We witnessed a decent level of Canadian public company M&A last week, with over $300 million of transactions in the past week. Recall, Sophic Capital has previously suggested that M&A could be a positive catalyst for small to mid cap innovation companies in the fall. At the same time, private companies saw over $300 million of VC funding as well. GlobalFoundries Inc has filed confidentially with U.S regulators for an initial public offering (IPO) in New York that could value the chipmaker at around US$25 billion, we could see an allocation of capital to hard tech, such as semiconductors, owing to recent geopolitical tensions, according to some industry watchers. Tencent warned on its second-quarter earnings call that China’s regulatory crackdown on internet companies will continue, as Asian tech stocks stumbled again after a series of volatile weeks. Topps trading cards terminated its SPAC merger and Michael Burry, of the Big Short fame, unveiled a new short bet against Cathie’s Wood’s innovation ETF.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

PopReach (POPR-TSXV) announces proposed business combination with Federated Foundry.

PopReach Corporation has entered into a letter of intent (“LOI”) dated August 16, 2021 with 2810735 Ontario Inc. d/b/a Federated Foundry, an acquirer and operator of digital technology companies (“Federated” and together with PopReach, the “Parties”, and each, a “Party”), pursuant to which PopReach and Federated will combine to form a leading, publicly-listed Canadian technology and media enterprise (the “Transaction”). The LOI outlines the principal terms and conditions for the Transaction, which will result in a reverse takeover of PopReach by Federated and its shareholders. https://bit.ly/381NmtY

Quarterhill (QTRH-TSX) announces agreement to acquire ETC.

Quarterhill Inc. announces that it has entered into a definitive agreement (the “Agreement”) to acquire 100% of the outstanding equity of Richardson, Texas-based Electronic Transaction Consultants, LLC (“ETC”) from Align Capital Partners for total cash consideration of $150.0 million plus transaction related expenses, to be funded by a combination of cash-on-hand and debt financing. Completion of the acquisition is subject to certain closing conditions. https://bit.ly/3z6g88r

BuildDirect.com Technologies Inc. announces closing of qualifying transaction.

BuildDirect.com Technologies Inc. (formerly, VLCTY Capital Inc.) has completed its previously announced “Qualifying Transaction” involving a three cornered amalgamation where BuildDirect.com Technologies Inc., a private company, (“BuildDirect”), was amalgamated with a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company (the “Qualifying Transaction”). https://bit.ly/3CW604u

Canada pension fund-backed Sportradar files for U.S. listing.

Switzerland’s Sportradar Group AG, a sports data provider backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, filed paperwork with U.S. regulators on Tuesday for an initial public offering (IPO). Founded in 2001 by Carsten Koerl, Sportradar serves more than 1,600 customers across 120 countries and is an official partner of the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the NASCAR, its website showed. https://reut.rs/3gcmRGo

Hopper secures US$175 million in Series G funding.

Montréal’s Hopper has raised US$175 million in Series G financing led by new, New York-based investor GPI Capital, as it looks to capitalize on growing demand for its travel app. The all-equity round also saw participation from new investor Glade Brook Capital, and return investors WestCap, Goldman Sachs Growth, and Accomplice. Lead investor GPI Capital makes growth equity investments in technology, consumer, and industrial companies. As part of the round, Khai Ha, managing partner at GPI Capital, has joined Hopper’s board. https://bit.ly/3mjYqL6

Canada Drives secures $100 million Series B, plans Alberta expansion.

Canada Drives shifted into high gear on August 18 with the announcement that it closed $100 million in funding. San Francisco-based Honor Ventures led the round of funding, with participation from KAR Global and other strategic investors. The online car shopping and delivery platform said the investment will be used to expand the company across Canada to new markets. The Series B round will help Canada Drives move into the Alberta market, according to a report from TechCrunch. “This funding will support us in our goal of being able to fully service over 80 percent of Canadians with our car purchasing and delivery service by the end of the year,” Cody Green, co-CEO of Canada Drives said in a statement. https://bit.ly/3DdcUCP

Buildable secures $3.76 million to empower developers with low-code software.

Toronto-based startup Buildable is aiming to be a leader in the low-code movement, which is expected to grow significantly in coming years, pushed by the need for remote development amid COVID-19. Over the last number of years, the technology community has shifted towards no- or low-code software. In one of the latest developments, California-based OpenAI released a machine learning tool that turns the English language into code. The movement has led to talk about what the future for developers looks like, as such no-code tools like OpenAI’s are meant to make coding easier by allowing non-developers to code. And all this comes as the demand for developer talent is high. https://bit.ly/3D2Or2P

Softdrive secures $1 million to productize virtual computer streaming solution.

Toronto-based startup Softdrive has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding to fuel the development of its cloud-based virtual computer software. The all-equity round, which closed earlier this month, is the company’s first funding to date. It was led by New York’s ff Venture Capital (ffVC), with participation from Garage Capital, Side Door Ventures, and Globalive Capital. As part of the round, John Frankel, founding partner at ffVC, will join Softdrive’s board of directors. https://bit.ly/2UEx7jq

Coinberry second crypto asset dealer to receive regulatory approval by OSC.

Toronto-based Coinberry Limited has become just the second crypto asset dealer to receive regulatory approval by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). In an order released August 19, the OSC has granted Coinberry a two-year window to operate its platform in Ontario; Coinberry has also received approval from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) to operate in all Canadian provinces and territories. The company told BetaKit that it plans to make a public announcement of the decision Monday, August 23. The decision comes almost one year to the day after Canadian FinTech leader Wealthsimple received the first such order. The company received conditional approval from the CSA through its Sandbox program to test the platform for a period of two years. In February, Coinberry entered into a letter of intent (LOI) with Cinaport Acquisition Corp III for a qualifying transaction to become publicly listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV). https://bit.ly/2WciYu3

Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital files to launch a bitcoin futures ETF.

Galaxy Digital Holdings, the crypto-focused financial services firm run by billionaire ex-hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, is seeking regulatory approval to start a bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund. The filing on Tuesday arrived after the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission recently suggested he may be open to approving a bitcoin-futures ETF. If approved, the Galaxy Bitcoin Strategy ETF will invest in bitcoin futures contracts and not directly in bitcoin. Bitcoin futures contracts are traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Crypto bull Novogratz in late July told CNBC that bitcoin’s price recovery above $40,000 stemmed from buying activity by institutions. https://bit.ly/3z6RTqC

Evolve files preliminary prospectus for cryptocurrencies ETF.

Evolve Funds Group Inc. (“Evolve” or “the Manager”) has filed a preliminary prospectus with the Canadian securities regulators for the Evolve Cryptocurrencies ETF (“ETC” or “the Fund”).  ETC is designed to provide investors with indirect exposure to certain cryptocurrencies selected by the Manager, weighted on a market capitalization basis and rebalanced monthly. ” Since the regulatory approvals earlier this year for our Bitcoin ETF, and our Ether ETF, investors can hold cryptocurrencies in their brokerage account including their RSP and TFSA.  https://bit.ly/37YQExR

Twitter chooses Wealthsimple as first Canadian payment service for its Tip Jar.

Wealthsimple continues to build on its heady year of growth with the announcement today that it is the first Canadian-based payment service to be part of Twitter’s recently rolled-out Tip Jar. Twitter users with Tip Jar access will be able to connect it to their Wealthsimple Cash account and receive payments from followers, right through Twitter. Tip Jar is currently in beta with more users being added regularly; Canadian Twitter users have had access to the beta since its launch. https://bit.ly/2XDyXSB

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Chipmaker GlobalFoundries files confidentially for U.S. IPO.

GlobalFoundries Inc has filed confidentially with U.S regulators for an initial public offering (IPO) in New York that could value the chipmaker at around US$25 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The move is the clearest sign yet that GlobalFoundries, which is owned by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co , is not eager to accept a potential tie-up with Intel Corp , which the Wall Street Journal reported last month was in talks to acquire the U.S. chipmaker. https://reut.rs/2WcJbZC

OnlyFans promotes its SFW app as it seeks funding at a US$1 billion+ valuation.

OnlyFans — the platform where adult creators can directly monetize their audience — is pushing its safe-for-work app OFTV, which is available on iOS and Google Play. The ad-free app launched in January, sharing over 800 videos from OnlyFans creators, like cooking tutorials, yoga routines and interviews. But this week will be the first time that OnlyFans will market the app to reach people who aren’t existing OnlyFans customers. “There’s no adult content on OFTV. Because it’s not being monetized and there’s no direct impact on creators’ earnings, we are able to be in the app store,” OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely told Bloomberg. https://tcrn.ch/3AXKFpI

An US$8.8 billion IPO wave sweeps across India as startups soar.

The market for initial public offerings in India is turning into a feeding frenzy. The amount of money raised in IPOs this year has reached US$8.8 billion, already surpassing the totals of the past three years though it’s only August. At the current pace, 2021 would exceed the all-time record of US$11.8 billion. Founders, bankers, lawyers and advisers are racing to cash in on fervent demand for fresh public offerings. https://bloom.bg/2Wb4XN2

Tencent warns China’s regulatory crackdown on internet companies isn’t over yet.

Tencent warned on its second-quarter earnings call that China’s regulatory crackdown on internet companies will continue, as Asian tech stocks stumbled again after a series of volatile weeks. “We should expect in the future, in the near future, more regulations should be coming,” Martin Lau, Tencent’s president said on the call. “This should be expected because the regulation has been actually quite loose over an industry like the internet, considering its size and the importance.” Lau asserted the tightening regulations weren’t an attempt by the Chinese government to squash the industry. Instead, he framed them as a way to identify and correct issues, and to enforce social responsibility and fair behaviour among companies. https://bit.ly/3AYvT1P

China punishes institutional investors for IPO price violations.

Reuters is reporting that 19 institutional investors were punished over the weekend for “price setting” behaviors with respect to initial public offerings. The move comes as Chinese regulators are pushing Chinese firms to list in Hong Kong or mainland China as opposed to the U.S. Industry insiders expect a wave of new listings in China since regulators have cracked down on Ant Group and Didi Global, though firms may have trouble navigating the country’s tight regulations and listing requirements. The Securities Association of China said that it found weak internal controls, inadequate rationale for price-settings, non-compliance with stipulated procedures and improper storage of working papers, according to Reuters. One financial institution was banned, while another nine were barred from the share placement market for a month, it said. https://bit.ly/3zckf2T

Weibo’s stock tumbles after news of Beijing’s stake in domestic entity.

Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese social media firm Weibo briefly fell more than 10% Tuesday morning after The Information reported that China’s government last year took a stake and a board seat in Weibo’s domestic entity. The government’s previously unreported deal with Weibo, which operates a popular Twitter-like microblog in China, is part of Beijing’s broader crackdown on Chinese internet giants. While regulators can tighten their control through new rules, domestic board seats allow the government to influence the companies’ internal discussions and decisions. Another question is whether Nasdaq-listed Weibo should have disclosed more information on the government’s investment. Last year, Weibo said that its domestic entity in April 2020 sold a 1% stake to an investor called WangTouTongDa, which got a board seat and veto rights over certain content-related decisions. China’s corporate records show that WangTouTongDa is owned by an investment fund controlled by the country’s top internet regulator. But Weibo’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission didn’t disclose the fact that WangTouTongDa is a state-owned investor. https://bit.ly/3sE6Zll

Baidu’s US$1 billion bond draws strong demand despite China tech crackdown.

Baidu’s first environment, social and governance bond deal drew strong demand as investors appeared confident in the tech group’s ability to pay off its debt despite sharper regulatory scrutiny. Baidu, China’s leading search engine, has raised US$1 billion in a heavily oversubscribed bond sale on strong appetite from investors even as its shares have been hit by Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on tech groups. The debt sale attracted between US$5 billion and US$6 billion of orders, according to two bankers who worked on the deal. https://bit.ly/3sACblu

SPAC Tailwind Acquisition, QOMPLX call off US$1.4 billion merger, citing ‘market conditions’.

Tailwind Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), and QOMPLX said Tuesday that they have “mutually agreed” to terminate their merger agreement, effective immediately. Tailwind’s stock rose 3.7% in premarket trading. It closed Thursday at $9.40, or 13.7% below the March 1 close of $10.89. On March 1, Tailwind announced a merger agreement that would’ve brought QOMPLX public, in a deal that valued the combined company at about US$1.4 billion. “The reason for the mutual decision lies with market conditions preventing certain of the closing conditions from being satisfied,” said Tailwind Chairman Philip Krim. https://on.mktw.net/3mjYk6c

Another SPAC deal falls apart after Topps trading cards terminates merger with sponsor.

Another SPAC deal has been canceled, with Mudrick Capital Acquisition and Topp Company terminating their proposed merger. The mutual termination of the proposed merger comes after the Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association decided to not renew their respective agreements with Topps when they come up for renewal in 2025 and 2022, respectively. The MLB instead agreed to a new contract with Fanatics, which recently raised US$325 million from investors like Jay-Z at a valuation of US$18 billion. The decision to terminate the SPAC deal came just one week before shareholders were set to vote on the proposed merger. Shares of Mudrick Capital traded down by about 2% in Friday trades, below its US$10 per share SPAC price. This isn’t the only SPAC to have a bumpy road since it raised money from investors. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings SPAC canceled its proposed acquisition of a stake of Universal Music Group. Now Ackman is proposing to return the cash he raised from investors as he looks at different investment vehicles for completing deals. https://bit.ly/3mo9uqM

Michael Burry just unveiled a new short bet against Cathie’s Wood’s innovation ETF – but he’s far from the only skeptic.

Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest and the meteoric rise of its Disruptive Innovation ETF continues to attract skeptics willing to bet against the fund. Michael Burry is the latest investor to reveal a bet against the ETF, according to Scion Asset Management’s second-quarter 13F filing. Burry initiated the new position by buying $31 million worth of puts in the ARKK ETF. Burry’s not the only one, as the Disruptive Innovation ETF has a 30-day put-to-call ratio of 1.8, meaning more people are buying bearish put options on the fund than bullish call options. https://bit.ly/3keygqD

Adobe acquires collaborative video editing platform ‘Frame․io’ for US$1.3 billion.

Adobe on Thursday announced the acquisition of Frame.io, a popular cloud-based collaborative video editing platform. The deal, which will result in Frame.io being incorporated into Adobe’s software, cost the company about US$1.3 billion. Frame.io is an online platform created in 2015 that lets video editors easily work in groups with comments, annotations, and approval requests. The service offered by the company was already well known and frequently used by professionals working with Adobe software, so the acquisition should only bring benefits to users. https://bit.ly/3D4E0LZ

Roblox acquires Discord competitor Guilded.

Roblox is using M&A to bulk up its social infrastructure, announcing Monday morning that they had acquired the team at Guilded that has been building a chat platform for competitive gamers. The service competes with gaming chat giant Discord, with the team’s founders telling TechCrunch in the past that as Discord’s ambitions had grown beyond the gaming world, its core product was meeting fewer competitive gaming needs. Like Discord, users can have text and voice conversations on the Guilded platform, but Guilded also allowed users to organize communities around events and calendars, with plenty of specific functionality designed around ensuring that tournaments happened seamlessly. The startup’s product supported hundreds of games, with specific functionality for a handful of titles, including League of Legends, Fortnite, CS: GO and, yes, Roblox. https://tcrn.ch/2XxfrqP

Nvidia admits bid for Arm likely to stretch beyond 18-month deal timeframe.

Nvidia has admitted that its planned acquisition of UK chip design company Arm is unlikely to be completed within the 18-month period it laid out, as it faces drawn-out regulatory investigations around the world. However, Jensen Huang, chief executive, said the US chipmaker was “confident” that regulators would clear the transaction, which has faced opposition from other chip companies that rely on Arm’s designs. Nvidia did not submit a formal application with Chinese antitrust regulators until June, eight months after the deal was announced, and an investigation there could stretch to 18 months, according to local lawyers. https://on.ft.com/3D1x2Yn

Emerging Technologies

Boston Dynamics shows how bipedal Atlas robot flips, vaults, and falls over in latest videos.

Boston Dynamics has published a pair of new videos showcasing its bipedal Atlas robot. The first is typical Boston Dynamics flash, with two Atlas units demonstrating an extremely impressive gymnastics routine. They flip, they vault, they nearly fall over but not quite — it’s brilliant. The second video, though, offers an unusually transparent assessment of Atlas’ capabilities, as the company’s engineers explain what goes into creating these routines. As Boston Dynamics has said before, Atlas is essentially a research project: a cutting-edge machine that helps the company’s engineers work out better control and perception systems. “At a practical level it’s a platform for us to do R&D on,” says Benjamin Stephens, control lead for Atlas, in the video. That research includes these gymnastic and parkour routines, with which the company regularly delights (and unnerves) the internet. https://bit.ly/3y3byqq

Elon Musk unveils ‘Tesla bot,’ a humanoid robot that would be made from Tesla’s self-driving AI.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the carmaker would be branching out into humanoid robots during the company’s AI event on Thursday. Musk unveiled the “Tesla Bot,” a 5 ft. 8 in., 125-pound robot, at the event. He said the bot would have a screen where its face should be that will present information. According to the CEO, the humanoid robot will also be capable of dead-lifting 150 pounds and carrying about 45 pounds. Though, the bot will only travel about 5 miles per hour. “We’re setting it such that it is at a mechanical level, at a physical level, that you can run away from it and most likely overpower it,” Musk quipped. https://bit.ly/3AP5NhM

Google outlines future role for search engine.

In the engine room that powers its dominant search service, Google has flipped the switch on a powerful new tool. According to the search giant, the new technology, a large-scale AI model known as MUM, could one day turn internet search into a far more sophisticated service, acting like a virtual research assistant as it sifts the web for solutions to complex questions. https://on.ft.com/3y9ON4d

Facebook wants you to hold your next meeting in VR.

For those who don’t think Zoom meetings are a good enough substitute for the real thing, Facebook has another idea: a virtual reality app that lets you and your coworkers feel like you’re sitting around a table in a conference room. On Thursday, Facebook (FB) unveiled Horizon Workrooms, a free app for users of its Oculus Quest 2 headset, a device that starts at US$299. https://cnn.it/2W8iSn4

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Amazon’s move into podcasts was a big advertising play all along.

Amazon.com Inc. announced earlier this summer that it had acquired distribution rights to SmartLess, a popular podcast hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. The e-commerce giant will be spending more than US$20 million a year so it can offer new episodes of the talk show on its music service exclusively—for just one week—before they’re released on other outlets. To most outsiders, it seemed as though Amazon had overpaid. https://bloom.bg/2Xo0M15

Jay Z’s Roc Nation launches esports initiative for traditional-sport athletes.

Jay Z’s Roc Nation is poised to launch an esports initiative to create opportunities in the esports world, including tournaments, live streaming events and gaming content, that would pair with its roster of traditional sports athletes and brands. https://bit.ly/3strDo6

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Google’s ‘Project Hug’ paid out huge sums to keep game devs in the Play Store, Epic filing claims.

Google quietly paid game developers hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to keep their games on the Play Store, a newly unredacted complaint from Epic Games in its antitrust suit against Google alleges. The program was known as “Project Hug,” or later as the “Apps and Games Velocity Program.” In 2018, when Fortnite for Android first launched, Epic Games took the unusual step of exclusively releasing it outside of the Google Play Store. Instead, players had to download an installer directly from Epic’s website, allowing the company to bypass Google’s 30 percent fee — at the cost of a less user-friendly installation process. Epic Games would eventually relent and release Fortnite on the Play Store in April 2020 (at least, until it was removed again by Google after Epic added a feature allowing players to bypass Google’s fee when making in-app purchases, kicking off the current slate of lawsuits.) https://bit.ly/3j027n8

FTC tries again with antitrust case against Facebook.

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed a new version of its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, this time with more analysis of competition in social media. The agency hopes the new suit can overcome a federal judge’s concerns about the prior version of the lawsuit, which he previously dismissed because he said it didn’t prove Facebook held a monopoly. This time, the FTC included data from market research firm Comscore to try to prove Facebook’s dominance and to cause the court to order the company to spin off its Instagram and WhatsApp subsidiaries. The FTC said that since 2012, Facebook has controlled about 80% of the social market based on the time people spent on its apps, relative to others, and that it controlled 65% of the market in terms of monthly active users. Notably, the FTC said Facebook didn’t compete with viral video app TikTok, which Facebook has highlighted as a key competitor, because TikTok doesn’t let people “connect and personally engage with friends and family” the way Facebook does. The agency named other companies it also believes Facebook doesn’t compete with, including Pinterest, Reddit and Twitter. The FTC has an uphill battle. In his ruling dismissing the case, the judge questioned whether any market share metrics would be sufficient to prove a monopoly status because Facebook app users come to the site for reasons other than social networking. The refiled case is the first big test for new FTC Chair Lina Khan, who previously helped lead an investigation of Facebook and other tech companies when she was a congressional aide. https://bit.ly/3gnGVFT

40 million T-Mobile customers hit by US data breach.

It blamed the breach on a “highly sophisticated cyberattack”. It said it is “taking immediate steps to help protect all of the individuals who may be at risk from this cyberattack”. The firm said that while criminals stole personal information, no financial details were leaked as a result. https://bbc.in/3svflvx

T-Mobile discloses about 6 million more customers than previously thought had personal data ‘compromised’.

T-Mobile U.S. Inc. disclosed Friday that about 6 million more customers have had personal information “compromised” than previously thought. Earlier this week, the company had said that data files from about 40 million former and prospective T-Mobile customers, and from 7.8 million current postpaid customers, including names, birth dates, social security numbers driver’s license/ID information, were compromised as a result of a hack. On Friday, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it has identified an additional 5.3 million current postpaid customers and 667,000 former customers that have had some personal data illegally accessed. “Our investigation is ongoing and will continue for some time, but at this point, we are confident that we have closed off the access and egress points the bad actor used in the attack,” the company stated. https://on.mktw.net/3z4OIQt

Hacker selling ‘full data from 100 million T-Mobile customers’ – carrier investigating.

The forum post itself doesn’t mention T-Mobile, but the seller told Motherboard they have obtained data related to over 100 million people, and that the data came from T-Mobile servers. Motherboard has seen samples of the data, and confirmed they contained accurate information on T-Mobile customers. “T-Mobile USA. Full customer info,” the seller told Motherboard in an online chat. The seller said they compromised multiple servers related to T-Mobile. https://bit.ly/3y9YsYw

U.S. senators urge FTC to probe Tesla’s autopilot claims.

Two U.S. senators are urging the Federal Trade Commission to open a probe into whether Tesla Inc. used deceptive marketing practices involving driver-assistance features that the electric-vehicle maker calls Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. https://on.wsj.com/3mdey0S


Amazon plans to open large retail locations akin to department stores.

Amazon.com Inc. plans to open several large physical retail locations in the U.S. that will operate akin to department stores, a step to help the tech company extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics and other areas, people familiar with the matter said. The plan to launch large stores will mark a new expansion for the online-shopping pioneer into bricks-and-mortar retail, an area Amazon has long disrupted. https://on.wsj.com/37X07Wu

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Robinhood says dogecoin accounted for 62% of crypto revenue in Q2.

Robinhood said crypto accounted for more than half of all transaction-based sales in the second quarter, and 62% of crypto revenue came from dogecoin, a meme-inspired digital coin originally started as a joke. In its first earnings report since its IPO last month, Robinhood said its revenue from crypto transactions was US$233 million, up from US$5 million in the year-ago quarter. Crypto accounted for 52% of transaction-based revenue, rising from 17% in the first quarter and 4% in the fourth quarter of last year. The company also noted that more than 60% of cumulative net-funded accounts traded crypto in the quarter. https://cnb.cx/37Wio6t

The head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project says the social media giant’s Novi digital wallet is ready to come to market.

Facebook is prepared to launch the Novi digital wallet tied to Diem blockchain-based payment system, said the head of the social media giant’s payments project that’s seeking necessary regulatory clearances. David Marcus, chief of Facebook’s financial services division, in a blog post Wednesday said Novi could play an instrumental role in fixing the global payments system that he said is, among other things, too slow and too costly. “Change is long overdue. It’ll happen one way or another. Novi is ready to come to market,” wrote Marcus, a former Paypal president and co-founder of the Diem Association. “We feel that it’s unreasonable to delay delivering the benefits of cheaper, interoperable, more accessible digital payments.” https://bit.ly/3z3Sjhv

VanEck files for an Ethereum futures ETF as crypto fund applications pile up at the SEC.

Investment firm VanEck filed for an Ethereum futures-based exchange traded fund with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. According to the filing, the Ethereum Strategy ETF will invest in ether futures contracts, as well as pooled investment vehicles and exchange-traded products like Canadian ETFs that invest directly in ether. The fund itself will not invest in ether or own other digital assets directly. That distinction could help fast-track the fund to winning approval from the SEC. The SEC’s Gary Gensler has suggested that he may be open to an ETF based exclusively on bitcoin futures. The regulator has yet to approve a fund that directly invests in a cryptocurrency like ether or bitcoin. https://bit.ly/3AVlqnS

Coinbase will plow US$500 million into crypto to boost its balance sheet – and bet 10% of future quarterly profits on digital assets.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong announced on Thursday that the cryptocurrency exchange will add US$500 million of crypto to its balance sheet, and allocate 10% of its future quarterly profits to growing its holdings. “We recently received board approval to purchase over US$500 million of crypto on our balance sheet to add to our existing holdings,” he said in a tweet. “And we’ll be investing 10% of all profit going forward in crypto. I expect this percentage to keep growing over time as the cryptoeconomy matures.” Coinbase’s chief financial officer, Alesia Haas, said the company’s updated investment policy reflects its belief in crypto adoption and utility. “This means we will become the first publicly-traded company to hold ethereum, proof of stake assets, DeFi tokens, and many other crypto assets supported for trading on our platform, in addition to bitcoin, on our balance sheet,” she wrote. https://bit.ly/3mjyKOR

Crypto is ‘95% fraud, hype, noise and confusion,’ says Fed’s Neel Kashkari.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari on Tuesday had some harsh words for the nascent crypto asset market. The central banker said he doesn’t see any use case for bitcoin, the world’s No. 1 crypto, and referred to the broader digital-asset sector as one that is largely tied to fraud and hype. “Cryptocurrency is 95% fraud, hype, noise and confusion,” Kashkari said, speaking at the Pacific Northwest Economic Regional Annual Summit in Big Sky, Montana. https://on.mktw.net/3k4Gv8v

They’re 14 and 9 years old—and making US$32,000 a month thanks to Ethereum.

An enterprising brother-sister team in a North Dallas suburb are pulling down as much as US$32,000 a month by eschewing the lemonade stand and focusing instead on mining Ethereum. https://bit.ly/37WNnPI

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba opens NFT auction site for artists and game developers.

Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba Group has opened a marketplace for trading non-fungible tokens on its auction platform, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday. The company expects artists, musicians, writers and game developers to sell NFTs of their work on the “Blockchain Digital Copyright and Asset-Trade” marketplace, according to the report from SCMP, which is owned by Alibaba. Several NFTs have already been listed on the service by creators. They will go to auction next month with a minimum bid of 100 yuan, approximately US$15. To participate, bidders must pay a deposit of 500 yuan, or around US$77. https://bit.ly/3z6S1X8

Trade volumes on OpenSea have surged nearly 950% in the last month as the NFT craze continues stronger than ever.

Trade volumes on NFT marketplace OpenSea have soared in the last month as the craze for non-fungible tokens continues. OpenSea has done US$1.22 billion (or 387,100 ETH) in volume in the past 30 days, a roughly 950% increase from the previous 30 days, per DappRadar. This August, the exchange has seen nearly US$800 million in volume, according to data compiled by The Block Crypto. It’s staggeringly higher than the US$284 million the marketplace saw for the month of July. Opensea’s trade volume increase comes as Ether’s price rallies. The native token behind the Ethereum blockchain is up roughly 70% over the last month and currently trades around US$3,200. https://bit.ly/3D5yuZC

Walmart is looking to hire someone to lead crypto and digital currency just weeks after Amazon posted a similar job offering.

Walmart is looking to hire a senior director to lead its digital currency strategy, it said in a job posting Sunday, in another sign of major retailers exploring the potential benefits of crypto. The digital currency/cryptocurrency lead will be responsible for developing Walmart’s digital strategy, the company said in the job description, noting that it enables a “broad set of payment options” for its customers. Given that, candidates should be experts in digital currencies and blockchain-related technology for a shot at the role, particularly experience with the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and should have 10 years or more experience in product or program management. https://bit.ly/380VevK


Toyota succumbs to chip shortage and shuts factories.

The global semiconductor shortage has finally started to bite at Toyota, highlighting how prolonged disruptions in the global supply chain in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are hitting even the best-prepared companies. Japan’s largest car maker said Thursday it was cutting production in the country by 40% in September because of a shortage of semiconductors. The company declined to say whether it would shut down plants outside of Japan. The cuts affect most of Toyota’s plants in Japan and some of its bestselling vehicles. One of Toyota’s main plants near its headquarters in Toyota City, which produces both the RAV4 sport-utility vehicle and Corolla sedan, will close from Sept. 1 to Sept. 17. The nearby Tsutsumi plant that produces the Camry and Lexus ES sedans faces a similar period of closure. https://on.wsj.com/3CW6rMa


Battery power capacity in the US grew big time in 2020.

2020 was a big year for big batteries in the US, which is crucial for getting grids to run on more renewable energy. Power capacity — a measure of how much power a battery can instantly discharge — for large-scale batteries grew at an unprecedented pace in the US last year, according to an annual report released this week by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2020 smashed the previous record set in 2018 for the biggest growth in power capacity in the US with 489MW of large-scale battery storage added. That’s more than twice what was added in 2018. By the end of last year, there was 1,523MW of large-scale battery power capacity in the US. For comparison, the largest solar farm in the US has a capacity of 579MW and can generate enough electricity for about 255,000 homes. https://bit.ly/2W2pKD7

Residential solar pricing down 6.3%, hints of greater drops coming.

EnergySage has released its thirteenth Solar Marketplace Intel Report, in which the company shows that customers were quoted 27% lower prices in the first half of 2021 (H1‘21) versus 2014, and that residential solar pricing is down 6.3% since July of 2020. This acceleration – starting in July 2020, and ending before July of this year – is compared to the slower price decreases Energysage saw starting in the first half of 2017, and ending with the first half of 2020. https://bit.ly/3m970wc

IKEA will sell clean energy to Swedish homes.

IKEA won’t just sell you smart lights — it’ll soon sell you the electricity to power those lights, provided you live in the right country. Electrek notes that IKEA has revealed plans to sell clean energy to Swedish homes through a Strömma subscription service. Pay the (as yet unmentioned) fee and you’ll get certified solar- or wind-generated electricity with usage you can track through a mobile app. The home furnishings giant didn’t say whether it would expand the clean energy sales to other countries, although it hoped to let people “use and generate” renewable energy in “all our Ingka Group markets” by 2025. The company already sells solar panels. https://tcrn.ch/3iZ5rz0

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Sophic Client HIRE Technologies (HIRE-TSXV) corporate update.

We hosted a corporate update with CEO Simon Dealy on Tuesday, August 17. The recording is available HERE.


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