H1 2022 was a brutal start to the year — the Nasdaq was down almost 30%, for its worst first half on record, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 15%, for its worst first-half performance since 1962, and the S&P 500 closed down over 20%, for its worst first half since 1970. US markets climbed a bit on Friday, but the major indices were still down for last week, after having posted weekly losses in four out of the last five weeks. At a time when U.S. venture dollars are slowing down, CIBC Innovation Banking is announcing $1.5 billion in growth capital commitments, dubbed “Unicorn Fuel,” to focus on later-stage companies across software, life sciences, healthcare and clean tech industries. Sophic Client UGE (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) secured $25 million to deploy six community solar projects in Maine. Sophic Client Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC, 0YA-FRA) announced a $4-million non-dilutive Government of Canada financing. Draftkings was fined $100,000 in Ontario for advertising violations. EToro seems likely to abandon its deal to go public via SPAC merger. Short video app Triller confidentially filed for a U.S. IPO. Klarna will raise cash at a US$6.5 billion valuation, in dramatic 85% down round. Nio shares slid Wednesday after a short seller accused the Chinese electric vehicle maker of artificially inflating its financial figures. Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto will raise US$2 billion from U.S. investors in a new stock offering. Tesla lays off nearly 200 Autopilot workers, and shutters its San Mateo office. Facebook warns of engineer job cuts, and a sharp downturn ahead. The FCC Commissioner writes to Apple and Google about removing TikTok. FTX says it is not in active talks to buy Robinhood. Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital plunges into liquidation. Crypto broker Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) suspends withdrawals.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Sophic Client UGE (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) secures $25 million to deploy six community solar projects in Maine.

The Company closed a project debt and tax equity facility with Twain Financial (“Twain”) to finance six community solar projects in Maine. The six projects range in size from 1.0MW DC to 3.0MW DC and participate in Maine’s community solar program. The first project is located in the Town of Norway, Maine and reached Notice to Proceed (“NTP”) last week. The remaining five projects are each expected to reach NTP throughout the remainder of 2022. The facility includes both construction-to-term debt and tax equity, allowing UGE to efficiently execute on the deployment of this portfolio and others to come. https://bit.ly/3Ibkror

Sophic Client Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC, 0YA-FRA) announces $4-million Government of Canada financing.

Clear Blue Technologies International Inc. announced $4-million in Government of Canada support through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (“ FedDev Ontario ”). This funding will allow Clear Blue to expand its production capacity, support the commercialization of its new Pico-Grid technology, and enhance its sales and marketing strategies. The financing will be drawn upon over a 21-month period until March 2024. Repayment begins in 2025, continues to 2031, and carries 0% interest. The Company intends to use the proceeds for sales and business development, to expand its production capacity, and to support the commercialization of its new Pico-Grid technology. Pico-Grid, announced earlier in 2022 is expected to launch by the end of 2022. https://bit.ly/3IbsDVD

Crypto broker Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) suspends withdrawals.

Crypto broker Voyager Digital said on Friday afternoon that it is temporarily suspending trading, deposits, withdrawals and loyalty rewards. “This decision gives us additional time to continue exploring strategic alternatives with various interested parties while preserving the value of the Voyager platform we have built together. We will provide additional information at the appropriate time,” Stephen Ehrlich, chief executive of Voyager, said in a statement. https://on.wsj.com/3acGI8O

CIBC Innovation Banking comes in with new $1.5 billion venture financing to fill VC gap.

At a time when U.S. venture dollars are slowing down, CIBC Innovation Banking is announcing $1.5 billion in growth capital commitments, dubbed “Unicorn Fuel,” to focus on later-stage companies across software, life sciences, healthcare and clean tech industries. The new fund will enable the bank to make deals ranging from $50 million to $100 million in capital. https://tcrn.ch/3ystbDi 

Mercator AI raises $1 million to fuel North American expansion. Real-time construction intelligence startup Mercator AI has raised a $1 million pre-seed round to expand its technology beyond Calgary and Toronto. https://bit.ly/3npGm1C 

Wattpad launches creator monetization program with $2.6 million in writer stipends.

Wattpad has launched a new program to allow its writers to monetize their work. Called the Creators Program, the Toronto-based company plans to dole out $2.6 million in writer stipends this year. Participants can receive cash stipends of up to $25,000. In addition to funding, they will also be eligible for marketing and editorial support, as well as sponsored brand partnerships. Currently, the program is available to writers by invitation only. https://bit.ly/3nxl2Hp

NACO reports angel investment in Canada hit record $262 million in 2021.

Canada set a new record for angel investment last year, according to data from a forthcoming National Angel Capital Organization’s (NACO) annual report. The number of angel investments made in Canada during 2021 increased 53 percent year-over-year, as angel organizations facilitated 635 investments, up from 416 in 2020. In total, more than $262 million was invested across the Canadian startup ecosystem. Angel investment in Canada dropped compared to 2019 during the first year of the pandemic amid market uncertainty. These 2021 figures represent a rebound compared to the year prior: more than two and a half times the $103 million angels invested across Canada in 2020.  During the last 12 years—the period that NACO has been tracking angel investing across the Canadian innovation ecosystem—$1.38 billion has been invested across the country. In 2021, the average amount invested per company was more than $346,000. https://bit.ly/3yrSzZU 

Accenture to acquire semiconductor engineering services firm XtremeEDA.

Global tech and consulting giant Accenture has entered an agreement to acquire Ottawa-based semiconductor engineering services company XtremeEDA for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2002, XtremeEDA provides design and functional verification services to the computer chip industry. The firm’s expertise spans across a variety of sectors including processor, telecommunications, aviation, medical, consumer electronics, and others. Once the acquisition is completed, XtremeEDA intends to bring over its team of 40 engineers that serve its clients across North America to Accenture. Since inception, XtremeEDA has worked with businesses such as Siemens, Codasip, Cadence, ASIC North, and Avery Design Systems. To help address the strain in the semiconductor supply chain, the federal government announced plans earlier this year to invest a total of $240 million to help strengthen the country’s semiconductor and photonics design and production capabilities. https://bit.ly/3y6zCdJ

Draftkings fined $100,000 in Ontario for advertising violations.

DraftKings has been handed the largest fine issued to date in Ontario’s regulated online gaming market. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has fined the operator CAD$100,000 for violating advertising regulations that prohibit untargeted advertising of inducements, although the monetary penalty is open to appeal. Infractions included the promotion of boosted 2:1 odds across television and social media from May 19 to May 31. https://bit.ly/3ae4p0A

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

EToro to abandon deal to go public via SPAC merger.

Online brokerage EToro and the special purpose acquisition company that agreed to take it public are planning to let the deadline for their merger pass without closing the deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. EToro is joining other tech and media companies that have backed off SPAC deals that would take them public amid a tech stock sell-off. The Tel Aviv–based eToro in December set the deal’s termination date for Thursday through a merger with FinTech Acquisition Corp. V,  a SPAC backed by banking entrepreneur Betsy Cohen. But the deal isn’t moving forward, the person said, meaning the SPAC merger will end automatically. Based on the way stock investors are currently valuing other cryptocurrency and stock-trading apps such as Coinbase and Robinhood, eToro would likely fetch a valuation of around US$1.5 billion to US$2.2 billion as a public stock, as much as an 83% drop from the SPAC valuation it proposed to potential investors in December. EToro generated US$237 million in trading income and an US$84 million loss in the fourth quarter. In comparison, Robinhood made US$264 million of transaction-based revenues and generated a US$423 million loss. EToro joins a growing list of other tech and media companies that have abandoned plans to go public with a SPAC merger as the stock market swoons. The Nasdaq Composite index has fallen 28% since late November. Ticketing app SeatGeek and media publisher Forbes canceled their planned mergers in late May and early June. https://bit.ly/3OL300A

Short video app Triller confidentially files for U.S. IPO.

Short video app Triller Inc has confidentially filed paperwork for an initial public offering of its class A common stock with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said on Thursday. The proposed offering comes at a turbulent time for the IPO market with several listings on ice as a selloff in high-growth tech stocks and volatility in the capital markets has soured investor sentiment. The tepid reception for recent listings underlines the challenges facing IPO-bound companies, including, social media platform Reddit, and Mobileye, the self-driving car unit of Intel. Earlier this month, Triller ended its US$5 billion merger with video advertising software provider SeaChange International and said it would pursue an IPO instead, with a potential listing under the ticker symbol “ILLR” by September. https://reut.rs/3IapQfh

Venture funding set to hit lowest level since 2020.

Venture capital-backed startups raised far fewer rounds of funding during the past three months than they did during the more ebullient days of late last year and early this year, according to new data from analytics firm CB Insights. Deal activity across the globe dropped 23% between the first quarter and second quarter of this year, the firm found, using data for the second quarter through June 23. That’s a stark contrast to the previous quarter, where the deal count dropped only 1.4%—and an indication that the roiling of the crypto and public markets are affecting private companies. https://bloom.bg/39X4IfV

Klarna to raise cash at US$6.5 billion valuation in dramatic down round.

Klarna is closing in on a deal to raise money at a US$6.5 billion valuation, a far cry from the US$46 billion valuation the Swedish buy now, pay later lender fetched in June, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The likely 85% valuation drop marks a dramatic comedown for what had been one of the world’s most valuable fintechs, and underlines the icy fundraising environment for startups. Klarna is in talks to raise about US$650 million from existing investors, led by Sequoia Capital, according to the Journal. The deal is yet to be completed and could change, the report said. Klarna benefited from a surge in customers using installment payments to shop online during the pandemic. But the tech downturn has hit companies that help people shop and pay online especially hard. Publicly traded Klarna rival Affirm’s share price has plunged more than 80% this year. Payments giant PayPal has slashed its 2022 revenue growth outlook, and its shares have tumbled more than 60% this year. https://bit.ly/3R2GB05

Pinterest CEO is stepping down, Google Commerce executive to take top job. Ben Silbermann, who co-founded Pinterest in 2010 and served as its CEO ever since, is transitioning to executive chairman of the board, a newly created position. His replacement, Bill Ready, comes from Alphabet Google, where he had been president of commerce since 2020. Mr. Ready, who earlier in his career was operating chief of PayPal Holdings and before that CEO of Venmo, has also joined Pinterest’s board as a director, the company said. Pinterest shares rose more than 5% in early after-hours trading following the news. For the latest quarter ended in March, Pinterest said revenue grew 18% from a year earlier to US$575 million, while global active monthly users fell 9% to 433 million and it posted a net loss of US$5 million. https://on.wsj.com/3ytyaUp

Nio falls after short seller says the Chinese EV maker plays ‘accounting games’ to boost financial figures.

Nio shares slid Wednesday after a short seller accused the Chinese electric vehicle maker of artificially inflating its financial figures. Shares were down as much as 5% before paring losses. The stock was trading at US$22.00 as of 10:20 a.m. ET. In a report, Grizzly Research said it believed Nio was running “an audacious scheme” and playing a “Valeant-esque accounting game” to inflate company financials, referring to the pharmaceutical company Valeant, which paid US$45 million to the SEC after using a subsidiary company to commit financial fraud, the Wall Street Journal reported. Customers can purchase an electric vehicle from Nio and lease the battery, the priciest part of the vehicle, from Weineng, whom Nio supplies batteries to. By offering seven-year battery subscriptions through Weineng, the report accuses Nio of falsely accounting for seven years’ worth of future revenue. https://bit.ly/3bEvUAu

 Tencent’s biggest shareholder plans to sell some of its stake.

South African media conglomerate Naspers said its subsidiary Prosus, the biggest shareholder of Tencent, plans to sell some of its stake in the Chinese internet giant in order to finance a long-term share buyback program. In a statement, Naspers and Prosus announced the buyback plan and said it would be funded by an “orderly, on-market sale” of Tencent shares. It is unclear how many shares Prosus would sell. Tencent’s stock fell 1.3% Monday on the news, underperforming Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which ended 2.3% higher. In April 2021, Prosus said it had sold some of its Tencent shares, reducing its stake in the Chinese firm to 28.9% from 30.9%. At that time, Prosus said it would not sell any more Tencent shares for at least the next three years. https://bit.ly/3bPLEkA

Tencent, ByteDance implement fresh layoffs amid China’s economic pains.

China has been signaling an easing of its regulatory campaign against the technology sector, but the country’s tech giants are moving ahead with more job cuts as growth stalls. Companies including Tencent Holdings and ByteDance Ltd. are implementing fresh layoffs affecting thousands of employees in their latest round of cost-cutting, current and former employees said. These job cuts come on top of the tens of thousands of employees already axed by Chinese internet companies since late last year after Beijing’s regulatory crackdown swamped the sector. Tencent, whose revenue barely grew in the quarter ended March 31, plans to cut employees across different business groups through the end of this year, according to employees briefed on the matter. The job cuts will extend to some core businesses and will likely hit some senior managers, the people said. At ByteDance, the Chinese owner of short-video app TikTok, the fresh round of layoffs is hitting its videogame business, once a promising growth area. Beijing-based ByteDance tapped into the gaming industry in 2019 and bought several established game studios, aiming to challenge Tencent’s dominance in the sector. But those ambitions have been thwarted by regulatory and economic pressures. Since May, ByteDance has let go of more than half of the roughly 300 employees working at a Shanghai-based videogame-development studio that was dissolved earlier in June, according to current employees. It has also cut dozens of people from a game-distribution unit, they said. https://on.wsj.com/3ODiDH3

Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto to raise US$2 billion from U.S. investors in a new stock offering.

Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto said Tuesday that it plans to raise US$2 billion from U.S. investors through an “at-the-market” stock offering, in which share prices are determined at the time they’re sold. The funds will be spent to develop new technologies, including for autonomous driving, and for the development of future models, the Beijing-based company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A company raising funds via an at-the-market offering will generally sell a designated amount of stock over time through investment banks at prevailing market prices. Li Auto said that Goldman Sachs, UBS Securities, Barclays Capital, and the Hong Kong unit of China International Capital Corporation will be its agents for the new stock offering. https://cnb.cx/3OZ584l

Tesla lays off nearly 200 Autopilot workers, shutters San Mateo office.

Tesla has gutted the data annotation team working on Autopilot, laying off nearly 200 employees and shutting down the San Mateo, California office where they worked. The layoffs, first reported by Bloomberg, have been confirmed by sources who talked to TechCrunch on condition of anonymity. The cuts come amid a broader reduction of jobs at Tesla. However, these layoffs targeted personnel once deemed critical to the company’s Autopilot advanced driver assistance system and more notably efforts by CEO Elon Musk to further develop automated driving functions through the US$12,000 optional FSD system. The San Mateo office had a headcount of 276, and after laying off 195 staffers from all ranks — supervisors, labelers and data analysts — the team is left with 81 workers, who sources say will be relocated to another office. While sources confirm the 195 Autopilot team members who were let go Tuesday were indeed laid off, they also say most of the “layoffs” that began in the end of May were, in reality, terminations based on performance. Tesla stock was down 5% on Tuesday in after-hours trading. https://tcrn.ch/3I3UEhH

Siemens to buy NC-based Brightly Software for about US$1.9 billion.

The U.S.-listed shares of Siemens AG rose 0.7% in midday trading Monday, after Clearlate Capital Group L.P. announced an agreement to sell North Carolina-based Brightly Software Inc. to the Germany-based diversified technology company for US$1.88 billion. The terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2022, includes US$1.58 billion in cash upfront and US$300 million in cash earn-out payments. Brightly is a provider of asset management software that Clearlake acquired in June 2019. “Brightly will enable us to leapfrog to the next level of performance for buildings,” said Matthias Rebellius, chief executive of Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “With seamless data exchange between our offerings, our customers can expect enhanced efficiency, lower downtimes and maintenance costs, shorter lifecycles, better data-driven decisions and more satisfied tenants.” Siemens’ U.S.-listed stock has slumped 36.3% year to date, while the S&P 500 has lost 18.0%. https://bit.ly/3NEaQYx 

FTX says no active talks to buy Robinhood.

Crypto exchange FTX is open to partnering with Robinhood Markets, its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said in a statement shared with TechCrunch. In a comment to TechCrunch, a Robinhood spokesperson pointed to its dual-class shareholder setup, in which the company’s founders control more than half of its voting power. As such, no deal can be struck to purchase the company without their explicit approval. Given the tenor of the note, TechCrunch doubts that Robinhood’s founding duo are salivating at a chance to sell their business. After the news broke earlier on the possibility of an acquisition, Robinhood shares spiked 14% before falling nearly 3% in after-hours trading. Last month, Bankman-Fried shared that he bought a 7.6% stake in Robinhood Markets. In an effort to expand the crypto exchange, FTX amassed over US$2 billion to spend on acquisitions and stakes in other companies, Bloomberg previously reported. The company also launched a US$2 billion venture capital fund earlier this year to back teams building in web3.  https://tcrn.ch/3u8NEun

Walmart is acquiring Memomi, an AR startup powering virtual try-on for eyewear.

Walmart is expanding its array of virtual try-on services for shoppers with the news that it’s planning to acquire Memomi, an AR optical tech company and current Walmart partner offering a virtual try-on experience for eyewear. Deal terms were not disclosed, but Memomi has enabled digital measurements for all Walmart and Sam’s Club customers since 2019, the retailer said. This partnership had spanned more than 2,800 Walmart Vision Centers and 550 Sam’s Clubs. The technology also powers the optical e-commerce experience on SamsClub.com. However, Walmart has been investing in a number of new technologies in the virtual try-on space, including with its recent launch of an AI-powered virtual clothing try-on feature, powered by its acquisition of Zeekit. Last week, it also launched an AR feature that lets users see furniture and other home decor items appear in their own space. https://tcrn.ch/3ueoevo

Arm signals push for deals and more staff with IPO proceeds.

Chief executive Rene Haas told the Financial Times that the company would seek to step up its push beyond mobile phones and deeper into cars, data centres and hardware underpinning the metaverse. Cash generated through an IPO “can help you with M&A or you can hire faster — we’ll look at both of those areas”, he said. The expansive vision comes after a period of retrenchment at the group, distracted by a battle over control of its lucrative China unit, job cuts and the collapse of its US$66 billion sale to US rival Nvidia. But ambitions for further growth could yet be hit, as a downturn in tech stocks threatens hopes of blockbuster returns from the proposed float by Arm’s Japanese owner SoftBank, which is targeting a US$50 billion valuation. Those headwinds will not deter Arm from pushing ahead with its IPO, said Haas, who added Arm executives are “pretty confident” the company can “stand on its own two legs”. He said: “The timing is good for us.” SoftBank is now inching closer to pursuing a dual listing of Arm in both New York and London after months of intense lobbying by the UK government which was thrown into a panic about being abandoned by one of its last remaining tech success stories. After several years of stagnant revenue growth under SoftBank’s ownership, Arm reported a sharp turnround last year. The chip designer posted a 35 per cent rise in revenues to US$2.7 billion, and a 68 per cent increase in adjusted earnings to US$1 billion. Haas attributed this performance to years of targeted investment in growth areas, including data centres, networking equipment and automotives. https://on.ft.com/3nwm2Mb

FCC Commissioner writes to Apple and Google about removing TikTok.

 FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote to Apple and Google on Tuesday, requesting the companies to remove TikTok from their app stores for “its pattern of surreptitious data practices.” This comes after BuzzFeed News reported last week that TikTok’s staff in China had access to US-based users’ data up until January. “As you know TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those US users. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with PRC’s surveillance demands,” Carr said in a letter addressed to Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook. While Trump proposed an outright ban on TikTok or an option of selling its US business to a local buyer, Biden proposed new rules that will give more oversight on apps with ties to “jurisdiction of foreign adversaries” that may pose national security risks. https://tcrn.ch/39ZneUW

Apple forced to cut iPhone 14 orders by 10%, despite anticipating strong demand.

While demand for the next generation iPhone is looking to be high, the hectic supply chain continues to disrupt the market. According to DigiTimes, Apple is cutting iPhone 14 orders by 10%, despite expecting strong demand for its lineup. The issue began when Apple’s supplier TSMC had three major customers adjust their orders, worsening the semiconductor situation. With the ongoing shortages, these customers couldn’t continue with business as usual. However, the outlook should improve over time as TSMC remains optimistic for the rest of this year. DigiTimes also mentioned how orders for the iPhone 14 should be within the supplier’s expectations. It is understood that the mass production of Apple’s iPhone 14 series has started, but the target shipment of the first wave of 90 million units has been reduced by 10%. https://bit.ly/3IoPoFX

Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital plunges into liquidation.

Cryptocurrency insiders said on Wednesday that the liquidation would be a significant moment in the current unravelling of the cryptocurrency sector, which has grown at breakneck speed in recent years. It was unclear what the immediate financial implications would be for Three Arrows’ creditors. The firm’s demise is likely to raise further questions, however, about the regulatory oversight to which cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are subject in the world’s major financial centres. https://bit.ly/3a7LlkC

Facebook’s Meta warns of engineer job cuts, sharp downturn ahead.

Facebook owner Meta is bracing for a sharp downturn, with plans to cut 30% of engineer jobs this year, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday, Reuters reported. “If I had to bet, I’d say this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history,” Zuckerberg said during a weekly meeting with employees. He said the company’s plan to hire engineers had been cut to 6,000 to 7,000 from an original target of 10,000, would also be leaving some jobs unfilled and also pressure managers to weed out underperforming workers. “Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me,” he said, according to Reuters, which listened to an audio file of the meeting. A separate memo from Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said the company was in “serious times,” with “fierce” headwinds. https://on.mktw.net/3nzI801

Emerging Technologies

Apple readies iPhone 14 and HomePod upgrade in flood of new products.

Apple’s latest software from WWDC sets the stage for a busy fall 2022 and first half of 2023. Also: A US Apple store votes to unionize for the first time, iOS 16 beta 2 brings needed improvements, and the company hires a designer from a popular air-purifier company.  Apple Inc.’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month was jam-packed with announcements, including an overhauled iPhone lock screen, two new Macs with the M2 chip, and a revamped multitasking interface for the iPad. The new products will include four iPhone 14 models, three Apple Watch variations, several Macs with M2 and M3 chips, the company’s first mixed-reality headset, low-end and high-end iPads, updated AirPods Pro earbuds, a fresh HomePod and an upgraded Apple TV. https://bloom.bg/3HWAZk3 

Driverless Cruise robotaxis stop working simultaneously, blocking San Francisco street.

A group of driverless Cruise robotaxis blocked traffic in San Francisco for hours on Tuesday evening after the cars stopped working without explanation. Details of the incident were shared on Reddit (and spotted by TechCrunch) and illustrate how driverless vehicles are still experiencing teething problems in real-life settings. Cruise, which is backed by General Motors and Honda, has been testing its technology in San Francisco since February, but only launched a commercial robotaxi service last week. The cars have no human safety driver at all but operate under certain restrictions. They only offer lifts on “select streets” between the hours of 10PM and 6AM when the weather conditions are favorable, and can drive no faster than 30mph. https://bit.ly/3bLkgnu

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

US Supreme Court puts Apple vs Qualcomm battle to rest (for now).

The United States Supreme Court has rejected Apple’s bid for an appeal as part of its legal battle against Qualcomm. Apple settled its legal battle with Qualcomm in 2019, but its challenge of two patents was allowed to continue. Ultimately, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor Qualcomm. Apple and Qualcomm settled their multi-billion lawsuit in 2019, on day one of the trial kicking off. As part of the settlement, Apple made a payment to Qualcomm, and the two reached a six-year license agreement that runs until 2025. There’s also a two-year option to extend that agreement. Qualcomm, for its part, said that Apple “had not shown any concrete injury that would give it proper legal standing.” The Biden Administration also asked the Supreme Court to reject Apple’s appeal in April. That brings us to today. The US Supreme Court has officially rejected to hear Apple’s effort to continue litigation in regards to the validity of the two Qualcomm patents. https://bit.ly/3bwLBK8


TikTok tests a dedicated Shop feed that highlights products you can buy now.

TikTok is testing a dedicated “Shop” feed tab that lets users browse and purchase products from a number of different categories, such as clothing and electronics. The company confirmed to TechCrunch that the feed tab is currently being tested in Indonesia. The Shop tab serves as a hub for products being sold in TikTok Shop, a shopping feature that enables merchants and creators to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok, the company says. TikTok Shop is currently available in select markets including Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and the United Kingdom. TikTok’s larger goal with its Shop tab could ultimately be to challenge Facebook and Instagram. The launch of the Shop tab comes as TikTok has been expanding its investment in e-commerce over the past year and not just in Asia. Last year, the video platform began piloting TikTok Shopping in the U.S., U.K. and Canada in partnership with Shopify. The deal allowed Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account to add a Shopping tab to their TikTok profiles and sync their product catalogs to the app to create mini-storefronts. The company also added LIVE shopping in September 2021, which allows brands to connect with users in real time and share dynamic links to products and services while the content is streaming live. https://tcrn.ch/3nA9Yte

Amazon’s new physical retail analytics service gives brands insights about product and ad performance.

Amazon announced today that it’s launching a new physical retail store analytics service that offer brands insights about the performance of their products, promotions and ad campaigns. The new service, Store Analytics, gives brands anonymized insights about their products in Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores in the United States that use Just Walk Out and Dash Cart technologies. The company says the new service will give brands access to information about how their products are discovered, considered and purchased, which will then help them make informed decisions about promotions and ad campaigns. Brands will also get access to anonymized data about how their products rank and perform. The service will also provide performance metrics for in-store campaigns, such as digital signage. https://tcrn.ch/3a8MKaz

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

NFT giant OpenSea reports major email data breach.

OpenSea, the popular NFT marketplace that hit a colossal US$13 billion valuation in January, is warning users of email phishing after a data breach. A staff at Customer.io, an email vendor contracted by OpenSea, misused their employee access to download and share email addresses of OpenSea’s users and newsletter subscribers with an unauthorized external party, the world’s largest NFT marketplace said Wednesday night. More than 1.8 million users have made at least one purchase through the Ethereum network on OpenSea, according to data collected by Dune Analytics, an open-source crypto analytics platform. Growing at a breakneck rate, these platforms are subject to similar if not greater security risks as the established web services that use centralized cloud services — rather than distributed ledger technologies like blockchain which is believed to be better at preventing cyberattacks. https://tcrn.ch/3I1DnWG 

Grayscale is suing the SEC after its spot bitcoin ETF was rejected.

Grayscale Investments has announced its intention to sue the Securities and Exchange Commission after the US regulator rejected its proposal to list a spot bitcoin ETF. Just an hour after the SEC rejected Grayscale’s ETF bid, the digital asset manager announced it had started the litigation process to appeal the decision by filing a petition with the US Court of Appeals. https://bit.ly/3yCzILV


Taiwan official calls for approval of U.S. computer chip subsidies.

Taiwan’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer has started building a computer-chip factory in Arizona and is hiring U.S. engineers and sending them to Taiwan for training, but the pace of construction will depend on Congress approving federal subsidies, a Taiwanese minister said Tuesday. The message follows similar calls from U.S. chip manufacturers Intel and GlobalFoundries, which last week said that the delay in passing the subsidy legislation is slowing their investments in new factories in Ohio and New York. A global shortage of semiconductors has prompted a scramble by many countries, including the United States, to build more chip manufacturing facilities. In May 2020, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest chip manufacturer, agreed to build a US$12 billion facility in Arizona https://wapo.st/3nu82Cl 

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers plans to build US$5 billion chip wafer plant in Texas.

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers, one of the world’s biggest makers of silicon wafers for chips, plans to spend about $5 billion to build a new factory in Texas, The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported. The move comes as the U.S. and other countries are scrambling to beef up domestic supply chains amid ongoing global chip shortages that have dealt a serious blow to auto, electronics and other industries. The planned GlobalWafers plant in Texas “is critical to rebuilding the domestic semiconductor supply chain,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. The construction of the factory in Sherman, Texas, is expected to begin later this year, and production from its first fab is expected as early as 2025. The plant’s output would ultimately reach 1.2 million wafers per month. The new plant, however, would require financial incentives under the U.S. Chips Act, which is part of legislation House and Senate leaders are debating, according to the Journal. If the Chips Act isn’t passed, GlobalWafers could build a plant in South Korea instead. https://bit.ly/3bKvGrU

Samsung Electronics starts 3-nanometer chip production ahead of TSMC.

Samsung Electronics said Thursday it has kicked off mass production of 3-nanometer chips, becoming the first company to do so globally, as it aims to beat Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, or TSMC, the world’s most advanced foundry chipmaker. Samsung said it’s using gate-all-around (GAA) transistor architecture, which allows these first-generation 3-nm chips to have 16% smaller surface area, 45% reduction in power usage, and 23% performance improvement, compared with current 5-nanometer chips. The South Korean company also said in a statement that the second generation of the 3-nm process would allow 50% lower power consumption. Samsung has been competing with Apple chipmaking partner TSMC, which also said in June that it would begin mass production of 3-nm chip process to volume production in the second half of 2022. https://tcrn.ch/3OAWBET


Chinese company unveils new electric-car battery with 620+ miles of range — 50% more than Tesla’s Model S.

Electric-car owners may never need to worry about how far they can travel on a full charge again. In China, at least.  Last week, Chinese battery maker CATL announced that it will start producing a next-generation battery that can deliver at least 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of driving range. The Qilin battery enters production in 2023.  Currently, the longest-range vehicle you can buy in the US is the US$169,000 Lucid Air, the debut sedan from a California-based startup. It can travel 520 miles per charge, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The next best is Tesla’s Model S sedan, with an estimated range of 405 miles. An electric vehicle that can travel 600 miles or more would constitute an epic step forward in battery tech. So far, two Chinese electric-car makers have said they’ll use the Qilin pack in future vehicles, according to Bloomberg: Hozon and Li Auto. https://bit.ly/3y4ckVZ

LG Electronics is moving into the EV charging business.

LG Electronics has acquired AppleMango, a South Korean electric vehicle battery charger developer, as the race to produce everything related to EVs ramps up globally. The acquisition, which was made jointly with GS Energy, an EV charging station operator, and GS Neotek, an IT provider, will allow LG to take advantage of future business opportunities, the company said. LG Electronics acquired a 60% stake while GS Energy and GS Neotek took over 34% and 6%, respectively, in AppleMango, which will become a subsidiary of LG Electronics following the deal. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. According to a local media report, the acquisition size is estimated at US$7.8 million (10 billion KRW). https://tcrn.ch/3ykaJNc


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