi-state media outlet. Local news reports said the company would be required for three years to complete “self-inspection” reports that it would then submit to the watchdog. https://bit.ly/3s6RhgB

Facebook data on 533 million users reemerges online for free.

The personal data of more than half a billion Facebook Inc. users reemerged online for free on Saturday, a reminder of the company’s ability to collect mountains of information and its struggles to protect these sensitive assets. The leak includes personal information on 533 million Facebook users, such as phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birth dates, bios and in some cases email addresses, Business Insider reported. https://bloom.bg/3dyq4Ow

Why the Supreme Court’s ruling for Google over Oracle is a win for innovation.

After a 10-year legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Google did not violate Oracle’s copyrights related to the Java programming language. But the momentous case that attracted briefs from many major tech companies and computer scientists may end up as a mere footnote in the history of software. https://bit.ly/3moY6sC

eCommerce

Best Buy testing new membership program with perks like unlimited tech support, free shipping.

Best Buy is testing a new annual membership program that comes with perks like tech support, free shipping and extended warrantees on smartphones or other purchases. The consumer electronics retailer said in a corporate blog post Wednesday that the program is available at some stores in Iowa, Oklahoma and eastern Pennsylvania. Later this month, it will expand to stores in Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee. By the end of the month, it will be piloted in about 60 stores. The program, called Best Buy Beta, will cost US$199.99 per year or US$179.99 per year for customers who have the retailer’s credit card. https://cnb.cx/323mVRt

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Robinhood and other ‘low cost’ brokers are still quietly screwing over their users.

The ongoing fiasco that grew out of online broker Robinhood’s decision to limit customers’ ability to buy “meme stocks” like GameStop in January has produced a lot of noise, but also a silver lining. Robinhood’s move, which angered customers and some online commentators, also brought attention to how retail brokers like E*Trade, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Robinhood handle orders on behalf of their retail customers. When a customer attempts to buy or sell a share of a stock or other security brokers have a legal and moral obligation to provide their customers with “best execution,” which means that these companies must give their customers the best price “reasonably available.” But this certainly is not happening in US securities markets today. Retail customer orders with commission-free broker-dealers like Robinhood — that do not charge customers a fee to execute their trade — are sold to high-speed market makers like Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial in a scheme called “payment for order flow.” In essence, Robinhood and other brokers do not actually match a buyer and a seller to complete a full stock trade. Instead, Robinhood sells their customers “orders” by the millions to market makers like Citadel, who do the hard work of lining up buyers and sellers in exchange for a fee. These high-speed market makers process massive amounts of trades every day and have taken over the market. By paying billions of dollars in kickbacks to retail brokers, on a typical day Citadel processes 40% of all retail securities orders in the US stock market, making Citadel the most powerful middleman on Wall Street. https://bit.ly/2Qa7rIT

9.5 million Robinhood users traded cryptocurrencies in the first quarter, compared to 1.7 million in the last quarter of 2020.

Trading app Robinhood said 9.5 million customers traded cryptocurrency during the first quarter of 2021, soaring from 1.7 million crypto traders on the platform in the last quarter of 2020. Robinhood shared the figure in a blog post on Thursday in which it highlighted its Robinhood Crypto platform that it launched in 2018. “This year in particular has been a big one,” it said about activity in 2021. https://bit.ly/3mAXY9v

Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy buys another US$15 million of bitcoin, just three weeks after its latest purchase.

Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy bought another US$15 million worth of bitcoin on Monday, three weeks after its latest purchase in March. The CEO on Twitter revealed that his business intelligence firm purchased an additional 253 bitcoin at an average price of around US$59,339 according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated Monday. Bitcoin this year been embraced by major institutions including Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, Tesla, PayPal, and Visa. https://bit.ly/39Z0bGu

Sacramento Kings players and staff will soon be able to get their salary paid in bitcoin, the NBA team’s owner reportedly said.

All staff at NBA team the Sacramento Kings, including players, will soon be able to receive their salary in bitcoin, club owner Vivek Ranadivé announced on Clubhouse Monday evening, per numerous reports. “I’m going to announce in the next few days that I’m going to offer everyone in the Kings organization, they can get paid as much of their salary in bitcoin as they want, including the players,” Ranadivé said, according to a tweet by Neil Jacobs, who regularly moderates bitcoin discussions on the platform. Jason Brett confirmed the announcement in an article for Forbes. The Kings did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for the comment. Since 2014, the team has accepted bitcoin for merchandise and tickets — at the time, it said it was the first professional sports team to make the move. https://bit.ly/3dPvvc6

Crypto market cap surpasses US$2 trillion after doubling this year.

Bitcoin, the largest of the more than 6,600 coins tracked by CoinGecko, is worth more than US$1 trillion alone after its price more than doubled in 2021 to US$58,858. The five next biggest coins — Ether, Binance Coin, Polkadot, Tether and Cardano — have a combined value of about US$422 billion. https://bloom.bg/3urZ4ah

Japan’s central bank kicks off experiments on issuing digital currency.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) began experiments on Monday to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the BOJ said in a statement. https://reut.rs/3wHzTSU

Ethereum transaction fees ‘skyrocketed’ in the the first quarter, ramping up costs for users, report finds.

Transaction fees on the Ethereum cryptocurrency network “skyrocketed” in the first three months of 2021, driving up costs and sending some users towards other blockchains, according to a new report. Coindesk’s quarterly overview of the cryptocurrency world, written by analysts led by Noelle Acheson, put the soaring “gas fees” down to a surge in the use of the Ethereum network. The report suggested the average fee soared to US$38 in late February and stood at around US$24 in late March, up from around between US$2 and US$4 at the end of 2020. Coindesk found that average fees in the first quarter were higher than during ether’s 2017 bull run. https://bit.ly/3wJGtbF

Signal is testing a payments feature that lets you send cryptocurrency to friends.

Signal announced on Tuesday it’s now testing a new peer-to-peer payments system in the beta version of its apps. Appropriately called Signal Payments, the new feature right now supports only one protocol: the MobileCoin wallet and its companion cryptocurrency MOB. https://bit.ly/3mDUV0q

Christie’s is planning to auction a set of 9 CryptoPunk NFTs for up to US$9 million next month.

Christie’s is planning to auction a rare set of nine CryptoPunk NFTs for an estimated US$7 million to US$9 million next month. The set is part of a crypto art project launched by software company Larva Labs in 2017 in the early stages of the crypto art scene. The nine CryptoPunks being auctioned by Christie’s are part of a series of 10,000 unique collectibles, inspired by London’s punk scene. https://bit.ly/3mFXaA7

Semiconductors

Biden officials to meet with companies on chip shortage next week.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday said National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will lead a meeting next week “with a number of companies” on the ongoing semiconductor shortage. “It’s part of our consulting processes. We’re working to address an issue that’s impacting a range of industries,” Psaki told reporters. She also said the White House would release more details on the meeting “hopefully by tomorrow.” https://on.mktw.net/39YoDrR

NIO may fail to meet second-quarter output goal in its competition with Tesla as global shortage of chips hits home.

NIO, one of three US-listed Chinese electric car makers that compete with Tesla, said its breakneck growth pace may be held back, as the global shortage of computer chips that have hobbled the global automotive industry hits home. The Beijing-based carmaker may lack the semiconductor stockpile to meet its target of assembling 7,500 electric cars in the second quarter, NIO’s founder and chief executive William Li said during a press ceremony in the Anhui provincial capital of Hefei, where the carmaker’s 100,000th unit rolled off the assembly line. The global chips shortage is finally having its effects felt in the world’s largest vehicle market, after roiling carmakers in North America, Europe and Japan for months. SAIC Motors, China’s largest carmaker and the local partner to Volkswagen and General Motors, will probably have to slash its production by 200,000 vehicles due to the shortage of chips, Bloomberg reported today, citing people familiar with the matter. https://bit.ly/3dXbtMZ

GM idles more North American plants as chip shortage drags on.

General Motors is idling more plants and extending shutdowns at other facilities in North America due to a continued shortage of semiconductor chips that are used to control myriad operations in vehicles, including the infotainment, power steering and brake systems. In an update Thursday, GM indicated that eight assembly plants are affected by the temporary closures. CNBC was the first to report on the temporary plant closures. GM confirmed the shutdowns to TechCrunch and added that it plans to restart production next week at its Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri. https://tcrn.ch/3wHphn7

Google will reportedly use its own chip in the Pixel 6.

Rumors about Google working on its own system on chip (SoC) have been swirling since 2020, and a new report asserts that the company is going to debut its first SoC in its next flagship. According to documentation 9to5Google says it saw, the chipset, codenamed Whitechapel, will power Pixel phones that are slated to launch this fall. Earlier reports had indicated that Whitechapel would be an SoC for phones and Chromebooks, and that Google had been working with Samsung to develop the processors. An article from 9to5Google highlights a connection to Samsung’s Exynos chipsets, noting that Whitechapel “is being developed with Samsung Semiconductor’s system large-scale integration (SLSI) division.” https://engt.co/3d3TzJ6

Sophic Capital Client Insights

AnalytixInsight’s (Sophic Client, ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTCQB) MarketWall interest should reward investors.

Anticipation of MarketWall’s business-to-consumer user growth at Intesa Sanpaolo alone could significantly benefit AnalytixInsight’s stock price. As the Company’s MarketWall unit adds users and grows revenue, we estimate every 100,000 users could represent C$0.30 to C$1.20/share of value to AnalytixInsight, rising through the range as the Company attains business milestones. First, we conservatively estimate every 100,000 users on the platform could provide around C$0.30/share (or around 30% upside) of value for AnalytixInsight, based on Fintech peer companies (some of which do not generate revenue from customers and spend significantly to acquire users). As a more relevant exercise, since MarketWall plans to generate revenue from users, we believe AnalytixInsight stock may be valued through a different lens based on revenue by With this methodology, over four to five years, future value of roughly C$6.00/share could be realized by AnalytixInsight, which would discount back to around C$2.50/share of value today.​​​​​​​ https://bit.ly/3uH2R3O

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