Lots of attention seems to be focused on US-China tensions and ramifications for the global technology industry, with Twitter and TikTok apparently in discussions as of Saturday. It will be interesing to see what the next week brings on this front.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

theScore (SCR-TSXV) announces $25 million bought deal financing. Score Media and Gaming Inc. entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Eight Capital, pursuant to which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 38.5 million Class A Subordinate Voting Shares of the Company at a price of $0.65 per Offered Share. https://bit.ly/3gIJ6lS

Enthusiast Gaming (EGLX-TSX) announces acquisition of Omnia Media, forming largest gaming media, esports and entertainment platform in North America. Announces $15 million bought deal financing. Combined Platform to reach 300 million gamers monthly generating more than 4.2 billion monthly views.     Includes 70 million Esports fans across world class organization, Luminosity Gaming and Call of Duty and Overwatch League franchises, Seattle Surge and Vancouver Titans. Over 500 gaming influencers with combined subscriber base of over 500 million on YouTube and Twitch. Pro forma 2019 revenue of ~$110 million. Combined company expected to immediately generate positive EBITDA. https://bit.ly/3ie51Bt

Platterz raises $43.8 million Series B, rebrands to Thriver as company pivots post-pandemic. Toronto-based corporate catering startup Platterz has rebranded to Thriver following a $43.8 million Series B round to support the company’s expansion into new verticals. The Series B round of equity financing was led by Viola Growth, with participation from new investors Vertex Ventures Israel, Union Tech Ventures, Journey Ventures, and FJ Labs, along with existing investors Aleph and Altair Capital. The funding will be used by Thriver to expand into new geographic markets and verticals, and grow its team. Over the past five years, Thriver, while operating as Platterz, processed more than $100 million in food-related orders through its platform. Since being founded in 2015, the company has amassed over 2,000 customers, ranging from small businesses to enterprises. The startup also offers several culture-oriented programs, such as the Treat card, which allows employers to subsidize employees’ daily meals or other office expenses. https://bit.ly/30wpKuf

Ocean Supercluster launches $29 million Ocean Aware project. The Atlantic Canada-based Ocean Supercluster has launched Ocean Aware, a new project intended to develop and commercialize solutions that promote sustainable growth in the ocean sector. The project is valued at $29 million. Ocean Aware will monitor fish health, fish movement, and the environment, as well as support profitable and sustainable practices in the ocean. The Ocean Supercluster will provide $13.74 million in funding for the project, while industry partners will invest a cumulative $15.7 million. Partners working on Ocean Aware span the ocean technology, fisheries, energy, aquaculture, and shipping sectors. https://bit.ly/2DrPAXB

Amii among three orgs receiving $10 million from Alberta government for cleantech projects. The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) is among three organizations receiving a cumulative $10 million investment from the government of Alberta through its Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program. TIER, launched in January, replaced the former provincial government’s Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation. The regulation requires facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by paying $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted. The money yielded from the regulation is then allocated to the TIER fund, which is used to invest in cleantech projects that aim to reduce the province’s carbon emissions. In its economic recovery plan, the Alberta government said it would use $476 million through TIER to fund tech that reduces emissions. https://bit.ly/2XKcX5H

Leading consumer products company selects Kneat’s (KSI-TSXV) SaaS platform. This global company employs more than 30,000 staff in the manufacture and distribution of leading consumer brands across multiple categories from household to health and personal care.  It has selected Kneat’s SaaS platform to digitize its validation processes globally.  This agreement, which starts immediately, allows the customer to deploy Kneat Gx across its global network to its many sites and multiple work processes, representing a significant opportunity for expansion of Kneat’s software.  Initially the customer will focus on facilities, utilities and equipment validation in several lead US sites, before scaling to multiple global sites and work processes. https://bit.ly/33BYUmv

Lightspeed (LSPD-TSX) Capital launches for U.S. retail customers. Lightspeed announces the initial availability of Lightspeed Capital, powered by Stripe. Through financing offers, this new product will help U.S.-based merchants with overall business growth, more specifically to buy inventory, invest in marketing, or manage cash flows. It is available for retailers using Lightspeed Payments in the U.S. and provides financing of up to US$50,000 per retail location. https://bit.ly/2C4imwR

TouchBistro acquires TableUp to launch new loyalty solution for restaurants. Toronto-based TouchBistro has acquired TableUp, a Boston-based startup that provides loyalty and marketing solutions for the restaurant industry. The purchase price of the acquisition was not disclosed. The deal will see TableUp’s technology integrated into TouchBistro’s upcoming loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) product. https://bit.ly/3kdJwmf

Wealthsimple receives conditional approval from regulators to test crypto platform. Toronto-based FinTech startup Wealthsimple has received conditional approval from the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) to test its recently-announced cryptocurrency platform for a period of two years. The approval was granted under the CSA’s sandbox program, which allows firms to test innovative ideas without having to meet traditional regulatory requirements. The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) was the principal regulator for Wealthsimple’s application in the CSA’s decision, which was published Friday. Wealthsimple’s expansion into digital assets comes amid a slew of controversies in the Canadian cryptocurrency space, with the most recent being Coinsquare admitting to engaging in market manipulation through the reporting of inflated trading volumes. https://bit.ly/2F87Ztd

theScore Bet (SCR-TSXV) receives authorization to offer online sports betting activity in Colorado. theScore Bet secured market access to offer mobile sports betting in Colorado via its previously announced agreement with a subsidiary of U.S. gaming operator Jacobs Entertainment Inc. https://bwnews.pr/3gBUDDu

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

The world’s hottest stock is a money-losing tech giant soaring 880%. It gets far less attention than Tesla, the FAANGs or even the Robinhood flavor of the week. https://bloom.bg/2DrVrfx

BigCommerce almost triples briefly in U.S. trading debut. BigCommerce Holdings Inc., which makes software for online business operations, rose as much as 292% in its trading debut after pricing its US$216 million initial public offering above a targeted range. Shares of the company began trading Wednesday up 183% from its IPO price. That’s the second-biggest gain this year on a U.S. exchange at the opening bell for a newly public company raising at least US$100 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/33Bcvun

Electric truck maker Lordstown Motors to Go public via SPAC merger. Electric pickup-truck maker Lordstown Motors is slated to go public via a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., according to a statement from Lordstown Motors and DiamondPeak Monday. SPACs are publicly traded firms whose only asset is cash and whose only purpose is to merge with a real business, bringing it public in the process. The deal, which will value Lordstown Motors at US$1.6 billion, is expected to close during the last three months of 2020, said the statement. Shares of DiamondPeak are up over 15% Monday, to US$11.82. News of Lordstown Motors’ upcoming public market debut comes after a wave of private and public market fundraising for electric vehicle startups. Electric vehicle makers Rivian and Karma both recently announced private investment rounds, and rival electric truck maker Nikola went public via a SPAC merger this June. Fisker, Hyllion and Velodyne Lidar are all slated to go public through SPAC mergers, too. Last week, hybrid SUV maker Li Auto raised over US$1 billion in its IPO. Lordstown Motors’ flagship product is the Endurance, an electric pickup truck that will sell for US$52,500, rivaling the Ford F-150. The company already has a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that used to belong to GM. Lordstown reportedly borrowed US$40 million from GM to buy the factory, and GM is investing US$75 million in the reverse merger and will receive a seat on the startup’s board of directors. Before the reverse merger, Lordstown had raised US$10 million from undisclosed investors and US$5 million in debt from Brown Gibbons Lang & Company and other investors, according to research firm PitchBook. https://bit.ly/3foyBTf

Teladoc Health and Livongo merge to create new standard in global healthcare delivery, access and experience. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of each company, each share of Livongo will be exchanged for 0.5920 shares of Teladoc Health plus cash consideration of US$11.33 for each Livongo share, representing a value of US$18.5 billion based on the closing price of Teladoc Health shares as of August 4, 2020. Upon completion of the merger, existing Teladoc Health shareholders will own approximately 58 percent and existing Livongo shareholders will own approximately 42 percent of the combined company. The combination of Teladoc Health and Livongo creates a global leader in consumer centered virtual care. The company will have expected 2020 pro forma revenue of approximately US$1.3 billion, representing year over year pro forma growth of 85 percent. Demonstrating the power of the combined platform and the scalability of the data driven and virtual ethos, the combined company is expected to have pro forma Adjusted EBITDA of over US$120 million for 2020. https://bit.ly/3gxf5Fg

Blackstone to buy Ancestry.com in US$4.7 billion deal. Blackstone said Wednesday that it would acquire DNA-testing firm Ancestry.com for US$4.7 billion, marking the first acquisition for the private equity giant’s largest buyout fund. Blackstone will take over for Ancestry’s past private-equity holders, including Silver Lake, Spectrum Equity, Permira and GIC, but GIC will retain a minority stake in the company. The Lehi, Utah-based company has more than 30 million paying subscribers in over 30 countries and competes with 23andMe selling at-home genetic testing kits, which Ancestry customers use to trace their family origins. It went public in 2009 and was taken private in 2012 in a US$1.6 billion cash buyout led by Permira. Last year, Bloomberg reported the company was preparing for an IPO. But after a surge in demand for genetic tests in 2017 and 2018, sales in the sector look to have slowed, in part due to consumer wariness of sharing personal data. https://bit.ly/2F2Dvsz

‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games announces US$1.78 billion funding, including US$250 million from Sony. Epic Games, creator and publisher of the massively popular “Fortnite” game, announced a US$1.78 billion round of funding — which the company says gives it a post-money equity valuation of US$17.3 billion. The round includes the previously announced US$250 million strategic investment from Sony Corp., under which Sony obtained a 1.4% stake in Epic. dditional investors in Epic’s epic fundraise include Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Fidelity Management & Research Co., Lightspeed Venture Partners, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, and billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper. Existing investors KKR and Smash Ventures also participated in the round, adding to their 2018 investment. https://bit.ly/3kluWZZ

TikTok and Twitter are starting to talk about a possible combination, WSJ reports. Amid President Donald Trump’s threats to ban TikTok, or force it to sell its US operations, Twitter was reported to be in talks with the video-sharing app Saturday night. The Wall Street Journal reported that a potential deal, if it materializes, could involve TikTok’s US operations. Both Twitter and TikTok declined to comment on the report to Business Insider. Microsoft was seen as the frontrunner for a deal last week, with estimates for a potential deal for TikTok’s US operations at US$10 billion and US$30 billion, Business Insider’s Paige Leskin reported. https://bit.ly/3ktyE3S

Trump ban on top messaging app risks snarling global business. U.S. companies from Apple to Walmart rely on Tencent’s WeChat. Banning WeChat, the world’s most-used messaging app, has the potential to upend the international businesses of companies from Apple Inc. to Walmart Inc. and shut down personal communications between America and China. The White House’s vaguely worded edict left a lot of open questions about how broadly the ban would be applied and the full ramifications for Tencent Holdings Ltd. But it likely gets WeChat bumped off Apple and Google’s app stores in 45 days, which means at least suspending updates for a service vital to everything from engineers talking with iPhone assemblers to Chinese people video-chatting with family back home. If the ban extends to a block on its use, that threatens to eventually sever those ties because WeChat is the go-to for a billion people for everything from booking movie and train tickets to shopping, and alternatives like WhatsApp are blocked in China. https://bloom.bg/2F2rbbN

Google to invest US$450 million in smart home security solutions provider ADT.  Google said on Monday it will invest US$450 million in ADT and work with the Florida-headquartered firm’s 20,000 technicians to sell and install the search giant’s Nest family of smart home products. As part of the long-term investment — which is granting Google a 6.6% stake in ADT — the two companies will first attempt to reach more individual consumers and small businesses, and then work on building and selling next-generation smart home security offerings, they said. Both companies have also committed US$150 million each — provided they reach certain milestones — for co-marketing, product development and investment in technology and employee training. Over time, Nest’s devices will enhance ADT’s security monitoring and become the “cornerstone of ADT’s smart home offering,” said Rishi Chandra, vice president and GM at Nest, in a blog post. “The goal is to give customers fewer false alarms, more ways to receive alarm events, and better detection of potential incidents inside and around the home. It also will provide people with more helpful notifications that make everyday life more convenient, like package detection. ADT customers will also have access to Nest Aware, a service that keeps people informed about important events at home, including intelligent alerts and event history recording for up to 30 days,” he wrote. ADT’s shares more than doubled in the pre-market trading on the announcement. https://tcrn.ch/3i9zKzT

Facebook extends remote work till July 2021. Facebook will allow its U.S. workforce to work remotely through July 2021, pushing back its previous deadline of the end of this year. The new date, announced internally to employees Thursday, is “based on guidance from health and government experts,” according to a company spokesperson. The move follows Google and Uber recently pushing their remote work policies back to the same timeframe as the coronavirus continues to spread. Facebook employees are also getting an additional US$1,000 for “home office needs.” Facebook has yet to set a date for when its U.S. offices, including its Silicon Valley headquarters, will gradually reopen at limited capacity. When the offices do start reopening, employees will be able to choose to return if they feel comfortable before July 2021. A spokesperson said that, given current trends, it is unlikely many offices will reopen before the end of this year. https://bit.ly/31sOfYP

Uber announces employees can work from home through June 2021, and it’s giving them US$500 for their home office. On Tuesday, Uber announced that corporate employees will have their voluntary work from home policy extended through June 2021. Uber is joining a growing list of companies that have extended their work-from-home polices into 2021. The company has still not issued a uniform policy for drivers during this time. https://bit.ly/30sy3Y4

Uber’s delivery business is now larger than ride-hailing. Uber reported its second-quarter earnings Thursday, and buried in the blizzard of less-than-rosy numbers is a stunning figure that illustrates how much the company has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber’s delivery business — better known as Uber Eats — is now bigger than its original and core ride-hailing division, based on adjusted net revenue. When it came down to adjusted profit, Uber’s traditionally core business of ride-hailing generated the superior result, generating positive adjusted EBITDA, while delivery lost money using the same profit calculation method. https://tcrn.ch/2C5xNF1

Emerging Technologies

Can you spot a deep fake? In 1969, the world gathered to watch the moon landing. It was extraordinarily risky, so a backup speech was written in case the mission failed. Thankfully it was never delivered. Until Now… https://bit.ly/2PA2Mwi

The world’s highest performing quantum computer is here. Get the story behind how Honeywell has delivered the largest quantum volume ever. Our team of scientists, engineers and technicians, have built what is currently the highest performing quantum computer available. With a quantum volume of 64, the Honeywell quantum computer is twice as powerful as the next alternative in the industry. That means we are closer to industries leveraging our solutions to solve computational problems that are impractical to solve with traditional computers. https://bit.ly/3kjlvKK

Chinese automaker Kandi plans to bring a US$13,000 electric car to the US this year, slashing the entry price of EV ownership. Kandi Technologies Group, a Chinese auto company, announced this week that it’s launching two ultra-affordable electric vehicles in the US later this year. After federal tax credits, Kandi’s K23 and K27 hatchbacks will cost US$12,999 and US$22,499, respectively, the company said. According to initial details, the cars offer range that’s on par with many other budget-friendly EVs. Kandi America plans to start deliveries in the fourth quarter of this year, and will initially focus on selling the cars in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. https://bit.ly/30nnnd9

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Everything to know about Instagram Reels, Facebook’s new TikTok rival. As video app TikTok scrambles to find a buyer for its U.S. business amid threats by President Trump to shut it down, Facebook is rolling out a copycat.  Facebook-owned Instagram on Wednesday debuted its TikTok rival, Reels, in the U.S. and nearly 50 other countries. The service lets users share 15-second clips, which, in some cases, disappear after 24 hours. The new app comes as TikTok, which has a huge international following, tries to salvage its U.S. business. Trump threatened to shut down the app in the U.S. if ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owner, failed to sell it by Sept. 15. https://bit.ly/3ibv3Fy

Disney+ grows to more than 60.5 million subscribers. Disney+ had more than 60.5 million paying subscribers, according to The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek. Disney+ launched in November of last year. The company previously announced in April that the service had passed 50 million subscribers. (Those numbers include subscribers acquired through bundling with Hotstar in India, as well as free subscribers through a promotion with TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon.) The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated growth for some streaming services. Most notably, Netflix added more than 10 million new subscribers in its most recent quarter, bringing its global total to nearly 193 million. As for Disney’s other streaming services, ESPN+ has grown more than 100% year-over-year to 8.5 million subscribers (as of June 26), while Hulu grew 27% to 35.5 million subscribers (3.4 million of them are paying for both video on demand and live TV). https://tcrn.ch/2DB6PWe

Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming will launch on September 15th on Android. Microsoft will launch its game streaming service, known as Project xCloud, on September 15th exclusively on Android devices. Project xCloud will be bundled as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, priced at US$14.99 per month, with a promise of more than 100 games available on Android tablets and phones. Game streaming will be limited initially to Android; iPhone and iPad users will have to wait. Microsoft hasn’t revealed which Apple policies are preventing xCloud from launching on iOS, but Google’s Stadia service is also not available on iPhones or iPads. Valve’s Steam Link app took nearly a year for Apple to approve even though it primarily streams games from your home PC. Apple has also faced questions over its 30 percent cut of in-app purchases and strict App Store policies from the House Judiciary Committee recently as part of a tech antitrust hearing. https://bit.ly/33wwtX4

Tencent in talks to create US$10 billion streaming giant. Tencent Holdings Ltd. is driving discussions to merge China’s biggest game-streaming platforms Huya Inc. and DouYu International Holdings Ltd., people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that would allow it to dominate the US$3.4 billion arena. The Chinese social media titan — which owns a 37% stake in Huya and 38% of DouYu — has been discussing such a merger with the duo over the past few months, although details have yet to be finalized, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Tencent is seeking to become the largest shareholder in the combined entity, one person said. A deal would create an online giant with more than 300 million users and a combined market value of US$10 billion, cementing Tencent’s lead in Chinese games and social media. Faced with rising competition for advertisers from ByteDance Ltd. and its rapidly growing stable of apps, the WeChat operator would then run a highly profitable service akin to Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch. Huya and DouYu would keep their respective platforms and branding while working more closely with Tencent’s own esports site eGame, said the people. https://bloom.bg/3gyYmlc

China’s real name verification system for games to launch nationwide by September. For now, not much is known about how the national verification system will work or whether it will resemble the independent systems already in place. In some cases, the private systems have introduced some stringent controls. In Honour of Kings, the immensely popular Tencent game known as Arena of Valor overseas, the verification system includes a facial recognition scan. China also has other rules governing what games are even allowed in the country. One requirement is for game publishers to submit games for content and monetisation review before they can be legally distributed in China. This has created problems for developers and publishers trying to crack the China market. They have to contend with complex and sometimes mind-boggling rules about what is allowed to go into a game. https://bit.ly/2DyjhWV

Animal Crossing catapults Nintendo to stratospheric earnings. Nintendo has posted extraordinarily high earnings for its normally quiet April-June quarter, as Animal Crossing: New Horizons continues to be a sales juggernaut that drives Switch hardware purchases. Operating profit is up 428 percent year-on-year to 145 billion yen (US$1.37 billion) off 357 billion yen (US$3.39 billion) in revenue, with Switch sales up 166 percent to 5.68 million systems in the quarter. Nintendo has now shipped 61.44 million Switch consoles, just 470,000 shy of the original Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold more than 10 million units in the quarter, bringing its total sales up to 22.4 million. The Switch was affected by COVID-19-related supply constraints in the quarter, but Nintendo says “the situation has almost recovered.” The bigger impact was on fitness RPG Ring Fit Adventure, which has now sold more than 4 million copies but continues to be hard to find. https://bit.ly/33yyfXC

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Two U.S. senators seek ban on collecting customer biometric data without consent. Two U.S. senators are proposing legislation to prohibit private companies from collecting biometric data without consumers and employees’ consent. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said this week he is introducing the reform measure along with independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The effort comes after growing concerns about biometric data collection among private companies, including the use of facial-recognition technology. https://reut.rs/2PqJWrc

The US is building a new Great Firewall. A “digital Berlin Wall” between the US and China now looks more real than ever. The US state department announced today that it will expand its “Clean Network” initiative, first rolled out in April, to root out major Chinese tech products from the US system. The department said the move is aimed at guarding US citizens’ privacy and US companies’ sensitive information from “aggressive intrusions by malign actors.” “With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for Chinese Communist Party content censorship,” said Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. https://bit.ly/3fGLHvj

Garmin ‘paid multi-million dollar ransom to criminals using Arete IR’, say sources. Smartwatch maker Garmin paid a multi-million dollar ransom to criminals who encrypted its computer files through a ransomware negotiation business called Arete IR, sources have told Sky News. Earlier this week Sky News reported that Garmin had obtained the decryption key to recover its files from the WastedLocker virus. Security sources believe this virus has been developed by individuals linked to Evil Corp, a cyber crime group based in Russia that was sanctioned by the US Treasury last December. https://bit.ly/39YHhP8

FCC launches review of digital platforms’ legal immunity for user posts. The Federal Communications Commission rang the opening bell today on a lobbying battle over a proposal to weaken Internet companies’ immunity to lawsuits over user-posted content. The FCC is inviting public comments on the Trump administration’s effort to weaken a law widely known as Section 230. Internet companies, ranging from social media platforms to shopping sites, say Section 230 is critical to their business models which depend on user engagement. President Trump called for reforms after Twitter and Facebook began moderating some of his online posts. Section 230 supporters now have 45 days to file written comments with the FCC. Internet companies will also lobby the FCC’s five commissioners directly. But even if President Trump runs out of time in his campaign to undermine Section 230, the effort could continue under a Biden administration. Presumptive Democratic nominee Biden is also critical of Section 230. https://bit.ly/2BWhU3I

Amazon is reportedly facing a new antitrust investigation into its online marketplace led by the FTC and attorneys general in New York and California. The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from New York and California have opened a new antitrust investigation into Amazon’s online marketplace, Bloomberg reported Monday. The agencies will coordinate on the probe and plan to interview witnesses starting in the next few weeks, according to the report. Amazon has come under increasing scrutiny over potential anti-competitive behavior in recent months following reports that it secretly used its data on third-party sellers to launch competing products. Lawmakers grilled CEO Jeff Bezos over Amazon’s treatment of sellers last week in a historic hearing on the growing power of the tech industry. https://bit.ly/39PstSO

Chinese A.I. company says it’s suing Apple for US$1.4 billion over copyright infringement of Siri. This isn’t the first time Apple or other western companies have had issues over Chinese patents. But given that China’s highest court backed Xiao-i’s claim at a time when Chinese and U.S. relations are at their lowest point in decades, there’s a chance that there could be a more significant impact for Apple this time. https://bit.ly/30mHJDm

Twitter may have to pay hundreds of millions in fines for privacy screw-upAs far as mistakes go, Twitter’s notorious two-factor authentication boondoggle could end being a costly one. Buried deep inside the company’s Monday 10Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is a note that the social media giant might end up on the receiving end of up to $250 million in fines. At issue was Twitter “inadvertently” (it swears) using users’ phone numbers for advertising from 2013 to 2019 — numbers that were only provided for security purposes. The Federal Trade Commission apparently didn’t take kindly to that, and sent a draft complaint Twitter’s way on July 28. https://bit.ly/2DjQkxV

eCommerce

Etsy helped sell US$346 million worth of homemade masks. It’s starting to seem like Etsy only sells two kinds of products: masks, and everything else. The product marketplace just released its Q2 earnings report, and the company says it helped sell US$346 million worth of masks during the pandemic, accounting for 14 percent of all sales across small sellers on the platform. 4 million people came to Etsy for masks alone, buying nothing else, and 112,000 different sellers made money by selling those masks on the platform. If “masks” were listed as their own product category in Etsy’s financial results, they’d rank third on the entire site: they’re not quite as big as the US$740 million worth of home goods or the US$362 million worth of jewelry that Etsy helped sell in Q2, but they would be ahead of “craft supplies.” Mask sales are so much bigger than the US$87 million in “beauty & personal care” that they threw off Etsy’s charts: It seems like shelter-in-place orders have fired up sales at Etsy in general though, just like other online businesses are seeing from people stuck at home. Etsy says it saw 18.7 million new and “reactivated” buyers arrive during Q2, and it’s hoping it can figure out how to target them so they’ll stick around. https://bit.ly/3kkvMpZ

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

China’s new digital currency takes aim at Alibaba and Tencent. The People’s Bank of China is hoping its new digital currency will reduce the dominance of Alibaba and Tencent in digital payments, according to several people familiar with the thinking of the central bank. The experimental digital currency is on trial in a number of Chinese cities and the PBoC intends to use it to simplify digital payments and interbank settlements. ttps://on.ft.com/2Dy5EH8

BBVA USA announces collaboration with Google to offer digital bank accounts. This collaboration underscores BBVA’s strategy to continue organically growing the bank throughout the U.S., even as it deepens its transformation and capitalizes on the innovations that have changed the way it does business. https://prn.to/3fvRzqS

Semiconductors

AMD’s stock is up 80% this year. Why the rally could keep going. Amid Intel’s manufacturing missteps, Advanced Micro Devices’ stock hit a new high Tuesday, after a note from a Jefferies analyst said the bank expected the stock had more room to grow. Intel’s (ticker: INTC) failure to perfect its so-called seven-nanometer production process has given AMD (AMD) a significant advantage because its production partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) will have a two-year advantage in fabrication technology over Intel, Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. The analysts expects AMD’s share gains in the server market to be the most pronounced and increase as the transistor gap between AMD and Intel continues to widen. https://bit.ly/2Xw3i2O

ESG

Bill Gates issued a stark warning for the world: ‘As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse’. “As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse,” Gates said in a blog published on Tuesday. “If you want to understand the kind of damage that climate change will inflict, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain out over a much longer period of time. The loss of life and economic misery caused by this pandemic are on par with what will happen regularly if we do not eliminate the world’s carbon emissions.” Gates compared the mortality rate of coronavirus — approximately 14 deaths per 100,000 — to the expected increase in mortality rate due to rising global temperatures. “Within the next 40 years, increases in global temperatures are projected to raise global mortality rates by the same amount — 14 deaths per 100,000,” he said. “By the end of the century, if emissions growth stays high, climate change could be responsible for 73 extra deaths per 100,000 people. In a lower emissions scenario, the death rate drops to 10 per 100,000.” In either projection, Gates said, the mortality rate is either similar to current coronavirus death rates, or far higher. “By 2060, climate change could be just as deadly as COVID-19,” he said, “and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly.” The economic impact could be similarly dire, Gates said, with the equivalent expenditure and financial pain from the pandemic occurring “every ten years” as governments are forced to spend more of GDP dealing with the effects of climate change. “And by the end of the century, it will be much worse if the world remains on its current emissions path,” he said. https://bit.ly/33yxuOk

What other countries can learn from Australia’s roaring rooftop solar market. Policymakers looking to speed up renewable energy deployment have a best-practice case study to look to: Australia is rolling out renewables 10 times faster than the global average, offering lessons as to what factors can improve the uptake of clean energy. https://bit.ly/39T2PfK

BP reports US$17.7 billion loss, cuts dividend. BP PLC cut its dividend for the first time in a decade and outlined plans to pivot away from oil and gas and invest more in low carbon energy—marking one of the most dramatic energy-transition plans among its oil major peers at a time of deep crisis for the industry. The British energy giant aims to increase its low carbon investments to US$5 billion a year by 2030, from around US$500 million, at the same time as seeing its oil and gas production fall by 40% from 2019 levels.  https://on.wsj.com/2DayHAV

Clean-tech stocks finally have enough muscle to buck a downturn. Even as the pandemic continues to drive down consumer spending and depress oil prices, investors are spending big on clean-tech companies.  Shares are now near record highs, the latest sign that wind and solar are no longer fringe bets..  https://bloom.bg/2XpFeOO

A new executive order escalates Trump’s attack on H-1B visas for foreign workers. On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring workers on H-1B visas from replacing American workers on federal contracts.The executive order makes it harder for federal agencies to hire workers in the U.S. on H-1B visas, requiring employers to prove they are not replacing qualified American workers with people from other countries and preventing federal contractors from shifting H-1B workers to other job sites in a manner that would “displace American workers.” https://bit.ly/3fq9xLt

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Shining a light on the U.S. solar industry. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and The Solar Foundation, solar energy in the USA has experienced an average annual growth rate of 49% per year over the past decade. What aided this growth were U.S. federal policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit, rapidly declining costs (installation costs have dropped >70% over the last decade), and increasing demand across the private and public sector for clean electricity. https://bit.ly/31knMwa

Kontrol (KNR-CSE) receives approval for government grant to accelerate the development of new COVID-19 testing technology. Drawing from its extensive industry experience in air emissions and air quality monitoring, Kontrol is developing a new technology designed to detect and alert for COVID-19, in real-time, through rapid on-site air sampling and detection of aerosol and droplet encapsulated viruses in indoor and outdoor environments. https://bit.ly/3iiP4tK

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UGE International has contracted Sophic Capital for capital markets advisory and investor relations services.

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