Last week, at least four SPACs pulled their initial public offering plans, and Dutch file-sharing service WeTransfer abruptly canceled its IPO in Amsterdam, with its chief executive officer citing turbulent public markets. That said, Chinese fast fashion retailer Shein revived plans for IPO in the U.S. and delivery company Gopuff reportedly hired bankers for its IPO. Nvidia is reportedly preparing to abandon its US$40 billion takeover of Arm. UBS agreed to buy robo-adviser Wealthfront for US$1.4 billion. ESL, FACEIT acquired and merged by Saudi-owned Savvy Gaming Group for a reported US$1.5 billion, as esports gains global acceptance. Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman said his firm has purchased more than 3.1 million shares of Netflix, making it a top-20 holder. Activist investor Blackwells Capital wants the board of Peloton to fire CEO John Foley and pursue a sale of the company. Climate technology startups around the world raised close to US$40 billion in funding over more than 600 venture capital deals last year. In Canada, Exro announced an increase in its bought deal financing to $17.5 million. Eguana filed a final base shelf prospectus for an aggregate amount of up to $150 million during a 25-month period. HealthSpace Data Systems announced pricing of its overnight marketed financing. In mid-November, Gross Merchandise Sales (“GMS”) on EMERGE Commerce’s marketplaces exceeded $100 million. Founder and CEO, Ghassan Halazon, published a shareholder letter outlining progress and plans for EMERGE in 2022 and beyond. Over the years, investors gravitate towards, and anticipate annual shareholder letters, which offer unique/insightful commentary. We’re optimistic this could be the beginning of a similar series, offering insights on an interesting ecommerce capital allocation strategy from EMERGE. Unity’s recent Ziva acquisition, and Apple’s contactless payment announcement for iPhones (which sent Square stock down on Thursday), both leverage Canada’s technology ecosystem, which continues to go from strength to strength despite market turbulence.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Exro (EXRO-TSX) announces increase in bought deal financing to $17.5 million.

The Company entered into an amended agreement with Eight Capital and Raymond James Ltd., as lead underwriters and joint bookrunners on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters (collectively, the “Underwriters”), pursuant to which the Underwriters have now agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 10,938,000 units of the Company (the “Units”) at a price of $1.60 per Unit (the “Issue Price”) for aggregate gross proceeds of $17,500,800 (the “Offering”). Each Unit consists of one common share in the capital of the Company, and one half of one common share purchase warrant (each whole warrant, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant is exercisable into one common share of the Company at an exercise price of $2.00 for a period of 36 months from the closing of the Offering. https://bit.ly/3H7tIMV & https://bit.ly/3obn80l

HealthSpace Data Systems Ltd (HS-CSE) announces pricing of overnight marketed financing.

The company announced the pricing and terms of its previously announced overnight marketed offering (the “Offering”) of units of the Company (the “Units”). The Offering will be conducted on a commercially reasonable “best efforts” agency basis for the issuance of up to 6,666,700 Units at a price of $0.60 per Unit (the “Offering Price”) for aggregate gross proceeds of up to $4,000,020. Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. (the “Agent”) is acting as sole agent and bookrunner for the Offering. Each Unit will consist of one common share (a “Common Share”) and one-half of one Common Share purchase warrant (each full warrant, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant will entitle the holder to purchase one Common Share at an exercise price of $0.90 for 24 months from the date of issuance. The Company intends to apply to list the Warrants on the Canadian Securities Exchange. https://bit.ly/3HpvCII

Eguana (EGT-TSXV) announces filing of final base shelf prospectus.

The Company has filed and obtained a receipt for its final short form base shelf prospectus with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces of Canada except Québec (the “Shelf Prospectus”). The Shelf Prospectus allows the Company and certain of its security holders to qualify the distribution of common shares, preferred shares, debt securities, subscription receipts, units, warrants, and share purchase contracts (collectively, the “Securities”), or any combination thereof, from time to time, separately or together, in amounts, at prices and on terms as set forth in an accompanying shelf prospectus supplement (“Prospectus Supplement”), for an aggregate amount of up to $150 million during the 25-month period that the Shelf Prospectus is effective. https://bit.ly/3ILSrqu

EMERGE Commerce Ltd. (ECOM-TSXV) shareholder letter and webcast.

In mid-November, Gross Merchandise Sales (“GMS”) on the Company’s marketplaces exceeded $100 million for the first time. The Company’s Founder and CEO, Ghassan Halazon, a few days ago, published a shareholder letter entitled ‘Rebels on the Rise’ outlining progress and plans for EMERGE in 2022 and beyond. Over the years, investors gravitate towards, and anticipate annual shareholder letters, which offer unique and insightful commentary; we’re optimistic this could be the beginning of a similar series, offering insights on an interesting capital allocation strategy from EMERGE. https://bit.ly/34iMq5R

OMERS Ventures reinvests in Deliverect as part of US$150 million Series D round.

Amid the growth of third-party food delivery apps during the pandemic, Deliverect has raised US$150 million in Series D funding to help restaurants navigate an increasingly complex environment. OMERS Ventures, which led Deliverect’s 2020 Series B round, reinvested as part of the startup’s all-equity, “majority primary” Series D financing, which closed earlier this month. The round was led by Coatue Management LLC and Alkeon Capital Management, and supported by OMERS, DST Global, Redpoint Ventures, Newion, and Smartfin. The fresh capital brings Deliverect’s total funding to $240 million, and lends the company a valuation of over US$1.4 billion. https://bit.ly/3o8bGmi

Deloitte Canada Launches $150 million  venture capital Fund.

After tracking rising technology startups for a number of years with its annual Technology Fast 50 list, Deloitte Canada is getting into the venture capital business itself. Deloitte Canada announced that it has launched Deloitte Ventures, a $150 million investment fund. Deloitte Canada said its new venture capital fund will make minority investments in emerging technology companies, and is designed to accelerate Canada’s technology sector. Deloitte is a multinational professional services network that provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to business clients. https://bit.ly/33Sgky1

MaRS Launches New $100 million Graphite IAF fund.

MaRS IAF and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with private sector investors, have launched a new $100 million fund that will focus on seed-stage investments and extensions, through to the rights for Series A rounds. The fund has already reached $77 million in a first close. The province will invest $25 million of its returns on past MaRS IAF investments to help launch Graphite IAF IV (Graphite), the name of the new fund. The fund will also see a $25 million investment from Canadian pension fund OMERS, as well as contributions by entrepreneurs from past IAF investments. Together with the new Graphite fund, the IAF will continue to operate and support pre-seed and seed-stage companies. https://bit.ly/3HddT7h

Venture funding for Montréal tech sector grew steadily in 2021, with $1.6 billion raised.

Montréal’s tech sector managed to break its venture funding record in 2021, exhibiting healthy investment growth year-over-year, according to the BDO-Hockeystick report with data from briefed.in. briefed.in found that Montréal tech companies attracted $198.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, a 51 percent decrease quarter-over-quarter, but a 47 percent increase compared to the same quarter in 2020. Q4 2021 investment brought Montréal’s total funding for 2021 to $1.6 billion, a new two-year record for the city. Overall funding in 2021 increased by roughly 33 percent from the $1.2 billion raised in 2020. Montréal sits third in briefed.in’s ecosystem rankings, behind Toronto and British Columbia, which both tracked remarkable investment growth last year. https://bit.ly/3AI4qm8

Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) denies allegations in textbook pirating lawsuit.

Shopify denied that it is liable for alleged copyright and trademark infringement by online sellers using its platform, responding to a lawsuit filed by textbook publishers. A group of five educational publishers, including Pearson Education Inc. and McGraw Hill LLC, sued Shopify in December. Their suit claims the e-commerce company is liable for the unauthorized school textbooks, test packs and solutions manuals sold by websites using Shopify’s services. Shopify sells technology that enables people to put up websites, accept online payments, and ship and track orders to customers. The e-commerce company said Friday in its rejoinder to the lawsuit that it complies with existing copyright laws passed by Congress, which generally shield internet infrastructure companies from being sued for copyright violations committed by users. https://on.wsj.com/3AHJ7kA

Ziva Dynamics acquired by Silicon Valley’s Unity Technologies.

Vancouver-based Ziva was founded in 2015 by James Jacobs (an Academy Scientific and Engineering Award winner), University of Southern California professor Jernej Barbic, and iVirtual Technologies president Chris Godsall. Its flagship software, Ziva VFX, is used to digitally replicate and combine the physics and materiality of soft tissue, such as muscles, fat, and skin. This enables users to create lifelike CGI characters. Ziva users include students, small studios, and large VFX facilities. Ziva’s technology was used to create the characters within Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and titles like Game of Thrones and Godzilla vs. Kong. With its acquisition of Ziva, Unity intends to further scale Ziva’s offering to allow artists, regardless of skill level, to create digital characters. Additionally, the deal also enables Unity to accelerate the process of bringing Weta tools to real-time 3D through the cloud. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. https://bit.ly/3ADZH53

Apple will reportedly allow iPhones to accept contactless payments.

Small businesses might soon be able to accept payments using their iPhones without the need for extra hardware. According to Bloomberg, Apple could start rolling out the feature through a software update in the next few months, perhaps with the final version of iOS 15.4 that’s coming out this spring. Apple has reportedly been working on the service since 2020, when it purchased a Canadian startup called Mobeewave known for developing a technology that turns a phone into a payment portal. https://tcrn.ch/3HdlnqW

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

At least 3 SPACs have withdrawn IPO plans in the last 24 hours amid highly volatile equity markets.

At least four special-purpose acquisition corporations, or SPACs, have pulled their initial public offering plans in the past 24 hours, amid highly volatile equity markets. SPACs, also known as blank-check companies, are shell companies that raise money in an IPO and then acquire a business or businesses. The vehicle became popular during the pandemic, but many have struggled in the last year. Do It Again Corp., a SPAC that was targeting a deal in the restaurant or food service sector, withdrew its registration early Wednesday. Murphy Canyon Acquisition Corp., which filed last June to raise US$150 million in an IPO, withdrew its registration statement on Wednesday, and then said the withdrawal had been filed in error. Murphy Canyon had said it was seeking a target company in the real estate sector, “including construction, homebuilding, real estate owners and operators, arrangers of financing, insurance, and other services for real estate, and adjacent businesses and technologies targeting the real estate space, which we may refer to as “Proptech” businesses.” Those moves came after CAVU Technology Acquisition Corp., which filed to raise up to US$100 million in an IPO last March, also withdrew its registration statement. https://on.mktw.net/3o8en7o

WeTransfer scraps IPO amid market volatility.

Dutch file-sharing service WeTransfer has abruptly canceled its IPO in Amsterdam, with its chief executive officer citing turbulent public markets for the decision. WeTransfer had planned to go public this week, seeking a valuation of up to US$810 million, before announcing on Thursday the IPO would not go ahead. In a statement, WeTransfer’s CEO blamed “volatile market conditions” for ditching the IPO. The company’s public debut was supposed to be the first major IPO in Europe this year. But recent volatile swings in the markets may cause other major European firms to think twice about when to go public. There have been rumors that European-based companies like buy now, pay later firm Klarna, and fintechs like Checkout.com and Revolut have been scoping out whether to go public this year – whether that’s in Europe, or in the United States. https://bit.ly/3ocI2MD

Chinese fast fashion retailer Shein revives plans for IPO in the U.S.

Shein, the Chinese online fast fashion retailer that’s rivaling Zara and H&M, is reviving plans for an initial public offering in New York, Reuters reported. If the IPO goes through, it would be the first major Chinese IPO since China tightened oversight in July of companies listing overseas. The report said that the company, founded by Chris Xu in 2008, had earlier looked at going public two years ago but shelved the plans amid market instability. Shein had around US$15.7 billion in revenue in 2021, and its valuation doubled to US$50 billion, Reuters said. Reuters said that funder Xu had been looking into acquiring Singaporean citizenship in order to get around China’s strict new rules on overseas listings. The company denied it was planning to go public or that its founder was seeking citizenship in Singapore. https://bit.ly/3G6SlI9

Delivery company Gopuff reportedly hires bankers for IPO.

GoBrands Inc., which does business under the name Gopuff, has hired bankers about an initial public offering roughly six months after the Philadelphia-based grocery and liquor delivery company was valued at about US$15 billion. The company is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley in preparation to go public, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters. The IPO comes after the company raised US$1 billion from Guggenheim Investments, Hedosophia and the Softbank Vision Fund 1 in late July. Gopuff said on Dec. 23 it has expanded into nearly 600 fulfillment locations with a team of 10,000 people that deliver 4,000 products to more than 1,000 cities in the U.S. and Europe. https://on.mktw.net/3g3ATtA

Climate startups raised US$40 billion last year.

Climate technology startups around the world raised close to US$40 billion in funding over more than 600 venture capital deals last year, according to Climate Tech VC, a newsletter which tracks climate tech deals. Total climate investments in the second half of last year were double the amount in the same period in 2020. Mobility, energy and investing in food and water made up close to 90% of all climate deals. Funding transportation startups, like those involved in batteries and electric vehicles, made up the biggest slice of total climate spending, adding up to 40% of total investments. This sector also had the largest median deal size of around US$20 million. A chunk of this funding could be attributed to mega-rounds in Northvolt, a battery developer, and Rivian, an electric vehicle-maker. Northvolt raised US$2.75 billion from Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen in June. Rivian raised a US$2.65 billion round led by T. Rowe Price Associates in January last year and then another round of US$2.5 billion led by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, Ford Motor Company and funds and T. Rowe Price Associates in July. Rivian’s market value topped US$150 billion after it went public in November. Energy investments jumped in the fourth quarter of the year, driven by two fusion energy startups: Commonwealth Fusion’s $1.8 billion round in December, led by Tiger Global Management, and Helion Energy’s $500 million round in November, led by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. https://bit.ly/3IEX3Pc

Nvidia is reportedly preparing to abandon its US$40 billion takeover of Arm.

Nvidia is “quietly” preparing to abandon its US$40 billion acquisition of British chip designer Arm, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. The U.S. chipmaker has told partners it’s not expecting the deal to be finalized, the news agency reported, citing people familiar with the matter. SoftBank, which currently owns Arm, is ramping up preparations for Arm to go public in lieu of the Nvidia takeover, according to Bloomberg. “We continue to hold the views expressed in detail in our latest regulatory filings — that this transaction provides an opportunity to accelerate Arm and boost competition and innovation,” a Nvidia spokesperson told CNBC by email. https://cnb.cx/3g8sSnh

UBS agrees to buy robo-adviser Wealthfront for US$1.4 billion.

UBS Group AG agreed to buy U.S. robo-adviser Wealthfront for US$1.4 billion in cash, as Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers tapped a fintech firm for his first major acquisition. The deal will add more than US$27 billion in assets under management and over 470,000 clients in the U.S., Switzerland’s biggest bank said in a statement Wednesday. https://bloom.bg/3AAFkWn

Diem, the crypto project backed by Meta platforms, sells assets to crypto bank Silvergate Capital for US$200 million.

The Diem Association, a crypto initiative backed by Facebook-parent Meta Platforms, is selling its technology to crypto-focussed bank Silvergate Capital for US$200 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. The sale comes as regulatory pressure endangered its stablecoin ambitions, according to Bloomberg. The move signals the total collapse of the Diem project, which has long faced delays and heavy regulatory scrutiny. Diem had been in talks with investment bankers about how to sell its intellectual property and return money to investors, the report said. Meta owns about a third of The Diem Association, according to Bloomberg. Diem also counts VC firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital and Thrive Capital among its partners. Interest in selling Diem’s assets came about after the Federal Reserve expressed disapproval last summer of the association’s plan to have Silvergate Bank issue its diem stablecoin, the report said. The Biden Administration also has concerns over stablecoins, which are cryptocurrencies that have their value tied to an outside asset like the U.S. dollar, and is looking to regulate stablecoin issuers as banks. The Diem Association was no stranger to regulatory roadblocks. Meta first launched a stablecoin project in 2019 under the name “Libra.” But its ambitions came under fire from U.S. lawmakers and regulators worried about the project’s impact on user privacy and global financial stability, which culminated in Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. After the project lost major backers like Mastercard and Visa, it rebranded to Diem in 2020. https://bit.ly/3s1hK0Z

ESL, FACEIT acquired and merged by Saudi-owned Savvy Gaming Group for reported US$1.5 billion.

A new chapter has begun for both ESL and FACEIT. The Modern Times Group has officially sold its esports tournament organizer ESL to the Savvy Gaming Group. The company has also picked up FACEIT, which means that two of the biggest tournament organizers in esports will be changing hands—and merging—for a reported $1.5 billion, according to the Sports Business Journal. The Savvy Gaming Group is “fully owned” by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, according to ESL and FACEIT’s announcement. ESL is famous for hosting events like ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters, the ESL Pro Tour, and ESL Play, and can be found across multiple globally-acclaimed esports such as CS:GO, StarCraft, and Dota 2. https://bit.ly/3GbkLRx

DraftKings Jumps 17% as Morgan Stanley says investors should buy into a leader in the rapidly growing US betting market.

DraftKings shot higher Wednesday on a Morgan Stanley upgrade that said investors should take advantage of the stock’s earlier decline to buy a leader in what could become a US$21 billion sports betting market in the US. The stock is now rated overweight, up from from equal weight, with Morgan Stanley noting the shares had dropped about 75% from its 52-week high. Shares of the Boston-based company rose 17% to an intraday high of US$22.69. “While we and the market have been focused on near to medium-term profit concerns, we believe at the current price, one should not ignore that DKNG is a leading market share player in what will be a very large profitable market,” said equity analyst Thomas Allen in a note published Wednesday. The investment bank’s price target of US$31 a share implies a potential 60% jump from Tuesday’s closing price of US$19.32. https://bit.ly/3rZ41b9

Bill Ackman says his hedge fund just bought 3.1 million shares of Netflix.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman on Wednesday said his firm has purchased more than 3.1 million shares of Netflix Inc. , making it a top-20 holder. “The opportunity to acquire Netflix at an attractive valuation emerged when investors reacted negatively to the recent quarter’s subscriber growth and management’s short-term guidance. Netflix’s substantial stock price decline was further exacerbated by recent market volatility,” said Ackman, who is chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management. https://bit.ly/3rSGb0A

Block shares lower on report Apple to let iPhones accept payments without extra hardware.

Shares of Block traded 3% lower in early premarket action after Bloomberg reported that Apple is planning a service that will let businesses accept payments on iPhones without the need for additional hardware. Block operates the popular small-business payments service Square. The report said the Apple service will be coming in months. https://bit.ly/3AEd0Cg

Activist investor seeks to push Peloton CEO out.

Activist investor Blackwells Capital wants the board of Peloton to fire CEO John Foley and pursue a sale of the company, according to The Wall Street Journal. Its share price, which rose with the popularity of homebound exercise during Covid lockdowns, has since fallen below its IPO price. The report said that Blackwells, which is a significant shareholder but owns less than 5%, intends to push the board to fire Foley and sell itself to a bigger tech or fitness company. Peloton has struggled recently. Shares fell last week after a report that it was halting production of some products on falling demand. The company said it has taken steps to turn around its business. https://bit.ly/3IMYbjU

Emerging Technologies

SpaceX is reportedly planning to launch a record 52 rockets in 2022 — and it’s already on track to hit that goal.

 Meeting the goal would break the company’s record of 31 launches, which it achieved last year. “There’s an ambitious 52-launch manifest for SpaceX over the course of the year,” Sandra Magnus, astronaut and former executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said during a virtual meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), cited by The Verge. “That’s an incredible pace,” Magnus said, adding that “NASA and SpaceX will have to be watchful during 2022 that they’re not victims of their success,” per The Verge. “Both NASA and SpaceX will have to ensure the appropriate attention and priority are focused on NASA missions, and the right resources are brought to bear to maintain that pace at a safe measure,” Magnus said in the meeting, per CNBC and The Verge. https://bit.ly/3s6nlTY

The F.A.A. announces progress in expanding 5G service at airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday that it had reached an agreement with Verizon and AT&T on a way to expand 5G cellular service while allowing more aircraft to safely land at airports nationwide, cooling down a heated dispute between wireless providers and airlines. At issue were concerns from airlines and the F.A.A. that a planned nationwide 5G expansion would threaten flight safety. The new generation of 5G service, which provides much faster access to the internet, uses so-called C-band frequencies, which are close to the portion of airwaves used by key safety devices. https://nyti.ms/33Ux3AN

iPhone took top slot in China in holiday quarter, with highest ever market share.

The iPhone took the top slot in China during Q4, with Apple achieving its highest ever share of the smartphone market in the country – led by the iPhone 13. Apple was previously in 4th place in the market share stakes, behind Huawei, Vivo, and Oppo … Counterpoint says that Apple hit 23% market share in Q4 2021, compared to just 16% in the same quarter a year earlier. For the year as a whole, Apple rose one slot from 4th to 3rd place. https://bit.ly/3s2n2cH

Introducing Meta’s next-gen AI supercomputer.

We’re introducing the AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), which we believe is among the fastest AI supercomputers running today and will be the fastest in the world once fully built out in mid-2022. AI can currently perform tasks like translating text between languages and helping identify potentially harmful content, but developing the next generation of AI will require powerful supercomputers capable of quintillions of operations per second. https://bit.ly/33EQD3S

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Disney+ to launch in 42 countries this summer.

The streaming service will debut in new countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Disney+ will launch in 42 countries and 11 territories this summer, the streamer announced Wednesday. Among the major new markets, the service will launch in South Africa, Turkey, Poland and the United Arab Emirates. https://bit.ly/3u8RNz7

Wynn Resorts looks to sell online sports betting biz at deep discount: source.

Wynn Resorts is looking to unload its online sports-betting business at a steep discount as the fledgling niche faces painful losses from stiff taxes and costly promotions needed to lure customers, The Post has learned. The Las Vegas-based casino giant is quietly shopping its Wynn Interactive unit — operator of the WynnBet online gaming app — and has slashed the asking price to US$500 million after floating a US$3 billion valuation less than a year ago, a source close to the situation told The Post. https://bit.ly/3FQdyWM



Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Google kills off FLoC, replaces it with topics.

FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), Google’s controversial project for replacing cookies for interest-based advertising by instead grouping users into groups of users with comparable interests, is dead. In its place, Google today announced a new proposal: Topics. The idea here is that your browser will learn about your interests as you move around the web. It’ll keep data for the last three weeks of your browsing history and as of now, Google is restricting the number of topics to 300, with plans to extend this over time. Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race. To figure out your interests, Google categorizes the sites you visit based on one of these 300 topics. For sites that it hasn’t categorized before, a lightweight machine learning algorithm in the browser will take over and provide an estimated topic based on the name of the domain. https://tcrn.ch/3HqTCLX

German publishers oppose Google plan to phase out third-party cookies.

Google is facing a fresh complaint from Germany’s largest publishers and advertisers, which are demanding that the EU intervene over the search giant’s plan to stop the use of third-party cookies. Axel Springer, the publisher of titles such as Bild and Politico, is among the hundreds of publishers, advertisers and media groups that have argued to the bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, that Google is breaking EU law with its move to phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by next year. The decision blocks advertisers, publishers and intermediaries from analysing users’ preferences while they browse online content — a critical blow to how the industry generates revenues. https://on.ft.com/3HfNy8L

Google faces new state suits over location tracking.

Attorneys general from three states and the District of Columbia are suing Alphabet-owned Google for its collection and use of consumer location data, arguing that the company violated user privacy and misled users about their ability to control what data it collects. They are the latest in a string of legal challenges the company faces from state AGs that span antitrust and privacy issues. The new suit alleges that Google makes it impossible for consumers to fully opt out of sharing their location data even if they change their privacy settings, and that Google pressured users to provide personal data. “Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” said Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia. Attorneys general in Texas, Washington and Indiana also filed suits in their states. A Google spokesperson said the new cases are “based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings,” adding that the company plans to defend itself. The suit is similar to a case in Arizona. A judge in that case last week denied a state motion for summary judgment against Google saying “a reasonable fact finder could conclude that Google did not engage in deceptive acts and practices.” https://bit.ly/3rdAU4M

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

White House wants crypto rules as a matter of national security.

The Biden administration is preparing to release an executive action that will task federal agencies with regulating digital assets such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a matter of national security, a person familiar with the White House’s plan tells Barron’s. The national security memorandum, expected to come in the next few weeks, would task parts of the government with analyzing digital assets and assembling a regulatory framework that covers cryptos, stablecoins, and NFTs. https://bit.ly/3AINqfn

Asset manager Fidelity is planning to launch two ETFs to track the metaverse and the cryptocurrency sector, according to SEC filings.

Asset manager Fidelity Investments plans to launch two exchange-traded funds that will track and reflect the performance of companies exposed to the metaverse and crypto sector, SEC filings showed on Thursday. Fidelity filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday and set out key information on the proposed exchange-traded funds, called the Fidelity Crypto Industry and Digital Payments ETF, and the Fidelity Metaverse ETF. The filings come at a time when cryptocurrencies are undergoing a severe correction that has eroded over US$1 trillion in market value in a matter of weeks. However, the metaverse is seeing a surge in popularity from both retail and institutional investors, with billions of dollars in investment pouring into the virtual world. The Fidelity Crypto Industry and Digital Payments ETF will provide returns correlating with the performance of the Fidelity Crypto Industry and Digital Payments Index. https://bit.ly/3ubI0bO

Coinbase makes it easier to report cryptocurrency taxes.

Coinbase, one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, is adding a new tax center to its app and website to help US customers work out how much they might owe to the IRS as a result of their crypto transactions, the company has announced. The section is designed to gather every taxable transaction into one place to simplify matters come tax day. Although cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin often appear similar to the fiat money we’re accustomed to, in the eyes of the IRS, the digital assets are actually property, according to this FAQ from the federal agency. That means cryptocurrency transactions may need to be reported as capital gains or losses, and that means keeping track of a cryptocurrency’s value as it’s bought and sold over time. Documenting these transactions can get complicated quickly if you’re regularly buying and selling. https://bit.ly/3IOyzTQ

Dogecoin pops 8% after Elon Musk says he’ll eat a happy meal on TV if McDonald’s accepts the meme coin as payment.

Elon Musk’s sway over the price of dogecoin continues following a Tuesday tweet from the world’s richest person. Musk tweeted Tuesday morning that McDonald’s should accept the meme-crypto token as a form of payment, and if they did he would eat a happy meal on TV. “I will eat a happy meal on tv if @McDonalds accepts Dogecoin,” Musk tweeted. Right after the tweet, the price of dogecoin surged as much as 8% to US$0.1445, according to data from CoinMarketCap. https://bit.ly/3GamSos

Heirs of Pablo Picasso venture into crypto, selling more than a thousand digital art pieces of legendary artist’s never-before-seen ceramic work.

Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso are venturing into the world of crypto, turning one of the iconic artist’s ceramic works into more than a thousand digital art pieces for sale, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The Picassos are planning on selling 1,010 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — a digital asset valued in cyptocurrency — of an artwork that has never been seen publicly before. “We’re trying to build a bridge between the NFT world and the fine art world,” Florian Picasso told the AP. “I think it fits within Picasso’s legacies because we are paying tribute to him and his way of working, which was always being creative,” he said, adding that “everything is evolving.” https://bit.ly/3AGelbL

YouTube is exploring NFTs for creators.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company is looking at non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs, as a new way for creators to earn money. “We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” Wojcicki wrote in a letter to creators. Rival Meta Platforms is also working on plans to enable users to create and sell NFTs and show them on their profiles, the Financial Times reported last week. In an interview with The Information in May, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the company was exploring an NFT marketplace. Last week, Twitter rolled out the ability for users who subscribe to its premium Twitter Blue service to authenticate ownership of their NFT and make it their profile picture, which appears in a hexagonal shape. In the letter, Wojcicki also said YouTube Shorts, its short-form video feature, has now hit 5 trillion all-time views. She noted the number of YouTube channels globally earning more than $10,000 a year is up 40% year over year. https://bit.ly/346JTM2

More than 80% of NFTs created for free on OpenSea are fraud or spam, company says.

As the NFT market has exploded, so has the amount of theft and fraud associated with it. Artists are by now familiar with the experience of finding, like in a horror movie, their own art staring back at them in OpenSea’s digital gallery, being hawked by an anonymous stranger. Now, OpenSea has revealed just how much of the NFT activity on its platform is defined by fakery and theft, and it’s a lot. In fact, according to the company, nearly all of the NFTs created for free on its platform are either spam or plagiarized. https://bit.ly/3GfSSrk


Global chip shortage to stretch through 2022 says U.S.

The Biden administration has concluded that a global semiconductor shortage will persist until at least the second half of this year, promising long-term strain on a range of U.S. businesses including automakers and the consumer electronics industry. U.S. officials plan to investigate claims of possible price gouging for chips used by auto and medical device manufacturers, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday. https://bloom.bg/3g47dMX


Panasonic’s higher-capacity Tesla battery could enter production in 2023.

Panasonic could start mass producing larger-capacity batteries for Tesla as soon as next year. The 4680 cell is said to boost the range of electric vehicles by over 15 percent. As Nikkei notes, that could boost the range of the Model S from 650km (404 miles or so) on a single charge to 750km (around 465 miles). Although the battery is said to be twice as big as previous versions, it has a fivefold increase in energy capacity, according to Nikkei. As such, cars need fewer of the batteries, which are already 10 to 20 percent cheaper to produce. It’s estimated that batteries account for 30 percent of the cost of EVs. A cost reduction could make EVs more affordable and hasten the transition to electric vehicles. What’s more, a longer range means drivers won’t need to charge batteries as often. https://tcrn.ch/3g7s16o

The net-zero transition: What it would cost, what it could bring?

In a new report, we look at the economic transformation that a transition to net-zero emissions would entail—a transformation that would affect all countries and all sectors of the economy, either directly or indirectly. We estimate the changes in demand, capital spending, costs, and jobs, to 2050, for sectors that produce about 85 percent of overall emissions and assess economic shifts for 69 countries. https://mck.co/343VDP9

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC) – Empowering the Powerless. 

Investors aren’t giving Clear Blue Technologies’ stock credit for the Company’s execution and future prospects. In this Sophic Capital report, we frame the upside for investors. We believe the stock could have 110% to 230% upside from current levels, based on applying current peer valuation metrics to the Company’s outlook provided in November 2021, before taking into account any additional contract wins.​​​​​​​ https://bit.ly/32BfTY8

General Assembly Pizza (GA-TSXV, GASMF-OTC) – Premium Frozen Pizza Goes Mainstream – Mama mia!

Meet the company disrupting the frozen pizza category. General Assembly is ready to take on ‘big pizza’ at grocery retail with its premium frozen pies. With its production facility now fully built out and a growing brick and mortar and direct-to-consumer business, the Company is working hard to scale-up its wholesale business and drive significant revenue growth. https://bit.ly/3tSsu4e


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