Last week, Nasdaq and growth names were more damaged as industrials, infrastructure, housing, energy sectors and some retail, travel, medical, transportation and financial names held up better. Dow Jones rose 0.6%, S&P lost 0.3% and Nasdaq fell 1.9%. SoftBank’s Vision Fund unit recorded quarterly investment gains for the first time in six quarters. Nikkei reported that chip design company Arm is set to go public on the Nasdaq later this year, with an IPO valued at more than US$60 billion. Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Intel, and other leading chipmakers will invest in the IPO. Design App Canva was valued at US$25.5 billion in the secondary market, ~36% lower than its most recent financing in September 2021. WeWork warned it has ‘substantial doubt’ about whether it can keep going as a business. PENN Entertainment stock jumped 20% after striking US$2 billion sports-betting deal with ESPN. Nvidia revealed a new A.I. chip, and said costs of running LLMs will ‘drop significantly’. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at regulating new U.S. investments and expertise that supports Chinese development of sensitive technologies. China’s internet giants ordered US$5 billion of Nvidia chips. Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba have made orders worth US$1 billion to acquire about 100,000 A800 processors. GM said all of its EVs will be able to power your home by 2026. In Canada, Algonquin Power & Utilities announced the resignation of its CEO and said it was considering a sale of its renewable energy unit, after activist firms urged action to reduce debt and boost earnings. Sophic Client Legend Power announced a proposed second tranche of its offering. Sophic Client OneSoft announced release dates for Q2 2023 results, as the stock hit a 52 week high. Vancouver fusion energy company General Fusion raised $33.5 millionin what it called the first close of its Series F raise.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Sophic Client Legend Power Systems Inc. (LPS-TSXV, LPSIF-OTC) clarifies earlier news release and announces proposed second tranche of offering.

Legend Power Systems intends to close a second tranche of a non-brokered private placement, pursuant to the listed issuer financing exemption under Part 5A of National Instrument 45-106 – Prospectus Exemptions (the “LIFE Exemption”), by issuing units (each, a “Unit”) at a price of $0.18 per Unit (the “Offering”) on or before August 31, 2023. The Company closed the first tranche of the Offering on July 31, 2023. https://bit.ly/3s1mxTQ

Sophic Client OneSoft Solutions Inc. (OSS-TSXV, OSSIF-OTC) announces release dates for Q2 2023 financial results and earnings webcast / conference call.

OneSoft plans to release its second quarter of fiscal 2023 financial results before market open on Thursday, August 17, 2023. OneSoft’s CEO Dwayne Kushniruk, President & COO Brandon Taylor and CFO Paul Johnston will host a live webcast on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. ET to review the results, provide Company updates, and answer investor questions following the presentation. https://bit.ly/3DRt6uP

Canada’s Algonquin (AQN-TSX, $AQN-NYSE) mulls sale of renewable energy unit, CEO exits.

Canada’s Algonquin Power & Utilities on Thursday announced the resignation of CEO Arun Banskota and said it was considering a sale of its renewable energy unit, after activist firms urged action to reduce debt and boost earnings. Algonquin shares fell 4% to $10.02 in morning trade. The decision to divest comes months after the company initiated a strategic review of the renewable energy division, following a push for changes by activist firms including Corvex Management and Starboard Value. Algonquin said it had received interest for the renewable energy unit, but did not provide financial details or timelines for any potential deals. Algonquin is grappling with a $7.5 billion debt burden following a series of acquisitions in recent years. In January, the company announced plans to raise $1 billion through asset sales and said it would slash its dividend by 40% to bolster its finances. The company said on Thursday JPMorgan would act as its financial advisor for the possible sale of the renewable energy unit, which includes all of the company’s non-regulated operating and development power generation assets. https://tinyurl.com/hfwjw6ys

Canadian pension funds explore $6 billion sale of renewables firm Cubico.

Two of Canada’s biggest pension funds are exploring options including a sale of Cubico Sustainable Investments that could value the renewable energy firm at about $6 billion or more, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter. Montreal-based Public Sector Pension (PSP) Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) are looking to appoint a financial advisor in the coming weeks, the sources said, adding the sale could take several months to complete. wo of Canada’s biggest pension funds are exploring options including a sale of Cubico Sustainable Investments that could value the renewable energy firm at about $6 billion or more, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter. Montreal-based Public Sector Pension (PSP) Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) are looking to appoint a financial advisor in the coming weeks, the sources said, adding the sale could take several months to complete. The potential sale of Cubico comes at a time when renewable power developers and other service providers focused on energy transition have become attractive acquisition targets for infrastructure investors and corporate utilities. Ontario Teachers’ currently manages net assets worth $247.2 billion (US$184.31 billion), while PSP oversees roughly $243.7 billion of assets. PSP has a portfolio of hydroelectric, wind and solar assets worth $1 billion in Canada, and has invested in offshore wind development in the United States, Europe and Asia. Cubico operates wind and solar farms in 12 countries in Europe and America, as well as concentrated solar power and transmission line technology operations with a capacity of 2.8 gigawatts (GW). https://archive.li/mrn3H

General Fusion raises $33.5 million as it renews focus on Canadian project.

Vancouver fusion energy company General Fusion has raised $33.5 million (US$25 million) in what it called the first close of its Series F raise as it shifts focus to its Canadian project. Investors that participated in the round include BDC Capital and GIC, a sovereign wealth fund established by the Government of Singapore. The financing also includes grants from the Government of British Columbia, building on the federal government’s ongoing support through its Strategic Innovation Fund. According to General Fusion, the machine will provide electricity to the grid with commercial fusion energy by the early to mid-2030s. The company has not disclosed further details regarding potential additional closes for its Series F financing. BetaKit has reached out for comment. General Fusion previously raised $166 million in Series E financing last November, following another $85 million Series E round in 2019. https://bit.ly/3OyH8Gu

Niricson closes $10 million Series A to monitor critical infrastructure using tech.

Victoria-based software startup Niricson has secured over $10 million in Series A financing to assess the condition of aging infrastructure with predictive analytics. Niricson sells damage-assessment software and data collection tech designed to help monitor important, large-scale civil assets like bridges, spillways, nuclear power plants, and tunnels. Niricson claims to serve some of the world’s largest infrastructure owners and engineering consulting firms. Niricson’s Series A round closed earlier this month and was led by MUUS Climate Partners. It saw participation from Bentley Systems, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Export Development Canada (EDC), Invest Victoria, Australia’s Victorian State Government, Forward Venture Capital, Techstars, and other undisclosed investors. The equity round, which included an undisclosed amount of grant funding, brings the company’s total financing to about $15 million. https://bit.ly/3Kx48ET

After only four years in market, OMERS Ventures is pulling out of Europe to focus on North America.

Pulling out of the European market, OMERS Ventures has opted to refocus its investment efforts on Canada and the United States (US) amid the market downturn. The retreat comes just four years after OMERS Ventures began ramping up its focus on the region with a €300 million fund for European startups followed closely by its first US$750 million transatlantic fund. Going forward, the majority of OMERS Ventures’ new investments will be in North American firms, where it also plans to open a new New York office. https://bit.ly/441e0NX

EventMobi acquires US-based virtual events platform Run The World.

Toronto-based event management software company EventMobi has purchased Silicon Valley’s Run The World. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to EventMobi, Run The World clients can sign up to join its platform “over the coming months.” EventMobi offers an end-to-end platform for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, while Run The World describes itself as a “one-stop solution” for virtual social gatherings, webinars, and conferences. EventMobi’s deal to buy Run The World appears to mark the company’s second acquisition—and its first in a decade—following its 2013 acquisition of Toronto’s Understoodit. Founded in 2019, Run The World has powered over 50,000 events globally for clients that include Forbes, Meta, Amazon, and Harvard University. Run The World previously closed over US$15 million in total funding from a group that includes Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, GGV Capital, Will Smith, and Kevin Hart. Run The World’s most recent round appears to have been an US$11 million Series A round during the early days of the pandemic in May 2020. https://bit.ly/3DPO0KL

Rio Tinto to build the largest solar power plant in Canada’s North.

Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine will build the largest solar power plant across Canada’s territories, featuring over 6,600 solar panels that will generate approximately 4,200 megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity annually for the mine. The solar power plant will provide up to 25% of Diavik’s electricity during closure work that will run until 2029, with commercial production from the operation expected to end in early 2026. The facility will be equipped with bi-facial panels which will not only generate energy from direct sunlight, but also from the light that reflects off the snow that covers Diavik for most of the year. It will cut diesel consumption at the site by approximately one million liters per year and reduce emissions by 2,900 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is comparable to eliminating the emissions of 630 cars. The solar power plant will significantly expand Diavik’s renewable energy generation, which already features a wind-diesel hybrid power facility that has a capacity of 55.4 MW and provides the site’s electricity. The project is supported by $3.3 million in funding from the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant program, and $600,000 from the Government of Canada’s Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit. Construction will start in coming weeks and the solar power plant will be fully operational in the first half of 2024. https://bit.ly/3DWStv7.

Alberta looks to hydrogen as the “next frontier” in energy, invests $45 million in related technologies.

Alberta is pumping $45 million into hydrogen-related technologies. The province, best known for oil and gas, said the money will come through Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA). The new funding will be used to support researchers, innovators, companies, and industry to develop technologies that are critical to advancing the province’s Hydrogen Roadmap and Natural gas strategy released in 2021. By 2030, the province wants clean hydrogen integrated at-scale into Alberta’s domestic energy system. To help realize this, ERA will make $25 million in funding available for later-stage innovations through their Accelerating Hydrogen Challenge and an additional $20 to 25 million will come from Alberta Innovates to support early-stage innovations through the Hydrogen Centre of Excellence Competition 2. Additional funding will also come from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), according to the Alberta government. ERA-funded projects must be completed in 36 months, and Alberta Innovates-funded projects must be completed in 24 months. In January, Alberta announced the Alberta Hydrogen Centre of Excellence (HCOE) will award $20 million to 18 successful projects to advance innovations in hydrogen through its first funding competition. https://bit.ly/44YoNK6

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

SoftBank’s Vision Fund reports gains as firm steps up AI investments.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund unit recorded quarterly investment gains for the first time in six quarters, and the Japanese conglomerate’s chief financial officer said the company is stepping up the pace of its investments, albeit cautiously. The comment from SoftBank CFO Yoshimitsu Goto comes after the firm’s founder and chief executive, Masayoshi Son, said at a shareholder meeting in June that SoftBank was ready to play offense again with its deals in order to become a leader in the “artificial intelligence revolution,” referring to the huge potential of generative AI. SoftBank appears to be shifting its strategy after scaling back its investments last year. Over the past few years, SoftBank, whose US$100 billion Vision Fund built a vast portfolio of public and private firms, was hit hard by China’s harsh regulatory crackdown on tech giants and the global stock market rout amid recession fears. In the quarter through June, Vision Fund’s investment gains amounted to 160 billion yen (US$1.1 billion), thanks in part to an increase in the valuation of Arm, a SoftBank-owned chipmaker that is preparing to go public in the U.S. SoftBank Group as a whole reported a net loss for the quarter due to declines in the value of the group’s stakes in publicly listed firms such as Alibaba, but the loss was much narrower than a year earlier. https://tinyurl.com/4bts4pwa

Apple to invest in Arm when it goes public later this year, will help guide the future of Apple Silicon architecture.’

Nikkei is reporting that chip design company Arm is set to go public on the US Nasdaq stock exchange later this year, with an IPO valued at more than US$60 billion. Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Intel, and other leading chipmakers will invest in Arm stock when it goes public. For Apple, this ownership stake will help secure a stable future for the chip architecture that forms the foundations of all of its Apple Silicon chips. Nikkei says the chipmakers will buy a few percent stake each when the company stock is floated, seen as long-term shareholders that will stabilize the Arm stock price and give the companies some sway over Arm’s management. Nvidia previously tried to buy Arm outright for US$44 billion. Antitrust regulators ultimately blocked the deal from going ahead in February 2022. When Arm goes public in September, the company’s value is expected to be worth in excess of US$60 billion. ARM chip architecture has propelled Apple to be the mobile devices giant, with Arm beating out Intel’s x86 architecture on mobile performance and power efficiency. All Apple Silicon chips are based on the ARM architecture. In the earlier years of the iPhone and iPad, chips like the A4 and A5 were essentially rebranded versions of Arm reference designs. As Apple has built out its own silicon engineering groups, the Apple chips diverged from Arm reference designs more and more, culminating in the M1 design in 2020 that allowed Apple to fully divorce itself from Intel across its entire range of products. Nevertheless, the base CPU instruction architecture remains the same. https://bit.ly/3sbvhXK

Design App Canva valued at US$25.5 billion in secondary market.

U.S. investors including Coatue Management and ICONIQ Capital have purchased shares of Australia-based design software startup Canva from existing investor Blackbird at a valuation of US$25.5 billion, The Australian newspaper and other news outlets reported. The US$25.5 billion valuation in the secondary transaction is about 36% lower than the US$40 billion valuation in Canva’s most recent equity funding round in September 2021, according to the reports. The markdown, however, is less severe compared to how some other investors have recently valued the startup. In June, TechCrunch and others reported that T Rowe Price had marked down the value of its stake in Canva by 67.6%. In an interview with The Australian, Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht described the $25.5 billion valuation as “solid.” Over the past year, many of the world’s most highly valued startups have seen their valuations plunge amid a global economic slowdown, rising interest rates and a dire market for initial public offerings. https://tinyurl.com/ywmwv6ha

Quora, Rho, Nuro signal wave of down rounds.

Internet answer site Quora recently wiped away some of its investors’ preferred ownership rights in a corporate filing, a move that often foreshadows a funding round that sharply lowers its valuation, known as a cram-down, lawyers say. It’s one of a handful of startups that have recently agreed to raise money at lowered valuations or discussed such financing with their investors, according to a report in The Information Friday. Electric motor maker Turntide Technologies is nearing a deal for new capital that would likely slash its valuation by more than 80%, the report said. Rho Technologies, a New York–based corporate card startup, in May raised US$40 million at a US$385 million pre-money valuation, about 10% lower than Rho’s prior pre-money valuation. And Nuro, the robotics company valued two years ago at more than US$8 billion, asked its board for additional capital to grow the business but was rejected. Some of its investors have pushed for a sale, while others have discussed a potential cram-down financing that would cut its valuation. In a cram-down financing, investors who don’t put in new money often lose their designation as preferred shareholders, meaning they no longer get paid out first in a sale or liquidation. https://tinyurl.com/bdf3mzy6

Better.com set to go public.

Better.com is going public after investors in Aurora Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company that’s set to merge with the mortgage lender, voted on Friday to approve the deal. The companies expect the agreement to close around Aug. 22. Aurora first agreed to take Better.com public in 2021. The companies have repeatedly delayed the deal amid a regulatory review and a Securities and Exchange Commission probe. The SEC told Better.com and Aurora earlier this month that it had ended the investigation and did not intend to recommend an enforcement action against either firm. Aurora at one point said it had considered backing out of the agreement. In 2021, Better.com attracted scrutiny after its CEO, Vishal Garg, laid off 9% of the company’s workforce over Zoom and criticized the employees he let go. He took a one-month hiatus from the CEO role in 2022. https://tinyurl.com/2s8y8btr

Musk’s Neuralink raises US$280 million.

Neuralink said it raised US$280 million in a series D fundraising round led by Founders Fund. The startup, co-founded by Elon Musk, is developing brain computer-interface technology that can be implanted in the human body. In a message announcing the funding on X.com, the social media service owned by Musk that is formerly known as Twitter, Neuralink invited people to apply for open jobs at the company, where it said they can “make the first human experience incredible and work on engineering challenges to restore vision and mobility.” Neuralink didn’t announced the company’s valuation in the round. As of last September, Neuralink had already raised US$363 million in funding, according to estimates by the financial data firm PitchBook. https://tinyurl.com/4tdxkmcz

Tesla CFO Kirkhorn steps down.

Tesla Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn has stepped down, the company announced Monday, in a shock to the electric vehicle maker’s efforts to alleviate shareholder concerns over the key-person risk posed by the lack of a clear successor to CEO Elon Musk. Kirkhorn, a 13-year veteran of the company, was one of just three executives besides Musk listed on Tesla’s leadership page. The others are Tesla’s head of energy Drew Bagliano, and the head of automotive Tom Zhu, who was promoted to his role earlier this year. Vaibhav Taneja will take over as CFO in addition to his current role as chief accounting officer, Tesla said. Taneja, 45, joined SolarCity in 2016, shortly before the company was acquired by Tesla. Before that he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers. https://tinyurl.com/2kdbxjyd

CEO claims X, formerly Twitter, is close to ‘break even’.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino claims that the company formerly known as Twitter is almost breaking even. “I’ve been at the company eight weeks,” Yaccarino said in her first broadcast interview since taking on her new role. “The operational run rate right now… we’re pretty close to break even.” This is a surprising declaration, given the company’s financial struggles since its acquisition by Elon Musk. Ad revenue is plummeting as brands pause spending on the platform, and X has gone to desperate lengths to get more cash flow — remember when we all got rate limited for not subscribing to Twitter Blue? Or when the company curbed its developer community by charging exorbitant rates for API access? But if Yaccarino’s account can be trusted, it seems that X’s financials are shaking out. After all, it did reduce its staff size from around 8,000 to 1,500 — though laid off employees have still yet to receive their promised three months of severance. Those aren’t the only outstanding payments that the company is on the hook for. X is also facing multiple lawsuits over not paying rent for company office spaces in several countries. “Our data licensing and API with X is an incredible business. Our new subscription business [is] growing,” Yaccarino said. “And then, part of my, what I would say, expertise and experience, and what I came to do, was to drive advertising at the company.” She added that she is having daily meetings with brands, which she says are encouraging for the company’s ads business. X also is integrating AI-powered ad tech that lets brands choose how careful they want to be with the kinds of content their ads are placed alongside. According to Musk, less conservative product placements will be sold at a discount. https://tinyurl.com/mr3y362m

Uber, Nvidia-backed delivery robot startup Serve Robotics to go public.

Serve Robotics, the autonomous sidewalk delivery robot startup that spun out of Uber’s acquisition of Postmates, is going public via a reverse merger with a blank-check company. The reverse merger with Patricia Acquisition Corp was completed this month, according to regulatory filings. Ahead of the merger, Serve raised US$30 million in a round led by existing investors Uber, Nvidia and Wavemaker Partners. New investors Mark Tompkins and Republic Deal Room also participated. The startup-soon-to-be-public-company has raised a total of US$56 million. Upon the closing of the merger, Uber held a 16.2% stake and Nvidia an 11% stake in Serve, according to regulatory filings. Serve Robotics started its life as Postmates X, the robotics division of on-demand delivery company Postmates. Uber acquired Postmates in late 2020 for US$2.65 billion. Three months later, Postmates X spun out as an independent company called Serve Robotics. The new name was taken from the autonomous sidewalk delivery bot that was developed and piloted by Postmates. https://bit.ly/3QyhLY8

Rivian beats on Q2 revenue, raises EV production guidance for 2023.

Rivian gained positive momentum in the second-quarter and beat Wall Street expectations as the company ramped up EV sales, narrowed losses, reduced costs and shored up its supply chain. The company struck a confident tone in its second-quarter earnings, which was released after markets closed Tuesday, even raising its production guidance for the year from 50,000 to 52,000 vehicles. The company said it expects its adjusted earnings guidance for the year to improve to a loss of US$4.2 billion, which while still a massive number is better than it expected. Rivian reported revenue of US$1.12 billion in the second quarter, a more than threefold increase from the same period last year. That revenue jump was largely driven by the delivery (or sale) of 12,640 vehicles. About US$34 million of that revenue came from the sale of zero-emission regulatory credits, according to the company’s regulatory filing. https://tcrn.ch/3P1iuA9

WeWork warns it has ‘substantial doubt’ about whether it can keep going as a business.

Co-working company WeWork is apparently in troubled waters. In its second quarter earnings report on Tuesday, the company said there’s “substantial doubt” about its ability to keep going as a business. The company issued what’s known as a “going-concern” warning. Publicly traded companies typically issue these when they’re worried, broadly speaking, that they don’t have the money to pay their bills over the next year. The company’s stock tanked nearly 25% in after-hours trade following the release. In April, the company was asked to issue a press release saying it was in danger of being delisted from the NYSE because its stock had been trading at less than US$1 per share for too long. And in March, the company struck a deal with some of its creditors, including Softbank, to cut its debt by US$1.5 billion. https://bit.ly/3KD2IZr

Palantir announces US$1 billion buyback program as earnings meet expectations.

Palantir Technologies Inc. matched expectations with its latest quarterly results Monday while announcing a new US$1 billion buyback authorization. Palantir shares were off nearly 5% in after-hours action following the report. “We continue to see unprecedented demand,” Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Taylor told MarketWatch. That includes both “top-of-funnel” conversations with new customers and others expanding their use of Palantir software, as momentum builds for the company’s artificial-intelligence offerings. Taylor added that Palantir’s U.S. government work has “never been stronger.” https://bit.ly/445gPxD

Disney posts mixed results for quarter plagued by streaming woes, restructuring costs.

Disney posted mixed results for its fiscal third quarter despite ongoing streaming woes and massive restructuring costs resulting from pulling content from its platforms. Subscriber losses continued over the last three months, with the company reporting 146.1 million Disney+ subscribers during the most recent quarter, a 7.4% decline from the previous quarter and a larger loss than Wall Street expected. The majority of subscriber losses came from Disney+ Hotstar, where the company saw a 24% drop in users after it lost out on the rights to Indian Premier League cricket matches. Facing dwindling users and falling revenue in its media and entertainment distribution segment, Disney announced Wednesday it would raise the price on its ad-free streaming tier in October and that it would crack down on password sharing, as streaming rival Netflix did earlier this year. Shares of Disney gained 4% in extended trading Wednesday after news of the streaming updates. https://tinyurl.com/4rzwnc82

Roblox shares drop 21% after company misses estimates on top and bottom line.

Shares of Roblox closed down more than 21% Wednesday after the company reported second-quarter results that missed analysts’ expectations on top and bottom lines. Here’s how the company did: Loss per share: US$0.46 loss vs. US$0.45 loss per share expected, according to a Refinitiv survey of analysts. Revenue (bookings): US$781 million vs. US$785 million expected, according to Refinitiv. The revenue figure is what Roblox calls bookings, a category that includes sales recognized during the quarter and deferred revenue. Bookings rose by 22% year over year. Roblox reported US$639.9 million in bookings in the year-ago quarter. The company generates revenue from sales of its virtual currency called Robux, which players use to dress up their avatars and buy other premium in-game features. Roblox reported 65.5 million average daily active users, up 25% from a year earlier. Users spent more than 14 billion hours engaged in Roblox during the second quarter, up 24% year over year. The company said average bookings per daily active user was US$11.92, down 3% year over year. https://tinyurl.com/yff8m3js

PENN Entertainment stock jumps 20% after striking US$2 billion sports-betting deal with ESPN.

Penn Entertainment stock spiked on Wednesday after the company struck a US$2 billion sports-betting deal with ESPN. Shares jumped 20% in early on Wednesday to trade at US$28.90 a share after the casino operator announced a new partnership with the cable network to launch ESPN Bet, a US-based sports-betting platform. The new platform is a rebrand of Barstool Sportsbook and is expected to launch this fall across 16 states where Penn already has a presence in the sports-betting space. The company will pay up US$1.5 billion to ESPN over the following decade, while giving ESPN warrants worth US$500 million to purchase 31.8 million shares of Penn stock. Meanwhile, Penn sold Barstool back to its founder David Portnoy at no upfront cost, with Portnoy agreeing to noncompete arrangements and to give Penn 50% of the proceeds in the event he resells Barstool to another owner. https://bit.ly/445gQkU

Europe confirms in-depth probe for Adobe’s US$20 billion Figma acquisition.

The European Commission (EC) has confirmed that it’s opening an in-depth investigation into Adobe’s proposed US$20 billion bid for digital design software rival Figma. The Commission said that the acquisition “may reduce competition in the global markets for the supply of interactive product design software and for digital asset creation tools.” The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is looking closely at the deal, while the U.K. also recently confirmed that it is preparing a deeper probe on the basis that the merger would lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the U.K. Europe, for its part, revealed in February that it was looking at the acquisition on competition grounds. The crux of the investigation will focus on whether buying Figma will remove one of Adobe major rivals and impact the broader design software market. While Europe does have a fairly robust track record of late in terms of investigating Big Tech acquisitions, it has also shown that it’s reluctant to block deals outright. In the past few months it has greenlighted Microsoft’s US$68.7 billion Activision acquisition and Broadcom’s US$61 billion VMware bid, albeit with strict caveats and oversight stipulations in place. The Commission said it plans to make a decision by December 14, 2023 – roughly one month after the outcome of its investigation into Amazon’s US$1.7 billion iRobot acquisition will be announced. https://bit.ly/3ORR5QZ

Verizon is shutting down BlueJeans, which it bought for US$400 million.

Verizon is shutting down BlueJeans, its Zoom competitor it acquired in the early days of the covid pandemic. BlueJeans was a huge acquisition for Verizon; when the deal was announced in April 2020, CNBC reported that Verizon was going to pay around US$400 million for the company. https://bit.ly/44442ve

Emerging Technologies

Nvidia reveals new A.I. chip, says costs of running LLMs will ‘drop significantly’.

Nvidia announced a new chip designed to run artificial intelligence models on Tuesday as it seeks to fend off competitors in the AI hardware space, including AMD, Google and Amazon. Currently, Nvidia dominates the market for AI chips with over 80% market share, according to some estimates. The company’s specialty is graphics processing units, or GPUs, which have become the preferred chips for the large AI models that underpin generative AI software, such as Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. But Nvidia’s chips are in short supply as tech giants, cloud providers and startups vie for GPU capacity to develop their own AI models. Nvidia’s new chip, the GH200, has the same GPU as the company’s current highest-end AI chip, the H100. But the GH200 pairs that GPU with 141 gigabytes of cutting-edge memory, as well as a 72-core ARM central processor. “We’re giving this processor a boost,” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said in a talk at a conference on Tuesday. He added, “This processor is designed for the scale-out of the world’s data centers.” The new chip will be available from Nvidia’s distributors in the second quarter of next year, Huang said, and should be available for sampling by the end of the year. Nvidia representatives declined to give a price. https://tinyurl.com/3k3exjyy

EV startup Fisker revealed plans for a four-door convertible supercar with a Tesla-crushing 600 miles of range.

Fisker’s goal of at least 600 miles of range is significantly more than any EV available today. The Lucid Air Grand Touring, a US$125,600 luxury sedan from another American startup, is the current range leader with 516 miles of driving potential, according to the EPA. The next best is Tesla’s Model S with around 400 miles of estimated range. Most mainstream EVs fall somewhere between 200 and 300 miles. According to Tesla’s website, the Roadster will have a range of 620 miles. But it’s unclear when it will go on sale after multiple delays. Mercedes has experimented with super-long-range EVs in the past, building a concept called the Vision EQXX that recently traveled 746 miles on a single charge. https://bit.ly/3QwcYGN

Robotaxis score a huge victory in California with approval to operate 24/7.

Waymo and Cruise were approved to operate their robotaxi services 24/7 in San Francisco after a contentious six-hour public hearing in which residents voiced their support and opposition to the vehicles. It’s a big win for autonomous vehicle operators, who have spent tens of billions on the technology with very little return. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted 3-to-1 in favor of allowing the two companies to operate their vehicles at any hour of the day throughout the city of San Francisco. https://bit.ly/3QI0GLg

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Disney announces price hike for Disney+ and Hulu, crackdown on password sharing.

Disney is shaking up its portfolio of streaming services starting next month. The company announced it would increase the pricing for ad-free Disney+ and Hulu while also saying that it is “actively exploring” ways to crack down on password sharing, similar to what Netflix recently implemented. First and foremost, Disney announced its plans to raise the prices of ad-free Hulu and Disney+. Here’s a breakdown of the changes, which will go into effect on October 12; Disney+ with ads: US$7.99 per month (unchanged); Disney+ ad-free: US$13.99 per month (up from US$10.99 per month); Hulu with ads: US$7.99 per month (unchanged); Hulu ad-free: US$17.99 per month (up from US$14.99 per month) But alongside those price increases, Disney also announced that it would offer a bundle of Hulu and Disney+ (both without ads) for US$19.99 per month. This new bundle will launch in the United States on September 6. Additionally, Disney announced that Hulu + Live TV packages will see a price increase of US$7, with the ad-support plan rising to US$76.99 and the ad-free plan rising to US$89.99. ESPN+ pricing will also rise from US$9.99 to US$10.99 per month. https://bit.ly/47piFw6

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

More banks face hefty fines for employees’ encrypted messaging.

Banks including Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas have to pay a combined US$289 million in penalties because their employees used encrypted messaging applications to discuss work-related business, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. The latest wave of settlements, related to employee use of apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Signal, brings the total penalties paid to the SEC by large financial institutions to more than US$1.5 billion since the agency’s industry-wide probe began in 2021. Wells Fargo had by far the biggest penalty Tuesday, at US$125 million, among the actions the SEC brought against 10 firms. BMO Capital Markets Corp and Mizuho Securities will each pay US$25 million, while Houlihan Lokey Capital will pay US$15 million. Moelis & Company and Wedbush Securities will each pay US$10 million. In a related action announced on Tuesday, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission said Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas and Société Générale would each have to pay US$75 million in penalties, while Bank of Montreal will pay US$35 million. The CFTC has also been investigating so-called “off-channel” communications. The SEC said its investigation was ongoing. https://tinyurl.com/2p8vy2rz

Apple can keep app store rules for now as Supreme Court rejects Epic Games’ bid.

Apple can continue to enforce its current rules that prohibit iOS app developers from steering users to alternative payment methods as the iPhone maker’s legal fight with Fortnite publisher Epic Games heads to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apple is fighting an injunction that ruled that Apple could not bank links within iOS apps that directed users to non-Apple payment options. That injunction was upheld in April by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, though the court also delayed its implementation while Apple appeals the decision before the Supreme Court. Justice Elena Kagan, acting for the Supreme Court, has declined Epic’s request to lift that delay, according to Reuters. The matter stems from Epic’s antitrust lawsuit filed in 2020 against Apple, accusing the tech giant of monopolistic practices by requiring users to get apps only through Apple’s App Store and making purchases only using Apple’s payment system. Apple collects a 30% commission on all goods purchased in the App Store and on apps using its operating systems. Apple secured a major victory in 2021 when a U.S. district court rejected Epic’s antitrust claims against Apple. However, it found Apple violated California’s unfair competition law by prohibiting app developers from steering users to make purchases using non-Apple options. Apple argued that such a ban while it readies an appeal to the Supreme Court would require it to change “its business model” and “will limit Apple’s ability to protect users from fraud, scams, malware, spyware, and objectionable content.” https://tinyurl.com/3yr9arhx

China’s regulator increases oversight of mobile apps.

China’s telecom regulator said Tuesday it would start enforcing a requirement that all app developers register with the government, in a move that could have implications for Apple, given the large presence of unregistered foreign apps in its China App Store. While China’s Android app stores are all majority owned and operated by Chinese companies, Apple stands as an outlier as its China App Store has historically operated outside the counrty’s borders in a gray area. Apple doesn’t require apps to be locally licensed before they are distributed in its App Store in China. Apple previously allowed games to be distributed without licenses until the Chinese government began enforcing the rule in July 2020. Under the new rules issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, apps must register their business details. App developers offering news, publishing, education, video streaming and religion will also need to seek additional approvals for providing services. The ministry will start accepting registrations from existing apps from next month, and all apps must complete the process by March next year. https://tinyurl.com/46f96xhx

White House restricts U.S. investment in some Chinese tech, citing national security concerns.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at regulating new U.S. investments and expertise that supports Chinese development of sensitive technologies. The new measure, which is expected to be implemented next year, targets investment in semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum computing and certain artificial intelligence capabilities. Biden warned in the executive order that certain American investments may contribute to “the development of sensitive technologies and products in countries that develop them to counter United States and allied capabilities.” The executive order will also require outbound U.S. investors to provide notifications to the Treasury Department. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is largely placed at the helm of delivering on this executive order. The measure calls on Yellen to “define sensitive technologies and products in these categories for purposes of the prohibition and the notification requirement.” https://tinyurl.com/yxvzsv63


Amazon cuts some of its own clothing and furniture brands.

Amazon is eliminating dozens of its private-label brands, including 27 out of its 30 clothing labels and two furniture brands, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The company said it plans to focus on its most popular private brands, like Amazon Basics and Amazon Essentials. Some of the brands are listed on Amazon’s site but will be taken down once existing inventory is sold, the Journal reported. Amazon has been putting a greater emphasis on outside merchants, who already make up than 60% of its e-commerce sales. Outside sellers can be lucrative for the company because many pay for services like advertising and logistics. Eliminating private brands could also help placate antitrust regulators, who have been scrutinizing reports that Amazon used data from third-party sellers to develop its own products, a practice Amazon has said is against its policies. https://tinyurl.com/25wy7etx

Warby Parker boosts revenue outlook.

Warby Parker said Wednesday that second quarter revenue rose 11% from a year earlier to US$166.1 million even as its number of active customers remained flat, helped by expanded in-store services like eye exams that get existing customers to buy more. The direct-to-consumer eyewear brand also raised its full-year revenue guidance, projecting growth of as much as 11% from last year, up slightly from the 10% increase it had originally predicted. Warby Parker narrowed its net losses to US$15.9 million, nearly half of what they were a year ago, helped by a pullback on marketing and layoffs announced last August. The company plans to continue spending on adding bricks-and-mortar stores. https://tinyurl.com/yutamzat

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

PayPal launches PYUSD stablecoin backed by the US dollar.

PayPal is launching its own stablecoin: PayPalUSD. The company says the cryptocurrency token is “fully backed by U.S. dollar deposits” and can be bought or sold on PayPal’s app or website at US$1.00 per PYUSD. With PYUSD, you can make person-to-person payments, fund purchases with the currency at checkouts, and transfer PYUSD between PayPal and other outside wallets. PayPal says that you can also convert the currencies supported by PayPal to and from PYUSD as well. PayPal’s decision to make its own stablecoin doesn’t come as a surprise — PayPal currently lets users buy, transfer, and sell cryptocurrencies in the app, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. It also obtained its New York BitLicense last year, which allows customers in the state to buy and sell cryptocurrency. https://bit.ly/3QAeWGb


China’s internet giants order US$5 billion of Nvidia chips to power AI ambitions.

China’s internet giants are rushing to acquire high-performance Nvidia chips vital for building generative artificial intelligence systems, making orders worth US$5 billion in a buying frenzy fuelled by fears the US will impose new export controls. Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba have made orders worth US$1 billion to acquire about 100,000 A800 processors from the US chipmaker to be delivered this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The Chinese groups had also purchased a further US$4 billion worth of the graphics processing units to be delivered in 2024, two people close to Nvidia said. The A800 is a weakened version of Nvidia’s cutting-edge A100 GPU for data centres. Due to export restrictions imposed by Washington last year in a bid to choke Beijing’s technological ambitions, Chinese tech companies are only able to buy A800s, which have slower data transfer rates than A100s. As hype has intensified around AI over the past year, Nvidia’s GPUs have become the hottest commodity among the world’s biggest tech companies to provide computing power for the development of large language AI models. Two employees with direct knowledge of the matter said ByteDance had already stockpiled at least 10,000 Nvidia GPUs to support its ambitions. They added that the company had also ordered almost 70,000 A800 chips to be delivered next year, worth about US$700 million. Alibaba plans to plug all its products into its large language model, including its online shopping platform Taobao and its mapping tool Gaode Map. Meanwhile, Baidu is making its own ChatGPT-like project, a generative AI chatbot called Ernie Bot. https://archive.li/guHsu


GM says all of its EVs will be able to power your home by 2026.

General Motors announced that all of its electric vehicles will have bidirectional vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging capabilities by model year 2026. Derek Sequeira, director for EV ecosystems at GM, said bidirectional charging powers will be “a game changer, because it gives more customers the ability to unlock the value of their electric vehicle.” The idea is to use bidirectional charging equipment to push and pull energy from electric vehicles at any given time. In essence, it treats high-capacity lithium-ion batteries not only as tools to power EVs but also as backup storage cells to charge other electric devices, an entire home, or even to send power to the electrical grid for possible energy savings. GM Energy, the automaker’s energy spinoff, recently announced a suite of home products, including two Ultium Home kits to enable V2H charging between an EV and a home. GM says prices will be available for these products later this year. Ford’s been getting a lot of attention for the F-150 Lightning’s bidirectional charging capabilities, and GM clearly thinks its EVs deserve some, too. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has criticized bidirectional charging as useless without stationary power storage like home batteries. And indeed, GM Energy aims to sell home batteries as part of its home kits so vehicle owners don’t have to worry about their home’s lights going off when they unplug their cars. https://bit.ly/3s34htb


The information and recommendations made available through our emails, newsletters, website and press releases (collectively referred to as the “Material”) by Sophic Capital Inc. (“Sophic” or “Company”) is for informational purposes only and shall not be used or construed as an offer to sell or be used as a solicitation of an offer to buy any services or securities. In accessing or consuming the Materials, you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. In particular, none of the information provided in our monthly newsletter and emails or any other Material should be viewed as an invite, and/or induce or encourage any person to make any kind of investment decision. The recommendations and information provided in our Material are not tailored to the needs of particular persons and may not be appropriate for you depending on your financial position or investment goals or needs. You should apply your own judgment in making any use of the information provided in the Company’s Material, especially as the basis for any investment decisions. Securities or other investments referred to in the Materials may not be suitable for you and you should not make any kind of investment decision in relation to them without first obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. You further agree that neither Sophic, its, directors, officers, shareholders, employees, affiliates consultants, and/or clients will be liable for any losses or liabilities that may be occasioned as a result of the information provided in any of the Material. By accessing Sophic’s website and signing up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you accept and agree to be bound by and comply with the terms and conditions set out herein. If you do not accept and agree to the terms, you should not use the Company’s website or accept the terms and conditions associated to the newsletter signup. Sophic is not registered as an adviser or dealer under the securities legislation of any jurisdiction of Canada or elsewhere and provides Material on behalf of its clients pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements that is available in respect of generic advice. In no event will Sophic be responsible or liable to you or any other party for any damages of any kind arising out of or relating to the use of, misuse of and/or inability to use the Company’s website or Material. The information is directed only at persons resident in Canada. The Company’s Material or the information provided in the Material shall not in any form constitute as an offer or solicitation to anyone in the United States of America or any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such a solicitation. If you choose to access Sophic’s website and/or have signed up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you acknowledge that the information in the Material is intended for use by persons resident in Canada only. Sophic is not an investment advisor nor does it maintain any registrations as such, and Material provided by Sophic shall not be used to make investment decisions. Information provided in the Company’s Material is often opinionated and should be considered for information purposes only. No stock exchange or securities regulatory authority anywhere has approved or disapproved of the information contained herein. There is no express or implied solicitation to buy or sell securities. Sophic and/or its principals and employees may have positions in the stocks mentioned in the Company’s Material and may trade in the stocks mentioned in the Material. Do not consider buying or selling any stock without conducting your own due diligence and/or without obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. The Company has not independently verified any of the data from third party sources referred to in the Material, including information provided by Sophic clients that are the subject of the report, or ascertained the underlying assumptions relied upon by such sources. The Company does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information or for any failure by any such other persons to disclose events which may have occurred or may affect the significance or accuracy of any such information. The Material may contain forward looking information. Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “estimates,” “potential,” “possible,” “projects,” “plans,” and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions or results “will,” “may,” “could,” or “should” occur or be achieved or their negatives or other comparable words and include, without limitation, statements regarding, projected revenue, income or earnings or other results of operations, strategy, plans, objectives, goals and targets, plans to increase market share or with respect to anticipated performance compared to competitors, product development and adoption by potential customers. These statements relate to future events and future performance. Forward-looking statements are based on opinions and assumptions as of the date made, and are subject to a variety of risks and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward looking statements. There can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct; these statements are no guarantee of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Sophic provides no assurance as to future results, performance, or achievements and no representations are made that actual results achieved will be as indicated in the forward looking information. Nothing herein can be assumed or predicted, and you are strongly encouraged to learn more and seek independent advice before relying on any information presented.