The first holiday shortened, yet volatile, first week of 2022 trading was off to a slow start in Canada, but there was plenty of action in the USA. Another data point suggested that the final numbers for 2021 venture capital investments pointed to a whopper of a year. Crunchbase reported that global venture funding nearly doubled last year to US$643 billion compared to 2020, due diligence was a casualty in light of increased funding, according to various reports. San Francisco-based social-media company Reddit Inc. has picked Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to help it go public as soon as March. OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said on Tuesday that it had raised US$300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to cash in on a rush to fund cryptocurrency start-ups. Banking app Dave shares rose 9% in public listing after SPAC merger. Tencent raised US$3 billion in Sea share trade. If all the rumors are correct, 2022 is the year when Apple will finally introduce its own mixed reality headset. Technology analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple’s headset will be released in late 2022 with limited supplies. Qualcomm and Microsoft are teaming up on an augmented reality initiative. Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. has ceased development of a new VR/AR software operating system that employed more than 300 after four years, The Information reported Wednesday. Facebook has never regularly disclosed sales data for Oculus, which it acquired in 2014 for US$2 billion. But IDC estimates that unit sales of the company’s VR devices in 2021 will come in between 5.3 million and 6.8 million. Either one would be a nice jump from the 3.5 million Oculus units estimated to have sold last year. And it is far better than the anemic sales from before the company put out its first Quest headset in mid-2019. Oculus devices before that mostly required a cable running to a high-powered PC. Such “tethers” have severely limited the appeal of VR devices even to the gamer crowd.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

In preparation for IPO, Clio nabs Clearco CFO.

Clio has secured a new CFO from a fellow Canadian unicorn, marking the second exec departure in recent weeks for Clearco. Curt Sigfstead joined Clio as CFO at the beginning of this year as the legaltech company pulls together its shopping list for a potential public markets debut. The addition of Sigfstead follows a major year for Clio, which started off 2022 with 750 employees and boasts more than $100 million USD in annual revenue. https://bit.ly/3q4gmLj

Following recent acquisitions, LifeSpeak files to raise up to $450 million.

In a recent regulatory filing, Toronto-based employee wellness software provider LifeSpeak outlined plans to raise up to $450 million through new issues or secondary offerings, as it looks to fuel its acquisition-focused growth strategy. LifeSpeak’s short-form base shelf prospectus, dated December 21, comes less than six months after the firm made its Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) debut, and follows a trio of post-initial public offering (IPO) acquisitions made by the healthtech company in recent months. LifeSpeak previously allocated the majority of its TSX IPO proceeds towards strategic acquisitions. Funds secured through new issues and secondary offerings serve as a means for public companies to raise funding and can be used to support business strategies like acquisition efforts. Although LifeSpeak has not yet specified what it may raise this capital for, the acquisition-focused company previously allocated the majority of its IPO proceeds towards strategic acquisitions. LifeSpeak indicated that it could raise this capital through the sale of common shares, preferred shares, debt securities, warrants, subscription receipts, and units in one or more transactions over the next two years. https://bit.ly/3q7c0Df

WonderFi acquiring Bitbuy, Canada’s first regulated crypto marketplace.

Kevin O’Leary-backed crypto company, WonderFi, is acquiring First Ledger Corp., the parent company of the cryptocurrency trading platform Bitbuy, for approximately $260 million in shares and cash. Bitbuy became the first crypto trading marketplace to be regulated by and registered with Canadian Securities regulators in November, and is one of only two registered trading platforms — CoinSmart is the other. Bitbuy is also one of only six registered crypto companies in the country. WonderFi is providing Bitbuy shareholders with 70 million common shares of its stock, along with $20 million in cash upfront. The remaining $30 million is deferred, and due in 12 months. https://bit.ly/3Gb1EaP

Canada’s Assent Compliance lands US$350 million from Vista Equity for supply chain data management.

Assent Compliance — a Canadian company focused on supply chain sustainability management. Put more simply, Ottawa-based Assent aims to help manufacturers make smarter decisions regarding “who they do business with and how their products are sourced,” notes CEO Andrew Waitman. The company is announcing it has raised US$350 million at a valuation of more than US$1 billion in a funding round led by Vista Equity Partners. The financing follows a US$131 million Series C raise led by Warburg Pincus, which remains the company’s largest shareholder. Assent’s trajectory continues to grow and Waitman projects the SaaS company will cross US$100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) this year after growing ARR by over 50% in the past 12 months. Its customers include the likes of GE Appliances, Polaris, Stryker, and Escatec. https://tcrn.ch/3pYfCHp

Headversity raises US$10 million to scale workplace mental health solutions.

Headversity has secured US$10 million in Series A financing to fuel the growth of its workforce training software across the United States (US). The Calgary-based startup provides mental health training to employees at firms like Shell, First Group America, and OMERS, and has seen a year of significant growth. Headversity has seen its client base grow by 250 percent in 2021 alone, amid rising demand for mental health services during COVID-19, which has placed added stress on workers. Since March 2020, Headversity claims its revenue has increased by 815 percent. The startup’s all-equity round was led by New York-based Level Equity, with participation from Saskatoon’s Westcap Management and Calgary’s Birchcliff Partners. The financing brings Headversity’s total funding to about US$12.5 million. https://bit.ly/333toQa

TrojAI secures $3 million in seed funding to protect AI solutions against security threats.

Seattle’s Flying Fish Ventures and the Atlantic Canada venture capital fund Build Ventures led the round with participation from Techstars, Concrete Ventures, and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. The round closed on December 21, 2021. TrojAI develops solutions to protect AI platforms from adversarial attacks on training data and AI models, such as poisoning or embedded Trojan and evasion attacks. The new funds will go toward increasing protection against security threats to AI platforms and hiring new staff. TrojAI CEO, James Stewart, has said that the company has already added four people to its team of eight, and over the next six months plans to bring on two or three more new staff. https://bit.ly/3qQGFUA

This number is no longer in service: Farewell to the BlackBerry.

 As of Tuesday, models running BlackBerry 10.7.1 operating systems and earlier will no longer be supported by the company. https://bit.ly/3sRf1cC

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

2021’s mammoth venture year.

The final numbers for 2021 venture capital investments are in—and it was a whopper of a year. Crunchbase reported that global venture funding nearly doubled last year to US$643 billion compared to 2020. In tech, an industry that loves superlatives, that’s a truly astounding increase. Total venture funding had hovered around US$300 billion for each of the previous three years, according to Crunchbase’s data. In other words, venture capitalists are pushing wheelbarrows of cash around, pouring it into startups wherever they can. The growth raises a couple of questions, including whether the elevated levels of investment in 2021 can be maintained in 2022 as interest rates start to rise. The near-zero interest rate environment we’ve been in has forced any investors looking for a decent return to take more risks. With the Fed increasingly likely to raise rates in the next couple of months, the environment is going to change. Venture firms may not find it as easy to raise enormous funds as they did last year. A related question is whether, as seems likely, the enormous increase in venture investments will depress venture returns. Startup valuations skyrocketed last year, to sometimes crazy levels. One casualty, as we reported last year, was due diligence. https://bit.ly/3zCM8Cn

Reddit chooses bankers ahead of potential March IPO: report.

San Francisco-based social-media company Reddit Inc. has picked Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to help it go public as soon as March, according to a Bloomberg report late Friday that cited people with knowledge of the matter. The people said the company, home of meme-stock message board WallStreetBets and countless others, could be valued at as much as US$15 billion in an initial public offering. Reddit announced in December it had confidentially filed for an IPO. The company was valued at around US$10 billion after a funding round in August. https://on.mktw.net/33cBrdu

Trajector withdraws plans for IPO, less than 2 months after initial filing.

Trajector Inc. filed Tuesday to withdraw its previous filing for an initial public offering, “effective immediately.” The Florida-based benefits management software company had filed to go public on Oct. 18, but had not yet determined the number of shares to offer, the expected price of the IPO, the number of shares expected to be outstanding after the IPO or the ticker symbol. Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Stifel were the lead underwriters. The company did not provide a reason for the withdrawal, but did request to the Securities and Exchange Commission that all fees paid in connection with the IPO filing be credited to the company’s account for future use. The company’s withdrawal comes during a time of investor disdain for IPO shares, as the Renaissance IPO ETF has tumbled 12.0% during the past three months while the S&P 500 has rallied 11.5%. https://on.mktw.net/3JQg7eB

OpenSea valued at US$13.3 billion in new round of venture funding.

OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said on Tuesday that it had raised US$300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to cash in on a rush to fund cryptocurrency start-ups. The new round of funding, led by the investment firms Paradigm and Coatue Management, brings the start-up’s valuation to a staggering US$13.3 billion just four years after it was founded. OpenSea previously raised more than US$100 million from a host of investors, including the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and the actor Ashton Kutcher, according to data provided by the company. Founded in 2017, OpenSea was created as a marketplace for people to buy and sell so-called NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, which are unique pieces of digital code backed by blockchain technology. More than $3 billion in private investment went into NFT companies in 2021, according to data compiled by PitchBook, a firm that tracks private investments. Overall, investors poured more than US$28 billion into cryptocurrency and NFT start-ups around the world last year, PitchBook said. https://nyti.ms/3t8QgIR

Banking app Dave shares rise 9% in public listing after SPAC merger.

Shares of Dave, the digital banking app, rose 9% on its first day of trading Thursday after going public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings III. The Los Angeles-based company’s stock price was trading around US$9 on Thursday afternoon after shares of the SPAC closed at US$8.27 Wednesday. The five-year-old startup had raised nearly US$300 million in debt and equity from investors including Norwest Venture Partners, Victory Park Capital and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, according to PitchBook, before it agreed to a SPAC merger to take the company public. One of a handful of finance startups aimed at younger consumers, Dave has more than 11 million customers and helps its users avoid overdraft fees, generating revenue through merchant interchange fees and fees on some cash advances. Dave generated US$112 million in net operating revenue through the first nine months of 2021, up 30% from $86 million the year before. But over that same period, the firm had a net loss of US$5 million this year compared to a net profit of US$28 million in the first nine months of 2020. The company has projected it will generate US$193 million in revenue for all of 2021 and $377 million this year, a 95% increase, according to an investor presentation released in June. https://bit.ly/32ZiPOo

Rivan sinks 17% to dip below IPO price as snub from Amazon slams EV maker.

Rivian stock plunged as much as 17% Thursday, dipping below its IPO price of US$78, as the EV startup continued to reel from Amazon’s new deal with Stellantis to purchase competing electric vans. After diving 11% Wednesday, Rivian stock dropped as low as US$75.13 on Thursday before paring losses. Shares were down 6.8% at US$83.88 at 11:20 a.m. ET but have still lost about 30% over the past month. Amazon, one of Rivian’s early backers and endorsers, had previously announced an order of 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. But Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, said Wednesday that Amazon would be the first commercial customer of its Ram ProMaster electric van. https://bit.ly/3q4gmLj

Tencent raises US$3 billion in Sea share trade.

Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent Holdings Ltd has sold 14.5 million shares in Singapore-based gaming and e-commerce firm Sea Ltd at US$208 each to raise US$3 billion, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Tencent sold the stock at the lower end of the US$208.00-US$212.00 per share range when the transaction was launched on Tuesday. The price set was a 6.8% discount to Sea’s last closing price on Monday of US$223.31 per share. Sea shares dropped 11.4% on Tuesday in New York to US$197.84 on the back of the divestment news. The sale of 14.5 million shares reduces Tencent’s stake in Sea to 18.7% from 21.3%. The company said it intends to retain the substantial majority of its stake in Sea for the long term. Tencent will be subject to a lockup period that restricts further sale of Sea shares by Tencent during the next six months. Tencent’s move comes just days after the company said it would divest US$16.4 billion of its stake in JD.com, weakening its ties to the e-commerce firm, amid pressure from Beijing’s broad regulatory crackdown on technology firms. https://reut.rs/3f6RM66 

New York Times agrees US$550 million deal for The Athletic.

The New York Times has agreed to buy sports website The Athletic for US$550 million, according to people familiar with the matter, the biggest acquisition for the newspaper in almost three decades as it races to add subscribers. The acquisition will bring The Athletic’s 1.2 million digital subscribers to the New York Times, helping chief executive Meredith Levien reach the company’s goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025. By the end of the third quarter, the group reported 8.3 million. San Francisco-based The Athletic was founded in 2016, hiring hundreds of sports writers largely from local newspapers devoted to full-time beat reporting on professional and university teams across the US and UK. Alex Mather, one of The Athletic’s co-founders, told the New York Times in 2017 that “we will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing”. It is unclear how The Athletic might coexist with the New York Times’ own sports section, which employs roughly three dozen reporters and editors, according to people familiar with the matter. Members of the newspaper’s sports staff had not been briefed on the acquisition as of Thursday morning. The Athletic, which is lossmaking, had initially sought as much as US$800 million for a sale, a price that multiple suitors viewed as too high.  Still, the price tag of US$550 million assigns a higher value to The Athletic than other digital media groups in recent transactions. The Athletic reportedly projected it would make US$77 million in revenue in 2021, giving it a multiple of 7 times revenue. Axel Springer last year acquired Politico for about US$1 billion, which was roughly 5 times its annual revenue. In a recent fundraising Axios was valued at US$430 million, also 5 times its annual revenue. The New York Times has made other recent acquisitions, including that of product review website Wirecutter in 2016, for which it spent a reported US$30 million. The company in 2020 bought Serial Productions, the group behind the eponymous podcast, for a reported US$25 million. But this is the largest acquisition the newspaper has made since buying the Boston Globe in 1993, according to Sentieo data. The New York Times has, in recent years, built the world’s largest online subscriber base for news, helped by the frenetic news cycle during the Trump administration, as well as rising subscriptions to its cooking and games products. When asked last year about talks with The Athletic, Levien said: “We are absolutely open to using the balance sheet and, frankly, prefer to use the balance sheet to accelerate our strategy. And we will continually evaluate opportunities to do that.” https://on.ft.com/3GblXF9

Google confirms it acquired cybersecurity specialist Siemplify, reportedly for US$500 million, to become part of Google Cloud’s Chronicle.

Cybersecurity breaches are at a high watermark, and so any company serious about expanding its credibility and business in enterprise IT has to continue investing in tackling it. To that end, Google is kicking off the new year by stepping up its operations in cloud-based and enterprise security. The company confirmed that it has acquired Siemplify, an Israel-based cybersecurity startup that specializes in end-to-end security services for enterprises, typically referred to as security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) services. https://tcrn.ch/3F4K9YI

Emerging Technologies

Apple’s mixed reality headset to be released in late 2022 with limited supplies.

If all the rumors are correct, 2022 is the year when Apple will finally introduce its own mixed reality headset. Technology analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple’s headset will be released in late 2022 with limited supplies. Kuo mentions that Apple’s AR/VR headset will be “postponed to the end of 2022.” More significant shipments of the product won’t begin until the first quarter of 2023, suggesting that the headset will arrive in stores with only a few units available for customers. Although the exact release date is unknown, a late 2022 release could mean that orders will start in November or December – something that has been becoming frequent at Apple due to supply constraints. https://bit.ly/331jxKF

Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset will feature ‘innovative three-display configuration’.

While rumors about Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset are only heating up, DSCC published a paper with 10 predictions for the display industry in 2022, which includes this upcoming product. According to the Display Supply Chain paper, Apple is expected to release in the second half of 2022 an AR/VR headset with both VR and passthrough AR modes. According to DSCC, Sony is expected to be the Micro OLED supplier with a 4K display with 1.4″ in diagonal. So far Bloomberg has reported that Apple’s AR headset can show text, emails, maps, games, and other things through holographic displays built into the lens. In 2020, Mark Gurman revealed that the company has two strategies for its augmented reality devices, one being the AR glasses and the other a more robust AR/VR headset. The latest rumors suggest that the device will be targeted at advanced users as it will feature two 8K displays to show ultra-high resolution images.  The analyst expects the AR/VR headset to heavily rely on the iPhone, while the AR headset will have an advanced chip to operate without a phone nearby, which will be one of his greatest sale points. Right now, the most likely scenario is that Apple’s headset will hit stores in late 2022, but it’s unclear whether will be the AR/VR headset first or only the AR headset. https://bit.ly/3n912Lw

Qualcomm and Microsoft partner on chip for “lightweight” augmented reality glasses.

Qualcomm and Microsoft are teaming up on an augmented reality initiative. The two companies will collaborate on a custom chip designed for “power efficient, lightweight” AR glasses, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon announced. The chip will feature integration with Microsoft Mesh and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces, the two companies’ software platforms for developing augmented and mixed reality apps. In recent years, Qualcomm has emerged as the key supplier of chips to the leading manufacturers of augmented and virtual reality devices, powering devices from Facebook parent company Meta Platforms (Quest 2), Microsoft (HoloLens), Google (Glass Enterprise Edition) and Snap (the developer-only AR Spectacles), just to name a few. Meanwhile, Meta, Google and Apple have all ramped up efforts to develop their own chip designs. Even minor differences in power efficiency and performance could have major consequences in big tech’s heated race toward consumer AR glasses. https://bit.ly/3r35oVy

Meta Platforms stops VR/AR software operating system project.

Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. has ceased development of a new VR/AR software operating system that employed more than 300 after four years, The Information reported Wednesday. The move could greatly impact Meta’s ability to pivot to becoming a major metaverse player. Meta quickly issued a statement via Gabriel Aul, its vice president of Reality Labs Engineering. “There are several technical directions we’re pursuing in our efforts to build @RealityLabs operating systems, we’re still working on a highly specialized OS for our devices – we remain very much invested in this work and continue to dedicate the resources necessary to build this,” Aul said in a tweet Wednesday. https://on.mktw.net/3G7VE2Q

Deere’s driverless tractor gives stressed farmers a new tool.

Farmers are getting older — 55 years old on average — and with more than 80% of the U.S. population residing in urban areas, there aren’t enough laborers to do the work or operate machinery. So robots are the new farmhands as growers try to boost productivity to keep up with the soaring global demand for food, biofuels, and other agricultural products. https://bit.ly/3mXSI0Y

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Metaverse needs more than VR Christmas bump.

IDC estimates that sales of Meta Platforms’ VR devices in 2021 will come in between 5.3 million and 6.8 million units. Among the drawbacks to Facebook’s recent rebranding as a “metaverse” company are that it is no longer enough just to make a solid videogame device. The company now formally known as Meta Platforms appears to have had a decent holiday season for its Oculus VR headset. Analysts for KeyBanc Capital and Jefferies both noted in reports last week that downloads of the Oculus app jumped over Christmas; Brent Thill of Jefferies added that daily active users of the app on Christmas Day were up 90% from the same day the previous year. Facebook has never regularly disclosed sales data for Oculus, which it acquired in 2014 for US$2 billion. But IDC estimates that unit sales of the company’s VR devices in 2021 will come in between 5.3 million and 6.8 million, once the market research firm’s fourth-quarter data is finalized. Either one would be a nice jump from the 3.5 million Oculus units estimated to have sold last year. And it is far better than the anemic sales from before the company put out its first Quest headset in mid-2019. Oculus devices before that mostly required a cable running to a high-powered PC. Such “tethers” have severely limited the appeal of VR devices even to the gamer crowd. Analysts estimate that Sony sold about 5.5 million units of its tethered PlayStation VR headset in the fiscal years 2019 to 2021, according to consensus estimates from Visible Alpha. That is equivalent to about 12% of the total PlayStation console units the company sold in that time. Estimated Oculus sales over the past five years amount to less than 3% of Facebook’s daily user base in North America and Europe—the two markets that account for the vast majority of its business. https://on.wsj.com/3F9vDyP

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

France fines Meta and Google US$240 million for too many cookie clicks.

France’s data watchdog has announced a total of US$240 million in fines for Google and Meta over how many clicks are required for users to refuse data-tracking cookies when visiting the company platforms. CNIL made the announcement on Thursday, outlining how both Google and the company formerly known as Facebook had made it easy for users to accept cookies with a single click on a prominently displayed button. Whereas, users need to click several times to go through the process of refusing cookie tracking. In the case of Meta, CNIL outlined how users needed to click multiple times and then actually click a button with a confusing badge named “accept cookies”. The regulator has ordered the companies to make the accept and refusal processes the same, or face further fines. It’s become a long-running issue in Europe, where internet users are given pop-up cookie alerts on almost all websites. The continent’s stringent data protection laws, known as GDPR, place strict obligations on companies to get the consent of users as to how they use the data collected from cookies. https://bit.ly/3r47AfL


Walmart to expand InHome grocery delivery to 30 million US households in 2022.

First launched in fall 2019, Walmart’s InHome delivery service, as it’s called, allows customers to place grocery orders online, then receive their deliveries by having a Walmart associate enter their home by way of a smart lock. The service was initially tested in a small handful of markets and is now available to 6 million households across the US. Walmart now says it plans to expand InHome delivery more broadly, with the goal of reaching 30 million U.S. homes by the end of the year. This will include forthcoming launches in major markets like Dallas, Nashville, LA, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, and others. The InHome service itself is $19.95 per month, which makes it more appropriate for customers who work outside the home during the day or who travel and want their groceries put away while they’re out. https://tcrn.ch/3t1zCLj

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

China’s digital currency comes to its biggest messaging app WeChat, which has over a billion users.

Tencent-owned WeChat, China’s largest messaging app and one of the country’s biggest payment services, will begin supporting the country’s sovereign digital currency. China has been working on the digital yuan since 2014 and is yet to roll it out nationwide. The move by WeChat, which has over 1 billion users, to support the digital currency could provide it with a huge boost if people begin to pay with it. WeChat may not be that well known to users outside of China, but inside the world’s second-largest economy it is ubiquitous and many services are wrapped into it. https://cnb.cx/3JONbDI

Bored Ape Yacht Club crosses US$1 billion in total sales.

The cumulative sales figure for the 10,000-piece collection now stands at roughly US$1.03 billion. Demand for the digital apes was especially strong among celebrities — many of the rappers — in the closing weeks of 2021. Martin Garrix, Post Malone, Diplo, and DJ Khaled are just a few of the growing number of artists to have ‘aped in,’ as the saying goes in crypto. https://bit.ly/3zAKcKE

Samsung to include NFT platform in a new line of Smart TVs.

Samsung’s newest TVs will include an NFT platform, the company said in a press release Sunday. The new platform will allow users to discover, purchase, and trade the fast-growing category of digital artwork authenticated on the blockchain. More details may be announced at Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Show on January 4, when the company will unveil the TVs along with other new products. NFT’s, or non-fungible tokens, are unique, one-of-a-kind digital assets built on blockchain networks. Trading with NFTs soared in the past year to US$23 billion, according to a December report released by DappRadar, which tracks NFT activity. According to The Verge, Samsung is the first large TV maker to include NFT functionality in its products to this extent. https://bit.ly/3zqTLeW

Kazakhstan internet shutdown sheds light on a big Bitcoin mining mystery.

The curtain just lifted on one of the many mysteries surrounding Bitcoin: How much is being produced using super-dirty coal in Kazakhstan. We knew that the Eurasian nation was a major destination for miners and that the refugees recently expelled from China were flocking there. Still, it was difficult to establish how much of all the world’s coins Kazakhstan was minting. Clouding the picture was the government’s recent moves to severely restrict the mining boom that was plaguing its cities via rolling blackouts. https://bit.ly/3qVbxD7


Tesla posts growth in deliveries despite shortages.

Tesla said it delivered 308,600 vehicles in the fourth quarter, up from a year earlier when it delivered 180,667 vehicles. Reuters reported that the figure beat analysts forecasts of 263,026 vehicles. The surge in output came despite global supply chain shortages that affected production of everything from smartphones to automobiles as Covid forces the closures of ports and factories even as demand has surged. https://bit.ly/3HPIXtF

Sony looks to electric cars for its next big hit.

Japan’s Sony Group Corp plans to launch a company this spring to examine entering the electric vehicle market, looking to harness its strengths in entertainment and sensors to play a bigger role in next-generation mobility. The new company, Sony Mobility Inc, comes as the Japanese tech giant is “exploring a commercial launch” of electric vehicles, Sony chairman and president Kenichiro Yoshida told a news conference, speaking ahead of the CES technology trade fair in the United States. https://reut.rs/3t7WGIl

Ford plans to double production of its electric F-150 Lightning to keep up with surging demand.

When Ford unveiled first unveiled the electric F-150 Lightning, it planned to build 40,000 of them each year. Now it’s realizing that’s not nearly enough. Ford on Tuesday said it plans to churn out 150,000 of the popular pickups annually to meet higher-than-expected demand. The company is in the midst of a massive transition toward electric-vehicle production, and Tuesday’s announcement is the latest sign of strong customer demand for Ford’s EVs and for the segment at large. The automaker’s shares surged as much as 9% in early trading Tuesday following the announcement. Ford had already doubled its initial F-150 Lightning production target to 80,000 units per year, but even that became too little as appetite for the truck grew. In December, Ford stopped accepting refundable reservations for the truck as the number of preorders neared 200,000. At Ford’s original production rate, it would have taken years to fulfill those orders. The company has ramped up its EV-production plans across the board. In November, the company announced plans to grow its electric production capacity to 600,000 units by 2023, a figure it claims will make it the No.2 US EV producer behind Tesla. Its crosstown rival, General Motors, aims to sell a million EVs per year starting by 2025. https://bit.ly/31H2xcq

I tried out a luxury autonomous car considered the Chinese rival to Tesla — it was like driving an airplane. One manufacturer, Nio — which specializes in autonomous cars — was founded in Shanghai in 2014. The startup is considered “China’s answer to Tesla” due to its innovative strength, and it’s already produced over 100,000 cars there. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk commended the manufacturer on Twitter for reaching this milestone. https://bit.ly/3G6vI7I

Shell-backed U.S. solar developer raises US$775 million in equity.

Silicon Ranch Corp, the U.S. solar project developer backed by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), on Thursday said it raised US$775 million in equity capital from new and existing investors. The announcement comes as renewable energy, and in particular solar, is experiencing a dramatic expansion in the United States. Financial institutions are seeking to capitalize on that growth and satisfy growing investor demand for assets that address climate change. https://reut.rs/3n3Uqy7


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There is no express or implied solicitation to buy or sell securities. Sophic and/or its principals and employees may have positions in the stocks mentioned in the Company’s Material and may trade in the stocks mentioned in the Material. Do not consider buying or selling any stock without conducting your own due diligence and/or without obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. The Company has not independently verified any of the data from third party sources referred to in the Material, including information provided by Sophic clients that are the subject of the report, or ascertained the underlying assumptions relied upon by such sources. The Company does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information or for any failure by any such other persons to disclose events which may have occurred or may affect the significance or accuracy of any such information. 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Forward-looking statements are based on opinions and assumptions as of the date made, and are subject to a variety of risks and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward looking statements. There can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct; these statements are no guarantee of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Sophic provides no assurance as to future results, performance, or achievements and no representations are made that actual results achieved will be as indicated in the forward looking information. Nothing herein can be assumed or predicted, and you are strongly encouraged to learn more and seek independent advice before relying on any information presented.