After our last weekly update, highlighted a very busy week for Canadian capital markets, last week was extremely busy as well, coming in at around $900 million in public markets equity transactions. Amongst our client list, Sophic client, Luckbox (LUCK-TSXV) announced a $5 million equity financing, which was raised to $15 million owing to strong investor demand. The launch of the second-ever bitcoin ETF just days after approving the first crypto fund, in Canada (EBIT-TSX & EBIT.U-TSX) received considerable attention. In the USA, Coinbase was reportedly valued above US$100 billion, ahead of a direct listing. SpaceX raised ~US$ 850 million at a ~US$75 billion valuation.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Dye & Durham (DND-TSX) announces $500 million bought deal offering of common shares and convertible debentures.

The company entered into an agreement with an underwriting syndicate led by Canaccord Genuity Corp., BMO Capital Markets and Scotia Capital Inc.  to complete a new issue, on a bought deal basis, of: (i) an aggregate of 3,960,400 common shares at a purchase price of $50.50 per common share for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $200 million (the “Common Share Offering”), and (ii) $300 million aggregate principal amount of convertible unsecured subordinated debentures due March 1, 2026 (the “Debentures”) at a price of $1,000 per Debenture (the “Debenture Offering” and, together with the Common Share Offering, the “Offerings”). Concurrently with the Offerings, certain significant shareholders of the Company have entered into a block trade agreement with the Lead Underwriters to sell an aggregate of 1,980,200 common shares at a purchase price of $50.50. http://bit.ly/3pxYHbi

Electric jet-ski maker Taiga to go public via Canaccord SPAC.

Electric jet-ski maker Taiga Motors plans to go public via a merger with a blank-check company sponsored by Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., taking advantage of investor demand for companies that can burnish their environmental credentials. Montreal-based Taiga will have an implied market capitalization of about C$537 million ($422 million) after the combination with the Canaccord Genuity Growth II Corp. special purpose acquisition corporation, the companies said Wednesday. That valuation includes a C$100 million private placement with investors including John Risley’s Northern Private Capital. http://bloom.bg/2ZrhKJO

Peridot Acquisition Corp. surges as SPAC set to merge with battery recycler Li-Cycle.

Peridot Acquisition Corp. stock climbed Tuesday as the SPAC struck an agreement to merge with Li-Cycle, a lithium-Ion battery recycler. The two companies said in a joint statement that the deal will result in the creation of Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. and that the combined company will have a pro forma equity value of about US$1.67 billion. Li-Cycle, which was founded in Toronto in 2016, has commercial contracts with more than 40 blue chip suppliers, among other business agreements, with customers including 14 of the world’s largest automotive and battery manufacturers. The newly merged company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol “LICY.” The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. Roughly 130 SPACs have gone public in 2021, outpacing the first nine months of 2020, according to investment firm Accelerate. http://bit.ly/2Zs1Yyr

Genesis Mining Technologies (currently Butte Energy Inc – BEN.H-TSXV) announces increase and full subscription of private placement.

Butte Energy Inc. (TSXV: BEN.H) (the “Company” or “Genesis Mining Technologies”) (being renamed Genesis Mining Technologies Corp.) reports that its non-brokered private placement of subscription receipts (“Subscription Receipts”), as previously announced on February 12, 2021 (the “Private Placement”), has been increased to a total of 55 million Subscription Receipts at a price of C$1.00 per Subscription Receipt for gross proceeds of C$55,000,000, subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange. http://bit.ly/3sbj8wr

CloudMD (DOC-TSXV) increases previously announced bought deal public offering to $55 million.

The company entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to the previously announced engagement agreement with Canaccord Genuity Corp. Beacon Securities Limited and Echelon Wealth Partners Inc., on behalf of a syndicate of Underwriters (the “Underwriters”). The Underwriters have agreed to increase the size of the previously announced bought deal financing. Pursuant to the Amendment, the Underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis pursuant to the filing of a short form prospectus, an aggregate of 20,400,000 common shares (the “Shares”) at a price of $2.70 per Share (the “Offering Price”) for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $55 million (the “Offering”).  Of the aggregate 20,400,000 Shares being offered, 18,500,000 Shares will be issued from treasury by CloudMD for gross proceeds of approximately $50 million (the “Treasury Offering”) to the Company, and an aggregate of 1,900,000 Shares will be offered by Essam Hamza and Kanchan Thindal (together, the “Selling Shareholders”) for aggregate gross proceeds to the Selling Shareholders of $5,130,000 (the “Secondary Offering” and together with the Treasury Offering, the “Offering”). http://bit.ly/3kaaiMw & http://bit.ly/3qxxcQs

Real Luck Group (Sophic Client, LUCK-TSXV) announces upsizing of previously announced brokered private placement led by Gravitas Securities Inc. to $15 million due to strong investor demand.

The company, a provider of legal, real money esports and sports betting, is pleased to announce that, due to strong investor demand, it has entered into an amended agreement with Gravitas Securities Inc. (“Gravitas”), as sole agent and bookrunner, to increase the size of the previously announced private placement of the Company. Pursuant to the increase, the Company will offer for sale up to an aggregate of 12,500,000 special warrants of the Company (the “Special Warrants”) at a price of $1.20 per Special Warrant for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $15 million (the “Offering”). The Company has also amended the option granted to Gravitas, to provide for the sale of up to an additional 1,875,000 Special Warrants (the “Over-Allotment Option”), which Over-Allotment Option is exercisable in whole or in part at any time up to 30 days following the closing of the Offering. The initial closing date is expected to be on or about the week of March 15th, 2021 (the “Closing Date” or “Closing”). http://yhoo.it/2NG2mGS & http://bit.ly/3qGBUvh

EMERGE (ECOM-TSXV) announces pricing of previously announced private placement offering of special warrants.

The company announced the pricing of its previously announced private placement offering (the “Offering”) of special warrants of the Company (the “Special Warrants”) at a price of $1.40 per Special Warrant for total gross proceeds of up to $10,000,000 (or such greater amount as agreed to by the Company and the Bookrunners). Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Gravitas Securities Inc. shall act as co-bookrunners and co-lead agents for the Offering, together with Raymond James Ltd., as co-lead agent and Stifel Nicolaus Canada Inc. (together, the “Agents”). http://bit.ly/3ukviFp & http://bit.ly/3s0y9kC

INEO (INEO-TSXV) announces upsize to marketed public offering.

The company amended the terms of its previously announced marketed public offering (the “Offering”) of units of the Company (the “Units”). Under the amended terms, the company will offer for sale a minimum of 11,111,111 Units at a price of $0.36 per Unit for aggregate gross proceeds of $4,000,000 and up to a maximum of up to 16,917,000 Units for aggregate gross proceeds of up to $6,090,120. In the event the Over-Allotment Option (as defined below) is exercised in full under the maximum Offering, the total number of Units issued under the Offering shall be 19,454,550 for aggregate gross proceeds of $7,003,638. http://bit.ly/37tb9Tt & http://bit.ly/3u5YpvX

D-BOX Technologies Inc. (DBO-TSX) announces pricing of overnight marketed equity offering.

The company announced the pricing of its previously announced overnight marketed public offering (the “Offering”), whereby it will enter today into an underwriting agreement (the “Underwriting Agreement”) with a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuity Corp., acting as the lead underwriter and sole bookrunner, and including Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. and iA Private Wealth Inc. (collectively, the “Underwriters”), to sell 38,500, 000 units of D-BOX (the “Units’) at a price of $0.13 per Unit (“Offering Price”) for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $5 million, exclusive of the Over-Allotment Option described below. http://bit.ly/3qBrzkh & https://bit.ly/37uRbYK

PlantX (VEGA-CSE) prices offering and files amended and restated preliminary short form prospectus.  The company priced its previously announced offering (the “Offering”) in its February 16, 2021 news release and has today filed an amended and restated short form preliminary short form prospectus in connection with the Offering. The Offering will be at a price of $1.25 per unit of the Company (a “Unit”) for the issuance of a minimum of 8,000,000 Units to raise minimum total gross proceeds of $10,000,000. http://bit.ly/3pwjKLy & http://bit.ly/37Jnwez

ESE (ESE-TSXV) announces acquisition of global esports and gaming infrastructure company with $14 million+ in revenue. The Transaction will add WPG’s existing client base to ESE. Clients of WPG’s subsidiary, WPG Racing Solutions, include one of the largest esports companies in the world, and one of the largest sports organizations. http://bit.ly/2ZsrZOb

Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange 2021 year-to-date snapshot.

New Listings (YTD January 2021) – 32 new listings on TSX (22) and TSXV (10). 14 Companies + 14 ETFs + 3 CPCs + 1 Closed-End Fund. Equity capital raised (YTD January 2021), $3.7 billion on TSX and TSXV, $45 million – average financing size on TSX, $4.5 million – Average financing size on TSXV. https://bit.ly/3bkY148

Boast.ai secures $100 million to fuel R&D tax credit-based financing for startups.

Boast.ai, a software innovator whose flagship product automates the complex process of applying for R&D tax credits, has secured a $100 million credit facility from Brevet Capital, a leading alternative credit investment and specialty finance firm, to launch an innovative financing platform enabling startups to receive cash advances on R&D tax credits and subsidies. This new financing is in addition to Boast.ai’s $30M Series A led by Radian Capital that was announced last December. Announcing the deal today, Boast.ai said the novel financing vehicle would simplify the R&D credit process and fuel innovation. This financing will enable Boast.ai to help startups recognize immediate cash benefits from R&D tax credits, which now exceed $15 billion a year between the U.S. and Canada, and $200 Billion globally but can take as long as 16 months to get since companies need to wait for tax filing season and government processing times. In Canada, the SR&ED program is the lifeblood of the innovation ecosystem, providing upwards of 60% cashback to small businesses investing in R&D. http://bit.ly/3k4nCly

Electronic medical records provider Medfar Clinical Solutions raises $25 million.

Walter Capital Partners has acquired a minority stake in Montreal’s Medfar Clinical Solutions, leading a $25 million investment in the electronic medical records (EMR) provider. The company did not disclose the round’s other investors. http://bit.ly/3k1VO1c

SPARK Microsystems announces $17.5 million financing led by cycle capital to drive commercialization.

SPARK Microsystems, a fabless semiconductor company leading the way in ultra-low power, ultra-low latency wireless communications, announces the closing of a $17.5 million equity financing to accelerate commercialization. Led by Cycle Capital, the round included new investors ND Capital (a Silicon Valley and Europe-based venture capital firm dedicated to disruptive technologies) and Export Development Canada, as well as existing investor Real Ventures and private investors. Former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and former GlobalFoundries CEO Sanjay K. Jha, both reinvested in the company as part of the round. http://bit.ly/3sbPU0B

Scale AI, Oceans Supercluster, NGen commit collective $17 million to new projects.

Three of Canada’s Superclusters have recently committed new funding for projects and initiatives aimed to bolster Canada’s innovation ecosystem. The latest investments were made by Scale AI, the Oceans Supercluster, and the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. The Superclusters’ contributions have a combined value of approximately $17.6 million. http://bit.ly/3aCmanx

Felix Health raises $10 million amid increased demand for virtual prescription service focused on stigmatized health issues.

The round was led by new investor Whitecap Ventures. Previous investors Mantella Venture Partners, BrandProject and H Ventures also participated in the round. Following the deal, which closed in late December, Russell Samuels, partner at Whitecap Venture Partners, has joined Felix Health’s board of directors. http://bit.ly/3qBxGFf

RocketRez raises $8.4 million Series A round as it looks to help tourism businesses amid pandemic.

Steinbach, Manitoba-based SaaS startup RocketRez has raised an $8.4 million Series A round of funding, bringing the startups’ total funding to date to $9.01 million. The investment consists of $6.4 million in equity financing from new investor Blueprint Equity, which is based in the United States and $2 million in revenue-based financing from new investor TIMIA Capital. TIMIA Capital provides financing to SaaS companies in exchange for payments based on revenue. The firm’s payments are tied to monthly revenue, increasing in strong revenue months and decreasing in low-revenue months, until the capital, plus a multiple, is repaid. http://bit.ly/37wXMBW

NGen commits funding to new $72 million production facility that involves Canadian tech startups.

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, has committed to invest $16.8 million into a new protein production facility in Ontario aimed to address global food insecurity. Several startups are bringing their technologies to this project, including Aspire Food Group, which is leading the project, as well as IoT startup Swift Labs and Darwin AI, both of which are based in Kitchener-Waterloo. Other partners on the project include Telus Agriculture and A&L Canada Laboratories. http://bit.ly/3pxupWh

Boreal Ventures launches $26 million fund investing in Québec’s early-stage deep tech startups. In partnership with Centech, Boreal Ventures has launched as a new venture capital fund that aims to invest in Québec tech startups at the pre-seed and seed stages. Boreal has secured $26 million in initial investment capital from Centech, the Government of Québec via Investissement Québec, Teralys Capital, Desjardins Capital, BDC Capital, Hewitt Group, and École de technologie supérieure. The fund, which will be led by David Charbonneau, aims to support deep tech companies that emerge from Centech, a Montreal-based deeptech incubator, and Québec’s innovation ecosystem more broadly. Prior to founding Boreal, Charbonneau worked at BDC Capital’s Industrial, Cleantech and Energy (ICE) Venture Fund. BDC Capital is notably one of the investors in Boreal. http://bit.ly/37ugREJ

Canada okays second-ever bitcoin ETF just days after approving the first crypto fund.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) approved the second-ever bitcoin ETF from Evolve Funds on Tuesday just days after approving the Purpose Bitcoin ETF on February 12. The Evolve Bitcoin ETF seeks to provide investors with exposure to the daily price movements of the US dollar price of bitcoin. Crypto enthusiasts see an exchange-traded fund as a way for more retail investors to gain price exposure to bitcoin. An ETF trades on the stock market, and investors won’t need to set up a crypto wallet to invest. The Evolve ETF will trade on the Toronto stock exchange under the tickers “EBIT” and “EBIT.U.” Cidel Trust Company will be the custodian of the ETF while Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss’ Gemini Trust Company will be the sub-custodian. Ernst and Young will be the auditor of the fund. http://bit.ly/3avn19E

theScore (SCR-TSX) Bet mobile sportsbook launches in Iowa.

US sports betting technology provider Bet.Works and partner Score Media and Gaming have launched theScore Bet mobile sportsbook in Iowa. The launch extends the existing partnership between the companies to a fourth US state following launches in New Jersey, Colorado and Indiana. theScore Bet enters Iowa’s regulated sports betting market via the previously announced multi-state agreement with Penn National Gaming. theScore founder and CEO John Levy commented: “We are thrilled to launch theScore Bet in another new market and introduce our acclaimed mobile sportsbook to fans across Iowa, utilizing Bet.Works’ suite of technology services. We thank David and his team for their continued efforts as we expand to our fourth state.” https://bit.ly/3sc7txn

Toronto’s UHN launches a study to see if Apple Watch can spot worsening heart failure.

A new study underway at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN), a group of working research hospitals in the city, could shift our approach to treatment in an area of growing concern in human health. The study, led by Dr. Heather Ross, will investigate whether the Apple Watch can provide early warnings about potentially worsening health for patients following incidents of heart failure. The study, which is aiming to eventually span around 200 patients, and which already has a number of participants enrolled spanning ages from 25 to 90, and various demographics, will use the Apple Watch Series 6 and its onboard sensors to monitor signals, including heart rate, blood oxygen, general activity levels, overall performance during a six-minute walk test and more. Researchers led by Ross will compare this data to measurements taken from the more formal clinical tests currently used by physicians to monitor the recovery of heart failure patients during routine, periodic check-ups. http://tcrn.ch/3k5bJfk

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Biggest tech funding rounds in 2020 were mostly in China.

Of the world’s top five venture-backed private tech companies based on how much money they raised in 2020, four were Chinese companies, research firm GlobalData said. The data shows how China’s late-stage startups raised billions of dollars from both international and domestic investors amid the country’s quick recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and a rally in the global stock market. Chinese online education firm Yuanfudao, whose backers include Tencent, DST Global and Warburg Pincus, raised a total of US$3.5 billion in four funding rounds last year, while another education startup Zuoyebang raised US$2.35 billion in two funding rounds, according to Global Data. Memory chip maker Ruili Integrated Circuit raised US$2.39 billion, while truck-hailing startup Manbang raised US$1.7 billion. In the U.S., meanwhile, SpaceX raised more than US$2 billion last year including a $1.9 billion funding round. But GlobalData appears to have missed an even bigger one: ByteDance, which owns TikTok, raised $5 billion in December at a valuation of $180 billion, according to investors who participated in the round. http://bit.ly/3qzPvEG

Tencent raises US$8.3 billion with its biggest ever loan.

Tencent Holdings Ltd., the creator of the messaging platform WeChat, has raised US$8.3 billion in the biggest offshore syndicated loan in Asia for a Chinese firm since 2016. Twelve banks joined the Tencent financing deal, which initially had a US$6 billion size, according to people familiar with the matter. The loan will be used for general corporate purposes, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak publicly. The deal comes amid a flurry of debt financings by tech giants, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. issuing US$5 billion of bonds in early February and Chinese Internet search engine giant Baidu Inc. seeking what would be potentially its largest syndicated loan. The latest loan is the largest foreign currency syndicated deal for a Chinese firm in Asia since 2016, when China National Chemical Corp. raised US$12.7 billion, Bloomberg data show. http://bloom.bg/3dqBaqu

JD.com plans to list shipping unit to ride e-commerce boom.

JD.com Inc. plans to list its shipping business in Hong Kong, raising potentially billions of dollars to capitalize on China’s post-Covid e-commerce boom. JD Logistics Inc.’s initial public offering could raise roughly US$5 billion and value the unit at about US$40 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. Details of the proposed spinoff haven’t been finalized, the company said in an IPO prospectus filed to the stock exchange. JD.com’s shares gained more than 6% to a record in Hong Kong Wednesday. The Chinese e-commerce operator joins an IPO rush fueled by flush liquidity in markets worldwide, with Hong Kong in particular emerging as a hot venue for tech coming-out parties. http://bloom.bg/3udSiFQ

Car-sensor startup AEye goes public in US$2 billion SPAC deal.

AEye Inc., a startup that makes lidar systems for self-driving vehicles, is going public by merging with blank-check company CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III in a deal valued at US$2 billion. The merger will net US$455 million in cash for AEye, which the company will use to further develop its lidar and software systems. AEye is banking on growth in systems like General Motors Co.’s Super Cruise assisted driving system and, eventually, self-driving cars. Researcher Guidehouse Insights forecasts that lidar-equipped systems for either ADAS or self driving will be found in more than 80 million vehicles by 2030. http://bloom.bg/3k0wcC5

SpaceX raises US$850 million at Elon Musk’s favorite price of US$420 per share, report says.

Elon Musk’s rocket and satellite company, SpaceX, has reportedly raised another US$850 million, sending its valuation soaring to about US$74 billion. SpaceX raised the funds at a price of US$419.99 per share, CNBC reported, citing people familiar with the financing. SpaceX took in US$1.9 billion in August, putting its valuation at about US$46 billion. The company is gobbling up cash as it pursues ambitious projects such as its Starlink satellite internet service and Starship rockets. http://bit.ly/3qxQSUk

Coinbase valued above US$100 billion, ahead of direct listing.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase was valued at just over US$100 billion in a recent private market share sale ahead of its upcoming public listing, Axios has learned from multiple sources. Why it matters: Coinbase could go public at a higher initial valuation than any other U.S. tech company since Facebook. Coinbase generated US$141 million of net income on US$691 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2020, according to documents shared with investors. http://bit.ly/2ZyGwHV

MicroStrategy’s convertible debt offering to buy bitcoin upsized to US$900 million.

MicroStrategy Inc. said Wednesday that the convertible debt offering announced the previous session, in which the proceeds will be used to buy bitcoin, has been increased by 50% to $900 million. The 0% convertible senior notes will mature Feb. 15, 2027. The business software company and bitcoin buyer said the notes will be convertible into cash, shares of MicroStrategy common stock or a combination of both. The initial conversion rate for the notes will be 0.6981 shares of common stock per US$1,000 principal amount of notes, which is equivalent to a conversion price of US$1,432.46 a share, which is 50% above Tuesday’s closing price of $955.00. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to offer US$600 million in convertible notes, which comes after an offering of US$650 million in convertible debt to buy bitcoin in the fourth quarter. http://on.mktw.net/37tMnCL

Twilio to sell US$1 billion in fresh shares after earnings send stock to record high.

Twilio Inc. announced Thursday afternoon that it expects to sell US$1 billion in fresh shares, after its stock zoomed to record highs following a strong earnings report. Shares dipped 2.5% in after-hours trading, following a 7.7% spike in the regular session to a record close of US$443.49. The San Francisco software company reported Wednesday afternoon that revenue jumped 65% in the fourth quarter, topping US$500 million in the three-month period. Twilio went public in 2016 at US$15 a share, valuing the company at roughly US$1.2 billion; Twilio’s market capitalization topped US$65 billion for the first time Thursday. http://on.mktw.net/3awx8Le

Bitcoin mining equipment maker Canaan skyrockets 41% as the cryptocurrency passes US$50,000 for the first time.

Shares of bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer Canaan Creative skyrocketed as much as 41% on Tuesday as bitcoin passed the US$50,000 mark for the first time. Canaan’s stock has seen monumental price appreciation over the past six months, rising over 770% amid a historic run for cryptocurrencies and a shortage of crypto mining machines. The Beijing-based company expects to benefit from higher bitcoin prices in 2021 as the cryptocurrency’s rise continues to spark increased demand for mining machines that suppliers can’t meet. The shortage will likely lead to higher premiums for Canaan’s in-demand products. http://bit.ly/3pzVO9S

Amazon acquires Selz, a Shopify competitor that helps small businesses build online stores.

Amazon has bought Selz, an Australian company that makes tools that enable businesses to more easily launch their own online stores. Amazon quietly acquired the e-commerce platform on Jan. 15, but it didn’t publicize the acquisition. Selz said in a blog post that it will work with Amazon to “build easy-to-use tools for entrepreneurs.” The Selz acquisition comes as Amazon’s third-party marketplace, made up of more than 2.5 million sellers, continues to thrive. The segment now accounts for more than half of Amazon’s e-commerce sales and has helped Amazon bring in record revenue. http://cnb.cx/3uhIQ4s

IBM explores sale of IBM Watson Health.

International Business Machines Corp. is exploring a potential sale of its IBM Watson Health business, according to people familiar with the matter, as the technology giant’s new chief executive moves to streamline the company and become more competitive in cloud computing. IBM is studying alternatives for the unit that could include a sale to a private-equity firm or industry player or a merger with a blank-check company, the people said. The unit, which employs artificial intelligence to help hospitals, insurers and drugmakers manage their data, has roughly US$1 billion in annual revenue and isn’t currently profitable, the people said. Its brands include Merge Healthcare, which analyzes mammograms and MRIs; Phytel, which assists with patient communications; and Truven Health Analytics, which analyzes complex healthcare data. http://on.wsj.com/3kbaUl9

Apple in talks to buy self-driving sensors, key step in car plan.

Apple Inc. is in discussions with multiple suppliers of self-driving car sensors known as lidar, according to people familiar with the matter, a key milestone toward development of its first passenger vehicle. The company has been working on a driverless vehicle project for several years and has developed on its own most of the necessary software, underlying processors and artificial intelligence algorithms needed for such a sophisticated system. As it’s done with the iPhone, Apple is looking to outside vendors to supply critical hardware for a planned autonomous vehicle, the people said. The ongoing discussions are a sign that Apple has yet to settle on a preferred supplier for lidar and that it’s likely mulling a range of options, including a heavily customized version of the sensors, as it moves toward developing a car design. That’s an indication that a finished product is still several years away. http://bloom.bg/37v5YSY

Uber extends work from home policy through mid-September.

Uber today notified employees that it will extend its work from home policy through September 13. “In considering the extension, we took into account the latest scientific data and experts’ views; the fact that different countries are at different stages of recovery; and the start of the school year,” Uber Chief People Officer Nikki Krishnamurthy wrote to employees in an email viewed by TechCrunch. In August, Uber notified employees that they should expect to work from home through June 2021. As for other tech companies, Google in July extended its work from home policy through the end of June 2021, while Facebook in August extended its remote-work policy until July 2021. http://tcrn.ch/37x7tAk

Emerging Technologies

Touchdown! NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover safely lands on Red Planet.

The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST). Packed with groundbreaking technology, the Mars 2020 mission launched July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Perseverance rover mission marks an ambitious first step in the effort to collect Mars samples and return them to Earth. https://go.nasa.gov/37uI8qq

Apple hiring engineers to develop 6G wireless.

Apple Inc. launched its first iPhones with 5G wireless speeds a few months ago. Now it’s looking to start work on sixth-generation cellular connectivity, or 6G, indicating it wants to be a leader in the technology rather than relying on other companies. The Cupertino, California-based company this week posted job ads seeking wireless system research engineers for current and next-generation networks. The listings are for positions at Apple’s offices in Silicon Valley and San Diego, where the company works on wireless technology development and chip design. https://yhoo.it/37uya8S

Microsoft’s new gig: A LinkedIn freelancer market rivaling Upwork, Fiverr.

LinkedIn is developing a new service called Marketplaces to let its 740 million users find and book freelancers, pitting it against publicly traded firms such as Upwork and Fiverr, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The career-focused networking site owned by Microsoft wants to tap into a small but growing market for websites that connect primarily white-collar professionals, such as app developers and accountants, with businesses or individuals who want their services. Freelancer work got a boost from the Covid-19 pandemic as people sought new ways to make money without leaving home. http://bit.ly/3azTyvd

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Music streaming services pay US$424 million in licensing fees, US$163 million coming from Apple.

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) announced today that it has received a total of $424,384,787 in licensing fees from all music streaming services, which includes Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Apple was responsible for $163,338,890 — which is the largest amount paid by all companies. The MLC calls this “accrued historical unmatched royalties from digital service providers.” For those unfamiliar, The MLC is a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office pursuant to the Music Modernization Act of 2018. The royalties come from 20 different providers, which are called DSPs. Among all the DSPs that contributed to The MLC, Apple was the company that paid the highest music licensing fee thanks to Apple Music. Spotify comes right after with $152,226,039 paid, and Amazon comes third with $42,741,507 paid. The list also includes other services such as YouTube, Pandora, and SoundCloud. http://bit.ly/3ayblCR

Social audio app Clubhouse has topped 8 million global downloads.

Social audio app Clubhouse has now topped 8 million global downloads, despite still being in a prelaunch, invite-only mode, according to new data released by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie. Per its estimates, Clubhouse grew from over 3.5 million global downloads as of February 1, 2021, to reach 8.1 million by February 16, 2021. This sharp growth is attributed to several high-profile guest appearances, including those from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example. App Annie also estimates that 2.6 million-plus of the total global installs took place in the U.S. — a figure that highlights the app’s global appeal. http://tcrn.ch/2ZyWUrX

YouTube’s quick-video answer to TikTok coming to U.S. in March.

YouTube will introduce a short-form video feature called Shorts to the U.S. in March, making its biggest move yet to respond to the growing challenge from TikTok. Americans will be able to use a preliminary version of Shorts while the company, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, continues developing the feature, YouTube said Wednesday in a blog post. Shorts lets users create and upload 15-second videos, the length of an average video on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok. YouTube has been testing the feature in India since September, and said the videos are now being watched more than 3.5 billion times a day in the country, which is its largest market. TikTok’s surge in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic has forced other social media companies to adjust their strategy and come up with similar products. Facebook Inc.’s Instagram debuted Reels, while Snap Inc. introduced Snapchat’s Spotlight and YouTube unveiled Shorts. http://bloom.bg/3do1AZW

Microsoft is reportedly testing a new browser-based streaming service that would let you play Xbox games on your PC and iPhone.

Microsoft is getting ready to make its game-streaming service available on web browsers, company sources told the Verge. Microsoft launched its game-streaming service xCloud in September, allowing users to stream and play Xbox games on Android phones and tablets. Sources told the Verge Microsoft employees are currently testing the web version of xCloud before it rolls out for a public preview. Being able to play on a browser would allow players to use xCloud on PCs as well as Apple devices, which don’t currently support the service. An Apple spokesperson said in August the service wasn’t allowed on the App Store because Apple would have to check that every game available on xCloud complied with its App Store rules. http://bit.ly/2OSfhWT

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Zuckerberg, Pichai, Dorsey to testify at House online disinformation hearing.

The chief executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google will testify before House lawmakers on March 25 about “misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Thursday. “These online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” said Chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will testify. http://on.mktw.net/3pxAD8B

#BoycottZuckerberg: Aussies delete accounts en masse after Facebook blocks news feed.

Facebook faced an angry backlash on Thursday after blocking news feeds in Australia in a surprise escalation of a dispute with the government which could be a test for the future of online publishing worldwide. The move was denounced by media groups, politicians and human rights groups in Australia and beyond, as it became clear that official health pages and emergency warnings had been scrubbed along with news sites, just three days before the launch of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program. https://bit.ly/3aybwOy

John Deere promised farmers it would make tractors easy to repair.

It lied. In September 2018, a trade group that represents John Deere and a series of other tractor and agricultural equipment manufacturers made a promise intended to stave off increasing pressure from their customers and to prevent lawmakers from passing what they said would be onerous repair regulations. They vowed that, starting January 1, 2021, Deere and other tractor manufacturers would make repair tools, software, and diagnostics available to the masses. https://bit.ly/3ubFTCi

China considers banning rare earth exports to the U.S. China is considering banning rare earth exports that would be vital to the U.S. defense industry, the Financial Times reported.

That move could have a wider impact on U.S. companies like Apple and Tesla that make smartphones or electric vehicles, which use rare earths for magnets and batteries. The newspaper said that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been asking industry executives such as defense contractors how they would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports. The ministry has drafted controls that would limit the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals from China, it said. While U.S. defense contractors might be the first to be targeted, there could be additional fallout if the ban extends to American companies that require rare earths for their products. http://bit.ly/37kWObI

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Robinhood’s CEO rejects his app allows for the ‘gamification’ of investing, and denies using rewards and confetti animation to encourage trading.

Tenev, in his newly released testimony ahead of a Thursday Congressional hearing into January’s GameStop trading frenzy, said Robinhood has made investing easier for a broader range of people. Tenev and his co-founder Baiju Bhatt said they created Robinhood, a commission-free investing site, to “democratize” finance. “Even though we have made investing easier, we recognize it is not a game,” Tenev said in the testimony.Several industry experts and investors said the app takes advantage of its young and inexperienced user base by encouraging risky trades. A game developer previously told Insider Robinhood’s use of free gifts, rewards for bringing in new users, and glowing colors can deepen users engagement and relationship with the app. http://bit.ly/3k2Wxj1

Goldman Sachs is launching a digital investment platform, and you can open an account with a minimum of US$1,000.

Goldman Sachs Group is launching a digital wealth-management platform that allocates and rebalances customers’ wealth across portfolios of stocks and bonds. The low-cost platform, Marcus Invest, will allocate wealth based on models developed by the bank’s investment-strategy group. The latest digital banking push is in line with CEO David Solomon’s plan to reduce Goldman’s reliance on volatile trading and investment banking revenue, while shifting focus towards Marcus, its consumer banking unit. http://bit.ly/3k9M9Gc

Crypto exchange Coinbase was behind Tesla’s bitcoin buy.

Coinbase, the U.S.-based crypto exchange, has been helping large companies invest in bitcoin. The Block has learned that Tesla is among Coinbase’s deep-pocketed corporate clientele. Tesla made headlines earlier this month when it revealed a US$1.5 billion bitcoin investment, disclosing in an annual report that the purchase would help “diversify and maximize returns on our cash that is not required to maintain adequate operating liquidity.” Similar to how Coinbase executed MicroStrategy’s purchase, the order was routed to several over-the-counter trading desks. http://bit.ly/3axVoNd

BlackRock has begun to ‘dabble’ in bitcoin because investors are hunting for ‘storehouses of value,’ according to fixed-income boss Rick Rieder.

The world’s largest asset manager entered the bitcoin space due to its growing respectability as an asset class, investment chief Rick Rieder told CNBC on Wednesday.  While bitcoin’s volatility is extraordinary, he said on “Squawk Box,” investors are still hunting for storehouses of value. “People are looking for places that could appreciate under the assumption that inflation moves higher and that debts are building, so we’ve started to dabble a bit into it,” he added. Bitcoin’s price broke above US$51,000 for the first time on the same day as Rieder’s comments, taking its market cap to close to US$1 trillion. The token’s price has already gained 78% year-to-date, adding to a momentous rally that took off last year. http://bit.ly/2NMhkuN

Billionaire ‘Bond King’ Jeffrey Gundlach says bitcoin is ‘the stimulus asset’ and that he is less bullish on gold.

“Bond King” Jeff Gundlach said in a recent tweet that he’s less bullish on gold and called bitcoin “The Stimulus Asset,” a reference to the cryptocurrency’s rally amid a flood of cash pumped into the financial system from pandemic aid. “I am a long term dollar bear and gold bull but have been neutral on both for over six months. Lots of liquid poured into a funnel creates a torrent. Bitcoin maybe The Stimulus Asset. Doesn’t look like gold is,” Gundlach tweeted. The DoubleLine Capital LP chief has praised bitcoin in recent months for having a “terrific supply and demand dynamic,” but also has been critical of its rapidly accelerating price. On January 11, he told CNBC he went neutral on bitcoin after it passed US$23,000. “I don’t like bitcoin here, I don’t like things that are up on a stilt like that,” he said. https://bit.ly/3sbqgsH

Semiconductors

GeForce Is made for gaming, CMP is made to mine. We are gamers, through and through. We obsess about new gaming features, new architectures, new games and tech. We designed GeForce GPUs for gamers, and gamers are clamoring for more. Yet NVIDIA GPUs are programmable. And users are constantly discovering new applications for them, from weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics. Mining cryptocurrency is one of them. https://bit.ly/37uxxw2

ESG

Maersk has found a way to clean up shipping but there’s a catch.

Maersk says it will launch the world’s first carbon neutral cargo ship in 2023, as efforts to clean up one of the planet’s worst polluting industries gain momentum. The world’s largest container shipping company said in a statement on Wednesday that the vessel will operate on methanol produced from renewable sources or sustainable biomass. It will be able to sail distances of over 4,000 nautical miles, a spokesperson told CNN Business. That’s roughly the distance from London to Miami. Maersk (AMKAF), which is based in Denmark, said the breakthrough had been achieved seven years ahead of schedule. The company said that every ship it buys in the future will come with dual fuel technology that enables ships to be either carbon neutral, or to run on fuel oil that contains less sulfur. There are a couple of catches, however: Maersk may not be able to secure enough carbon neutral methanol to use on its new ship, and the technology can only power smaller vessels for now. http://cnn.it/2NrCnTR

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Market undervalues UGE  (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) versus peer transactions. After strong shareholder returns in 2020, 2021 could be another strong year for UGE International, a developer and operator of community solar projects (mostly in the U.S.). Why? Compared to solar project peer transactions, the market is undervaluing UGE shares.  Plus, almost C$7 million was added to UGE’s balance sheet this week, in an oversubscribed offering. http://bit.ly/3shrqmF

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