This past week was yet another tough one for tech investors, as the NASDAQ continued to slide, and several high growth stocks in the USA and Canada fell lower. While timing the market is impossible, companies continue to execute, and we witnessed several high profile private funding rounds. Sophic Client, GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, GMSQ-OTC) hosted a corporate update webcast, after pre-announcing Q4 2021 revenue was up 3x q/q and ahead of expectations. Shopify plunged by the most since March 2020 after a report that the company terminated contracts with several warehouse and fulfillment partners. 1Password, the password manager startup, has landed a $744.3 million Series C in a Hollywood star-studded round of financing. The company claims the funding round raises its valuation to $6.8 billion. The round is the largest a Canadian company has raised to date, the startup claimed. Canalyst, a leading provider of financial data and analytics, has raised $70 million in a Series C financing led by Dragoneer Investment Group. Sonder began trading on the Nasdaq, after completing its previously announced business combination with Gores Metropoulos II, a California-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Andreessen Horowitz is planning to raise US$4.5 billion for crypto investments as the digital asset frenzy continues. Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard in all-cash deal valued at US$68.7 billion to mark its biggest-ever deal. SoFi stock soared after clearing final regulatory hurdle to become a bank. Netflix reported lower than forecast subscriber growth. Robinhood started rolling out crypto wallets to 1,000 people on its 1.6 million-strong waitlist. Mastercard struck an NFT payments deal with Coinbase amid a wave of recent crypto partnerships. Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell non-fungible tokens as Facebook’s parent company seeks to join the rush of companies trying to capitalize on the digital collectible craze.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Sophic Client, GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, GMSQ-OTC) hosted a corporate update webcast.

The company updated its revenue guidance for Q4 2021 to approximately $7.5 million; GameSquare reported $2.5 million of sales in Q3 2021. The Company has provided revenue guidance of $28 million for 2022, which remains unchanged. The company hosted a webcast Thursday, January 20, 2022, at 4pm EST to discuss recent operational highlights. https://bit.ly/3rF1fYg

Stack Capital (STCK-TSX) holding Bolt Financial raises US$355 milllion.

Bolt, an existing portfolio holding, has successfully completed the first part of its Series E funding, raising US$355 million.  With the first stage of the Series E funding complete, the Bolt position within Stack Capital has increased from US$6 million to approximately US$12 million since the initial investment in October 2021. This new valuation roughly doubles the book value of the Bolt position within the portfolio and marks an early win for Stack’s investment strategy. https://bit.ly/3FQJevi

Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) tumbles on a report of it terminating fulfillment contracts.

Shopify plunged by the most since March 2020 after a report that the Canadian e-commerce company terminated contracts with several warehouse and fulfillment partners. Its U.S.-traded shares closed down 14% on Friday to the lowest level since September 2020 on high trading volume after the business publication Insider said Shopify was expected to have about half of its previous capacity for e-commerce orders for merchants, once changes are implemented. The report cited executives at four fulfillment companies in Shopify’s network. https://bloom.bg/3KvjpEF

Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) and China’s JD.com team up to capture cross-border sellers. Two of the world’s largest e-commerce players are joining joined hands. Major Chinese online retailer JD.com has formed a strategic partnership with Ottawa-based Shopify to help global brands tap China’s enormous appetite for imported goods, as well as help Chinese merchants sell overseas. The news is turning heads in China’s cross-border e-commerce community. The first part of the deal will put the JD-Shopify alliance in direct competition with Alibaba. The JD nemesis has a sprawling import business, which counted 35,000 international brands as of late. Last year, more than 6,000 brands entered China via Alibaba. https://tcrn.ch/3KtDxH4

1Password claims $744 million round is largest in Canadian history.

1Password, the password manager startup, has landed a $744.3 million Series C in a Hollywood star-studded round of financing. The company claims the funding round raises its valuation to $6.8 billion. The round is the largest a Canadian company has raised to date, the startup claimed. 1Password did disclose the date the round closed. ICONIQ Growth led the round, with Tiger Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Backbone Angels, and Salesforce Ventures participating. This round also attracted investment from leaders in media and entertainment, including Ryan Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Chris Evans, Rita Wilson, Ashton Kutcher, Trevor Noah, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams. https://bit.ly/3GPpUzG

Canalyst raises $70 million Series C led by Dragoneer.

Canalyst, a leading provider of financial data and analytics, has raised $70 million in a Series C financing led by Dragoneer Investment Group. Canalyst customers Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) and Alta Fox Capital participated, along with existing investors HighSage Ventures, Vanedge Capital, and ScaleUP Ventures. Canalyst combines software with human expertise to create the most accurate and detailed financial and KPI data on global public companies, giving finance professionals access to fundamental data that can be trusted absolutely and at scale. Today, over 400 of the world’s top investment managers, banks, and corporations use Canalyst models, data, and APIs as an essential part of their workflow. https://bit.ly/3KBOnL0

Emmertech closes $60 million to grow “dominant” Canadian AgTech companies.

Emmertech, the AgTech fund Conexus Venture Capital launched last year, has secured an additional $15 million in its final closing, bringing its total fund size to $60 million. The final number surpasses Emmertech’s goal of $55 million, as the venture firm aims to fuel early-stage investment in the AgTech sector and make Canada a “dominant” player on the global stage. “It was just very obvious, the gap for Emmertech’s style and cheque size within the AgTech ecosystem was desperately needed,” said Emmertech managing director Kyle Scott, who joined the fund to help run it, and Conexus Venture Capital, in August. https://bit.ly/3qOOeft

Maropost acquires Australia’s retail express in $50 million deal.

Toronto-based commerce and marketing company Maropost has acquired Australian point-of-sale (POS) software provider Retail Express. The over $50 million purchase price consisted of an undisclosed combination of “cash and options,” which Maropost financed using its own funds and debt. The startup declined to share any further financial details about the acquisition. https://bit.ly/3qL4A8V

Shakepay secures $44 million Series A led by QED investors to roll out more bitcoin products.

Montréal-based cryptocurrency startup Shakepay has nabbed $44 million CAD in Series A funding as well as the backing of experienced FinTech investors and Canadian tech leaders to tackle what it sees as growing demand for Bitcoin-focused products. Shakepay offers a platform for buying and selling Bitcoin. To date, the startup has grown to serve over 900,000 Canadian users with only $1 million CAD in venture financing. But over the past year, Shakepay co-founder and CEO Jean Amiouny said the company realized “the opportunity is much, much bigger” than it initially thought. https://bit.ly/3Kxb1El

Diversio Secures $8.13 million on journey to improve corporate diversity and inclusion.

Toronto-based Diversio is on a mission to help companies eliminate barriers to diversity and inclusion. The four-year-old startup recently secured $8.13 million to further develop its platform geared towards that goal. Diversio garnered the investment from First Round Capital, a United States-based early-stage fund that has bet on the likes of Uber and Warby Parker. Golden Ventures also took part in the round, as did Chandaria Family Holdings. Founded in 2018, Diversio had previously only raised $60,000 USD in angel investment. The company’s new Series A funding closed in late 2021. https://bit.ly/3IhtVNM

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Sonder makes Nasdaq debut following close of SPAC deal.

Sonder began trading on the Nasdaq, after completing its previously announced business combination with Gores Metropoulos II, a California-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Francis Davidson, Sonder’s co-founder, and CEO, called the listing “a historic moment” for the company, adding that it is “a testament to how we’ve revolutionized the hospitality industry by reimagining and delivering what the modern traveler demands.” Sonder’s common shares are currently trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol ‘SOND,’ at a price of US$8.61. https://bit.ly/3GSidsH

Investing app Acorns, Pioneer SPAC scrap US$2.2 billion merger.

Special purpose acquisition company Pioneer Merger Corp (PACX.O) and investing app Acorns Grow have mutually terminated their US$2.2 billion merger agreement, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday. The deal, announced in May last year, was originally expected to close in the second half of 2021 and the Irvine, California-based company was to be listed on the Nasdaq. Acorns will pay Pioneer US$17.5 million in termination fees in monthly payments until December 15, as per the agreement. “Given market conditions, we will be pivoting to a private capital raise at a higher pre-money valuation,” Chief Executive Officer Noah Kerner told Reuters. https://reut.rs/33ZWUqB

Andreessen Horowitz is planning to raise US$4.5 billion for crypto investments as the digital asset frenzy continues.

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is planning to raise US$4.5 billion for cryptocurrency investments as the digital asset frenzy continues, the Financial Times reported Thursday. Of that sum, US$3.5 billion will be allocated to its crypto venture fund, while US$1 billion will be placed for a separate fund focused on seed investments, the FT reported. The plans will be finalized in March. The target is more than double the US$2.2 billion that Andreessen Horowitz raised in June last year for blockchain companies and digital assets, which at that point, was the largest fund of its kind. If Andreeseen, also known as a16z, is successful, the amount will surpass any other funds raised by crypto venture investors, suggesting continued confidence in digital assets despite the recent price rout. https://bit.ly/3An2gIv

SoftBank-backed Oyo seeks US$9 billion valuation in IPO.

India-based startup Oyo, which is backed by SoftBank, is targeting a valuation of US$9 billion in an initial public offering that could begin as early as next week, Bloomberg reported. The valuation would be roughly unchanged from six months earlier, when Microsoft invested in Oyo at a US$9.6 billion valuation. It comes after another Indian startup, Paytm, disappointed in public markets after its debut in November. Bloomberg said Oyo’s target valuation would be below the US$12 billion its executives were hoping for in an IPO last year and that it would likely be lower than the US$10 billion it was valued at in 2019. Oyo has had layoffs and cost cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been accused of a toxic work culture. It also has stumbled in places such as China and the U.S. https://bit.ly/3fQ7qmJ

China plans to require big internet firms to gain approvals for deals.

China’s top internet regulator has drafted new guidelines that require major Chinese internet companies to gain the government’s approvals before making investments or fundraising deals, Reuters and Chinese media outlets reported. The new guidelines from the Cyberspace Administration of China will apply to companies that have more than 100 million users or more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.58 billion) in revenue, according to the reports. If the guidelines are strictly implemented, they could have a significant impact on companies like Tencent and Alibaba, which have invested in numerous other tech startups. The guidelines are part of Beijing’s broader regulatory crackdown. Over the past year, the Chinese government has been tightening its control over the country’s biggest internet platforms through antitrust penalties, cybersecurity probes and other new regulations. https://bit.ly/3KyGVjQ

Alibaba stock surges as interest rate cut in China fuels broad rally.

Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shot up 5.9% in premarket trading Thursday, putting it on track for the biggest gain this year, as an interest rate cut by the People’s Bank of China helped fuel a rally in the U.S.-listed shares of China-based companies. https://bit.ly/3qL1mSW

Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard in all-cash deal valued at US$68.7 billion to mark its biggest-ever deal.

Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it has reached an agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. in an all-cash deal valued at US$68.7 billion that will be the biggest ever by the software giant. Microsoft will pay US$95 per Activision share to create the world’s third-biggest gaming company measured by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The deal includes franchises “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal is expected to close in fiscal 2023. https://on.mktw.net/33JAN7M

SoFi stock soars after clearing final regulatory hurdle to become a bank.

Shares of SoFi rallied as more than 16% in after-hours trading on Tuesday following news that the fintech cleared its final regulatory hurdle in becoming a bank. San Francisco-based SoFi received approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, and Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company. The mobile-first finance company offers banking products including loans, cash accounts and debit cards. But it’s not technically a bank. Like many fintech companies, it relies on partnerships with FDIC-insured banks to hold customer deposits and issue loans. https://cnb.cx/3qRlPpj

Netflix reports lower than forecast subscriber growth.

Netflix reported slightly lower-than-forecast subscriber growth in the fourth quarter, when it added 8.28 million subscribers to finish December with 221.84 million paying customers. Revenue grew 16% to US$7.7 billion. North American subscriber numbers rose by 1.2 million to 75.22 million, its strongest rate of growth since the middle of 2020. Investors, who typically judge Netflix by its subscriber growth, sent Netflix shares tumbling 10% in after-hours trading to US$457.76, its lowest point since mid-2020. Anxieties about Netflix’s growth prospects have risen in recent months, as competition from TV companies in the streaming market intensifies. Netflix still dominates by both subscribers and audience share, based on Nielsen data about streaming. But that could change over time. Netflix’s decision last Friday to raise prices, lifting its top tier to US$20, now makes it one of the more expensive streaming services. Netflix said it burned through US$569 million in cash in the quarter, although the company said it expects to generate cash for 2022. It also said it plans to pay down its debt slightly in the first quarter. https://bit.ly/33BYZJw

Emerging Technologies

Google is building an AR headset.

Meta may be the loudest company building AR and VR hardware. Microsoft has HoloLens. Apple is working on something, too. But don’t count out Google. The search giant has recently begun ramping up work on an AR headset, internally codenamed Project Iris, that it hopes to ship in 2024, according to two people familiar with the project who requested anonymity to speak without the company’s permission. Like forthcoming headsets from Meta and Apple, Google’s device uses outward-facing cameras to blend computer graphics with a video feed of the real world, creating a more immersive, mixed reality experience than existing AR glasses from the likes of Snap and Magic Leap. Early prototypes being developed at a facility in the San Francisco Bay Area resemble a pair of ski goggles and don’t require a tethered connection to an external power source. https://bit.ly/3tMh1TT

Apple’s AR/VR headset could be priced above US$2,000, feature M1 pro-like performance.

A Friday report indicated that Apple was having trouble with its rumored AR/VR headset due to overheating, camera, and software challenges, which could make the company delay its plans to unveil its Mixed Reality headset this year. Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is back with some more tidbits regarding the product. In previous reports, Gurman had indicated that Apple’s AR/VR headset will be “pricey.” Although analysts were predicting the product will cost around US$3,000, Bloomberg’s journalist says in his latest Power On newsletter that Apple has discussed price points above US$2,000. https://bit.ly/3tS70ob

Apple reportedly planned HomePod with battery, but don’t hold your breath on it ever shipping.

If you ever looked at the HomePod mini and thought it could work as a battery-powered smart speaker, you’re not alone, as a report indicates Apple discussed and prototyped a product like this. In the latest edition of the Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman talks about Apple’s plan for a battery-powered HomePod. Although the company ultimately scrapped its plans, it’s surprising to discover that it thought about a new kind of smart speaker for its lineup. https://bit.ly/3tPgeBE

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Disney creates new international content unit to boost DTC streaming services.

Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it is creating an international content unit as it looks to keep expanding its direct-to-consumer streaming content business. The new unit will be run by Rebecca Campbell, who was named chairman of international content and operations. “Disney’s direct-to-consumer efforts have progressed at a tremendous pace in just a few short years, and our organization has continued to grow and evolve in support of our ambitious global streaming strategy,” said Chief Executive Bob Chapek. “Rebecca has played a vital role in orchestrating our global platform expansion, and I’m excited that she will be leading our new International Content group, bringing her expertise and talent to oversee the growing pipeline of original local and regional content for our streaming services while continuing to lead our international operations.” https://bit.ly/3Ir3dSR

TikTok owner ByteDance’s 2021 sales growth 70%, slows yr/yr.

TikTok owner ByteDance saw its total revenue grow by 70% year on year to around US$58 billion in 2021, according to two people familiar with the matter, slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies. https://reut.rs/3KvXgG6

YouTube ends most original content work.

YouTube is shutting down most of its efforts to fund original content and will return to its initial focus on videos made by creators and users, Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl said Tuesday in a letter to creators that he posted on Twitter. Susanne Daniels, its global head of original content who helped launch series like Cobra Kai, which premiered on YouTube before being acquired by Netflix in 2020, and Michelle Obama’s Emmy-winning Creators for Change, is leaving March 1. The strategy change is a sign that the platform sees more commercial promise in content made by its users or creators than produced, higher-budget scripted shows. YouTube is ceding ground to other streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime that have an established track record with highly produced shows and movies. At the same time, YouTube is pushing shorter-form video content through YouTube Shorts, its competitor to TikTok. In the future, YouTube will only fund programs through its Black Voices and YouTube Kids Funds, he said. https://bit.ly/3qOV5Wo

MGM Resorts, Entain to boost investment in BetMGM by US$450 million in 2022, after 2021 revenue topped projections.

MGM Resorts International and U.K.-based Entain PLC , joint owners of sports betting and iGaming operator BetMGM, said Wednesday they expect to invest another US$450 million in BetMGM in 2022. That will bring the combined investment to US$1.1 billion since BetMGM was launched in 2018. MGM’s stock rose 1.0% in premarket trading, while Entain’s U.K.-listed stock surged 3.7%. The announcement comes as the companies said they were “wholly supportive” of BetMGM’s success, as they said BetMGM net revenue from operations is expected to be about US$850 million in 2021, which is above expectations and up nearly fivefold from a year ago. For 2022, net revenue from operations is expected to rise to US$1.3 billion, with the expected launch of online sportsbooks in Illinois and Louisiana in the first quarter, retail sportsbooks in Puerto Rico and both online sportsbooks and iGaming in Ontario later this year. MGM shares have dropped 7.7% over the past three months through Tuesday and Entain’s stock has tumbled 18%, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.3%. https://on.mktw.net/3qSoa3l

Microsoft is quietly bringing in billions from its Netflix-like Game Pass service as subscribers top 25 million.

Microsoft’s video game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, has hit another milestone: It now has over 25 million monthly subscribers. That’s 7 million more monthly subscribers than the company reported a year ago in January 2021. With a minimum subscription price of $10 per month, Microsoft is pulling in roughly $250 million every month from its video game subscription service. At that pace, Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are positioned to make approximately $4 billion between now and January 2023. https://bit.ly/3GPDTpm

Major IP deals, Fortnite-like updates ahead.

Two months after launching mobile games to all of its members, Netflix is looking to double down on gaming: The company told investors Thursday that it wants to expand its portfolio of games “across both casual and core gaming genres.” Recent job offers suggest that this could include both live services games as well as an expansion to PC and console gaming, and the company’s COO hinted at major licensing deals ahead. Since launching on Android and iOS last November, Netflix has published a total of 10 mobile games, including titles like Stranger Things 3: The Game and Bowling Ballers. “It’s still very early days but we’re pleased with our progress,” the company said in its letter to investors Thursday. This year, Netflix wants to “continue to program a breadth of game types to learn what [its] members enjoy most,” it said. https://bit.ly/32lY5js


Amazon plans to open high-tech fashion store.

Amazon plans to open a 30,000-square-foot retail store selling apparel, shoes and accessories in greater Los Angeles later this year, the company announced Thursday. Called Amazon Style, the physical store will resemble a small department store with model items of clothing displayed on the racks alongside QR codes, which can be scanned using the Amazon Shopping app to see the available sizes, colors and customer reviews. Shoppers will be able to use the app to indicate they would like to try the item on in a fitting room, or send it directly to the checkout counter. Using the app, customers will be able to reserve a touchscreen-equipped fitting room where the items they requested to try on will be delivered, according to an Amazon press release. Amazon employees will fill a closet attached to the fitting room with the items the customer requested, as well as additional items recommended by Amazon based on their choices and online shopping profile. Touchscreen tablets located in the fitting rooms will allow the customer to request additional items without leaving the room. Amazon has become a market leader in apparel sales in recent years, despite the lack of a physical retail space for customers to try on clothing before purchasing. If the Amazon Style store’s opening later this year is a success, the company could grow even more dominant in the apparel space. https://bit.ly/3GUgUcI

Ford signs 5-year agreement with Stripe to scale E-commerce.

Ford Motor Company has signed a five-year agreement with Stripe, an online payment processor, to scale the automaker’s e-commerce capabilities. Stripe will facilitate transactions for vehicle orders and reservations, handle financing options for Ford’s commercial customers and route customer’s payments from the automaker’s website to the correct local Ford or Lincoln dealer. Ford plans to begin rolling out Stripe’s technology in the second half of 2022, starting with North America, but with aims to roll out in Europe, as well, according to the company. Last year, Stripe raised a $600 million round at a valuation of $95 billion, funds the company said it would use to expand in Europe. https://tcrn.ch/33xwBZ2

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Amazon backs down from plans to ban Visa credit cards in the UK.

Amazon has backed down from threats to ban the use of Visa credit cards from the U.K. on its platform after a dispute with the card company about how much fees are charged on transactions. In a note sent to U.K. Prime members on Monday morning, Amazon said customers would be able to continue to use Visa credit cards beyond the January 19 deadline previously set by the company. The note said Amazon is now negotiating a solution with Visa. The episode has put the spotlight on the opaque fees that Visa and Mastercard take from online merchants. Amazon made the recent move after Visa announced it would soon be hiking fees between the U.K. and Europe in the wake of Brexit. It remains unclear whether Amazon or Visa has backed down, or if the parties have struck a bespoke agreement that would suit both of them. https://bit.ly/3KzpFuL

Robinhood starts rolling out crypto wallets to 1,000 people on its 1.6 million-strong waitlist.

Robinhood Markets has launched a beta version of its long-awaited cryptocurrency wallet program for the first 1,000 customers from its waiting list of 1.6 million, the retail trading platform said Thursday. Customers will be able to send crypto from their Robinhood accounts to external wallets, and vice-versa, in the Crypto Wallets Beta Program, it said. Those beta testers will have a daily limit of US$2,999 in total withdrawals and 10 transactions, and they will need to enable two-factor authentication when signing in. For now, the investing app offers seven types of digital assets, including bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin. The beta program is set to expand to 10,000 customers by March this year and will then roll out to the rest of the WenWallets waitlist. Robinhood will also allow customers to calculate the amount of crypto to send or receive in dollars. https://bit.ly/32mRiWO

Mastercard strikes NFT payments deal with Coinbase amid a wave of recent crypto partnerships.

Mastercard said Tuesday it inked a deal with Coinbase, the latest in a recent flurry of partnerships between payment and cryptocurrency giants. As part of the agreement, Coinbase customers will be able to use Mastercard credit and debit cards to make purchases on the crypto exchange’s upcoming NFT marketplace. Coinbase unveiled late last year plans to launch the platform for minting and buying nonfungible tokens, which have exploded in popularity over the past 12 months. https://cnb.cx/3qH5qDu

Facebook owner Meta dives into NFT digital collectibles craze.

Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell non-fungible tokens as Facebook’s parent company seeks to join the rush of companies trying to capitalize on the digital collectible craze. Teams at Facebook and Instagram are readying a feature that will allow users to display their NFTs on their social media profiles, as well as working on a prototype to help users create — or mint — the collectible tokens, according to several people familiar with the matter. Two of the people said that Meta has also discussed launching a marketplace for users to buy and sell NFTs — essentially a digital asset representing art or imagery that cannot be replicated. https://on.ft.com/3GLWN0a

NFT platform OpenSea hits monthly record of US$3.5 billion in Ethereum trading volume as digital collectible mania rages on.

OpenSea, the largest marketplace for nonfungible tokens, has already notched a new record in monthly ethereum trading volume in January as the digital collectible mania rages on. NFT trading volume on the ethereum blockchain exceeded the US$3.5 billion mark even with almost two more weeks to go, data from Dune Analytics shows. The new all-time-high surpasses both the previous records of US$3.42 billion in August 2021 and the $3.24 billion in December of the same year. https://bit.ly/3tJU8R3

StockX launches NFT marketplace.

Sneaker resale company StockX on Tuesday announced that it will let users buy and sell non-fungible tokens that are tied to physical sneakers. The Detroit-based firm’s digital goods marketplace, called Vault NFTs, will allow customers to purchase a digital version of a limited-edition sneaker from brands like Nike and Adidas and, subsequently, own an accompanying physical version of the sneaker that is stored in StockX’s warehouse. The customer can have the physical shoe shipped to them anytime they choose. The move comes as sneaker brands and retailers dive deeper into the digital goods market. In December, Nike announced it acquired virtual merchandise creator and seller RTKFT (pronounced artifact), and Adidas released its first line of sneaker NFTs in collaboration with the popular limited NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club. Adidas sold around US$22 million in NFTs upon its release, The Verge previously reported. Launching an NFT marketplace could usher in a new stream of revenue for StockX, which also lets users buy and sell previously owned gaming consoles and other collectibles such as trading cards, as the company gears up for the public market. Last week, Bloomberg reported that StockX had tapped Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to plan an initial public offering that could happen as early as the first half of this year. https://bit.ly/3GVg2nZ

Walmart is quietly preparing to enter the metaverse.

Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as NFTs. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart filed the applications on Dec. 30. Nike filed a slew of trademark applications in early November that previewed its plans to sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel. Later that month, it said it was teaming up with Roblox to create an online world called Nikeland. In December, it bought the virtual sneaker company RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) for an undisclosed amount. “All of a sudden, everyone is like, ‘This is becoming super real and we need to make sure our IP is protected in the space,’” said Gerben. Gap has also started selling NFTs of its iconic logo sweatshirts. The apparel maker said its NFTs will be priced in tiers ranging from roughly $8.30 to $415, and come with a physical hoodie. Meantime, both Under Armour’s and Adidas’ NFT debuts sold out last month. They’re now fetching sky-high prices on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. Gerben said that apparel retailers Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks detailing their intent to open some sort of virtual store. https://cnb.cx/3rFe2do

Crypto enthusiasts meet their match: angry gamers.

For more than a year, crypto mania has been at a fever pitch. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have soared in value. Crypto-based assets like NFTs have taken off. Jack Dorsey, a Twitter founder, recently renamed one of his companies Block in honor of the blockchain, the distributed ledger system that powers digital currencies. Melania Trump has auctioned off her own NFTs. Proponents hope that blockchain will revolutionize industries, from finance to social media to art. But to some, the crypto craze has gone too far, too fast. Skeptics argue that cryptocurrencies and related assets like NFTs are digital Ponzi schemes, with prices artificially inflated beyond their true value. Some question whether cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, which are slippery concepts, have any long-term utility. Nowhere has there been more unhappiness than in the games community, where clashes over crypto have increasingly erupted between users and major game studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Zynga. In many of the encounters, the gamers have prevailed — at least for now. https://nyti.ms/3fJ6xN1


Intel eyes Ohio for a pair of chip factories amid global shortage.

Intel this week highlighted plans to build two chip manufacturing facilities outside of Columbus, Ohio. The announcement is still early stages, involving the eventual allotment of $20 billion to construct the factories designed to tackle the ongoing global chip shortage — or at least address potential future issues. The company sketched a rough timeline for the first factory, with planning beginning immediately and construction following before the end of the year. That facility would come online in 2025, marking its first new manufacturing site in 40 years. The project is set to span 1,000 acres of space, with enough room to fit up to eight chip factories, if things go as planned. https://tcrn.ch/3qNNqrk


The information and recommendations made available through our emails, newsletters, website and press releases (collectively referred to as the “Material”) by Sophic Capital Inc. (“Sophic” or “Company”) is for informational purposes only and shall not be used or construed as an offer to sell or be used as a solicitation of an offer to buy any services or securities. In accessing or consuming the Materials, you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. In particular, none of the information provided in our monthly newsletter and emails or any other Material should be viewed as an invite, and/or induce or encourage any person to make any kind of investment decision. The recommendations and information provided in our Material are not tailored to the needs of particular persons and may not be appropriate for you depending on your financial position or investment goals or needs. You should apply your own judgment in making any use of the information provided in the Company’s Material, especially as the basis for any investment decisions. Securities or other investments referred to in the Materials may not be suitable for you and you should not make any kind of investment decision in relation to them without first obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. You further agree that neither Sophic, its, directors, officers, shareholders, employees, affiliates consultants, and/or clients will be liable for any losses or liabilities that may be occasioned as a result of the information provided in any of the Material. By accessing Sophic’s website and signing up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you accept and agree to be bound by and comply with the terms and conditions set out herein. If you do not accept and agree to the terms, you should not use the Company’s website or accept the terms and conditions associated to the newsletter signup. Sophic is not registered as an adviser or dealer under the securities legislation of any jurisdiction of Canada or elsewhere and provides Material on behalf of its clients pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements that is available in respect of generic advice. In no event will Sophic be responsible or liable to you or any other party for any damages of any kind arising out of or relating to the use of, misuse of and/or inability to use the Company’s website or Material. The information is directed only at persons resident in Canada. The Company’s Material or the information provided in the Material shall not in any form constitute as an offer or solicitation to anyone in the United States of America or any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such a solicitation. If you choose to access Sophic’s website and/or have signed up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you acknowledge that the information in the Material is intended for use by persons resident in Canada only. Sophic is not an investment advisor nor does it maintain any registrations as such, and Material provided by Sophic shall not be used to make investment decisions. Information provided in the Company’s Material is often opinionated and should be considered for information purposes only. No stock exchange or securities regulatory authority anywhere has approved or disapproved of the information contained herein. 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. The Material may contain forward looking information. Forward-looking statements are frequently, but not always, identified by words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “estimates,” “potential,” “possible,” “projects,” “plans,” and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions or results “will,” “may,” “could,” or “should” occur or be achieved or their negatives or other comparable words and include, without limitation, statements regarding, projected revenue, income or earnings or other results of operations, strategy, plans, objectives, goals and targets, plans to increase market share or with respect to anticipated performance compared to competitors, product development and adoption by potential customers. These statements relate to future events and future performance. 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.