The last few months have brought significant uncertainty to public markets. However, despite all this uncertainty the broader markets continue to perform quite well. In this context, despite a continued melt-up for mid-cap and large cap U.S. listed stocks, small-cap stocks have not performed as well. This divergence appears to have worsened this year’s tax loss selling. In our latest Sophic Capital Inc. piece, we highlight a number of small cap Canadian innovation stocks, which could benefit once tax loss selling subsides. Sophic Client, Reklaim (MYID-TSXV) featured in the Wall Street Journal. In a piece, highlighting a handful of business leaders, politicians, and startups, such as Brave Software Inc., Reklaim Ltd. and Streamlytics Inc., seeking to empower consumers to control and benefit from the personal data that the technology industry collects on individuals every day.  US software bosses have cashed in hundreds of millions of dollars of stock. The race to cash in comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission is looking to tighten the rules around sales by corporate insiders. Reddit Inc., the social media site that helped fuel the stock market meme-trading frenzy, said it has filed confidentially for an initial public offering. Buy now, pay later service Affirm fell more than 15% on Thursday as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an inquiry into the fast-growing segment of the consumer finance market. Oracle Corp. is in talks to buy electronic-medical-records company Cerner Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that could be worth around US$30 billion and push the enterprise-software giant further into healthcare. Nike is taking a plunge deeper into the world of crypto collectibles, announcing that they’re acquiring the NFT studio RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”).

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Voxtur (VXTR-TSXV) announces a $15 million overnight marketed brokered private placement.

The Company announced it is undertaking an overnight marketed “best efforts” private placement offering (the “Offering”) of common shares (the “Common Shares”) at an offering price of $0.90 to raise aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $15 million. https://bit.ly/3e8mOdi

TIMIA Capital (TCA-TSXV) announces non-brokered private placement.

The Company announced its intention to complete a non-brokered private placement of up to 5,000,000 units of the Company (the “Units”) at a price of $0.35 per Unit for gross proceeds of up to $1,750,000 (the “Private Placement”). The Company has received a lead order from an institutional asset manager. Each Unit consists of one common share in the capital of the Company (a “Common Share”) and one half of one Common Share purchase warrant (each whole warrant, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant will entitle the holder to purchase one Common Share of the Company at a price of $0.50 for a period of 24 months following the closing date, provided that TIMIA may accelerate the expiry date of the Warrants by providing 30 days’ notice to the holders by way of news release in the event that the closing price of the Common Shares on the TSX Venture Exchange equals or exceeds $1.00 per Common Share for a period of 10 consecutive trading days. https://bit.ly/3FemTbi

Sophic Client, Reklaim (MYID-TSXV) featured in the Wall Street Journal: Personal data is worth billions. These startups want you to get a cut.

Personal data is worth billions. These startups want you to get a cut. A handful of business leaders, politicians, and startups, such as Brave Software Inc., Reklaim Ltd. and Streamlytics Inc., seeking to empower consumers to control and benefit from the personal data that the technology industry collects on individuals every day. Reklaim, for example, gives users a view into the information that the industry buys and sells on them. When a user signs up for Reklaim and verifies her identity, the company uses her email address or phone number to query some 30,000 partners for data on that individual and then shows it to her. If users want to let Reklaim sell that data on their behalf, they get weekly checks as compensation. They can also complete surveys to add more data to their Reklaim profile and get paid more. Some consumers make up to US$10 a month through the app. Much of the data that consumers see about themselves in Reklaim is inaccurate, Chief Executive Neil Sweeney acknowledges because it’s often the result of assumptions made about the consumer without direct verification. Consumers can correct this data, making it more valuable for brands who buy data from Reklaim. https://on.wsj.com/33xhrCq

Ledn secures $70 million in Series B funding; Announces world’s first Bitcoin-backed mortgage product.

Ledn Inc., a global digital asset savings and credit platform, announced that it successfully raised $70 million in a Series B funding round which brings its valuation to $540 million. 10T Holdings led the Series B. Golden Tree Asset Management, Raptor Group and FJ Labs were among the list of new Ledn investors. All existing venture investors followed-on in the round, including White Star Capital, Kingsway Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Alan Howard, Parafi Capital, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, Global Founders Capital, Hashed, CMT Digital, Ascendant Capital and John Pfeffer. https://bit.ly/3yFNyeC

TealBook looks to become global leader in supply chain data with US$50 million in new funding.

After battle-testing its supply chain solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, TealBook is ready to take its intelligence platform global with US$50 million in new funding from notable and strategic investor. As the pandemic hit and heavily affected supply chains, TealBook started to garner interest from major companies, including Fortune 500, looking to streamline their procurement processes. The Series B round was led by United States-based firm Ten Coves Capital, which has seen success investing in Canadian companies like Q4 Inc, 7Shifts, and TouchBistro. The financing included $40 million in Series B equity financing that features a mix of new and return investors, with RTP Global, BDC Capital, Reciprocal Ventures, Refinery Ventures, and StandUp Ventures following on. CIBC Ventures supplied $10 million in venture debt. The round included a portion of secondary capital, though Lapierre declined to disclose the amount. The financing brings TealBook’s total capital raised to date to $73 million. The company also declined to disclose TealBook’s valuation following the deal, but called it “very good.” RBC Ventures also took part in the round, TealBook has signed partnerships with S&P Global and Workday Ventures, the $250 million venture arm of enterprise management company Workday, to build solutions within each company’s network. https://bit.ly/3E0f1Zu

Rockport Networks raises $61.9 million appoints Marc Sultzbaugh as co-CEO.

Ottawa-based SaaS startup Rockport Networks has raised $61.9 million (US$48 million) from a funding round led by Northern Private Capital, with contributions from other existing investors.The new capital was announced with Rockport’s appointment of Marc Sultzbaugh as its new co-CEO. Founded in 2012, Rockport has developed a switchless networking model aimed to provide a faster, more efficient, and cleaner approach to data centre connectivity. Its systems are able to support high performance computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. https://bit.ly/3DZWOvq 

WealthTech startup PureFacts raises $37 million to pursue acquisitions.

PureFacts did not disclose the type of round, when the round closed, and how much equity the CBGF gains in the startup. PureFacts described the round as a combination of equity and financing. BetaKit has reached out to PureFacts to confirm the form of financing. The FinTech startup provides a number of solutions to the financial services industry, including enterprise reporting, artificial intelligence for investor retention and retirement income insights, as well as data management. PureFacts works with wealth and asset managers, banks, and insurance companies, in Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia-Pacific, and the United States. PureFacts claims it serves over 100 companies with a combined $1 trillion in assets under management. https://bit.ly/3yJJjPw

eLeapPower closes $21 million Series A round to solve electric vehicle pain points.

Toronto-based startup eLeapPower has secured $21 million in Series A financing to fuel the commercialization of its electric vehicle (EV) tech. The cleantech firm’s all-equity Series A round, which closed in September, was eLeapPower’s first institutional capital raise. The round was led by BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice and a consortium of pension funds, including the pension trust funds for the Electrical Industry of Ottawa and Quinte St. Lawrence Electrical Workers. The Toronto-based company is just one of a growing number of Canadian cleantech startups that have popped up to address some of the challenges faced by the EV sector. The list includes companies like Mangrove Lithium, Moment Energy, and FTEX. With its latest round, eLeapPower has raised a total of $32.6 million to date, including non-dilutive funding in the form of government grants and awards. eLeapPower plans to use the fresh capital to accelerate its production and global growth. The startup has inked an initial contract with an undisclosed global automotive manufacturer based in China, which plans to use eLeapPower’s smart inverter technology to drive its line of commercial EVs. https://bit.ly/3DYzWwm 

Nicoya’s $20 million Series A extension enables continued development of COVID-19 test.

Healthtech startup Nicoya Lifesciences has raised a healthy US$20 million Series A extension to assist in the continuing development and commercialization of its digital proteomics solution Alto, which helps scientists accelerate drug discovery. Whitecap Venture Partners led the round, which included participation from Agilent Technologies, Export Development Canada, BDC Capital, MaRS IAF, Garage Capital, and others. Nicoya’s core technology is dubbed Alto (not to be confused with Atlas, the COVID-19 test it’s developing). The startup claims it is the world’s first surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument to integrate digital microfluidics (the science of manipulating and controlling fluids), artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. The instrument can be used in biotechnology, life sciences and healthcare to measure molecular interactions. https://bit.ly/3dV5bh4 

Valence Discovery announces $10.9 million for AI-aided drug discovery and formulation.

Housed in Montréal’s renowned Mila artificial intelligence (AI) research institute, AI startup Valence Discovery recently came out of stealth mode earlier this year and announced $10.9 million (US$8.5 million) in funding. The startup partners with leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, using AI and machine learning to support their drug discovery efforts. Fifty Years and Air Street Capital led the oversubscribed round with participation from Amplitude Ventures, Phoenix Venture Partners, and Abcam founder and former CEO, Jonathan Milner. Of the funding, $9 million is recently secured seed capital while $1.9 million was pre-seed financing raised some 18 months previously, and not announced or disclosed. https://bit.ly/31VF2wq 

Xandar Kardian raises $10 million for contactless health monitoring tech.

Xandar Kardian, a Toronto-based healthtech company, has secured $10 million in its Series A funding round from Phoenix Venture Partners, Portfolia Active Aging & Longevity Fund, Taronga Ventures, and other undisclosed investors Incorporated in 2017, Xandar Kardian develops contactless health monitoring solutions powered by digital ultra wide-band radar signal processing.In April, its XK300 Autonomous Health Monitoring Solution was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The system can be used at home or in healthcare facilities to predict health outcomes by monitoring the patient’s resting heart rate and respiratory rate.Its radar technology can also be implemented to smart buildings, providing commercial and public building operators with real-time occupancy measurements. This system allows for effective energy optimization compared to passive infrared motion sensors.Xandar Kardian said it has over 23 patents granted with 11 still pending. https://bit.ly/3GPMic0

Tiggy raises $6.3 million to expand 15-minute grocery delivery service beyond Vancouver.

Vancouver-based startup Tiggy has raised $6.3 million in its seed funding round led by family-owned investment company Heartland. Tiggy said the round also attracted undisclosed investors from Europe, Russia, United States, and Canada, as well as from international funds such as Global Founders Capital. Chef’s Plate co-founders Jamie Shea and Patrick Meyer also contributed through the Redbox Ventures fund, and became the startup’s advisors. Founded by Eugene Bisovka, Razmik Sukyasov, and Oskar Hartmann this year, Tiggy provides 15-minute grocery delivery services. It recently launched its first dark store on September 20. Tiggy said it processed 80 orders in its first week and by mid-November, the company was receiving 144 orders per day. https://bit.ly/3pZD3Pw

Ukko Agro closes $5.1 million seed round to help farmers make crop management decisions at scale.

Toronto-based software startup Ukko Agro has secured $5.1 million in seed financing and the support of Canadian agriculture investors to fuel the growth of its AgTech platform. The company’s all-equity seed round was led by Emmertech, and supported by Ag Capital Canada, Telus Ventures, Whitecap Venture Partners, and PIC Investment Group. This fresh capital brings Ukko Agro’s total equity financing to $6.5 million. The company has secured $7.9 million to date, including government grants. https://bit.ly/3F1za2T 

Secoda secures $2.75 million for “Google-like” data search tool.

Secoda, a startup that wants to make digging out hidden company data easy, nailed $2.75 million in a seed round led by Craft Ventures. Golden Ventures, GFC, Soma Capital, Union Capital, Garage Capital, and YCombinator participated in Secoda’s seed round that closed at the end of October.  https://bit.ly/3oYkN9R

WFHomie raises $1.9 million to help companies better engage, retain employees.

Toronto-based software startup WFHomie has secured $1.9 million in seed financing to fuel the growth of its employee engagement solution. In the midst of this environment, WFHomie has positioned itself as a means of helping companies with distributed teams, like Wealthsimple and BMO, gauge and improve their employee satisfaction as they adapt to and navigate the future of work. The startup’s SAFE seed round closed in September, and saw participation from a group of VC firms and angels from Canada, the United States, and Western Europe.  https://bit.ly/3pZw6y3

Consumer products investor IVEST launches $200 million SPAC to pursue innovative technologies.

This week, the team behind IVEST Consumer Partners, which has a portfolio that includes Spence Diamonds and M&M Food Markets, priced the initial public offering (IPO) for a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) set to invest in tech-enabled consumer companies. Dubbed Swiftmerge Acquisition Corp., the blank cheque company began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on the morning of December 15. The SPAC is looking to raise US$200 million by offering 20 million units at a price of US$10 per share. Swiftmerge is being led by the team at Vancouver-based IVEST, with its board of directors and advisors a mix of Canadian tech companies, consumer goods experts, and notable global brand leaders. https://bit.ly/320xrfX

Accelia Capital launches $50 million VC fund to back women-led startups in Québec.

A new $50 million Québec venture capital fund is putting its support behind female-led technology startups. Accelia Capital intends to fund innovative, Québec technology companies. The fund will focus “particularly [on] high-impact, high-performing, women-owned and women-led businesses, which in turn will foster increased diversity in the sector,” according to the fund’s partners. Institutional partners participating in the fund include the Government of Québec through Investissement Québec; the National Bank of Canada; and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (through Teralys Capital). Private partners include Beneva, Cossette, and Stingray. https://bit.ly/3E1F16Z 

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

US software bosses cash in hundreds of millions of dollars of stock.

The race to cash in comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission is looking to tighten the rules around sales by corporate insiders. Most executives make such sales using 10b5-1 plans, under which they appoint someone else to decide on the timing of a sale to avoid the risk that they might fall foul of inside trading rules. “Academic research has now shown repeatedly” that this blind trading rule has been “greatly exploited by insiders,” said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. He added that the fact that the SEC’s commissioners voted unanimously this week to change the rules, despite being divided on other issues along political lines, pointed to “broad recognition that something was wrong”. https://on.ft.com/3e932yx

Reddit files confidentially for IPO.

Reddit Inc., the social media site that helped fuel the stock market meme-trading frenzy, said it has filed confidentially for an initial public offering. The company didn’t offer further details on the size or pricing of the IPO, but it was last valued at US$10 billion when it announced a round of financing in August. The 16-year-old online news aggregator and discussion forum has 430 million monthly users globally, according to a presentation given to advertisers this year. The company is expected to double ad revenue to at least US$350 million this year, The Information earlier reported. https://bit.ly/3Fd4lsb

India’s online education giant Byju’s in talks for US$48 billion listing via SPAC.

Byju’s, the Indian online education company that is India’s most valuable startup, is in talks to raise as much as US$4 billion from a merger with a special purpose acquisition vehicle from Churchill Capital. The deal would value Byju’s at US$48 billion, Bloomberg reported. The ten-year-old company had looked at possible SPAC mergers with Michael Dell’s MSD Acquisition Corp., and Altimeter Capital Management, the report said. The report said the deal is not finalized and Byju’s could still opt for a domestic IPO. This has been a banner year for Indian startups going public amid rising as some investors sour on China. https://bit.ly/3F6RIyG

U.S. to add drone maker DJI, other Chinese firms to investment blacklist.

The Biden administration plans to add to the U.S. government’s investment blacklist eight more Chinese companies, including drone maker DJI, The Financial Times reported. The move may further fuel the political tensions between the U.S. and China. The U.S. Treasury is placing DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone brand, on the list of Chinese companies that Americans are banned from investing in, due to the firm’s alleged involvement in the surveillance of the Uyghur muslim minority, the FT said. The seven other Chinese companies that are about to be blacklisted include artificial intelligence software companies Megvii, Yitu Technology and CloudWalk Technology, as well as four other cybersecurity, surveillance and cloud computing firms, according to the FT report. Earlier this week, Chinese AI firm SenseTime, decided to withdraw its Hong Kong initial public offering and update its application with the aim of relaunching the IPO later, after the U.S. added the company to the investment blacklist. https://bit.ly/3GVzwZj

China’s government in talks to take small stake in Didi.

China’s government has been in talks with ride-hailing giant Didi Global about the possibility of taking a small stake in the company with the aim of increasing its control over its business decisions, Reuters reported. Such a stake, known as a golden share, typically comes with a board seat or veto rights for key decisions. The Chinese government already has taken a 1% stake and a board seat in one of TikTok owner ByteDance’s main domestic entities, The Information reported in August. Didi’s talks with the government about a golden share are part of a planned restructuring of the company’s business as a result of Beijing’s regulatory crackdown, according to Reuters. In early July, just days after Didi went public in New York, China’s internet regulator launched a cybersecurity investigation into the company. Earlier this month, Didi said it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange and start preparing for a listing in Hong Kong. https://bit.ly/3p8iYqY

Affirm falls 16% as CFPB announces inquiry into buy now, pay later services.

Buy now, pay later service Affirm fell more than 15% on Thursday as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an inquiry into the fast-growing segment of the consumer finance market. The CFPB said in a statement issued Thursday that it was requesting information from five companies — Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, PayPal, and Zip — and that it has a range of concerns about risks posed to consumers who use their services. Specifically, the watchdog agency is worried about the ease with which consumers can accumulate debt using buy now, pay later, as well as regulatory oversight, and data harvesting. It is working with regulators in the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Australia as part of the inquiry. https://bit.ly/3p3ThYE 

Oracle in talks to buy Cerner.

Oracle Corp. is in talks to buy electronic-medical-records company Cerner Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that could be worth around US$30 billion and push the enterprise-software giant further into healthcare. An agreement could be finalized soon, some of the people said, assuming the talks don’t fall apart or drag out. Should a deal come together, it would rank as the biggest ever for Oracle, which has a market value of more than US$280 billion. Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner designs software that hospitals and doctors use to store and analyze medical records and other healthcare data. It has a market value of around US$23 billion. With a typical takeover premium, a deal would be expected to value the company at something like US$30 billion, though exact terms being discussed couldn’t be learned. Oracle, a Silicon Valley veteran that last year moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas, is one of the biggest software providers to other companies and organizations. https://on.wsj.com/3e3Pa8y

Payments company Bottomline Technologies to be acquired by Thoma Bravo in US$2.6 billion cash deal.

Payments company Bottomline Technologies Inc said Friday it has reached an agreement to be acquired by private-equity firm Thoma Bravo in an all-cash deal valued at about US$2.6 billion. Under the terms of the deal, Bottomline shareholders will receive US$57 a share, equal to a premium of 42% over the stock’s closing price Oct. 19, the day before the board announced a strategic review. It represents a premium of 41% over the stock’s 30-day volume weighted average price as of Oct. 19. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, and to allow the company to invest in technology and grow the business.  https://on.mktw.net/3mfPE02

Nike acquires NFT collectibles studio RTFKT.

Nike is taking a plunge deeper into the world of crypto collectibles, announcing that they’re acquiring the NFT studio RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”). The acquisition announcement comes at an opportune time for the studio; RTFKT is currently behind one of the most talked-about NFT project drops of the month — a sweeping avatar partnership with artist Takashi Murakami called CloneX. Since its initial drop less than three weeks ago, the project has already seen nearly US$65 million in transaction volume according to crypto tracker CryptoSlam. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The startup raised an US$8 million seed round back in May led by Andreessen Horowitz that valued the company at US$33.3 million. Earlier this month, Adidas announced a partnership with NFT project Bored Apes Yacht Club. In addition to building out its own NFT drops, RTFKT had collaborated with other crypto creators to design items like physical shoes that utilized imagery in other NFT projects, including CryptoPunks and Bored Apes. https://tcrn.ch/3EZzKxT

Emerging Technologies

Uber will launch driverless food deliveries in California in 2022.

Uber plans to launch driverless food deliveries in California starting next year. The rideshare company announced a partnership with global driverless technology company Motional on Thursday, implementing Motional’s all-electric vehicles to deliver orders to Uber Eats users starting in 2022. The pilot program will deliver meal kits from select restaurants on UberEats app around the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles, the company said in a press release. Motional is providing Uber its next-generation, all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi with built-in modifications for autonomous deliveries, the release said. This partnership marks Uber’s first-ever on-road partnership with an autonomous vehicle technology company. https://bit.ly/3IYsIw4 

Google staffs up to build OS for unknown ‘innovative AR device’.

Google is hiring an “Augmented Reality OS” team focused on building software for an “innovative AR device,” according to job listings spotted by 9to5Google. This is far from Google’s first stab at developing AR software, and follows the company’s work on ARCore for Android and Tango. The company’s Google Glass, which is aimed at the business and enterprise market, is currently built on Android. Between that acquisition and these open job positions, it looks like Google is increasingly serious about developing and releasing more AR hardware. The renewed interest can’t come soon enough, with Apple rumored to be releasing a mixed-reality headset of its own as early as next year. https://bit.ly/3q38Xum

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

A marketplace for gaming NFTs is coming from the co-founder of Twitch.

A new marketplace focused on gaming NFTs is on the way from the co-founder of Twitch, reflecting a boom in the space during what’s been a blockbuster 2021 for cryptocurrencies and digital collectibles. Fractal will allow players to purchase and sell assets for games that run on the Solana blockchain, said Justin Kan, known for his work in launching Twitch, a livestreaming service focused on gaming, entertainment, sports, and music that reaches more than 30 million users a day. Kan, who is serving as part of Fractal’s founding team, said Fractal will act as a primary market, with companies ushering in their new games to players, as well as a secondary market where users can buy and sell NFTs. He said a launch line-up would arrive “soon” but didn’t specify a date. Tokens tied to blockchain-based games and metaverse platforms are among the best performing in 2021 in the cryptocurrency market which surpassed US$3 trillion during the year. Prices, overall, have cooled from high levels, bringing the crypto market valuation to US$2.1 trillion as of Monday. The AXS token for play-to-earn game Axie Infinity has skyrocketed 17,440% to trade above US$101 on Monday. Decentraland’s native token named MANA has charged up about 3,900% and The Sandbox’s SAND token has climbed by 14,000%, according to figures from CoinMarketCap. Solana was trading at US$152.33 late Monday afternoon, up over 10,000% in that past year. https://bit.ly/30vKKnP

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Government officials raise alarm over new cybersecurity flaw.

It has been a year since the cyberattack on network management software SolarWinds, which wreaked havoc on government agencies and tech companies, first came to light. Now there is a major new security vulnerability in the open-source Apache server software that could be just as damaging, if not more so. In a press conference Monday, Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) described the flaw as “one of the most serious I’ve seen in my entire career, if not the most serious,” reported CyberScoop. CISA has ordered agencies to apply a software update to mitigate the vulnerability by Dec. 24. The vulnerability, which was first discovered late last week, affects a type of software called Apache Log4j which developers embed in applications in order to gather data about their performance. Attackers could use the flaw to gain complete control of servers over the internet, and hundreds of millions of devices could be affected, according to CISA. The emergence of the Log4j vulnerability, which is reportedly already being exploited by hackers, shows how flaws in widely used software tools can have disastrous effects. It’s also the latest sign of how miscreants are constantly evolving their approach to stay ahead of cybersecurity defense teams. https://bit.ly/3mhowxG


Alibaba aims for US$100 billion in Southeast Asia e-commerce transaction volume.

Alibaba has set a new long-term target for its Southeast Asian operations, saying it aims to eventually serve more than 300 million users there and boost its total e-commerce transactions in the region to US$100 billion a year, up nearly fivefold from the current level. Alibaba’s new goals, announced during the company’s 2021 Investor Day event this week, come as the e-commerce giant is facing an increasingly challenging environment in China due to the country’s slowing economic growth and Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the internet sector. The company’s overseas businesses will likely play more important roles in the coming years, analysts say. In Southeast Asia, a region with more than 600 million people that encompasses Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, Alibaba operates an e-commerce site called Lazada. Alibaba said this week that Lazada’s active consumers jumped 80% to 130 million in the last 18 months. https://bit.ly/3FahzG3

TikTok to launch its own delivery service with food from viral videos.

The social network is partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts to turn meals from popular TikTok videos into actual dishes that users can order. TikTok Kitchen will launch in about 300 US locations in 2022. The company already has plans to serve more than 1,000 locations by the end of next year. Customers will be able to order dishes that have gone viral on TikTok such as baked feta pasta, a smash burger, corn ribs, and pasta chips. As noted by TechCrunch, baked feta was one of the most searched dishes on Google in 2021 after it gaining popularity on TikTok. TikTok notes that the idea of TikTok Kitchen is more about offering foods that have gone viral on the web to fans rather than an attempt by TikTok to become an actual restaurant. TikTok Kitchen is expected to be launched in March 2022. https://bit.ly/32kaB2v

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Binance drops plans to launch Singapore crypto exchange.

Binance, the world’s bigget cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has announced it will drop plans to set up an exchange in Singapore. Singapore has a relatively welcoming legal regime for cryptocurrencies but only a handful of exchanges have been licensed. The move also halts speculation that the company would set up its headquarters in Singapore, where founder Changpeng Zhao has lived for the past two years. Firms such as Binance have been seeking ways to bring their exchanges, which have operated outside the purview of monetary authorities, under some kind of regulatory framework that would allow them greater access to mainstream financial markets and investors. But that process has been a bumpy ride as one of the key attractions of decentralized digital currencies is that they allow the flow of money without government oversight. Increasingly, governments are cracking down on the trade as they seek to stop money laundering and other crimes they say are facilitated by the anonymity of crypto. https://bit.ly/3Fc0kEi

Crypto exchange FTX is partnering with the Golden State Warriors to launch the team’s official NFTs.

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors are looking to make a splash off the court in a new crypto deal with FTX. According to a Tuesday press release, FTX is set to become the official cryptocurrency platform and NFT marketplace for the Warriors. FTX will also be the first international rights partner for the Warriors, which will launch official team NFTs on FTX US starting in early 2022.  As part of the partnership, the Warriors and FTX also will give one bitcoin to three separate local organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area that address educational equity. In April, the Warriors became the first professional sports team to launch its own NFT collection, which included commemorative ticket stubs and several editions of the team’s championship rings. One of the team’s NFTs sold for a whopping 285 ETH, or about US$900,000. Superstar and face of the Warriors franchise Steph Curry has made his own splash in the NFT marketplace too — Curry bought a Bored Ape NFT in August for US$180,000. https://bit.ly/3m9dgDf

Coinbase investor and NBA star Kevin Durant deepens ties to crypto exchange with new promotion deal.

NBA superstar Kevin Durant and his company Thirty Five Ventures just inked a new multiyear deal with cryptocurrency platform Coinbase Global. Durant, who currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets, will help promote Coinbase across his various businesses and appear as a prominent face of the brand. The first Coinbase ad with Durant is set to air on Thursday. In return, Coinbase will supply digital ads and sponsored content with his sports site Boardroom and provide support for his youth programs. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal signals further growth in the relationship between Durant and Coinbase. In 2017, Thirty Five Ventures invested in Coinbase during a $100 million funding round. https://bit.ly/3INAAAe


TSMC client list shows Apple makes up a quarter of its revenue.

A listing of TSMC clients shows that Apple generates just over a quarter of the chipmaker’s revenue, at 25.9% – with no other companies reaching double digits. Bloomberg and Digitimes data shows that TSMC’s second-largest client is MediaTek, at 5.8%. All other clients are below 5%. However, things could change, with Intel placing far larger orders with TSMC as it transitions from being a chipmaker to more of a chip designer. The Taiwanese chipmaker’s technical lead is so great that it would be hard for Intel to compete with TSMC’s fabrication capabilities – despite the American company’s bluster. https://bit.ly/3GFWwLU


Rivian to invest IPO wealth into new US$5 billion Georgia factory and battery tech.

Rivian will use some of the US$13.7 billion it raised when it publicly listed its shares to build a second factory in Georgia that has double the capacity of its plant in Illinois. The company, which made the announced Thursday as part of its first earnings report, said the funds will be used to expand production capacity of its Normal, Illinois factory from 150,000 to 200,000 electric vehicles a year. Its second factory will be built east of Atlanta in Morgan and Walton counties and will have a targeted annual production capacity of 400,000 vehicles a year. This Georgia factory will include a co-located battery cell production. Construction will begin in summer 2022 with production beginning in 2024. The company said in its shareholder letter that it picked the site due to the combination of sustainable business operations, talent pool, and proximity to supply chain and logistics. https://tcrn.ch/3GSLLpz

Toyota’s electric vehicle plans are getting bigger and more expensive.

Toyota is ramping up its electric vehicle production schedule, vowing to release 30 electric vehicles by 2030 rather than just 15 EVs by 2025, as was previously promised. The Japanese automaker also vowed to sell 3.5 million battery EVs globally by 2030 and to transform Lexus into an EV-only brand by 2035. The company said it would invest 2 trillion yen (US$17.6 billion) in battery vehicle technology, an increase over its previous commitment of 1.5 trillion yen (US$13.6 billion). Toyota’s first long-range EV, the BZ4X compact SUV, is expected to be released in the US in mid-2022. Toyota is planning on spending some of its promised US$17.6 billion in the US. The company recently announced a US$1.29 billion battery factory in North Carolina as part of its plan to invest around US$13.6 billion in battery tech over the next decade. But despite its expanding commitment to EVs, Toyota is still spending a lot of money in Washington, DC, to lobby against President Joe Biden’s efforts to encourage Americans to buy more EVs. Congressional Democrats have proposed increasing the federal EV tax credit from US$7,500 to US$12,500 for purchases of electric vehicles made in the US by unionized workers, triggering a backlash from non-union companies like Tesla and Toyota. The Japanese automaker has run full-page newspaper ads accusing Biden and the Democrats of “play[ing] politics with the environment.” https://bit.ly/3s7kXxN

Sophic Capital Client Insights

 A particularly taxing time for Canadian micro- and small-cap stocks.

The last few months have brought significant uncertainty to public markets. Talk of rapid inflation and acceleration of FED tapering has become overshadowed by a new strain of the relentless COVID virus: however, despite all this uncertainty the broader markets continue to perform quite well. In the U.S., the S&P 500 is +25%. Strong index returns appear to be largely concentrated in a few bellwether stocks. In this context, despite a continued melt-up for mid-cap and large cap U.S. listed stocks, small-cap stocks have not performed as well. The TSX Venture composite is now only +4% on the year, while the CSE composite is down -21%, which reflects just how difficult Canadian smallcap investing has been this year. This divergence appears to have worsened this year’s tax loss selling. In our latest Sophic Capital Inc. piece, we highlight a number of small cap Canadian innovation stocks, which could benefit once tax loss selling subsides. https://bit.ly/3IVboI6


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