While Canadian capital markets slowed this week after a very busy previous week, in the week ahead, we’re looking forward to the trading debut of Sophic client, Luckbox (LUCK-TSXV). Emerge Ecommerce (ECOM-TSXV) is also expected to start trading this coming week. Meanwhile, in the USA, AirBnB, DoorDash and C3.AI, all had very strong trading debuts as expected by most. At the same time, IPOs of Roblox and Affirm seem delayed to 2021, with speculation that these companies may try a different approach than the traditional IPO in order to avoid massive IPO pops, which do not benefit companies issuing new stock. Some alternatives could include direct listing, auction IPOs or going public via a SPAC. At the same time, there seems to be increasing chatter about unsustainable valuations.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Dye & Durham (DND-TSX) announces transformational acquisition of DoProcess, the number one provider of real estate software in Canada, for $530 million from Teranet. The transaction provides a strategic and compelling opportunity to acquire the #1 provider of real estate practice management software in Canada, which manages over 1.4 million transactions annually.  OMERS to invest $30 million in Dye & Durham. Acquisition supported by a new $510 million debt financing facility with Scotiabank. In addition, the Company is raising approximately $225 million through a private placement equity financing supported by five of its existing long-term institutional shareholders. https://bit.ly/2WlhNWd

Mental health startup MindBeacon files for public offering on TSX. Toronto-based MindBeacon, which has created a digital mental health treatment platform, has officially filed to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). On Monday, MindBeacon filed a preliminary base PREP prospectus with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories for its proposed initial public offering (IPO). The startup is looking to raise gross proceeds of $50 million in the offering, with shares going for between $7 to $8 each. The number of shares to be sold has yet to be determined. The Toronto-based startup is looking to raise gross proceeds of $50 million in the offering. The Globe and Mail was first to report that the Toronto-based startup was looking to go public on the TSX. The outlet noted that MindBeacon had set out to raise $30 million from private investors this year, but after the success of numerous Canadian tech company listings decided to increase that amount and raise it in the public market. https://bit.ly/37W5AMW

Luckbox (Private, Sophic Client) CEO: Going public is the hardest thing I’ve done. For Quentin Martin, the Luckbox CEO, 2020 has been alright. In many ways it’s been stellar. “You know what, I have to be honest: running a business that’s grown so quickly, preparing for [Luckbox] to go public, hiring new staff — it’s all been incredibly hard with a new-born,” emphasised Martin. Luckbox hopes to make its debut on Toronto’s TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) on Monday 14th December (since the article was published, we expect listing sometime this coming week). Esports betting has had phenomenal success in 2020. The CEO of Draft Kings Jason Robins waxed lyrical about its incline, noting that during lockdown, “esports has stuck. It’s been a huge growth area for us over the last couple of months.” Martin buttressed this by telling Esports Insider: “Lockdown really accelerated esports betting years into the future. It’s been a period of hyper-growth for sure, but I think now we’re back to a steady rise going forward.” https://bit.ly/3mj24l2

UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC , Sophic Client) announces private placement has been upsized and is fully subscribed. UGE International Ltd., in the renewable energy solutions for the commercial and industrial sector, announced that, further to the company’s press release dated December 9, 2020 announcing a non-brokered private placement, the company now has a fully allocated private placement of 900,000 units for proceeds of $1,620,000 and intends to close the Offering on or before December 18, 2020. https://bit.ly/379xxBT

WeCommerce going public to further strategy of buying Shopify ecosystem companies. WeCommerce, the holding company controlled by Andrew Wilkinson’s Tiny Capital, is set to go public on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) via a reverse takeover of Brachium Capital Corp. The Victoria-based WeCommerce announced this week it has closed a qualifying transaction that will see it takeover Brachium Capital Corp. and list on the TSXV under the symbol ‘WE.V.’ WeCommerce is a company that was created by Tiny Capital in October 2019 to focus on acquiring businesses within the Shopify partner ecosystem. Tiny Capital allocated $25 million to achieve that goal. To date, WeCommerce has acquired six such companies, including Toronto-based Foursixty, which has developed software that helps brands and bloggers monetize on Instragram and Shopify. In addition to the reverse takeover, WeCommerce is set to complete a $60 million private placement in order to further its acquisition strategy. https://bit.ly/3gNnl5a

Emerge Commerce Ltd. (formerly Aumento Capital VII Corporation) closes reverse takeover transaction. EMERGE Commerce Ltd.will start trading on Monday (ECOM-TSXV). EMERGE acquires and operates niche e-commerce brands across N.America. The company’s three year pro forma growth rate is 2,203%. EMERGE’s operating e-commerce brands include UnderPar.com, WagJag.com, JustGolfStuff.ca, BeRightBack.ca (2 million members in total). At a 75c/sh stock price, the company will have a ~$60 mln market captalization. The company raised $10 million+ in its go public RTO financing + warrant exercises, and has witnessed triple digit revenue growth in H1 2020 and is Adjusted EBITDA positive. The company has recently strenghtened its Board, with John Kim’s (WELL Health) addition and Drew Green (INDOCHINO CEO) is the Chairman. https://bit.ly/2LyvGOz

Boast.ai raises $30 million Series A to revolutionize SR&ED tax credits with AI-powered approach.  Boast.ai, a software innovator whose flagship product automates the complex process of claiming R&D tax credits in the US and Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits in Canada, today announced raising $30 million in a Series A round led by Radian Capital, a growth-stage fund specializing in enterprise software. With this investment, Boast.ai will further develop their AI-powered platform to better serve their nearly 1,000 customers, launch new products to help companies leverage their eligibility for innovation incentives, and accelerate expansion into new markets. https://bit.ly/345BhlA

Kontrol Energy Corp (KNR-CSE, KNRLF-OTCQB): London-designed game-changing technology in the fight against COVID-19 going global. Good coverage on Kontrol by CTV in London, Ontario. Reminder: the company is hosting a BioCloud technology presentation for investors, analysts and media this coming Thursday (Decenber 17th) at 4:30 Eastern — (https://bit.ly/3496HYv Toll Free: 877-407-0782 International: 201-689-8567). Kontrol Energy Corporation has announced that its SARS/COVID-19 detector is about to be distributed to customers around the world. The BioCloud, made in the form of a wall unit, is described in a news release as a “real-time analyzer designed to detect airborne viruses, including SARS-COVID-2, by continuously sampling air quality and triggering a silent, cloud-based alert to facility managers.” The first BioCloud units are expected to be delivered and installed before Christmas. https://bit.ly/3gJPaLn

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Affirm joins Roblox in delaying its planned 2020 IPO after monster gains from Airbnb, Doordash. Affirm is delaying its planned IPO until next year, making it the second company in days to put their public debut on hold, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move comes shortly after Roblox decided to postpone its planned 2020 IPO until next year to seek a higher price, given the strong investor demand for high-growth tech IPOs. The recent IPO frenzy has been accelerated by the strong trading debuts of Airbnb and DoorDash earlier this week. Affirm’s planned 2020 IPO has been put on hold until next year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter. The point-of-sale lender’s decision to postpone its IPO comes shortly after Roblox decided to postpone its planned 2020 IPO until next year to seek a higher price, given the strong investor demand for high-growth tech IPOs. Affirm planned to begin pitching its shares to potential investors this coming week, and was on track to receive a market valuation of as much as US$10 billion, according to The Journal. Part of the reason Affirm delayed its offering was due to the high price spikes in recent offerings from Airbnb and DoorDash, as well as delays at the Securities Exchange Commission due to a surge in listing requests from private companies, the Journal reported. A steep correction in the stock market can occur at any time, closing the IPO window, as that’s not an ideal environment for a private company to go public. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink believes the recent IPO frenzy is “unsustainable” and could lead to “many accidents.” https://bit.ly/37gbKZf

Robinhood has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO that could value the stock-trading app at more than US$20 billion. Robinhood has hired Goldman Sachs to lead an initial public offering next year that could value the fintech startup at more than US$20 billion, Reuters reported Tuesday. The stock-trading app, which was last privately valued at US$11.7 billion, recently started interviewing bankers and is aiming for an IPO in Q1 2021, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. Robinhood pioneered commission-free stock trading and helped popularize it among millennials, but has also been plagued by data breaches, outages, and investigations from regulators. https://bit.ly/3gEQqj3

Tesla files to sell US$5 billion in stock while its shares are richly valued. Tesla is striking while its share price — and ballooning market cap — is hot, filing today to sell US$5 billion in shares after investors bid its equity to record levels. The newly announced dilutive fundraising event is having a muted impact on its value, which is off 2.3% in pre-market trading as investors digested the news. Tesla’s market capitalization is US$608 billion, meaning the stock sale is representing less than 1% of its value. Tesla is working with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BofA, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, SG Americas Securities and Wells Fargo, according to a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The same filing notes that Tesla will sell these shares “from time to time” and “at market prices.” Tesla said it will pay the banks a “commission of up to 0.25% of the aggregate gross proceeds” of the shares that they sell, or a maximum of US$12.5 million. https://tcrn.ch/37cewPe

SoftBank is discussing a ‘slow-burn’ buyout to go private. SoftBank Group Corp. is debating a new strategy to go private by gradually buying back outstanding shares until founder Masayoshi Son has a big enough stake he can squeeze out the remaining investors, according to people familiar with the matter. The approach would likely take more than a year and would mean the Japanese company continues to sell assets to fund successive buybacks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plan is private. Son wouldn’t buy more shares himself, but his ownership stake, now about 27%, would increase as other investors sell stock. Under Japanese regulations, Son could compel other shareholders to sell when he gets to 66% ownership, perhaps without paying a premium, the people said. One advantage of the plan, which insiders have called a “slow-motion” or “slow-burn” buyout, is that it gives SoftBank flexibility to purchase its own stock when it dips, according to the people. In the case of a formal buyout, it would have to pay a premium, likely of around 25%. Shareholders are also likely to support buybacks, especially since the company continues to trade at a discount to the total value of its holdings in companies from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Uber Technologies Inc. to DoorDash Inc. https://bloom.bg/3a1VZHb

Airbnb is worth more than the 3 largest hotel chains combined after its stock popped 143% on its first day of trading. Airbnb was worth more than the three largest hotel chains globally after its trading debut on Thursday. Airbnb’s share price closed at US$144.71, giving it a valuation of US$86.5 billion — Marriott, Hilton, and Intercontinental were worth US$84.1 billion combined when the markets closed Thursday. After a long awaited and uncertain road to its IPO, Airbnb’s stock on Thursday traded as high as 143% of its initial asking price of US$68 per share. But some strategists warned the massive debut rallies of Airbnb and DoorDash this week suggest the IPO market is approaching dot-com era levels of “euphoria and greed.” https://bit.ly/3gI11tm

C3.ai’s stock opens at more than double its IPO price, then adds to gains. C3.ai Inc. kicked off its public life Wednesday with a big bang, as the stock opened 138.1% above the initial public offering price. The IPO priced late Tuesday at US$42 a share, above the previously expected range, which was raised earlier this week to between US$36 and US$38 a share from between US$31 and US$34 a share. The California-based enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) software company raised US$651 million in the IPO. The stock’s first trade was at US$100.00 at 11:54 a.m. Eastern for 2.5 million shares. At that price, the company was being valued at about US$9.63 billion. The stock has added to gains since the open, and was last trading 145.0% above its IPO price. The company went public at a time that the Renaissance IPO ETF has soared 40.4% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has gained 8.8%. https://on.mktw.net/2K5t61G

Opendoor trading to begin Dec. 21. Home-selling firm Opendoor plans to begin trading its stock on Nasdaq on Dec. 21, the company said Monday. The listing is pending the approval of shareholders in Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. II, the shell company that is merging with Opendoor. The listing will complete one of the most high-profile mergers from a special purpose acquisition company this year. The firm will use the ticker symbol OPEN. The SPAC, helmed by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, valued Opendoor at US$4.8 billion in September. The shell company’s stock has increased since the merger announcement, implying an enterprise value for Opendoor of about US$12 billion. https://bit.ly/3mYcJT4

SPAC Foley Trasimene Acqisition to merge with Paysafe in deal with enterprise value of about US$9 billion. Foley Trasimene Acquisition Corp. II , a special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, said Monday it has agreed to merge with Paysafe Group Holdings Ltd, a payments platform, in a deal with a pro-forma enterprise value of about US$9 billion. SPACs are companies that go public without having a business, and then acquire one or more. Once the deal has closed, the new company will be renamed Paysafe and list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “PSFE.” Paysafe operates a consumer and merchant payment network, enabling businesses and consumers to transact through payment processing, digital wallet and online cash systems. The company has processed nearly US$100 million of payment volume, Foley said in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021. Foley shares rose 12% premarket on the news. https://on.mktw.net/2K0hEV0

Uber sells self-driving unit to Aurora, takes startup stake. Uber Technologies Inc. sold its self-driving car division to Aurora Innovation Inc. and took a stake in the startup, pulling back from its vision for a fleet of autonomous taxis to focus on turning a quarterly profit next year after the pandemic crushed revenue. The deal will value Aurora at US$10 billion, according to people familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified discussing private information. In exchange for investing US$400 million in Aurora, Uber will get a 26% ownership stake in the company. That number increases to 40% when counting the stakes held by the employees and investors of Uber’s autonomous driving division. The price tag is a comedown for Uber, whose self-driving division, Advanced Technologies Group, raised money last year at a US$7.25 billion valuation. The agreement with Aurora values the unit at just US$4 billion, following Uber’s investment. https://bloom.bg/2VYkRr6

Sony is buying anime streaming service Crunchyroll from AT&T for US$1.175 billion. Sony will be buying anime streaming service Crunchyroll from AT&T for $1.175 billion, Sony and AT&T announced Wednesday. “We are excited to embark on this new journey,” said Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll, in a statement. “Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3 million subscribers, 50 million social followers and 90 million registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon. Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.” AT&T has been shopping around Crunchyroll for some time, and AT&T and Sony have apparently been in talks for months about the deal. In August, The Information reported that AT&T wanted Sony to pay US$1.5 billion for Crunchyroll, and the two sides were reportedly close to a nearly US$1 billion deal in October. https://bit.ly/2Lw5sMD

Hyundai purchases Boston Dynamics, maker of Spot dog robot, for US$921 million. Hey, remember those deeply unsettling robot dogs that have been creeping out the internet for years and recently went into production? The company that makes them is called Boston Dynamics, and according to a report published Wednesday by The Korea Economic Daily, it just got bought by Hyundai for around US$921 million. In reality, this will probably be a leg up for the company in designing industrial robots or robots meant for use in logistics — as we’ve seen from Boston Dynamics’ non-techno-canine offerings, Handle and Atlas. https://cnet.co/3nbpHwU

NortonLifeLock to acquire Aviva for US$360 million. Cybersecurity company NortonLifeLock Inc. announced Monday morning that it plans to acquire Aviva, a company that makes security solutions for computers, smartphone, home networks, and smart devices. The company intends to pay about US$360 million to acquire Aviva from Investcorp Technology Partners. NortonLifeLock expects that the deal will accelerate its growth in Europe and emerging markets while bringing a “freemium” business model to the company. NortonLifeLock also anticipates that the deal will be accretive in the first year. Shares of NortonLifeLock are up 0.8% in morning trading Monday. The stock has fallen about 24% so far this year as the S&P 500 has gained roughly 14%. https://on.mktw.net/3mQ0p7o

Cisco strikes £543 million deal for IMImobile. Cisco Systems said it’s buying IMImobile for £543 million (US$720 million), or 595 pence in cash per share, a 48% premium to Friday’s close. Cisco said the deal will help build its customer experience as a service offer. The deal also has support of shareholders representing 54.5% of IMImobile’s shares. IMImobile separately said its adjusted pretax profit in the first half to Sept. 30 rose 30% to £6.8 million, while revenue fell 9% to £75.9 million. https://on.mktw.net/2VPFLIH

Apple CEO says most staff won’t return to office until June. Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook shared new details on the company’s plan to return to the office during a virtual town hall meeting with employees on Thursday. Cook said it “seems likely” that the majority of teams won’t be back before June 2021. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has historically had an office-centric culture, but the CEO implied that the company’s success this year during the pandemic lockdown could enable more flexibility to work remotely in the future. https://bloom.bg/2IGt5AU

Emerging Technologies

Apple reportedly relied on robots and augmented reality to build the new iPhone from afar during the early days of coronavirus lockdowns. The pandemic posed a “huge challenge” to Apple’s hardware design process and resulted in major adjustments to the manufacturing process, hardware chief Dan Riccio told employees this week, according to a report from Bloomberg. Coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions hit the US in March, around the same time Apple typically launches manufacturing on the hardware products that debuted this past fall. Instead of sending employees to China like it usually does, Apple reportedly used robots and augmented reality to help employees work together. US-based workers also adjusted their hours to better communicate with employees in China, Bloomberg reports. https://bit.ly/3qSbkjl

Google’s new operating system inches closer to launch. Google said on Tuesday that its new open-source operating system, Fuchsia, is now accepting contributions from developers outside the company. Fuchsia still isn’t ready for “general product development,” Google said, but the announcement signals that the anticipated project, which kicked off around 2015, is inching closer to a public launch. Google said on Tuesday that the Fuchsia is “designed to prioritize security, updatability, and performance,“ but just how it will implement the new operating system is still unknown. From previous reports and conversations with people familiar with the matter, though, it’s likely that Fuchsia will launch first in Google’s smart home devices before it appears on smartphones or laptops.  https://bit.ly/3oCddim

FAA gives approval for company to use swarms of drones to reforest burned areas. DroneSeed, a company that uses fleets of drones to reforest areas burned in wildfires, received approval in October from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its heavy-lift drones to operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and to expand its use of heavy-lift drone swarms to California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. They previously had FAA authorization to operate in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The FAA’s action allows DroneSeed to begin reforesting once a fire is contained and airspace is clear. Their aircraft drop seeds that are encapsulated in vessels consisting of four to six seeds, fertilizer, natural pest deterrents, and fibrous material which absorbs water and increases survivability. The company has designed a system around a swarm of drones that can drop tree seeds in places where they have a decent chance of survival. A swarm of five drones can reseed 25 to 50 acres each day, said Grant Canary, CEO of DroneSeed. While on a seed-dropping mission each drone can stay in the air for 8 to 18 minutes, then returns to the helibase where it is reloaded with seed vessels and the battery is replaced. Mr. Canary said it takes about 6 minutes to replace the battery and the 57-pound seed vessel container. https://bit.ly/2JSjRlN

SpaceX’s Starship prototype explodes on landing after test launch. SpaceX’s Starship prototype exploded while attempting to land on Wednesday after an otherwise successful test launch from the company’s rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas, live video of the flight showed. The Starship rocket destroyed in the accident was a 16-story-tall prototype for the heavy-lift launch vehicle being developed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars. The self-guided rocket blew up as it touched down on a landing pad following a controlled descent. The test flight had been intended to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet, propelled by three of SpaceX’s newly developed Raptor engines for the first time. But the company left unclear whether the rocket had flown that high. https://reut.rs/3oFjQAu

Pentagon scientists seek device to detect COVID-19 in the air. The U.S. has been fighting the novel coronavirus from a defensive posture—wearing masks, quarantining and testing and contact tracing when symptoms arise, at best. But the Defense Department’s team of mad scientists want to know if they can detect COVID-19 in the air and proactively tell people to avoid a specific location. As part of its Disruption Opportunities, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, put out a call for “innovative basic or applied research concepts in the technical domain of environmental pathogen sensing,” according to the opportunity notice. That research will be used to forward development of a sensitive sensor capable of detecting SARS-CoV-2—the technical name for the virus that results in a COVID-19 infection. The SenSARS platform “could provide a new mechanism for public health monitoring,” including clearing public places like schools and government buildings as “safe” before being used. https://bit.ly/3gGnhnK

Did QuantumScape just solve a 40-year-old battery problem? If electric vehicles are ever going to fully supplant gas guzzlers on the world’s roads, they’re going to need an entirely new type of battery. Despite steady improvements over the past decade in the energy density and lifetimes of lithium-ion batteries, the cells in new EVs still lag behind internal combustion engines on pretty much every performance metric. Most EVs have a range of less than 300 miles, it takes more than an hour to recharge their battery packs, the cells lose nearly a third of their capacity within a decade, and they pose a serious safety risk because of their flammable materials. https://bit.ly/3qIjL0M

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Disney Plus is increasing its price to US$8 a month starting in March 2021. Disney Plus is following Netflix and introducing a US$1 price hike for subscribers in the United States, raising it to US$7.99 a month. The move comes after a lengthy presentation showing what Disney is bringing to Disney Plus. The price hike will begin on March 26, 2021, coming in at US$7.99 per month or US$79.99 per year. Also, the Disney Bundle — that has Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN Plus — will see a US$1 increase to US$13.99 a month. Although it seems early for a Disney Plus hike, the announcement comes amidst a flurry of other announcements over TV shows and movies heading to Disney Plus. The more that Disney spends on content for its service, the more revenue Disney needs to invest. https://bit.ly/2LuELb7

WarnerMedia’s CEO predicts that blockbuster movies will have US$1 billion budgets in the future as streaming surges. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar told The New York Times he thinks blockbuster movies will have budgets of US$1 billion or more in the future as streaming subscriptions grow. “When a typical leading subscription service of general entertainment has, say, 600 million paying global subscribers, at those levels you can responsibly invest US$1 billion in a movie and have confidence that it’s going to be a very good economic endeavor,” Kilar said. WarnerMedia sent shockwaves through Hollywood last week when it announced that all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 movies would debut on HBO Max and in theaters in the US simultaneously. https://bit.ly/3mcpUPc

TikTok overtakes Facebook as most-downloaded app in 2020, global app spending hits US$112 billion. A new report from App Annie today highlights some of the mobile app trends of 2020. TikTok has booted Facebook from its reign as the most-downloaded app while iOS and Android downloads are expected to hit 130 billion with global spending forecasted to hit US$112 billion this year. TikTok’s momentum has grown significantly over the last few years and 2020 it continued that trend to overtake Facebook as the most-downloaded app The App Annie report seen by Fast Company, highlights that TikTok jumped up 3 places in the rankings to become the most-popular mobile app. Notably, the Trump administration also dropped its effort to make TikTok sell off its US operations this week. TikTok also leaped 15 spots to become the second highest revenue generating app for “consumer spend” behind Tinder. However, Facebook’s apps still make up the top four apps when its comes to monthly active users. Looking at other big trends in the mobile space for 2020, global revenue for iOS and Android was up 25% for the year to $112 billion. No surprise here, but games made up 71% of the US$112 billion and iOS took 65% of that total (as is typical) even though Android accounts for a greater volume of downloads. The 130 billion downloads during 2020 represent a 10% increase compared to 2019 and again no surprise but business, streaming, finance, and shopping apps along with games saw the most growth during the pandemic. https://bit.ly/3m4hXLO

Google Stadia will let all users livestream games directly to YouTube. From the very beginning, Google Stadia and YouTube were supposed to work together — thanks to the magic of cloud computing, you’d be able to click a YouTube ad to instantly begin playing a game, YouTubers would be able to invite their viewers to instantly join their game, and — perhaps most importantly — creators would be able to instantly, effortlessly be able to livestream their Stadia games to YouTube just by pressing a button on the controller. None of those things happened at Stadia’s launch last November, but the biggest one is apparently arriving: every Stadia user will be able to livestream directly to YouTube, a representative confirms to The Verge.  https://bit.ly/3gziggv 

Microsoft confirms Xbox cloud gaming is coming to iOS. Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox cloud gaming is coming to iOS in 2021. In a new blog post, the company says that cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will come to iOS via web browser in spring of 2021. This was first rumored in October. Microsoft had decided not to launch its game streaming service on iOS because of the App Store guidelines. Bringing cloud gaming to the iPhone and iPad via the web browser will allow Microsoft to skirt the App Store guidelines altogether. https://bit.ly/3oK0nhV

Luckbox (Private, Sophic Client) partners with Paysafe’s Income Access on affiliate programme. Esports betting platform Luckbox has announced a partnership with online payment company Paysafe’s marketing technology Income Access to launch an affiliate programme. The partnership will power the Isle of Man-based operator’s affiliate programme by way of Income Access’ affiliate marketing solution and iGaming network. https://bit.ly/33WPhOv

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Facebook sued by FTC and states over antitrust. U.S. antitrust officials and a coalition of a states sued Facebook for allegedly abusing its dominance to crush competition, the second time in less than two months the government has brought a monopoly case against an American technology giant. The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general led by New York filed antitrust complaints against Facebook Wednesday, alleging conduct that thwarted competition from rivals in order to protect its monopoly. The FTC lawsuit seeks a court order unwinding Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. https://bit.ly/2KclSc8

Facebook hit by FTC antitrust suit that seeks to break off Instagram, WhatsApp. The Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook in federal court today, seeking a breakup of the company, including the divestiture of WhatsApp and Instagram. Separately, a group of prosecutors representing all but four states sued Facebook for violating antitrust laws by acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram while undermining third party developers. New York State Attorney General Letitia James said Facebook hit on a strategy of “squashing third party developers”  on its platform. James said that Facebook would cut off apps that were viewed as a competitive threat. Both the WhatsApp and the Instagram acquisitions were approved by regulators, which will make it tougher for state and federal prosecutors to make the case that Facebook acted illegally. Although the two cases were filed separately, they could ultimately be combined in a single lawsuit. The Justice Department and state prosecutors are jointly suing Google for violating antitrust laws. https://bit.ly/2JTJMtj

Hackers steal Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine data in Europe, say firms. United States drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday that documents related to their development of a COVID-19 vaccine had been “unlawfully accessed” in a cyberattack on Europe’s medicines regulator. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), responsible for assessing and approving medicines and vaccines for the European Union (EU), said hours earlier that it had been targeted in a cyberattack. It gave no further details. https://bit.ly/2K8IhHq

Amazon works to avoid Google’s fate with EU antitrust regulators. Amazon faced the prospect of an escalating conflict with the European Union in November when Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, laid out evidence that the company may have unfairly used sales data from smaller retailers on its platform. The specter of Amazon using such data to identify emerging trends has been a major concern for regulators worldwide, and interest from Vestager—perhaps the world’s most feared antitrust enforcer—was an ominous sign. The EU also recently started a second probe into how the company picks products for a highlighted “buy box.” USBut while Vestager laid the groundwork for what could be a repeat of the bruising fight the EU has waged against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, resulting in fines of about $9 billion, she has also struck a surprisingly conciliatory note, hinting that Amazon.com Inc. might not have to head down the same track. The difference may be Amazon’s willingness to address enforcers’ concerns before the legal process goes too far. Amazon settled a 2017 EU probe into e-books, says Vestager, and has worked with other regulators, such as Germany’s Federal Cartel Office. “Amazon has been very forthcoming to solve the issues at stake” in other cases, Vestager told reporters on Nov. 10. While Google did try to settle three investigations the EU waged over the past decade, its offers either came too late to be taken seriously or didn’t go far enough to soothe angry rivals and their political supporters. https://bloom.bg/3n2rGU5

FireEye, a top cybersecurity firm, says it was hacked by a nation-state. For years, the cybersecurity firm FireEye has been the first call for government agencies and companies around the world who have been hacked by the most sophisticated attackers, or fear they might be. Now it looks like the hackers — in this case, evidence points to Russia’s intelligence agencies — may be exacting their revenge. FireEye revealed on Tuesday that its own systems were pierced by what it called “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities.” The company said hackers used “novel techniques” to make off with its own tool kit, which could be useful in mounting new attacks around the world. It was a stunning theft, akin to bank robbers who, having cleaned out local vaults, then turned around and stole the F.B.I.’s investigative tools. In fact, FireEye said on Tuesday, moments after the stock market closed, that it had called in the F.B.I. The hack was the biggest known theft of cybersecurity tools since those of the National Security Agency were purloined in 2016 by a still-unidentified group that calls itself the ShadowBrokers. That group dumped the N.S.A.’s hacking tools online over several months, handing nation-states and hackers the “keys to the digital kingdom,” as one former N.S.A. operator put it.North Korea and Russia ultimately used the N.S.A.’s stolen weaponry in destructive attacks on government agencies, hospitals and the world’s biggest conglomerates — at a cost of more than US$10 billion. https://nyti.ms/3qJvETW

 

eCommerce

Instagram launches shopping in Reels, its TikTok rival. Instagram is launching Shopping in Reels, its TikTok competitor. The new feature was announced in October as something the company had in the works, as part of a ongoing series of shopping-related updates to the Instagram app. With the launch, both businesses and creators will be able to tag products when they create Reels — the short-form videos that now have their own tab in Instagram following last month’s redesign. The company says many Reels already feature shopping content, like fashion looks, makeup and skincare, or other product how-tos. When people view an Instagram Reel with this content, they’ll be able to now tap a “View Products” button to either buy, save or learn more about the featured products. https://tcrn.ch/2IKrAlm

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

A 970% stock jump, credit card tricks and other misinformation on TikTok. People are flocking to the app for lessons on how to get rich and manage their finances, but it’s rife with dubious advice that could prove ruinous. This year, as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked economic havoc around the world, young people have increasingly turned to TikTok as a source of financial literacy and tips for managing their money. Hashtags like #sidehustle, #personalfinance, #investing and #stocktips have drawn millions of views in just a few months, and videos about how to become a millionaire by 22, which credit card to get or how to open a brokerage account have become regular programing. Hootsuite estimates 69% of TikTok users are between ages 13 and 24. The app’s short videos on personal-finance topics are more engaging and fun than what a finance-industry professional might offer. But the scattershot nature of the content and the focus on virality over facts means it’s hard to separate reasonable lessons from ideas that are misinformed, malicious or just a joke, like Zippler’s credit card “hack.” The interest in personal-finance advice on TikTok has coincided with another popular pandemic pastime for millennials and Gen Z: stock trading on platforms like Robinhood. In just a few months, some have gained millions of followers by offering tips on how to trade and what shares to buy. They often direct people to take further steps, such as purchase US$300 courses on their personal websites or to join their channels on communications app Discord where they offer more advice. https://bloom.bg/3m1OWAv

MicroStrategy to raise US$400 million to buy even more Bitcoin. MicroStrategy Inc. is doubling down on its Bitcoin bet, saying Monday that it plans to offer $400 million of convertible bonds in order to buy more of the cryptocurrency. The proceeds from the offering will be invested in Bitcoin “pending the identification of working capital needs,” the Virginia-based company said in statement. MicroStrategy bills itself as a business-intelligence firm but has been doubling down on its capital-allocation strategy disclosed in July, which includes investing up to US$250 million in assets including Bitcoin. MicroStrategy bought more of the cryptocurrency on Dec. 4, saying in a filing that it now has about 40,824 Bitcoins in total. The stock has doubled since the beginning of November as the price of Bitcoin has also surged. https://bloom.bg/3qKhthk

Facebook’s rebranded cryptocurrency Diem is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing,’ Germany’s finance minister says. Facebook’s renamed cryptocurrency is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and does not change the underlying risks that come with it, Germany’s finance minister said on Monday. “It is clear to me that Germany and Europe cannot and will not accept its entry into the market while the regulatory risks are not adequately addressed,” Olaf Scholz said after a G7 meeting. Financial leaders and central bankers have underscored the need to regulate digital currencies. Facebook changed Libra’s name to Diem to stress a simpler, revamped structure. https://bit.ly/2Kg3X4D

Semiconductors

Apple developing industry-leading CPUs with as many as 32 performance cores, targeting iMac and MacBook Pro. The M1 chip in the entry-level MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini lines already rivals high-end Intel CPUs. But a new report from Bloomberg indicates that Apple is confident it can fully leave Intel in the dust, as it works on next-generation Apple Silicon chips with higher power budgets. Bloomberg says Apple is working on successors to the M1 with up to 20 CPU cores, made up of 16 high performance and 4-efficiency cores. In 2021, the company is expected to roll out ARM versions of the higher-end MacBook Pro, “both entry-level and high-end iMac desktops”. An ARM Mac Pro is scheduled to follow in 2022. Bloomberg says the next round of Apple Silicon Macs will launch as soon as the spring, with another round of hardware updates in late 2021. https://bit.ly/3lZFxti

Apple started developing its first cellular modem chip for future devices. Rumors about Apple working on its own cellular modem are not exactly new, but they became more frequent after the company acquired Intel’s modem business in 2019. However, according to a new Bloomberg report, Apple has finally started to develop its first cellular modem chip. As expected, Apple will benefit from the US$1 billion acquisition of Intel’s modem division to build its team of engineers responsible for Apple’s first cellular modem. The company currently designs some proprietary wireless chips, including the H1 chip used in AirPods and the ultrawide-band U1 chip found in iPhone and Apple Watch. With its own cellular modem, Apple will have even more control over the functioning of phone calls and internet connection on the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad models with cellular. If it succeeds, Apple is expected to replace Qualcomm’s modems with its own chips. This should reduce costs for building new devices as Apple must pay licensing fees to Qualcomm. https://bit.ly/3ngr9hB

ESG

Square Puts US$10 million toward a cleaner bitcoin ecosystem. Payments company Square has launched a Bitcoin Clean Energy Investment Initiative. The company is committing US$10 million to support other companies that drive renewables within the Bitcoin ecosystem. “We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally,” said Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey added that, “Published estimates indicate Bitcoin already consumes a significant amount of clean energy, and we hope that Square’s investment initiative will accelerate this conversion to renewable energy.” This announcement coincides with the company’s goal—also announced today—to become net zero on carbon for operations by 2030. To this end, Square has partnered with Watershed, a company that powers climate programs in business. https://bit.ly/2KlusFv

Steve Wozniak is starting another company, 45 years after co-founding Apple with Steve Jobs. Steve Wozniak is starting a second company, 45 years after he co-founded Apple in Steve Jobs’ parents garage in 1976. This time, Wozniak is starting a business in the green tech and blockchain space called Efforce, according to a statement released Friday. Efforce, which has been in stealth mode for almost a year, is a marketplace for corporate or industrial building owners to have “green” projects funded. According to Efforce, “investors can participate in energy efficiency projects buy acquiring tokenized future savings,” while companies benefit from such improvements “at no cost.” Using blockchain, “a smart contract redistributes the resulting savings to token holders and the companies without intermediaries based on exact consumption/savings data.” Wozniak created Efforce “to be the first decentralized platform that allows everyone to participate and benefit financially from worldwide energy efficiency projects, and create meaningful environmental change,” he said. The company’s cryptocurrency token, trading under the token named WOZX, was made public on Dec. 3 on HBTC, a marketplace for decentralized currencies, and will launch on Bithumb Global, another marketplace for decentralized currencies next week, according to a Medium post about the company. Cryptocurrency is highly volatile, it is worth noting. https://cnb.cx/3n3eK0u

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