As 2022 fast draws to a close, and we write our final column for the year, the Dow Jones fell 2.8% last week, S&P 500 fell 3.4%, Nasdaq fell 4%. Market indices continue their now familiar trend of fading back bear market rallies. In light of this market volatility, it’s no surprise last week saw a few more terminated public listings – Stablecoin issuer Circle terminated a US$9 billion SPAC deal, India’s Snapdeal shelved a US$152 million IPO. “There is no appetite for tech stocks right now,” said a source close to the plans. That said many companies continue to execute, which we expect will be rewarded by the market. For example, Sophic Client Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC) was just awarded a $50+ million Navy contract by the Royal Canadian Navy. Kraken’s revenue for 2019, 2020, and 2021 was $15.1 million, $12.3 million, and $25.6 million respectively. Kraken’s current market cap is ~$108 million; these recent orders cumulatively represent nearly 2.5x Kraken’s high watermark 2021 revenue and over 60% of its market capitalization. Kraken also plays into the recent trend of defence tech, as Anduril raised a massive US$1.5 billion round at US$8.5 billion valuation (almost 2x its 2021 valuation). Anduril works with the U.S. and its allies to create drones, underwater vehicles and different operating and control systems. Sophic Clients Legend Power, UGE and OneSoft presented at the Planet MicroCap Showcase conference, replays can be found on our website. The FTC is suing to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. Coinbase revenue will plunge at least 50% in 2022, CEO Armstrong says. Apple accelerates plans to move production out of China amid protests. Apple’s long-awaited AR/VR headset might be facing another round of software delays, as is its speculated self driving car launch. ChatGPT should worry Google and Alphabet, according to industry experts. Meta cannot run ads based on personal data, EU privacy watchdog rules. Amazon announces TikTok-like social feed of shoppable videos, photos.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Sophic Client Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC) awarded $50+ million Navy contract for Royal Canadian Navy Minehunting Program.

Following a $14 million battery order on Nov 28, Kraken Robotics Inc., Canada’s Ocean Company, announced it has been awarded a prime contract with the Government of Canada to provide Remote Minehunting and Disposal Systems (RMDS) for the Department of National Defense (DND). The contract consists of an estimated 24-month acquisition program followed by an initial five-year Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) program, which includes options for additional equipment, spare parts, training, and technical support. Formal contract signature and kickoff of the Acquisition program will occur in January 2023. If all options in the Acquisition and ILS programs are selected, the total value will exceed $50 million, consisting of approximately $40 million for Acquisition and $10 million for ILS. Kraken expects margins on this program to be in line with our historical corporate averages. Progress payments will be made over the 24-month term of the acquisition contract. Kraken’s revenue for 2019, 2020, and 2021 was $15.1 million, $12.3 million, and $25.6 million respectively. Kraken’s current market cap is ~$108 million, these recent orders cumulatively represent nearly 2.5x Kraken’s high watermark 2021 revenue and over 60% of its market capitalization. https://bit.ly/3VDS0oR

Vecima Networks (VCM-TSX) announces offering of common shares.

Vecima Networks entered into an agreement with Raymond James Ltd. and Cormark Securities Inc., pursuant to which the Agents have agreed to offer for sale 507,100 common shares in the capital of the Company at a price of $17.75 per Common Share for aggregate gross proceeds to the Company of approximately $9 million. In addition, the Company has granted the Agents and option, exercisable up to 48 hours prior to closing to offer for sale 56,280 Common Shares, for market stabilization purposes and to cover over-allotments, if any. In the event the Agents Option is exercised in its entirety total gross proceeds to the Company will be approximately $10 million. The Agents have agreed to purchase the Common Shares which remain unsold on the Closing Date, for investment purposes, at the Issue Price. The Common Shares will be offered in all Canadian provinces pursuant to the Listed Issuer Financing Exemption under National Instrument 45-106 – Prospectus Exemptions. https://bit.ly/3VENrLd

GoBolt closes $75 million Series C round to double down on EVs, North American expansion.

Toronto-based startup GoBolt, which provides a tech-enabled supply chain network, has raised $75 million in Series C financing. The funding was led by GoBolt’s existing backer Yaletown Ventures, joined by first time investor Export Development Canada. BDC Capital also came in as a new investor, and the round had participation from returning investors Whitecap Venture Partners, MIG Group, Northleaf Capital Partners, BMO Capital Partners, and Ingka Group, Ikea’s main retailer. This round brings its total funding raised to $222.5 million. This includes its $115 million Series B financing in November last year, a $33.2 million Series A that was raised across two rounds, a $2.04 million investment in 2018, and $500,000 in seed capital secured in 2017. https://bit.ly/3FzSrKr

MineSense Technologies raises $42 million in JP Morgan-led Series E round.

Vancouver-based MineSense Technologies, which provides data analytics systems for the mining industry, has closed a $42 million Series E round led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Sustainable Growth Equity team. The funding also saw contributions from new investor Evok Innovations, a climate technology and sustainability venture fund, as well as existing investors Prelude Ventures, BDC Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, Cycle Capital and Chrysalix Venture Capital. In past funding, MineSense has also raised a $19 million financing round in 2017, $18 million in equity and a $4 million contribution from SDTC in 2018 and an up to $2.95 million investment from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program last year. https://bit.ly/3Fhgi17

Commerce startup Elastic Path secures additional $30 million from existing investors.

After raising $60 million in February, Vancouver’s Elastic Path announced it has secured another $30 million in growth funding. The e-commerce startup said the new capital will enable it to accelerate what it claims is its leadership in the composable commerce movement. Sageview Capital led the most recent round with participation from several existing investors. Sageview led Elastic Path’s $60 million round earlier this year, as well as the startup’s $43 million Series B round in 2018. The latter saw participation from Yaletown Partners and BDC Venture Capital. Elastic’s financing from earlier this year also included investment from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. Previously, Elastic Path raised $10 million in 2015, as well as $5.3 million in 2014. https://tinyurl.com/ywpx3zvr

FigBytes secures US$14.5 million in venture funding and debt.

Ottawa-based ESG insight platform FigBytes has raised US$14.5 million in a mix of incremental funding and venture debt, which closed in late October. FigBytes said it had raised an additional US$10 million from its April 2021 Series A round investor, Quantum Innovation Fund, but chose not to disclose if the financing was all primary capital, or contained a secondary component. The additional US$4.5 million in venture debt came via Silicon Valley Bank. This brings FigBytes total funding to date to US$25 million across two rounds. http://bit.ly/3ULb8Ai

CommerceBear raises US$10.5 million to modernize outdated furniture e-commerce market.

CommerceBear raised a total of US$10.5 million to help it win more of the market and make e-commerce accessible to the entire furniture and home goods industry. CommerceBear raised the money in what Vlessing referred to as two tranches throughout this year. The first included Garage Capital and some other investors that put in US$4 million, and then followed on in the second (US$6 million) tranche that was led by Inovia. CommerceBear’s other investors include Spider Capital, Watchfire Ventures, WIN, and FJ Labs, as well as angel investors like Lightspeed Commerce president JD St-Martin, Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl, and unnamed executives from Stripe, Shopify, Airbnb, PayPal, Whatsapp, and Uber. https://bit.ly/3uFMczE

Private wireless network startup Expeto closes US$12 million Series B supported by Samsung Next, 5G Open Innovation Lab.

Vancouver-based Expeto has secured US$12 million in Series B funding to make enterprise mobile networks “as easy to deploy and manage as enterprise Wi-Fi.” The startup, which helps large enterprises extend private networks across virtually any type of cellular connectivity, plans to invest this capital in product development and expand its go-to-market programs. Expeto’s all-primary Series B round closed in September, and consisted of US$12 million in equity funding. The financing was led by Utah’s Sorenson Capital, with participation from fellow new investors 5G Open Innovation Lab out of Seattle and Samsung Next, Samsung’s venture arm. The round was also supported by a trio of existing Expeto backers in Vancouver’s Evok Innovations, Virginia-based Lavrock Ventures, and Ottawa’s Mistral Venture Partners. This capital brings Expeto’s total funding to over US$25 million, a figure that includes an additional $5 million in debt from an undisclosed source. https://bit.ly/3PlGegH

Fintel Connect closes $4.8 million to help financial institutions drive cost-effective growth.

Vancouver-based Fintel Connect raised its first venture financing late this summer, securing over $4.8 million  to fuel tech development and its United States expansion plans. The all-equity seed round was led by California’s BankTech Ventures  with support from Export Development Canada. https://bit.ly/3hbxixI

Led by former Ada employees, Lancey secures $2 million to let B2B software buyers “try before you buy”.

Toronto-based startup Lancey has secured $2 million from Panache Ventures, Union Capital, Garage Capital, Functional Capital, Y Combinator (YC), Techstars managing director Collin Wallace, and Ada co-founder and CEO Mike Murchison. This summer, Lancey graduated from YC as part of the Silicon Valley accelerator’s smallest Canadian cohort since Winter 2019. The startup’s seed round, which represents Lancey’s first funding to date, closed in early October and was raised as a SAFE. https://bit.ly/3VBA4vc

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

India’s Snapdeal to shelve US$152 million IPO amid tech stocks rout.

SoftBank-backed Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal has decided to pull the plug on its US$152 million IPO, the company told Reuters, making it the latest casualty of a meltdown in tech stocks that has soured investor sentiment. Snapdeal filed its initial public offering (IPO) regulatory papers for approval in December 2021, a year that saw many stock market debuts and record fund raising by Indian startups. But many are delaying IPOs amid a stock market rout that has raised concerns over frothy tech valuations. Snapdeal, which competes with larger rivals Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart in India’s booming e-commerce space, filed a request this week with the country’s market regulator SEBI to withdraw its IPO prospectus, said one source with direct knowledge of the matter. “There is no appetite for tech stocks right now,” said the source, who added that SEBI has been told about the prevailing market conditions and certain other strategic decisions that contributed to the change in IPO plans. Investors SoftBank, Sequoia Capital and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board had offered to sell a part of their stakes in the IPO. https://tinyurl.com/sty8tt4r

Stablecoin issuer Circle terminates US$9 billion SPAC deal.

Circle, the company behind stablecoin USDC, said it will no longer go public via merger with special purpose acquisition company Concord Acquisition Corp. on Monday. Jeremy Allaire, the cofounder and CEO of Circle, says the company did not complete the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “qualification in time.” Circle announced plans to go public in July of 2021, with a US$4.5 billion valuation in its initial agreement. In February, the company updated those figures to a US$9 billion valuation. The company says that it “became profitable” in Q3 2022 with US$274 million in revenue and almost US$400 million in unrestricted cash. “We are strong, growing, profitable and in the best financial position we’ve ever been in,” Allaire added. https://bit.ly/3HjUAME

Vietnamese luxury EV-maker VinFast files to go public on Nasdaq.

Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast has filed for an initial public offering in the United States, the company said Tuesday. Shares will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker “VFS.” VinFast, which was founded in 2017 and began operations in 2019, will convert to a Singapore public limited company for the IPO. The number of shares to be offered and the price range of the offering haven’t been disclosed. The EV startup has been pursuing the U.S. market, most recently with a showcase of four SUVs presented at the LA Auto Show. Over the summer, VinFast received US$1.2 billion in incentives to build a factory in North Carolina, where the automaker hopes to begin building cars by July 2024. VinFast has even promised a US$7,500 discount to potential American buyers that would hold out to buy an EV eligible for U.S. EV tax incentives. https://bit.ly/3hg8Awo

Early stage startups are light on cash.

Most early-stage startups have less than one year of runway, adding to pressure on these companies to raise capital despite unfavorable market conditions. As capital reserves dwindle, investors expect there will be a rush of companies seeking capital in 2023. Investment firm January Ventures found that of the 450 founders in the U.S. and Europe polled, 85% had less than 12 months of cash on hand, according to the firm’s new study. This is because many startups have avoided raising capital in 2022 for fear a new round could come with tougher terms. Fear of a down round, a term for a financing that reduces the price of a company’s stock rather than increases it, has also deterred founders from entering the fundraising market. January Ventures also found that most of the founders polled were still working remotely and plan to continue doing so. While many big tech companies like Apple and Twitter have required employees to return to the office, small startups are opting not to have an office at all. https://tinyurl.com/2uzpz9xe

Defense tech startup Anduril raises massive US$1.5 billion round at US$8.5 billion valuation.

In a year where venture funding has slowed, defense and security firm Anduril helped close it with a big bang — and raise. The Costa Mesa, California-based startup locked up a Series E worth nearly US$1.5 billion that values the company at US$8.5 billion. That nearly doubles the company’s previous valuation in June 2021. The funding round was led by Valor Equity Partners, with participation from Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, 8VC , Lux Capital, Thrive Capital, DFJ Growth, Elad Gil, Lachy Groom, Human Capital, Marlinspike, WCM Investment Management, MVP Ventures, Lightspeed Venture and US Innovative Technology Fund. Anduril builds software and hardware enhanced with artificial intelligence and machine learning for their military and defense industry. It works with the U.S. and its allies to create drones, underwater vehicles and different operating and control systems. “Security threats are evolving faster than the DOD can keep pace. In order to really outmaneuver emerging threats we need to move past just efficiencies and create clear step changes in capability, quickly,” said co-founder and CEO Brian Schimpf. Luckey hsaid he started Anduril because many big tech firms were turning their backs on doing business with the U.S. DOD, hurting the U.S. military’s ability to modernize as U.S. defense needs change. http://bit.ly/3P4ouGD

NRG Energy to buy Vivint smart home for US$2.8 billion.

NRG Energy said it agreed to buy Vivint Smart Home Inc. which offers integrated home systems that include security, lighting and other services, for US$2.8 billion in cash. NRG, which produces and sells energy services, said it would pay US$12 a share for Vivint, based in Provo, Utah. The deal price marks a 33% premium to Vivint’s closing price on Monday of US$8.99 a share. Including debt, the companies put the total deal value at US$5.2 billion. “Last year at our investor day, we presented our strategic road map to becoming the leading provider of essential services for homes and businesses, informed by consumer trends and underpinned by disciplined execution,” NRG Chief Executive Mauricio Gutierrez said. NRG said it expects to use excess free-cash flow in 2023 to fund the deal, pay down acquisition-related debt and maintain its dividend-growth policy. Shares of NRG fell almost 4% to $39.26 in premarket trading. https://tinyurl.com/k5vnbbb8

FTC sues to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday took its most aggressive actions since Lina Khan became chair to rein in the power of Big Tech, pursuing a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition of a game developer on the same day it opened arguments in another case against Meta’s purchase of a virtual reality start-up. In both cases, the FTC argued that the acquisitions would squash future innovation in emerging gaming markets, a relatively novel interpretation of antitrust law that Khan (D) and her allies have championed as they seek to usher in an era of competition enforcement. https://bit.ly/3YcrO6I

Elon Musk’s bankers consider Tesla margin loans to cut risky Twitter debt.

Elon Musk’s bankers are considering providing the billionaire with new margin loans backed by Tesla Inc. stock to replace some of the high-interest debt he layered on Twitter Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter. The margin loans are one of several options the Morgan Stanley-led bank group and Musk’s advisers have discussed to soften the burden of the US$13 billion of debt Twitter took on as part of Musk’s US$44 billion acquisition, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. Banks have been forced to fund the entire debt package with their own cash after a deterioration in credit markets and a tumultuous start to Musk’s reign at Twitter made the debt difficult to syndicate to institutional investors. The company is estimated to face annual interest costs of about US$1.2 billion if the current debt structure remains in place, more than a measure of Twitter’s earnings for the whole of 2021. The discussions have so far focused on how to replace US$3 billion of unsecured debt on which Twitter pays an interest rate of 11.75%, the maximum banks had guaranteed Musk when they agreed to finance the acquisition in April, the people said. https://tinyurl.com/47952yun

Plaid cuts 20% of staff after growth falls short.

Plaid, a San Francisco-based fintech startup, announced on Wednesday that it is laying off 260 employees, or approximately 20% of its staff. Plaid sells software to other fintech companies to allow them to connect to users’ banks and credit cards, making it a bellwether for the state of fintech as a whole. In a letter to employees announcing the layoffs, CEO Zach Perret wrote that the company had hired in advance of revenue growth that was slow to materialize. The company last raised US$425 million in April 2021 in a funding round that valued it at US$13.4 billion, after the collapse of a merger with Visa that would have valued the company at US$5.3 billion. “Despite being well-diversified across every category of financial services, we are seeing customers across the industry experiencing slower-than-expected growth,” CEO Zach Perret wrote in a letter to employees. Perret didn’t provide details on Plaid’s revenue growth. Stripe, the payments company, and Chime, the neobank startup, also recently laid off double-digit percentages of their employees. Big tech companies like Meta and Twitter have laid off employees as well. https://tinyurl.com/4d9w7cp5

Coinbase revenue will plunge at least 50% in 2022, CEO Armstrong says.

Coinbase CEO officer Brian Armstrong expects the crypto exchange’s revenue to plunge at least 50% this year as digital assets continue to reel. Shares of Coinbase were up 2.74% on Thursday, but are still down 82% year-to-date amid a harsh sell-off that has wiped out more than US$2 trillion in market cap from the crypto sector since November 2021. The warning comes after Coinbase cut 18% of its workforce in June, slashing around 1,200 employees. The crypto market took another hit last month, when Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, which was once valued at US$30 billion, filed for bankruptcy. https://bit.ly/3PhXCmI

Apple accelerates plans to move production out of China amid protests.

Production at factories like Foxconn has taken a massive hit amid riots over zero-Covid policies. Shifting production will likely be difficult in the current global economic climate. Apple is pushing to expedite a pivot away from manufacturing in China, as protests swell over the country’s strict zero-Covid policies and riots thwart production. The technology giant is ramping up efforts to shift production to other Asian countries like India and Vietnam in order to distance itself from Foxconn, one of the company’s top suppliers and operator of the world’s largest iPhone factory in China. Apple plans to source up to 45% of iPhone production from factories in India, where it currently manufactures in just the single digits, and to ramp up manufacturing of other products in Vietnam.  http://bit.ly/3VZnndC

Foxconn sees COVID-hit China plant back at full output in late Dec-early Jan.

Apple supplier Foxconn expects its COVID-hit Zhengzhou plant in China to resume full production around late December to early January, a Foxconn source said on Monday, after worker unrest last month disrupted the world’s biggest iPhone factory. The world’s largest contract electronics maker later on Monday said revenue in November fell 11.4% year on year reflecting production problems related to COVID-19 controls at the major iPhone factory. Foxconn said November revenue for its smart consumer electronics business, which includes smartphones, declined year on year partly due to a portion of shipments being impacted by production disruptions in Zhengzhou. It did not elaborate. Analysts say Foxconn assembles around 70% of iPhones, and the Zhengzhou plant produces the majority of its premium models including iPhone 14 Pro. “The capacity is now being gradually resumed” with new staff hiring under way, said the person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person declined to the named as the information was private. “If the recruitment goes smoothly, it could take around three to four weeks to resume full production,” the person said, pointing to a period around late December to early January. https://tinyurl.com/4cbmdzhw

Emerging Technologies

Apple headset faces more delays due to software.

Apple’s long-awaited AR/VR headset might be facing another round of delays. According to the latest supply chain data gathered by Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may have delayed mass shipments of its headset to the second half of 2023 as it works to resolve software-related issues. Bloomberg reported last week that Apple’s headset will run on the “xrOS” platform, rather than the previously reported “realityOS” name. It’s important to remember that a delay in mass shipments doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple’s headset won’t be announced in the first half half of the year. Predicted shipments of the device will be “less than 500,000 units” in 2023. The consensus of other analysts, range from 800,000 to 1.2 million units. http://bit.ly/3VZiqS0

Uber and Motional launch robotaxi service in Las Vegas.

Uber and Motional, the Hyundai-Aptiv joint venture focused on commercializing self-driving technology, have launched a robotaxi service in Las Vegas — the first step in the companies’ 10-year plan to co-scale across major North American cities, which was announced in October. While Motional has already launched similar services in Las Vegas on both the Lyft and Via networks, this is Uber’s first time offering autonomous rides to the public. It comes a year after Motional and Uber partnered to test autonomous delivery in Santa Monica, California, which is still ongoing. Los Angeles will be Uber and Motional’s second launch city “at a later date,” according to Motional. https://bit.ly/3F87b2A

Apple scales back self-driving car and delays launch until 2026.

Apple Inc. has scaled back ambitious self-driving plans for its future electric vehicle and postponed the car’s target launch date by about a year to 2026, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The car project, dubbed Titan inside the company, has been in limbo for the past several months as Apple executives grappled with the reality that its vision for a fully autonomous vehicle — without a steering wheel or pedals — isn’t feasible with current technology. https://bit.ly/3VNM7pw

Industrial robots in China ‘pushing people out of jobs’.

Exposure to industrial robots in the workplace leads to less participation in the labor force, less employment, and less pay, according to economics researchers. Workplace automation also appears to increase family debt and reduce – by only a small amount – the number of children born to affected families, while adding to the time and money that families invest in existing children. Citing a 2016 paper, as many as 77 percent of Chinese jobs are susceptible to automation. They also found that robot exposure reduces hourly income (-9 percent) but does so without affecting annual income because those affected – mainly low-skilled, male, and prime-age and older workers – tend to work longer hours (+14 percent) to make up for the lower wages. Or they go into debt. As robots proliferate, that prompts older workers to retire early while younger workers are more likely to participate in technical or work-related training to maintain their value in the labor market. https://bit.ly/3UIPwED

ChatGPT should worry Google and Alphabet.

Why search when you can ask AI? A new chatbot from OpenAI took the internet by storm this week, dashing off poems, screenplays and essay answers that were plastered as screenshots all over Twitter by the breathless technoratti. Though the underlying technology has been around for a few years, this was the first time OpenAI has brought its powerful language-generating system known as GPT3 to the masses, prompting a race by humans to give it the most inventive commands. Beyond the gimmicky demos, some people are already finding practical uses for ChatGPT, including programmers who are using it to draft code or spot errors. But the system’s biggest utility could be a financial disaster for Google by supplying superior answers to the queries we currently put to the world’s most powerful search engine. https://bit.ly/3FeYHqD

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Meta cannot run ads based on personal data, EU privacy watchdog rules.

Meta cannot run advertising based on personal data and will need users’ consent to do so, according to a confidential EU privacy watchdog decision, a person familiar with matter said on Tuesday. The Irish privacy regulator, which will issue the final decision, has been given a month by EU privacy watchdog the European Data Protection Board to do so. Its decision is likely to include hefty fines, the person said. https://tinyurl.com/yeyn7jfh

Musk’s Neuralink under federal investigation over animal testing.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is under fire for its animal testing practices, Reuters reports. The startup, which is developing devices that enable people to communicate with computers using only their minds, is under federal investigation for potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act stemming from its testing practices, according to the report. Pressure from Musk to rush development of its technology has led to botched experiments, which has resulted in an unnecessary number of animals being tested on and killed, according to Reuters, citing current and former employees as well as documents. To encourage Neuralink employees to work harder, Musk reportedly told them to imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads. The pressure and testing practices have created concern among employees and led to several departures, according to the report. Neuralink is currently applying for approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration to conduct trials in humans, Musk said at a show-and-tell event for the startup last week. The company hopes to put its first brain implant in a human in around six months, Musk said. https://tinyurl.com/mwhcm3fk


Amazon announces TikTok-like social feed of shoppable videos, photos.

Amazon is launching a new social feed of shoppable content from influencers and brands, becoming the latest company aiming to emulate TikTok’s wildly popular and lucrative video-sharing model. The e-commerce giant announced the new feature, titled Inspire, on Thursday. An Amazon spokesperson told Insider the social feed is currently being rolled out to select US customers and will be available to all users in the coming months. The continuous feed will include short-form videos and photos featuring items available for purchase directly on Amazon. According to the company, Inspire is customized to the user and designed to eliminate the “need to search elsewhere or comment on a post to get more details for products featured online.” The move marks Amazon as the latest in a growing list of companies experimenting with social shopping feeds in the hopes of cashing in on the popularity of TikTok’s business model. https://bit.ly/3UJK1Wm

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Binance.US slashes some trading fees in land grab for new customers.

Crypto exchange Binance.US announced Wednesday that users will be able to trade ethereum with no fees in a move to try and gain new users following the collapse of FTX and its U.S. exchange, FTX US. The decision follows a similar move to cut fees for bitcoin spot trading in June. Like that move, fees will be waived for ethereum trading when users buy or sell one of the three major stablecoins—USDC, tether and Binance USD—or U.S. dollars on the other side of the trade. “By eliminating fees first on BTC and now ETH, we are further cementing our position as the low fee leader in crypto, raising awareness for the high fees consumers are paying on other platforms, and helping to restore trust in the greater ecosystem,” Binance.US CEO Brian Shroder said in a company blog post. The decision comes roughly a month after FTX collapsed. Some crypto trading platforms like Robinhood have seen a bump in trading volume, and Binance.US is likely hoping to bring on former FTX US traders. Binance.US, which is the U.S. exchange connected to global exchange Binance, also announced that customers would receive 25% discounts on all trading fees if it uses the BNB token, the native token of Binance. https://tinyurl.com/3w2vedj6

Ledger’s latest crypto wallet taps iPod designer in bid to boost accessibility.

Ledger, a security-focused firm that sells crypto hardware wallets, has partnered with the designer behind the iPod, Tony Fadell, in hopes of creating an easier, more accessible way for users to secure their crypto assets. Crypto hardware wallets have gained traction in recent weeks, thanks to users wanting to self-custody their digital assets after industry-changing events like crypto exchange FTX exploding and halting customers from withdrawing their assets. Ledger’s chief experience officer, Ian Rogers, said the company had its biggest sales day ever, which ended its biggest sales week ever, in mid-November after FTX collapsed, which signals the demand for hardware crypto wallets is rising. The eight-year-old company has sold more than 5 million devices to consumers across 200 countries and secures about 20% of the global crypto assets being held to date, it said. The newest product, Ledger Stax, joins existing hardware products like Nano S Plus and Nano X. https://tinyurl.com/mvtky3th


Tim Cook says Apple will use chips built in the U.S. at Arizona factory.

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that Apple will buy U.S.-made microchips at an event in Arizona on Tuesday, where President Joe Biden also spoke. Cook said Apple would buy processors made in a new Arizona factory, according to a video from the event. “And now, thanks to the hard work of so many people, these chips can be proudly stamped Made in America,” Cook said. “This is an incredibly significant moment.” The chip factories will be owned and operated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the biggest foundry company with over half of the global market share. TSMC said on Tuesday that it would spend US$40 billion on the two Arizona plants. The first plant in Phoenix is expected to produce chips by 2024. The second plant will open in 2026, according to the Biden administration. The TSMC plants will produce 600,000 wafers per year when fully operational, which is enough to meet U.S. annual demand, according to the National Economic Council. The U.S. plants will be a small fraction of TSMC’s total capacity, which produced 12 million wafers in 2020. https://bit.ly/3Y7w1sd


Electric F-150 was so popular Ford started building another factory.

Ford’s F-150 truck looks set to retain its crown as America’s best-selling vehicle for the 41st consecutive year. After launching an electric version last year, it received nearly 200,000 orders for the Lightning opened and had to close its order book last December in a bid to catch up. “That surprised us – I think it surprised a lot in the industry, how ready people already were for electric vehicles,” says Darren Palmer, who heads up Ford’s EV program. The level of demand forced Ford to take some drastic action to boost the number of Lightning trucks it can produce in Michigan. “They’re actually building a factory almost the same size alongside the one that’s producing at the moment,” Palmer told Insider. “We had to cut the walls open again and start again.” Despite recently committing US$50 billion to its EV program over the next four years, the success of an electric F-150 was never certain. In the meantime, Ford will try to increase production from the existing factory to double its annual output to 150,000 annually.  http://bit.ly/3iK5Yao

Rising battery prices keeping electric cars expensive, delaying cheap models.

Truly affordable electric cars may be even farther away than we all thought. After dropping for years, the price of lithium-ion batteries rose in 2022. The going price for the battery packs used in EVs and energy storage projects jumped to US$151 per kilowatt-hour in 2022, a 7% increase over 2021. It’s the first year-over-year cost increase BloombergNEF has seen since it started tracking the market for lithium-ion batteries in 2010. As electric cars have graduated from niche to mainstream, battery costs have plummeted. (US$1,306/kWh in 2010, according to BloombergNEF.) And those steadily declining prices held the promise that someday EVs would cost roughly the same as combustion-engine cars and trucks. But surging prices for the raw materials that go into batteries, among other factors, have delayed that future. Americans paid an average of US$64,249 for a new EV in October, according to Kelley Blue Book. The average transaction price for all new cars was just over US$48,000. https://bit.ly/3hdw05w

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Sophic Client Legend Power Systems Inc. (LPS-TSXV, LPSIF-OTC) presents at the Planet MicroCap Showcase.

Listen to Legend Power® Systems Inc., a global leader in commercial electrical system solutions, present at the Planet MicroCap Showcase. “Renewable energy facilities connected to the electrical grid and aging power infrastructure provide strong use cases for commercial real estate operators to adopt Legend Power Systems’ portfolio of SmartGATE solutions,” said Legend Power Systems CEO Randy Buchamer. “In fact, we have several opportunities with major commercial real estate operators and government agencies that could each be worth several hundred SmartGATE units over multiple years. Beyond these, our sales pipeline remain strong; our supply chain has been improving; and our balance sheet is ready to support our growth. https://bit.ly/3uWlOSh

Sophic Client UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) presents at the Planet MicroCap Showcase.

Listen to UGE International Ltd., a leading developer of community and commercial solar projects, present at the Planet MicroCap Showcase. “As one of the leading developers of community solar projects, UGE is well placed for years of high growth and value creation,” said UGE CEO Nick Blitterswyk. “Earlier this week we closed our latest green bond financing, at $7.4 million, which provides us ample non-dilutive financing to execute on our business plan. With the Inflation Reduction Act setting policy for the next decade, and a strong and growing balance sheet, we look forward to growing our operational portfolio and backlog significantly in 2023 and beyond. https://bit.ly/3FGYKgu

Sophic Client OneSoft Solutions Inc. (OSS-TSXV, OSSIF-OTC) presents at the Planet MicroCap Showcase.

Listen to One Soft Solutions Inc., a North American developer of cloud-based business solutions for the pipeline industry, present at the Planet MicroCap Showcase. “Thus far in 2022, we have had several positive catalysts that further establish OneSoft Solutions as the leading provider of pipeline integrity management solutions that leverage cloud computing, machine learning and advanced data management and enhance our competitive moat,” said Mr. Taylor. “We’ve signed more hallmark clients to multi-year SaaS agreements this year, including our first Australian pipeline operator and second energy Super Major; introduced the first phase of our Integrity-as-a-Service cloud offering; closed an acquisition that was immediately accretive; and reported record revenues for the third quarter ending September 30, 2022. We’re confident about our future and have a solid balance sheet to support our growth. https://bit.ly/3HoA0dS


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