Last week, we saw an upsize raise announcement from Converge Technology Solutions Corp. (CTS-TSX), raising $225 million, before its greenshoe option. Private innovation companies announced financings of around $400 million. Shopify’s (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) integration with Tik Tok garnered widespread attention. In the ecommerce space, on Friday afternoon, Affirm shares soared on news of an Amazon partnership for buy now, pay later. Recall, Affirm also partners with Shopify, which also had a stake in the in Affirm at the time of Affirm’s IPO. In August, Square jumped into the space with a US$29 billion deal to buy Australian fintech Afterpay. The week also saw announcements pertaining to public market entrances by Rivian, drawing a response from Elon Musk. As well as news of Warby Parker, Toast, Virgin Orbit, and Forbes going public.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Converge Technology Solutions Corp. (CTS-TSX) announces upsize to previously announced bought deal financing.
Converge Technology Solutions Corp. is pleased to announce that it has entered into an amended agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuity Corp., as sole bookrunner, Scotiabank and CIBC Capital Markets as co-lead underwriters (the “Underwriters”), to increase the size of its previously announced offering of common shares. Under the amended terms, the Underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 21,350,000 common shares of the Company (“Offered Shares”) at a price of $10.55 per Offered Share (the “Issue Price”) for gross proceeds to the Company of $225,242,500 (the “Offering”).
https://bit.ly/3ktslxR & https://bit.ly/3kz79Xz
Blockstream secures $266 million at $4 billion valuation to monetize the Liquid Network.
With years invested in building its sidechain-based settlement network, Blockstream has raised significant funding to continue to blend the worlds of finance and industrial Bitcoin mining. The Bitcoin infrastructure startup has raised $266 million, in what the company described as the first close of its Series B round. With the new funding, Blockstream has secured a $4 billion valuation, making it Canada’s latest unicorn. The all-equity, all-primary capital round, which closed earlier this month, was supported entirely by new Blockstream investors. The round was led by Baillie Gifford, with participation from iFinex and other undisclosed investors. https://bit.ly/3kyONG3
National Bank of Canada invests $103 million in Flinks, including $30 million in growth capital.
National Bank of Canada invests $103 million in Flinks, including $30 million in growth capital towards acceleration of the Montreal-based fintech’s expansion activities in North America. The investment follows a successful launch by Flinks in the United States. This investment will also allow Flinks to continue its fast-paced growth and meet the demands of fintechs, asset managers, credit unions and banks with tools that enable innovation with financial data in North America. The company is also planning to grow its market share in the wealth and lending spaces, in addition to further enhancing its offerings in analytics & data enrichment. https://bit.ly/3mzDoZb
With $45 million first close, new Conexus Emmertech fund aims to boost AgTech growth.
Canada’s AgTech community is getting a major infusion of capital from a new Saskatchewan-based venture capital fund. Conexus Venture Capital Inc. (CVC) announced August 23 a $45 million first close of the newly launched Emmertech fund, which CVC maintains will cross $60 million by the fund’s close at the end of 2021. https://bit.ly/3DoErAX
#paid secures $18.9 million Series B round to capitalize on the exploding creator economy.
Toronto-based creator marketing platform #paid has raised an $18.9 million Series B round as the startup aims to capitalize on the rise of the creator economy during COVID-19. The all-equity, all-primary round, which closed in July, was led by Virginia-based investment firm Sands Capital, with participation from Ascential, Vanedge, BDC, and previous investor ScaleUP Ventures, which led #paid’s 2018 Series A round. The startup’s Series B round also saw participation from e-commerce experts Arati Sharma, Web Smith, and Nik Sharma, as well as a slew of new content creator and celebrity investors, including Murda Beatz, Jasmine Lorimer, Ryan Millier, Alen Palander, and The XO Crew. https://bit.ly/3zpl5t5
Cybersecurity startup Cmd to be acquired by enterprise search firm Elastic.
Five years after its founding, Vancouver cybersecurity startup Cmd has agreed to be acquired by Elastic, a California-based enterprise search and data analysis company. The deal, which was announced as part of Elastic’s latest earnings report, remains subject to customary closing conditions, but is expected to close during Elastic’s fiscal second quarter. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. In 2019, Cmd raised a $19 million Series B round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), bringing its total funding to date to over $28 million. https://bit.ly/3BfPwT2
TikTok expands Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) partnership, pilots TikTok Shopping in US, UK and Canada.
TikTok is moving into e-commerce. The company announced this morning an expanded partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify, as well as a pilot test of TikTok Shopping among select Shopify merchants across the U.S., U.K. and Canada in the weeks to come. The social video platform first announced its plans to partner with Shopify last October, with the introduction of new tools that allowed Shopify merchants to create, run and optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify dashboard, as well as new integrations within the TikTok For Business Ads Manager. https://tcrn.ch/3sPELnu
A Canadian bitcoin ETF aims to offset its climate impact by planting trees to become the 1st carbon-negative investment fund.
A Canadian bitcoin exchange-traded fund aims to offset its climate impact by planting trees to become the world’s first carbon-negative investment fund. Accelerate Financial Technologies will plant approximately 3,450 trees for every US$792,655 (or C$1 million) invested in the fund, its founder and CEO Julian Klymochko told Insider. This figure reflects 10% of the 69 basis point management fee the fund is pledging for its tree-planting initiative. The Calgary-based fund will launch on August 31 on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ABTC. It aims to give investors exposure to the performance of bitcoin by investing in derivatives. The carbon offset effort, the company said, will first be focused on planting mangrove trees in Madagascar. https://bit.ly/3mBpJRo
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Rivian files for IPO, with the Amazon-backed EV maker reportedly seeking US$80 billion valuation.
Rivian, the electric vehicle manufacturer backed by Amazon and Ford, has confidentially filed for its upcoming IPO, the company said in a press release on Friday. Rivian has built a line-up of electric pickup trucks that it plans to begin delivering to customers later this year. Additionally, the company developed an electric delivery van for Amazon and entered a contract with the e-commerce giant to deliver 100,000 vans by the end of this decade, with 10,000 vans expected to be delivered by the end of next year. The EV maker is reportedly seeking a valuation of up to $80 billion when it goes public, according to Bloomberg. The company is aiming for an IPO debut around the Thanksgiving holiday in late November, the report said. Rivian has raised more than US$10 billion since its inception from various investors, including T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, Ford, and Amazon. Rivian’s last funding round valued the company at about US$28 billion, according to media reports. The company is seen as one of the most viable competitors to Tesla’s dominance in the EV space, in part thanks to its refined designs, unique vehicle features, and expected long battery range. Rivian’s expected public debut later this year will top off a busy year for IPOs, with high-profile names like Robinhood, Didi, and Oatly completing their offerings earlier this year. https://bit.ly/3kx6sxV
Warby Parker files to go public.
Eyewear seller Warby Parker on Tuesday filed its registration paperwork to go public via direct listing. The company, which is seen as a pioneer in the direct-to-consumer e-commerce market, revealed that its path to profits took a hit last year, but a rebound is underway. Warby Parker, which was founded in 2010 by four Wharton Business School graduates and sells stylish glasses online and in its retail stores for a starting price of US$95, saw its revenue increase 36% to US$370 million in 2019. But the following year, as Covid-related restrictions suppressed consumer spending, the firm’s revenue saw a modest 6% rise to US$393 million. After breaking even in 2019, Warby Parker incurred a total net loss of US$56 million in 2020. Although sales growth slowed and losses mounted, Warby Parker became cash flow positive last year. The eyewear maker generated US$13 million from its operations in 2020, up from a cash burn of US$11 million the previous year. Momentum appears to be kicking back up this year. For the first six months of the year, Warby Parker’s revenue has grown 53% year-over-year to US$271 million, up from US$177 million in 2020. Its net loss has rebounded to US$6 million from US$10 million during the same period last year. https://bit.ly/3DrFhNt
Restaurant tech giant Toast files for IPO.
“In short, we’re democratizing technology so that restaurants of all sizes can compete on an even playing field,” the company’s founders wrote in a letter. The IPO is the second for a restaurant technology company this year, following Olo’s offering in March, and is part of a wave of investment in the space as restaurants become increasingly technology-driven. Nearly US$3.5 billion has flowed into restaurant tech companies via investments, acquisitions and IPOs since the beginning of the year. Toast has grown rapidly over the past decade. As of the end of June, it was generating US$494 million in annual recurring revenue, an increase of 118% year over year. It had more than 29,000 customers representing nearly 48,000 restaurant locations, up from just over 33,000 locations the year prior. Those restaurants processed more than US$38 billion in gross payment volume over the 12 months ending June 30, 2021. https://bit.ly/3ksB9nM
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit to go public in SPAC merger valuing the satellite launch company at US$3.2 billion.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit satellite launch company is going public through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, marking another venture the billionaire entrepreneur is taking public through a blank-check firm. Virgin Orbit, which was spun off from Branson’s space-tourism company Virgin Galactic in 2017, is expected to be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “VORB,” according to a statement released Monday. The planned combination of Virgin Orbit through its parent company Vieco USA with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II puts a US$3.2 billion implied pro forma enterprise value on Virgin Orbit. https://bit.ly/2UQaKra
Forbes is going public via US$630 million SPAC merger with Magnum Opus Acquisition.
Forbes Global Media is going public through a blank check merger with Magnum Opus Acquisition in a deal that will value the combined entity at US$630 million, according to an announcement on Thursday. The business news organization, which publishes Forbes magazine, is expected to raise approximately US$600 million of gross proceeds, which comprises around US$200 million of cash held in Magnum Opus’ trust account and roughly US$400 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, the announcement said. The transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022, will be used to further the digital transformation push at the company. https://bit.ly/3yoIauC
Discord raising new funding at US$15 billion valuation.
Discord, the chat platform popular with gamers and GenZ, is reportedly raising US$500 million of new funding at a US$15 billion valuation months after acquisition talks with Microsoft fell apart. The company’s new round will be led by Dragoneer and involve existing investors, according to a Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter. The pandemic has brought new attention to Discord, which has been hosting text and voice chat servers since 2015. As people moved more activity online, the company’s user base has swelled to 140 million monthly users. It also roughly tripled revenue in 2020 to US$130 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, giving subscribers who pay monthly fees access to custom emojis and better resolution videos One of those who took notice was Microsoft, who sought to acquire the San Francisco-based company earlier this year. https://bit.ly/3Dt4APm
China plans to ban U.S. IPOs for data-heavy tech firms.
China plans to propose new rules that would ban companies with large amounts of sensitive consumer data from going public in the U.S., people familiar with the matter said, a move that is likely to thwart the ambitions of the country’s tech firms to list abroad. In recent weeks, officials from China’s stock regulator have told some companies and international investors that the new rules would prohibit internet firms holding a swath of user-related data from listing abroad, the people said. The regulators said that the rules target companies seeking foreign initial public offerings via units incorporated outside the country, according to the people. https://on.wsj.com/3Bg8M2W
Xiaomi reports record 64% revenue growth, acquires Deepmotion for US$77.3 million.
Xiaomi reported a second-quarter net income of US$1.28 billion on revenue of US$13.56 billion following the Chinese technology giant’s strong surge in smartphone market share globally. During the quarter that ended in June, Xiaomi said it saw a 64% year-on-year growth in revenue, and its net income surged over 80% from the same time a year ago. The Hong Kong-listed firm said its smartphone revenue grew to US$9.1 billion, thanks to a just as impressive jump in its smartphone shipment to 52.9 million units in the quarter, in which it topped Apple to become the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor, according to market intelligence firm Canalys. https://tcrn.ch/3sRpjr6
Headspace and Ginger are merging to form Headspace Health.
Meditation app Headspace announced plans to merge with on-demand mental health service Ginger. Barring unforeseen regulatory roadblocks, the two companies will combine to form Headspace Health. The new organization would sport a combined value of US$3 billion and a headcount of more than 800. The merger comes during accelerated usage of both parties, as a seemingly endless pandemic has put a strain on mental health across the globe and many have turned to virtual solutions to address the growing problem. https://tcrn.ch/3mEEove
Western Digital in advanced talks to merge with Kioxia in US$20 billion-plus deal.
Long-running discussions between the companies have heated up in the past few weeks and they could reach agreement on a deal as early as mid-September, the people said. Western Digital would pay for the deal with stock and the combined company would likely be run by its Chief Executive, David Goeckeler, the people said. There’s no guarantee Western Digital, which had a market value of around US$19 billion Wednesday afternoon, will seal an agreement, and Kioxia could still opt for an initial public offering it had been planning or another combination. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Western Digital and Micron Technology Inc. were examining potential deals with Kioxia, which makes NAND flash-memory chips used in smartphones, computer servers and other devices. Micron’s interest has since cooled and Kioxia has been focused on discussions with Western Digital, which already has deep existing ties with the Japanese company. Perhaps the biggest regulatory hurdle would be China, which has been increasingly aggressive in its antitrust enforcement, helping scuttle potential deals including Qualcomm Inc.’s proposed US$44 billion purchase of Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors NV in 2018. There has been a burst of acquisition activity among chip makers, with the industry accounting for several of the biggest deals of the past few years. Those include Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s roughly US$35 billion purchase of Xilinx Inc., Nvidia Corp.’s roughly US$40 billion buyout of SoftBank Group Corp. -backed Arm Holdings and Analog Devices Inc.’s US$20 billion acquisition of Maxim Integrated Products Inc. https://on.wsj.com/3gJip2a
‘Smart clothes’ can conduct Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to link all your tech at once, and can boost battery life by 1,000.
Wearable devices like smartwatches and sensors that monitor your heart rate have, in recent years, become increasingly popular. For consumers concerned about their personal health and fitness, they’re invaluable — but it seems researchers in Singapore have taken wearable technology to a whole new level. With rapid advancements in wearable technology and the increasing sophistication of the data they transmit, the need for a way to connect these devices seamlessly and efficiently has become more important — especially for those who use more than one gadget at once. National University of Singapore researchers cited in NUS News and in Nature Electronics say “smart” clothes they’ve innovated can turn their wearer into a “pseudo-human circuit board”, effectively enhancing connectivity between one’s wearable devices. https://bit.ly/3jkGbDm
Apple Watch user base hits 100 million as smartwatch industry grows 27%.
The Apple Watch continues to dominate the wearables industry, according to new data from Counterpoint Research. In fact, the Apple Watch user base has now crossed 100 million, and Apple has retained its number one position in the wearables industry. Apple has said that Apple Watch sales were somewhat negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of retail stores around the world. As retail stores have reopened, however, Apple Watch sales appear to have rebounded. https://bit.ly/2WtX3Pz
World’s first crewless, zero emissions cargo ship will set sail in Norway.
If all goes to plan, the ship will make its first journey between two Norwegian towns before the end of the year, with no crew onboard. Instead, its movements will be monitored from three onshore data control centers. https://cnn.it/38fRFlf
Virgin Hyperloop releases new video of 670 mph passenger pods. The company claims the system will “set the standard for 21st century travel” and allow people to travel between cities within minutes. The design features a series of passenger pods inside a tube in which a near-vacuum environment is maintained, according to the video, published Monday on Twitter. https://bit.ly/3sZGRBD
What pizza from a vending machine really tastes like.
In Rome, the art of pizza is up there with the art of constructing buildings that will last for 2,000 years, and guiding one of the world’s major religions. Compared to the original Neapolitan style, Roman pizza is thinner, flakier and crunchier, since it’s baked for a little longer. The pizzerias of Trastevere, the boho neighborhood across the River Tiber from central Rome, are lauded as some of the best places in the world to try the dish. Now there’s another kind of Roman pizza, however — and it comes out of a vending machine. https://cnn.it/3zpeaQL
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
TikTok may soon extend video upload limit to 5 minutes or more.
The popular social network TikTok is working to expand the limit of videos that users can upload. Following another expansion last year, the company is now testing a longer 5-minute video upload limit with a small group of users. Currently TikTok users can share videos up to three minutes long, a limit that was set by the social network in December 2020. Now that limit will be raised once again, this time to support videos up to five minutes long. The news was reported by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who shared a screenshot of the new upload limit on Twitter. https://bit.ly/3mCyI4J
League of Legends’ world championships moved from China to Europe.
The 2021 League of Legends’ World Championship, the end-of-year tournament for arguably the biggest esport in the world, has been moved from China to a currently undisclosed location in Europe, Riot Games announced. The move happens just weeks before the competition is set to begin. In a video, John Needham, global head of esports at Riot, said that travel restrictions and COVID protocols made it a challenge to hold the event in China. The move was first reported Monday by Upcomer. https://bit.ly/2UXLWxG
This video game Is turning the pandemic jobless into crypto traders.
When Vincent Gallarte was laid off in July, the Manila IT analyst found an unusual financial lifeline: an online game that rewards players in cryptocurrency. In his first two weeks of Pokémon-like questing and battling, Gallarte earned more than 37,000 pesos (US$732), three times what he would have made at his “real job.” https://bloom.bg/3jjR4W7
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
T-Mobile hacker speaks out in WSJ interview, says carrier has ‘awful’ security.
Last week, T-Mobile confirmed that a hacker stole data on more than 50 million customers. T-Mobile also confirmed the claim that the personal data includes both social security numbers and driver’s license details for “a subset of people” along with account PINs for some. Now, the 21-year-old responsible for the hack has spoken to the Wall Street Journal for an on-the-record interview. The way in which John Binns was able to gain access to T-Mobile’s systems centered on finding weak spots in T-Mobile’s known internet addresses. His goal, he said to the Journal, was to generate publicity. https://bit.ly/3jkFl9G
Google and Microsoft promise billions to help bolster US cybersecurity.
Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft promised to help bolster US cybersecurity after a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday. The pledges vary by company but range from spending billions on cyber infrastructure to offering supply-chain aid and education. Wednesday’s high-profile meeting with tech CEOs comes on the heels of major cyberattacks against US government agencies and energy infrastructure like the Colonial Pipeline. “The federal government can’t meet this challenge alone”. https://bit.ly/3sTGAQE
UK to overhaul privacy rules in post-Brexit departure from GDPR.
Britain will attempt to move away from European data protection regulations as it overhauls its privacy rules after Brexit, the government has announced. The freedom to chart its own course could lead to an end to irritating cookie popups and consent requests online, said the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, as he called for rules based on “common sense, not box-ticking”. But any changes will be constrained by the need to offer a new regime that the EU deems adequate, otherwise data transfers between the UK and EU could be frozen. https://bit.ly/2WvPWWh
UK and Europe may soon face-off over cookie ‘consent’ pop-ups.
A regulatory battle looms after a top U.K. official laid out plans for new data privacy laws, which could involve scrapping the cookie “consent” pop-ups that are ubiquitous across European websites. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden proposed loosening data rules for the country now that it has left the European Union. Dowden suggested the U.K. would diverge from Europe’s data framework—the strict rules known as GDPR—which may include removing what he called “pointless” cookie prompts that users need to accept or decline on most web pages. The interview didn’t go down well in Brussels, where regulators recently approved a new data-sharing agreement allowing companies to freely move data between the U.K. and Europe. An E.U. spokesperson told the Financial Times the bloc may revoke the agreement “immediately” in what it calls a “justified emergency”. https://bit.ly/3jopLdi
Apple to let app makers tell customers about payment alternatives.
Apple said it will let app makers inform their customers about alternative payment options outside the App Store, a significant concession to critics of its restrictive policies. The company made the concession as part of a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by small app developers, who had accused Apple of abusing is monopoly power over the distribution of software for iPhones. While the case is separate from the higher-profile lawsuit filed against Apple by Epic Games, it raised many of the same objections to Apple’s business practices. The case was also being heard by the same federal judge in Oakland, Calif.—Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers—that presideded over the Epic trial. The Apple settlement of the case still needs the approval of Rogers. As part of the settlement, Apple announced a number of changes and new programs to help small developers—including a $100 million assistance fund for app makers who earn less than US$1 million a year. But the biggest change it made—which affects the company’s “steering” policy—will apply to all developers. Previously, Apple prohibited developers from telling their customers about ways they could pay for services from the developers, even if they did so outside the app through e-mail. Apple will now allow developers to use email to inform them of those options. Many app developers are eager to get customers to pay for services on the web so they can avoid Apple’s cut of those transactions, which are as high as 30%. Still, Apple isn’t for the moment relaxing other major sources of concern for developers. For example, it won’t let them include alternatives to Apple’s in-house payment system directly in their apps, nor will it reduce Apple’s 30% commission on app transactions. https://bit.ly/2Ws5A5c
Affirm shares soar on news of Amazon partnership for buy now, pay later.
The e-commerce giant is partnering with Affirm for its first-ever installment payments option on the popular e-commerce site. Affirm’s buy now, pay later checkout option will be available to certain Amazon customers in the U.S. starting Friday with a broader rollout in the coming months, the companies said in a statement. The partnership will let Amazon customers split purchases of US$50 or more into smaller, monthly installments. Affirm’s stock spiked as much as 48% after-hours Friday on the news, adding more than $8 billion to its market capitalization, later settling up around 33%. Amazon shares were unchanged. Friday’s partnership is the latest sign of the booming lending space as younger consumers move towards these alternative lines of credit. Earlier in August, Square jumped into the space with a US$29 billion deal to buy Australian fintech Afterpay. https://cnb.cx/3mEqbyj
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
A third of young traders go to social media for investment advice – and 12% say they invest because it ‘feels like a game’, survey finds.
Social media is the most popular outlet for investment research for young retail investors, according to a new study conducted by CNBC. According to the study, 35% of investors aged 18-34 say they get investment ideas from social media, compared with 15% of investors age 35-64. Out of all outlets for investment advice, young traders selected social media the most, with smaller numbers of investors selecting “friends and family,” financial guidance websites, and news media. The survey also reveals that many young adults began investing in 2020 and 2021 as the pandemic sent people to their homes with more free time. Three-fifths of the young retail investors surveyed said they began investing in 2020 or 2021. https://bit.ly/3zpltb1
Mark Cuban slams SEC chief Gary Gensler for complex market rules – and tells him to engage with retail investors.
Market regulators should clarify the rules, answer people’s questions, and focus more on understanding retail investors’ needs than on trying to impress Wall Street, Mark Cuban argued this week. The technology billionaire made the suggestions to Gary Gensler, after the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission tweeted that investors shouldn’t even come close to breaking the rules. Gensler added that his agency seeks to protect people from threats such as market manipulation and accounting fraud. “If you really want to make the markets safer, rather than puffing up your chest and posturing to or with Wall Street, talk to small investors about what they want to see and how they want to be communicated with,” Cuban tweeted. https://bit.ly/2Y2GHOl
Silicon Valley’s Long-Term Stock Exchange finally lists its first companies: Twilio and Asana.
A decade ago, the serial tech entrepreneur dreamed up the Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) at the back of his bestseller, The Lean Startup. Ries, whose book became an unofficial textbook for tech entrepreneurs, had envisioned an exchange built for the “next generation of great companies.” It would mandate that executive compensation be tied to a business’s long-term performance, crack down on speculative trading, and allow management teams to retain enough power to freely pursue long-term ideas—all in the name of alleviating the day-to-day pressures public companies had grown used to, Ries wrote. https://bit.ly/3kxjlrw
Visa purchases CryptoPunk NFT for US$150,000 as it gets involved in the booming digital-collectibles market.
Visa recently made its first foray into the digital-collectibles market by purchasing CryptoPunk 7610, its first non-fungible token, for around US$150,000, according to an announcement Monday. The payments giant made the purchase on August 18 for 49.5 ether, according to Larva Lab, the team behind CryptoPunks. “What began as an early artistic experiment has quickly become a cultural icon for the crypto community,” Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, said in a statement, referring to the CryptoPunk series. https://bit.ly/3mEYzJ9
Tron founder joins NFT craze with US$600K EtherRock purchase.
Tron founder Justin Sun has recently set up the JUST NFT fund. The idea behind the project is to mint the world’s top artists on the blockchain. Sun had commented on his move to launch his own NFT platform, saying, “I believe that the value of the art market is set by the leading artists and works, and only the artists at the very top of the pyramid can hold and grow their value over time.” https://bit.ly/3D7g0bf
eToro says crypto made up 73% of trading commissions in the last quarter, as retail customers dived in.
Crypto assets drove 73% of eToro’s total trading commissions in the second quarter, compared with 7% a year ago, as interest in digital assets rose and retail investors carried out more trades. That lift in customer engagement with cryptoassets is driving strong positive momentum for eToro, the trading platform provider said in a quarterly financial update published Wednesday. https://bit.ly/3yxC4IN
Citi will reportedly start trading bitcoin futures, following Goldman Sachs’s lead as client demand for crypto spikes.
Citigroup is actively recruiting traders to begin working with bitcoin futures, according to a new CoinDesk report. The report, citing two sources including one within the bank, says that Citi is angling to trade bitcoin futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It is currently awaiting key regulatory approvals for a crypto trading desk based in London, according to CoinDesk. A source familiar with the situation told CoinDesk that Citi’s trading operation could begin with bitcoin futures before moving on to other products like bitcoin exchange-traded notes. https://bit.ly/3ktSXPx
PayPal expands the ability to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency to the UK.
PayPal will now allow users outside the U.S. to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency for the first time. The company announced today the launch of a new service that will allow customers in the U.K. to select between four types of cryptocurrencies — including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash — which can be purchased using a connected bank account or debit card. The company first rolled out support for cryptocurrency in the U.S. last fall, in partnership with Paxos Trust Company. That service reached all U.S. customers as of mid-November. PayPal-owned Venmo also added support for cryptocurrency last spring. https://tcrn.ch/3kwpvIE
Bitcoin topping US$50,000 stirs forecast of run toward record high.
Bitcoin topped US$50,000 for the first time since May as crypto prices continued an ongoing recovery from a disorderly rout just three months ago. The largest virtual coin advanced 3.5% to US$50,122 in early London trading on Monday, with other tokens including Ether and Cardano’s ADA also rising. https://bloom.bg/3j6TcAw
MicroStrategy bought more than 3,900 bitcoin since July 1.
MicroStrategy Inc. disclosed Tuesday that it spent about US$177 million to buy 3,907 bitcoins at an average price of US$45,294 per bitcoin, during the period between July 1 and Aug. 23. MicroStrategy’s stock fell 0.5% in premarket trading, as bitcoin slipped 0.3%, early Tuesday. From July 1 to Aug. 23, bitcoin had run up 47.4%, according to FactSet. After the purchase, the enterprise software company, which is seen as a bitcoin play as it has disclosed it uses bitcoin as a primary treasury reserve asset, held 108,992 bitcoin as of Aug. 23, that it purchased at an average price of US$26,769 per bitcoin for US$2.92 billion, including fees and expenses. https://on.mktw.net/2WtXQA1
Legendary VC Bill Gurley reveals he’s betting on ethereum – and praises the crypto’s fans for being practical and flexible.
Venture capitalist Bill Gurley is personally betting on ethereum’s success after the cryptocurrency network’s community won him over. “I have to say I was swayed by the arguments of the ethereum crowd,” he told Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday. “And so, I’ve taken a personal position – not something to Benchmark.” Gurley, a general partner at Silicon Valley VC firm Benchmark, didn’t specify how much he invested. Ethereum fans impressed him because they struck him as “way more pragmatic” than others in the crypto space, he said. https://bit.ly/2WsdM5A
China’s crackdown on crypto slashed competition for North American bitcoin miners – and earnings are soaring to record highs as a result.
China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry gave miners outside the region tremendous opportunities for growth – and the earnings and production updates from publicly listed firms are starting to reflect that. Insider previously reported that North American mining firms were expecting to see a surge in demand for facility hosting space and a boost in profit from taking up a larger portion of the bitcoin network hashrate, or measure of computing power being contributed to the network through mining, as Chinese miners went offline. In the second quarter of 2021, Canadian mining firm Bitfarms saw its revenue jump 29% quarter over quarter. It also mined 26% more bitcoins that the previous quarter. In July alone, Bitfarms mined 391 new bitcoin, its largest monthly production rate for the year. Bitfarms CEO Emiliano Grodzki said the China crypto-mining ban and the resultant shutdown of almost 50% of the network hash rate allowed his firm to increase its market share to above 1.5% from less than 1% at the beginning of 2021. The Block Crypto reported that Riot, Marathon, Bitfarms, Hut8, and Argo Blockchain produced on average 58% more bitcoin during the month of July than in June. https://bit.ly/3sTKUiF
World’s largest chip maker to raise prices, threatening costlier electronics.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. plans to increase the prices of its most advanced chips by roughly 10%, while less advanced chips used by customers like auto makers will cost about 20% more, these people said. The higher prices will generally take effect late this year or next year, the people said. Apple Inc. is one of TSMC’s largest customers and its iPhones use advanced microprocessors made in TSMC foundries. It couldn’t be determined how much more Apple would pay. https://on.wsj.com/38dkdMt
Huawei gets U.S. approvals to buy auto chips, sparking blow back.
U.S. officials have approved license applications worth hundreds of millions of dollars for China’s blacklisted telecom company Huawei to buy chips for its growing auto component business, two people familiar with the matter said. Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, has been hobbled by trade restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on the sale of chips and other components used in its network gear and smartphones businesses. The Biden administration has been reinforcing the hard line on exports to Huawei, denying licenses to sell chips to Huawei for use in or with 5g devices. But in recent weeks and months, people familiar with the application process told Reuters the U.S. has granted licenses authorizing suppliers to sell chips to Huawei for such vehicle components as video screens and sensors. The approvals come as Huawei pivots its business toward items that are less susceptible to U.S. trade bans. https://reut.rs/38lt4M1
Rising electricity demand is keeping coal alive.
As people ventured out from their pandemic cocoons this year, they gobbled up more electricity than they did before COVID-19 shut the world down. But there still isn’t enough clean energy to meet rising demand, so coal is making a comeback. Global electricity demand climbed 5 percent above pre-pandemic levels in the first six months of 2021, according to an analysis published today by London think tank Ember. Electricity grids turned to more coal to meet that demand, and power sector carbon pollution rose 5 percent compared to the first half of 2019. “Catapulting emissions in 2021 should send alarm bells across the world. We are not building back better, we are building back badly,” Dave Jones, global program lead at Ember, said in a statement today. “The electricity transition is happening but with little urgency: emissions are going in the wrong direction.” https://bit.ly/3zmHOpK
Cruise is buying solar energy from California farmers to power its electric, self-driving fleet.
Cruise, the self-driving car company under General Motors, has launched a new initiative called Farm to Fleet that will allow the company to source solar power from farms in California’s Central Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report the news that Cruise is directly purchasing renewable energy credits from Sundale Vineyards and Moonlight Companies to help power its fleet of all-electric autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. https://tcrn.ch/2Y2FIxD
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