Viral Nation, announced an initial funding round of $250 million led by Eldridge, with participation from Maverix Private Equity, to fuel the company’s technology and market growth strategies. Founded as an influencer marketing agency in 2014, Viral Nation has evolved to meet the needs of an impressive roster of Global 500 clients. Bigg Digital Assets Inc. is reporting that its subsidiary, Netcoins, experienced a security breach that allegedly allowed a customer to fraudulently withdraw an estimated $1.58 million. The startup reported the software vulnerability was fixed within an hour. Canada has lost $154 million in cryptocurrency through three breaches and one fraud between 2011 and 2021, according to a report from Crystablockchain.com. As the Twitter – Elon Musk drama unfolds, including Elon Musk now being sued by former Twitter shareholders; Twitter Inc. announced on Friday that the company has adopted a shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” that will reduce the chances that a person or group will take control of the company. The announcement comes after Elon Musk’s offer of US$54.20 per share was made public on Thursday. Bucking the gloom of other tech equities, shares of Indonesian ride-hailing and e-commerce company GoTo rose as much as 23% after it raised US$1.1 billion in its domestic stock market debut. Oracle-backed server processor startup Ampere Computing said Monday that it plans to go public, filing initial confidential paperwork with the SEC. Epic Games said on Monday it had raised US$2 billion from Sony Group Corp and the family owned holding company behind the Lego Group, valuing the “Fortnite” creator at US$31.5 billion. Charlie Munger’s Daily Journal halved its Alibaba stake to 300,000 shares last quarter. The newspaper publisher nearly quadrupled its Alibaba holdings during the second half of 2021. Amazon is hitting its sellers with a 5% fee due to inflation and increased fuel costs, and there’s a good chance products will get more expensive as a result.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Viral Nation secures $250 million financing round led by Eldridge to extend market leadership.
Viral Nation, announced an initial funding round of $250 million led by Eldridge, with participation from Maverix Private Equity, to fuel the company’s technology and market growth strategies. Founded as an influencer marketing agency in 2014, Viral Nation has evolved to meet the needs of an impressive roster of Global 500 clients, and today encompasses full-service digital and social agency, VN Marketing; creator and athlete-influencer management agencies, VN Talent and VN Sports; and software division, VN Tech. With this funding, Viral Nation will accelerate the public release of SaaS technologies powering internal operations and introduce new, AI-powered solutions to address opportunities driven both by explosive growth in the creator market – valued today at over $100 billion – and wider demand for responsible engagement and conduct across the rapidly-evolving social space. https://bwnews.pr/3jJSmJC
MeetAmi secures $36.5 million to help wealth management firms navigate digital assets.
Vancouver-based FinTech firm MeetAmi Innovations has secured $36.5 million in seed funding. Private International Consulting, a multi-family-owned European investment office, was the only announced investor in the round, which also represents MeetAmi’s first institutional capital raise. Founded in 2019, MeetAmi offers a suite of products and services focused on helping wealth management firms navigate the world of digital assets on behalf of their clients. The process of buying, selling, and holding is completed through MeetAmi’s flagship product, AmiPro. https://bit.ly/3KIoadn
Emma closes $6 million Series A to take online insurance products across Canada.
Montréal-based Emma wants to make it easier for Canadians to access life insurance coverage. After establishing a presence in Québec and Ontario, Emma has secured $6 million in Series A financing from Luge Capital, Investissement Québec, and Tactico to take its insurance offerings across Canada. In an interview with BetaKit, Emma co-founder and CEO Félix Deschatelets said the insurtech startup also plans to use the capital to build a slew of new insurance products. https://bit.ly/3KHtcHa
Hookdeck raises $2.65 million to connect the information that “rules the web”.
SaaS startup Hookdeck has raised $2.65 million in seed financing as it continues to support its customers with its webhook infrastructure. Webhooks are used to communicate the occurrence of an event in one system to another system, and they often share data about the event. https://bit.ly/36cPoKf
Netcoins (BIGG-CSE) user walks away with an estimated $1.58 million after software vulnerability.
Bigg Digital Assets Inc. is reporting that its subsidiary, Netcoins, experienced a security breach that allegedly allowed a customer to fraudulently withdraw an estimated $1.58 million. Bigg invests in crypto products and companies and is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange and the German WKN exchange. It’s subsidiary Netcoins is a crypto trading platform registered as a restricted dealer in Canada with the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC). The Netcoins security breach took place on April 7 after Netcoins internal control systems detected suspicious activity from a single verified user requesting abnormal withdrawals, according to a public statement from Bigg. An internal investigation discovered that the customer allegedly found a software vulnerability that allowed them to increase their fiat currency holdings through the withdrawal of two types of cryptocurrencies. Within three minutes, Netcoins’ automated systems intervened to prevent withdrawals, and within 15 minutes the customer’s account was frozen, according to Bigg. The startup reported the software vulnerability was fixed within an hour. Canada has lost $154 million in cryptocurrency through three breaches and one fraud between 2011 and 2021, according to a report from Crystablockchain.com. The three breaches involved Maplechain, Flexcoin, and Just-Dice while the fraud involved the well-documented case of QuadrigaCX. https://bit.ly/37Uk3g6
Panasonic says Canadian operations hit by ‘targeted’ cyberattack.
Japanese tech giant Panasonic has confirmed its Canadian operations were hit by a cyberattack, less than six months after the company last fell victim to hackers. In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Panasonic said that it was a victim of a “targeted cybersecurity attack” in February that affected some of its systems, processes and networks. https://tcrn.ch/37JrXbX
Canada’s first green bond focuses investment on sustainable solutions, infrastructure, and jobs.
Canada’s 7.5-year inaugural green bond was issued on March 23, 2022, drawing attention from investors from around the world. For Canada, the $5 billion transaction fulfills the country’s commitment to issue a bond of this amount within the fiscal year and is earmarked for financing the country’s sustainable infrastructure projects, all while creating new jobs as part of Canada’s newly published Green Bond Framework. Green bonds have become more common for companies, but countries like Canada, which have also seen regular climate crisis protests and demands for meaningful progress, are also looking to leverage these financial instruments to drive progress. https://bit.ly/3vnrILR
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Bright spot for Asia tech: Indonesia’s GoTo soars 23% on stock market debut.
Bucking the gloom of other tech equities, shares of Indonesian ride-hailing and e-commerce company GoTo rose as much as 23% after it raised US$1.1 billion in its domestic stock market debut. Backers include SoftBank and Alibaba who stand to win if the shares surge is sustained. Indonesian companies must list on the domestic stock market, which has been propped up by a surge of new retail money flowing in. GoTo has said that it also plans to list its shares in an overseas stock market. GoTo was created from the merger of last year of ride-hailing, food delivery and payments company Gojek and e-commerce firm Tokopedia. Their main rivals include Singapore’s ride hauling firm Grab and Sea Ltd., which runs e-commerce app Shopee. https://bit.ly/3JN5SXe
Arm server chip startup Ampere is headed for an IPO.
Oracle-backed server processor startup Ampere Computing said Monday that it plans to go public, filing initial confidential paperwork with the SEC. A public listing would give Ampere an infusion of cash and potential access to more investment further down the line via public markets after Oracle has quietly invested US$426 million in Ampere, which is run by former Intel president Renée James. The funding will likely aid Ampere’s efforts to carve out a space in the data center for rivals to Intel and AMD, which currently dominate the server market. https://bit.ly/3xtK2FU
The Japanese company behind a US$777,000 flying motorbike is planning to go public, reports say.
ALI Technologies, the maker of the XTURISMO bike, is mulling a stock market listing, per Bloomberg. The company began accepting pre-orders for its XTURISMO in October. The bike, which reaches a height of two metres, is ideal for the Middle East’s desert terrain. The Japanese startup behind a US$777,000 flying motorbike is planning to float on the stock exchange through an IPO to raise further funds, according to Bloomberg. https://bit.ly/38Vzq8B
Epic Games valued at about US$32 bln in funding from Sony, Lego firm.
Epic Games said on Monday it had raised US$2 billion from Sony Group Corp and the family owned holding company behind the Lego Group, valuing the “Fortnite” creator at US$31.5 billion. Sony, an existing investor, and the Kirkbi investment company each invested US$1 billion, Epic said, with the fundraising to help advance a metaverse partnership the company had entered into with the Lego Group earlier this month. https://reut.rs/3jBxzYq
Charlie Munger, Daily Journal halve Alibaba stake after quadrupling it.
Charlie Munger’s Daily Journal halved its Alibaba stake to 300,000 shares last quarter. The newspaper publisher nearly quadrupled its Alibaba holdings during the second half of 2021. Munger served as Daily Journal’s chairman for 45 years before stepping down last month. https://bit.ly/3JHIQBg
Twitter board approves shareholder rights plan after Musk offer.
Twitter Inc. announced on Friday that the company has adopted a shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” that will reduce the chances that a person or group will take control of the company. The announcement comes after Elon Musk’s offer of US$54.20 per share was made public on Thursday. There were reports that Twitter was considering a rights plan before it was announced. “Under the Rights Plan, the rights will become exercisable if an entity, person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 15% or more of Twitter’s outstanding common stock in a transaction not approved by the Board,” the announcement said. The rights plan doesn’t preclude Twitter from considering offers or accepting them if they are in the best interest of shareholders. The rights plan expires on April 14, 2023. Twitter stock closed Thursday down 1.7%, but is up 4.3% for the year to date. https://on.mktw.net/3xyKzXa
Elon Musk could have competition: Thoma Bravo considers Twitter bid.
Private equity giant Thoma Bravo is working on a possible bid for Twitter, a source close to the situation told The Post — setting up what could be a rival to Elon Musk’s offer for the embattled social network. “They are making a push,” the source said of the private-equity firm that already owns tech names including McAfee and Landesk. It’s not clear how much Thoma Bravo might bid or when it might make an offer. The firm has an internal team working on the potential transaction, the source familiar with the matter told The Post. Twitter, if it rejects Musk’s offer, could see its share price collapse unless it had another option to reveal at the time of a possible rejection. That’s where a so-called white knight would come in. Elon Musk told a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday that he wasn’t certain he would be able to acquire Twitter. https://bit.ly/3M8e3z8
Elon Musk is sued by shareholders over delay in disclosing Twitter stake.
Elon Musk was sued on Tuesday by former Twitter Inc shareholders who claim they missed out on the recent run-up in its stock price because he waited too long to disclose a 9.2% stake in the social media company. In a proposed class action filed in Manhattan federal court, the shareholders said Musk, the chief executive of electric car company Tesla Inc, made “materially false and misleading statements and omissions” by failing to reveal he had invested in Twitter by March 24 as required under federal law. Twitter shares rose 27% on April 4, to $49.97 from $39.31, after Musk disclosed his stake, which investors viewed as a vote of confidence from the world’s richest person in San Francisco-based Twitter. Former shareholders led by Marc Rasella said the delayed disclosure let Musk buy more Twitter shares at lower prices, while defrauding them into selling at “artificially deflated” prices. https://reut.rs/3jKCA0W
Thoma Bravo to take identity security company SailPoint private for US$6.9 billion.
Another day, another big private equity acquisition. It’s widely known that private equity firms are awash in cash these days and looking to direct it into acquisitions. Last month, Thoma Bravo acquired Anaplan for almost US$11 billion. It announced its intention to buy identity security company SailPoint for US$6.9 billion — and the beat goes on. Cybersecurity is a hot area right now as companies try to protect themselves against increasingly sophisticated attackers. That’s why the sector is attracting billions in startup investment, while private equity firms are also hopping on the bandwagon. For Thoma Bravo, this acquisition represents the sixth security-focused company in the firm’s portfolio. https://tcrn.ch/3JMoHtE
Meta says 124 Oculus Quest apps have earned more than US$1 million.
At GDC last month, Meta shared the clearest look yet at the number of apps reaching various revenue milestones on the Quest platform. So far, 124 apps have earned US$1 million in revenue or more, while 8 have exceeded US$20 million. https://bit.ly/3M77FrG
Apple’s mixed reality headset to be delayed until early 2023.
Apple has reportedly been working on new devices with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) capabilities for a long time, but it’s still unclear when these products will hit the market. While some analysts believed that Apple’s mixed reality headset would be released in late 2022, analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities says that the product may be delayed until 2023. https://bit.ly/3KIgJ6j
Apple’s latest patents reveal that the company has plans to introduce its own game controller.
Apple has been slowly investing in gaming content with Apple Arcade, but there is still a whole market that the company could explore – and maybe it will. The company’s latest patents reveal that it has plans to introduce its own game controller. Patents related to game controllers have been granted to Apple by the US Patent & Trademark Office and the European Patent Office in the past two weeks (via Patently Apple). The patents suggest that the project is still quite experimental, as the illustrations show different types of controllers. The first patent was published on March 31 while the second one was published on April 10. https://bit.ly/3rq5TKC
WeWork reportedly working on Apple Wallet support for company Access Cards.
WeWork is reportedly working on Apple Wallet support for its company Access Cards. This feature was discovered by MacRumors through image assets and hidden code within the WeWork app’s code. The code reads “add to wallet button tapped,” meaning that the app will eventually work with Apple Wallet using Office Key support. Office Key support arrived last year with iOS 15 and as the name suggests, it lets you store keys in your Wallet. MacRumors also suggests that the WeWork app will not require its users to have the “Background Location” permission turned on for the app. The Office Keys feature allows users to securely access buildings with just a tap of their iPhone or Apple Watch. It doesn’t only work with office keys, it can also be used at some hotels and cars. https://bit.ly/3JSvXnH
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
CNN+ struggles to lure viewers in its early days, drawing fewer than 10,000 daily users.
Fewer than 10,000 people are using CNN+ on a daily basis two weeks into its existence, according to people familiar with the matter. The people spoke with CNBC on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss nonpublic data. CNN+ launched on March 29. The subscription news streaming service, which charges US$5.99 a month or US$59.99 annually, only became available on Roku on Monday and still isn’t on Android TV. Still, the paltry audience casts doubt on the future of the application following the recently completed combination of Discovery and WarnerMedia into Warner Bros. Discovery. https://cnb.cx/3uIcrWX
China approves new videogames after eight-month freeze.
China approved new videogames, ending an eight month freeze that had cast a dark shadow over the world’s largest videogame market by revenue. But the list of 45 domestic games didn’t include any titles by Tencent or Netease, China’s biggest gaming publishers. Investors largely cheered the move, which came after China had earlier sharply restricted the amount of time minors can play games, limiting them to only two hours a week. Analysts said they expected the government to soon announce approvals for games from Tencent and Netease. Thousands of Chinese game studios have shut down during the ban, even as a few have made a mark targeting foreign markets. Genshin Impact, designed by Shanghai studio miHoYo, was one of the highest earning games in 2021. Tencent, meanwhile, has gone on a shopping spree snapping up foreign gaming studios. https://bit.ly/3OroRua
In latest gaming crackdown, China bans livestreaming of unauthorised titles.
China said on Friday the livestreaming of unauthorised video games was banned, signalling stricter enforcement of rules as part of its broad crackdown on the gaming industry aimed at purging content the government does not approve of. The National Radio and Television Administration said platforms of all kinds must not livestream games that are not approved by related authorities. In particular, the livestreaming of overseas games or competitions should not be carried out without approval, it said, adding that livestreamers should resist “abnormal aesthetics” and harmful celebrity fan culture. “For a period of time, issues such as chaotic online livestreaming and teenage addiction to games have raised widespread concerns in society and effective measures need to be taken urgently,” the regulator said in a notice on its website. Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at research firm Niko Partners, said while unlicensed games could not officially be released in mainland China, many were promoted on livestreaming platforms such as Huya Inc, DouYu International Holdings and Bilibili Inc. “Earlier this year, Elden Ring was a hit on Chinese game live streaming platforms reaching 17.1 million cumulative daily average viewers, despite not having a license,” he said. Last year, China introduced new rules that limit the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat gaming addiction. It also implemented a freeze on gaming licences which regulators only lifted this week after gaming companies made major adjustments to their business practices. Companies have been asked to delete content that is violent, deemed to celebrate wealth or foster the worship of celebrities. https://reut.rs/3xvsgBU
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
Digital ad revenue jumped 35% in the U.S. last year, biggest gain since 2006.
Digital ad revenue in the U.S. jumped 35% to US$189 billion last year as marketers chased consumers spending ever more time on online media and shopping, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The rise was well above the 12% growth rate of 2020, which was briefly hobbled by an early-pandemic dip. The year-over-year growth in 2021 was the highest the digital ad market had seen since 2006, when it rose at the same rate, the online-ad trade group said. A flood of new businesses across the economy contributed to the growth in digital ads, said IAB Chief Executive David Cohen. A record 5.4 million new business applications were filed last year, up from 4.4 million the previous year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. https://on.wsj.com/3vmUzzT
TikTok ad revenue set to triple in 2022.
Short-video app TikTok’s global net ad revenues are poised to triple to US$11.64 billion this year from US$3.9 billion in 2021, according to a new estimate from Insider Intelligence. ByteDance-owned TikTok doesn’t publicly report ad revenue, so the estimates offer an outside estimate of how its ad business has grown as its user base swelled and it has tried to make it easier for advertisers to run campaigns. TikTok today represents a small percent of advertisers’ budgets but many companies are experimenting with it because the app is widely used by young people, and its users spend more time on it than on many other social media networks. Still, advertisers want more assurances that the platform can offer brand safety and more tools to target the right consumers. More than half of TikTok’s ad revenues are likely to come from the U.S. in 2022, Insider Intelligence estimated, giving it about a 2.4% share of domestic digital ad spending. Globally, its share of digital ad spending is smaller and expected to grow to 1.5% in 2022, up from less than 1% last year. Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook parent Meta continue to dominate the global digital ad market with a 29% and 21.4% share, respectively. https://bit.ly/3uLaCZ5
Amazon is hitting its sellers with a 5% fee due to inflation and increased fuel costs, and there’s a good chance products will get more expensive as a result.
Amazon is hitting some of its third-party sellers with a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge. Bloomberg first reported the latest decision from Amazon, which boasts a big third-party sales business. Third-party sales expert Jon Elder said merchants will likely pass the costs onto consumers. https://bit.ly/3jGbEzq
Pinterest partners with WooCommerce to make posts shoppable.
Pinterest is taking another leap into commerce. The online scrapbook on Wednesday announced that WooCommerce merchants can connect their sites to their Pinterest profiles. The integration will make all the merchandise in WooCommerce’s more than 3 million merchants’ online stores available for users to shop on the Pinterest app and site. The recent move is one of many ways that Pinterest has ramped up its commerce efforts since the start of the pandemic. It announced a similar partnership with Shopify in May 2020. Pinterest has been slower in growing its e-commerce business than other social platforms, The Information previously reported. But the WooCommerce partnership is one sign that Pinterest’s conservative pace might be accelerating. Another feature that is in the works also signals Pinterest’s focus on becoming a shopping destination. The company recently partnered with Shopify to launch checkout inside the Pinterest app. Typically when users click on a shoppable post, they are directed to a merchant’s site to complete the transaction. If there are too many steps before checkout, impatient customers may leave a merchant’s site without making a purchase. With this Shopify partnership, users can add items to a shopping cart and complete the transaction directly on the Pinterest app, potentially removing several steps. In-app checkout is being beta tested with a select group of merchants in the U.S., but the company plans to make the feature available to all merchants by the end of the year, said Rachel Hardy, Pinterest’s head of shopping product marketing. Hardy did not disclose whether in-app checkout was leading to more sales while in beta, but she said that Pinterest anticipates the feature will eventually lead to an increase in purchases. https://bit.ly/3JSwaHv
Salsify secures US$200 million as the boom in e-commerce catapults its valuation to US$2 billion.
Salsify’s platform is aimed at retailers, brands and the various partners they work with to tap into centralized inventory and product information, data that can in turn be used to power more unified experiences wherever those products are sold. (Its favored term to describe this is the “digital shelf,” a reference point I think to the many companies it works with and their huge legacy businesses selling CPG goods on physical shelves.) In 2021, ARR went up to US$110 million and the company now has 1,200 customers, up from 800 in 2020. The list includes huge names like Coca-Cola, Libbey, Kraft Heinz, Columbia and Mars. This is a Series F and it values Salsify (named after the widely spreading wildflower) at US$2 billion. That is a notable jump since the company didn’t disclose a number when it raised its Series E, a US$155 million round in 2020 (PitchBook however puts it at US$805 million, and before at US$308 million in 2018). This latest round is being led by TPG, with Permira’s Growth Opportunities Fund, Neuberger Berman Funds and Cap Table Coalition also participating. It has now raised more than US$450 million. https://tcrn.ch/38L7nIB
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
WhatsApp gets approval to roll out payments to 100 million in India.
Meta Platform’s WhatsApp has gotten regulatory approval to roll out its digital payments services to 100 million users in India, a step towards its goal of offering uncapped access in its biggest market where it has 500 million users. Reuters said that the Indian government has given WhatsApp permission to expand from 40 million users. The regulatory approval marks a win for WhatsApp but still falls short of their goal of offering the service to all of its users there. WhatsApp competes with Alphabet’s Google Pay, Paytm, which is backed by Ant Group and SoftBank, and with Walmart’s PhonePe. https://bit.ly/3Em4Hgc
Dallas Cowboys’ partnership with Blockchain.com signals more mainstream crypto exposure.
For the first time, a crypto exchange is partnering with an NFL team in a long-term, exclusive relationship that could bring further exposure of digital assets to mainstream audiences. The partnership between Blockchain.com and the Dallas Cowboys was announced on Wednesday at the NFL team’s headquarters in Frisco, Texas, by Jerry Jones, the football team’s owner, president and general manager, alongside Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s co-founder and CEO. NFL rules prevented the price or deal length from being disclosed, according to Brooks Wallace, head of communications at Blockchain.com. https://tcrn.ch/3M5Giyl
Crypto entrepreneur struggles to Sell NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
A crypto entrepreneur is stuck with his US$3 million NFT purchase of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. He listed the NFT for sale at a price of US$48 million, but the highest bid he’s received so far is about US$6,800. “Someone like Elon Musk” deserves to own the NFT, he told the BBC. https://bit.ly/3EcEq4d
Meta will let Horizon creators sell virtual items.
Meta is testing new features to let creators make money within Horizon Worlds, the company’s social metaverse platform for Quest VR headsets that is soon coming to mobile phones and possibly game consoles. Most notably, a “handful” of Horizon creators will be able to sell virtual items and effects in the worlds they create for others to explore. The idea is that creators can sell everything from access to a VIP section of their world to virtual items like jewelry or a special basketball, according to Meaghan Fitzgerald, the product marketing director for Horizon. Participants in the US will also be able to earn money from a US$10 million creator fund Meta recently set up to reward creators with the most engaging worlds. https://bit.ly/3jEVh6a
Chinese EV car company Nio halts production as China Covid lockdown takes toll.
Chinese electric vehicle company Nio said it’s halting production and will delay deliveries as many of its suppliers have been forced to shut down due to China’s strict Covid lockdowns. The move illustrates the mounting costs of China’s zero Covid policy, which has forced millions in cities including Shanghai to be locked into their apartments, or even places of work. The implications could ripple out into global supply chains beyond just car manufacturing into other electronics such as smartphones. Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., the world’s largest supplier of electric vehicle batteries, is keeping workers inside a closed loop linking their dormitories and factories in an attempt to keep production going in a bubble isolated from an outbreak in Ningde, the city where CALT operates a plant, Bloomberg said. https://bit.ly/3vpccza
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