As we’ve been pointing out in this column for a while, Canadian tech VC and public markets activity has been witnessing a major increase in activity – unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed in our over a decade on the sell-side. The Globe & Mail recently pointed out that Canadian VC funding records for the second consecutive quarter in Q2, puts the sector on track to surpass the all-time high for a single year, set during the dot-com bubble a generation ago. Public markets are likely not far behind either, and we have witnessed very strong IPO in activity in Canada in the recent past. The Senate passed Bill C-218, legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada – we expect busy capital market on the back of this bill, and have already witnessed the first signs, with Fansunite’s (FANS-CSE) equity offering announced just hours after the bill was passed. In the USA, Robhinhood’s much anticipated public markets debut appears a bit delayed, likely owing to its crypto business drawing questions from the US SEC. Aside from this delay, last week was very busy for US tech IPOs, even as there appear to be new privacy, and big tech related regulatory questions nearly every day in the USA and Europe.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
FansUnite Entertainment (FANS-CSE) announces upsize to previously announced unit offering co-led by Stifel GMP and Gravitas Securities to $21.7 million due to strong investor demand.
The company entered into an agreement (the “Agreement”) with Stifel GMP and Gravitas Securities (together, the “Co-Lead Agents”) pursuant to which the Company and the Co-Lead Agents have agreed to increase the size of the previously announced offering of units of the Company (“Units”) at an offering price of $0.90 per Unit from up to $10 million to up to $21.7 million (the “Offering”). If the Agents’ Option (as defined below) is exercised in full, the aggregate gross proceeds of the Offering will be up to approximately $25 million. https://bit.ly/3h3Zz6N
Q4 Inc. pauses plans for $150 million public offering on Toronto Stock Exchange.
Toronto-based investor relations (IR) software company Q4 Inc. has paused its planned initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). A spokesperson for Q4 confirmed to BetaKit the company has paused its plans to go public and declined to provide any additional comment. As first reported by The Globe and Mail, the decision followed a planned debut on the TSX, through which Q4 hoped to raise $150 million. Q4’s paused plans also come as other Canadian companies are making similar moves or experiencing downward pricing for IPOs. The list includes Burlington, Ontario-based cleantech firm Anaergia and Power Corp. subsidiary LMPG Inc. While companies like Thinkific Labs have met success in the public markets, other Canadian tech companies that have recently been part of the IPO surge have seen stocks prices fall, including MindBeacon, BBTV, and Dialogue. https://bit.ly/3gYqe3k
TeraGo (TGO-TSX) announces extension to its credit agreement.
The company announced that an amending agreement (the “Amending Agreement”) was entered into between TeraGo Networks Inc., the Company (as guarantor), and each of Royal Bank of Canada and The Toronto-Dominion Bank to further amend the previously executed credit agreement dated June 30, 2020 (the “Credit Agreement”) between the parties. The parties agreed, among other things, to extend the maturity date of the Credit Agreement from June 30, 2022 to June 30, 2023. As part of the Amending Agreement, TeraGo Networks will make a lump sum principal repayment to its term facility, which will reduce its borrowings under such facility to $22.5 million on June 30, 2021. The existing covenants and other terms and conditions under the Credit Agreement were substantially carried over for the extension. https://bit.ly/3w5q5Ru
Converge Technology Solutions Corp. (CTS-TSX) announces acquisition of ExactlyIT.
Consideration for the purchase consisted of US$26.4 million in cash paid at closing, which represents a purchase multiple of approximately 3 times Exactly IT’s Annualized Recurring Revenue based on May, 2021 contracted revenue, plus potential earn out payments based on financial and growth targets over the next 6 years. The purchase price paid on closing was financed by Converge’s recently completed bought deal public offering of common shares. ExactlyIT marks the twentieth acquisitions completed by Converge since October 2017. https://bit.ly/35TSQFV
AlayaCare raises $225 million Series D round.
Montréal-based healthtech startup AlayaCare has secured $225 million in Series D funding to build on its recent growth, including in the United States (US) healthcare market. The round was led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management. It also saw participation from Toronto’s Klass Capital and return Québec-based AlayaCare investors Inovia Capital, CDPQ, and Investissement Québec. https://bit.ly/3zWdjrz
Tulip raises US$28 million in Series C funding.
The company secured US$28 million in Series C funding to aid plans for future expansion in this exciting time for retail. Arrowroot Capital, a leading US growth equity firm specializing in B2B SaaS, led the raise, and was joined by BDC Capital and existing investors. The expansion includes further plans to grow the sales and marketing team, accelerate road map development and increase global expansion. In addition, Tulip is preparing for its largest product announcement in Q3 2021. https://bit.ly/35S3KvS
SoleSavy secures $15.5 million to help sneakerheads combat sneaker-buying bots.
Vancouver-based sneaker community startup SoleSavy has raised over $15.5 million in Series A financing to help more sneaker enthusiasts connect and navigate the sneaker-buying experience. The all-equity round was led by Bedrock Capital. The Series A investors also included Diplo, Jason Calacanis’s LAUNCH, Dapper Labs’ CEO Roham Gharegozlou, and Shopify President Harley Finkelstein. Origin Ventures, Panache Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, and Turner Novak’s Banana Capital participated in the round as well. https://bit.ly/35G3IHn
ResQ announces December $9.75 million fundraise to help restaurants meet “pent-up demand” during COVID reopening.
Armed with about $9.75 million in previously unannounced seed funding, Toronto-based restaurant software startup ResQ is looking to build on its recent growth and help more restaurants lower their operational costs as they reopen following COVID-19 shutdowns. The all-equity round, which closed in December, was led by Homebrew, Golden Ventures, and Inovia Capital. https://bit.ly/3j1OxQy
Rebelstork raises $5 million Series A round to bring baby gear resale platform to new markets.
Toronto-based e-commerce startup Rebelstork has secured $5 million in Series A financing to take its used baby products marketplace to new cities, including Vancouver. The all-equity round was led by Vancouver’s Haywood Securities, with participation from Toronto’s K2 & Associates and Venn Growth Partners. The fresh capital brings Rebelstork’s total funding to date to $7 million, following its $2 million seed round from undisclosed investors last September. https://bit.ly/3zXwiSE
Joyride secures $4.6 million to help launch bike and scooter-sharing businesses.
Toronto-based micro-mobility software startup Joyride has raised about $4.6 million in funding to build on its recent growth and capitalize on the rise in demand for mobility solutions like bikes and scooters. The all-equity round, which Joyride said was oversubscribed, was led by Mexico-based Proeza Ventures and the San Francisco-based Urban Innovation Fund. It also saw participation from Mexico’s Liil Ventures, Eva Lau and Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau through Two Small Fish Ventures, and former Shopify CMO and CPO Craig Miller through his personal fund, Something Good Ventures. https://bit.ly/3jqwsfx
New Portage FinTech SPAC files for US$200 million Nasdaq public offering.
Sagard Holdings, the alternative investment arm of Power Corporation and manager of Portage Ventures, is launching a blank cheque company, or SPAC, focused on FinTech acquisitions. SEC filings show the new company, Portage Fintech Acquisition, is planning to list on the Nasdaq and raise US$200 million through an initial public offering (IPO). The SPAC is being led by CEO Adam Felesky, the co-founder and CEO of Portage Ventures, and Ajay Chowdhery, a partner at Sagard Holdings. Its board of directors also includes Paul Desmarais III, senior VP of Power Corp. and Power Financial, and executive chairman of Portage. https://bit.ly/3vIYOnH
Booming Canadian tech sector set to smash venture capital records after ‘ridiculous’ run of megadeals.
Canada’s burgeoning technology sector is poised to break venture capital funding records for the second consecutive quarter and is on track to surpass the all-time high for a single year, set during the dot-com bubble a generation ago. With the second quarter still days from closing, Canadian companies have raised more than $3.79-billion in venture capital since April 1, according to preliminary data prepared by market data company Refinitiv for The Globe and Mail. That is well ahead of the previous record of $3.2-billion set one quarter ago. After nearly six months, venture capital funding of Canadian companies stands at $7-billion, according to Refinitiv. That is close to the full-year high of $7.5-billion set in 2019, and on pace to surpass the all-time record, adjusting for inflation, in 2000. That year, as the Nasdaq peaked amid a global frenzy for internet stocks, Canadian companies raised $6.4-billion, equal to $9.4-billion in 2021 dollars. https://tgam.ca/3yaOYwz
Clearco, Caravan launch US$50 million fund for celebrity-backed companies.
Toronto-based Clearco has launched a US$50 million fund in partnership with Caravan to provide non-dilutive capital to businesses looking to use the power of celebrities to accelerate their growth. “CAA’s roster of talent will allow us to match our founders with celebrities who can become partners and help accelerate the growth of their brands.” The new fund is part of a partnership between Clearco and Caravan, the latter a venture of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), an entertainment and sports company. Clearco’s partnership with Caravan will see the two companies provide resources to Caravan portfolio companies as well as explore opportunities to connect existing Clearco founders with celebrities that could accelerate their growth. https://bit.ly/3vULCw1
This is why tech companies keep flocking to Toronto.
Even amid the pandemic, tons of tech, social media and e-commerce giants have either expanded into or beefed up their presence in Toronto with new downtown offices in recent months, including but not at all limited to Google, Tiktok, Netflix, Reddit, DoorDash, Pinterest, Uber, IBM and Wayfair. The ever-growing metropolis has been a boon for these companies for a reasons such as its obvious economic potential, human capital and “business friendliness,” all of which it rates extremely well on, according to a new ranking from fDi Intelligence that puts T.O. second on the list of top cities for such industries in all of the Americas. Things like how easy it is for companies to find qualified employees in a given place, the number of universities there, how skilled their graduates are, and even what the public transportation is like are all taken into account, as is the interest level of investors and the number of projects and expansions taking place. Last year, Toronto was named the tech centre of Canada and a global hotspot for tech talent — especially from new immigrants that choose Canada over the U.S. — and is clearly growing fast. https://bit.ly/2T9nOHm
Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) seeks to challenge Amazon through deals with BuzzFeed, other sites.
The nascent move into an area known as affiliate marketing is designed to offer publishers and retailers looking for an e-commerce partner an alternative to internet retail giants like Amazon and Walmart, both of which have long given websites that send business their way a small portion of those sales. BuzzFeed already has signed on to the new program and integrated it into its site. Shopify has approached a number of other digital media companies, including Complex Networks and Vox Media, people familiar with the matter said. Under the new program, digital media publishers will be able to include links from articles and other content directing readers to products from Shopify’s network of more than a million retailers. The initiative also will enable publishers to create their own Shopify-powered online stores if they choose to, allowing customers to purchase products from retailers in Shopify’s ecosystem without leaving the publisher’s site. For now, Shopify has only signed on a handful of retailers for the program, one of the people said. But the new business could help Shopify increase the volume of sales on its network and could provide highly coveted data on sales and shoppers. https://bit.ly/3vWIEa7
Canadians increased online shopping spend by more than $2 billion per month compared to pre-pandemic.
Even as Canadians emerge from lockdown, the shift to online shopping is dominating consumer trends. A new survey from PayPal Canada shows Canadians have overall increased their monthly online shopping spend by more than $2 billion compared to pre-pandemic. The survey, titled Trends & Spends: PayPal Canada’s 2021 Consumer Shopping Study, found on average Canadians who responded are spending $178 per month shopping online, an increase of $69 compared to pre-pandemic. Across the country, this translates to almost $5.5 billion in current monthly online spending and an overall increase of over $2 billion in monthly online spending. When looking at where people were choosing to spend their money online, the survey noted a significant jump in online grocery shopping. An initial survey of Canadian consumers in March 2020 found that only 19 per cent engaged in online grocery shopping. In a second survey conducted in April 2020, only 30 per cent of Canadians purchased groceries online. The most recent survey shows that number has jumped to 49 per cent. https://bit.ly/3d6VUCw
Trudeau’s party passes bill to regulate social media, streaming.
Canadian lawmakers passed a controversial bill that aims to regulate programming distributed by media streaming services and social platforms like Facebook and YouTube, a measure that critics warn could infringe on individual speech. The legislation drafted by Justin Trudeau’s government, known as Bill C-10, is meant to subject tech giants to the same requirements as traditional broadcasters — effectively compelling companies like Netflix Inc. and TikTok Inc. to finance and promote Canadian content. It’s among the most far-reaching plans by governments anywhere to regulate the algorithms tech companies use to amplify or recommend content. https://bloom.bg/2SYfavh
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Robinhood’s IPO plans slowed by SEC review.
Robinhood Markets Inc., which had sought to go public this month, has seen its listing plans slowed in recent weeks by a back-and-forth with regulators over its prospectus, according to people familiar with the matter. Robinhood’s growing cryptocurrency business, which was rolled out in 2018 and now allows customers to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and even Dogecoin, has drawn questions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. While a listing might come this summer, the popular trading app’s plans could also slip into the fall, one of the people said. The company aims to reveal its financials as soon as possible and to go public once the SEC finishes its review, they said. https://bloom.bg/2SwUVVi
Direct-to-consumer eyewear company Warby Parker confidentially files for an initial public offering.
New York-based Warby Parker has confidentially filed for a stock market listing in the US, the eyewear company said on Tuesday, as it looks to cash in on the boom in online commerce. As consumers shift to digital modes of shopping, companies including Warby, which was last valued at US$3 billion after a funding round in 2020, are seeking to attract investors at a time the stock market has seen a record appetite for new listings. https://bit.ly/3jd6VpR
EverCommerce set terms of its IPO, which could value company at up to US$3.5 billion.
EverCommerce Inc. has set terms of its initial public offering, as the Colorado-based provider of software-as-a-service for small- and medium-sized service-based businesses looks to raise up to US$344.1 million and be valued at up to US$3.46 billion. The company is offering 19.12 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$16 and US$18 a share. The company expects 192.5 million shares to be outstanding after the IPO. The stock is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “EVCM.” There are 18 underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, RBC Capital Markets and KKR. The company recorded a net loss of US$59.95 million on revenue of US$337.53 million in 2020, after a loss of US$93.75 million on revenue of US$242.14 million in 2019. https://on.mktw.net/3qvodzX
Clear Secure’s IPO terms could value company at up to US$4.3 billion.
Clear Secure Inc. has set terms for its initial public offering, in which the New York-based provider of safer and easier travel experiences could be valued at up to US$4.34 billion. The company is looking to raise up to US$396.0 million as it is offering 13.20 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$27 and US$30 a share. The company expects to have a total of 144.8 million shares outstanding after the IPO, including Class A, Class B, Class C and Class D shares. The stock is expected to list on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “YOU.” Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Allen & Co. and Wells Fargo Securities are the lead underwriters. The company recorded a pro forma net loss of US$10.8 million on revenue of US$230.8 million in 2020, after a loss of US$54.2 million on revenue of US$192.3 million in 2019. https://on.mktw.net/3diQ9Su
Integral Ad Science sets IPO terms, implying a valuation of up to US$2.5 billion.
Integral Ad Science Holding Corp. has set terms of its initial public offering, in which the New York-based digital advertising verification company looks to raise up to US$255 million and be valued at up to US$2.53 billion. The company is offering 15.0 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$15 and US$17 a share. Integral Ad expects to have 148.96 million shares outstanding after the IPO. The stock is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “IAS.” There are 14 underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley, Jefferies, Barclays and Evercore ISI. The company recorded a net loss of US$28.0 million on revenue of US$240.6 million in 2020, after a loss of US$50.9 million on revenue of US$213.5 million in 2019. The company is looking to go public at a time that the Renaissance IPO ETF has inched up 0.1% year to date while the S&P 500 has gained 10.9%. https://on.mktw.net/3wTJKVv
LegalZoom sets terms for 2nd attempt at IPO, to value company at up to US$5.2 billion.
LegalZoom.com Inc. has set terms for its initial public offering, as the California-based online legal and compliances services company takes another shot at going public with a valuation of up to US$5.2 billion. The company had previously filed to go public in 2012, with terms implying a valuation of up to about US$484 million, but filed in January 2014 to withdraw the filing. The company is looking to raise up to US$516.3 million by offering 19.12 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$24 and US$27 a share. The stock is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LZ.” There are 14 underwriters, led by J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays. The company expects to have 194.11 million shares outstanding after the IPO. LegalZoom recorded net income of US$9.9 million on revenue of US$470.6 million in 2020, after net income of US$7.4 million on revenue of US$408.4 million in 2019. https://on.mktw.net/3gYC7X9
Buzzfeed confirms it will go public via a merger with a SPAC.
Digital news service BuzzFeed said Thursday it is going public by merging with special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, 890 Fifth Avenue Partners Inc. in a deal with an implied valuation of 1.5 billion. SPACs, or blank-check companies, raise money in an initial public offering and then have two years to acquire a business, or businesses. As part of the deal, BuzzFeed has agreed to acquire Complex Networks from Hearst and Verizon , a network of brands aimed at millennials and Gen Z that includes categories like streetwear and fashion, food, music and sports. That deal is priced at US$300 million, split between US$200 million in cash and US$100 million in equity. BuzzFeed already owns HuffPost News and Tasty Lifestyle Brands, among others. 890 Fifth Avenue has US$288 million in trust and the deal includes an additional US$150 million in convertible bond financing, led by Redwood Capital Management and including CrossingBridge Advisors, Cohanzick Management, and Silver Rock Financial LP. Once the deal closes, the new company will be called BuzzFeed Inc. and will trade on a public exchange under the ticker “BZFD.” https://on.mktw.net/2TZp7bX
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s mega-SPAC seals US$4 billion deal to buy 10% of Universal Music.
Bill Ackman’s pitch to buy 10% of Universal Music Group (UMG) for about US$4 billion has been accepted, the billionaire investor announced on Sunday. He also confirmed his intention to pursue two more multibillion-dollar deals, paving the way for fresh intrigue after seven months of speculation about his original target. Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH), a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), will purchase the minority stake in Drake and Billie Eilish’s record label from its parent company, Vivendi. The French media conglomerate intends to list UMG on the Euronext Amsterdam Exchange in September, and PSTH shareholders are set to receive their shares in the music group before the year ends. https://bit.ly/2UpYE7F
China’s Didi Chuxing plans to raise up to US$4 billion in U.S. IPO.
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing plans to raise as much as US$4 billion in its U.S. initial public offering at a valuation of up to US$67 billion, according to the company’s filings. Didi’s targeted valuation is less than the US$70 billion-plus price tag many bankers had previously expected. The Chinese company said in the filing that it expects its IPO price to be between US$13 and US$14 per American depositary share. At the bottom of that range, Didi’s valuation would be about US$62 billion, same as the valuation in its last fundraising round in 2020. Didi’s planned listing on the New York Stock Exchange is one of this year’s most highly anticipated tech IPOs. The company said its net proceeds from the offering would be about US$3.8 billion based on an IPO price of US$13.50, the midpoint of the estimated price range. It said it would use the proceeds to invest in technology development, international business expansion and new products. Didi, which dominates China’s ride-hailing market, also has been expanding into Latin America and other overseas markets where it competes against Uber. Uber’s current market capitalization is about $95 billion. While the two companies compete in some markets, Uber owns a minority stake in Didi because of a 2016 deal where the U.S. giant sold its China operations to Didi. https://bit.ly/3qrAGVD
China’s Full Truck Alliance seeks to raise US$1.6 billion in U.S. IPO.
Full Truck Alliance, a Chinese logistics startup sometimes dubbed the “Uber of trucks,” is seeking to raise more than $1.6 billion in an initial public offering in the U.S., Bloomberg reported. The SoftBank-backed startup would be valued at more than US$20 billion if the IPO is priced at the top of its range, according to Bloomberg. The IPO plans come after Full Truck Alliance, also known as Manbang, raised US$1.7 billion from investors late last year. Other than SoftBank, the startup’s investors include Tencent, Alphabet, Sequoia Capital China and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital. Investors are interested in China’s logistics sector, though risks remain. Last month, Chinese regulators summoned senior executives from several tech firms including Full Truck Alliance and told them to do a better job protecting the rights of drivers and passengers. https://bit.ly/3A51rmS
Splunk surges 14% after the software company announces a US$1 billion investment from Silver Lake.
Shares of analytics company Splunk leaped as much as 14% Tuesday after the company announced a US$1 billion investment from Silver Lake, a tech-focused private equity firm. The cash infusion, funded through convertible debt that can be swapped for equity, will be plowed back into the business and used to fund a US$1 billion share buyback program, Splunk said in a statement. Under the deal, Silver Lake chairman and managing partner Kenneth Hao will join Splunk’s board. https://bit.ly/3xOfWdb
AT&T sells mobile gaming studio to EA.
AT&T is continuing to unload its entertainment assets–today announcing that it is selling Warner Bros Games’ Playdemic mobile games studio to Electronic Arts for US$1.4 billion in cash. The deal for the studio, which is behind the popular game, “Golf Clash,” comes just weeks after AT&T announced it is selling all of WarnerMedia to Discovery. Just a few weeks ago AT&T CEO John Stankey said publicly that the companies who are going to succeed in video streaming globally are the ones who diversify into other forms of content like videogames and music. Clearly AT&T isn’t going to be that company, and its questionable whether Discovery will be given that they didn’t buy Playdemic. Maybe it will be the gaming companies like EA and Activision that start getting more into streaming video. https://bit.ly/3h8CFtE
Amazon is reportedly buying 1,000 autonomous truck-driving systems, which could pave the way for one day ditching drivers.
Amazon has agreed to buy 1,000 autonomous truck-driving systems from a self-driving trucking startup, Bloomberg first reported. The self-driving trucking startup, Plus, makes AI-based software for trucks, and has also reached an agreement with Amazon to offer the ecommerce giant the opportunity to purchase shares, according to a Monday filing. As part of the agreement, Amazon has the option to purchase up to 420,702,410 preferred shares of Plus at about US$0.47 each, which would represent a 20% stake in the company. If Amazon were to purchase the maximum available shares offered, it would represent an investment of nearly US$200 million. https://bit.ly/3qgswPM
The world’s first blood test that reveals in 24 hours if targeted cancer treatment is working has been launched.
A blood test that can track the success or failure of cancer treatment in real-time has been launched, scientists at the University of Singapore (NUS) have announced. The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The test is the first of its kind in the world. The way the blood is analyzed can reveal in as little as 24 hours whether targeted therapy against specific molecules is having an effect on tumor growth. https://bit.ly/3A1nHOS
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Univision to jump into subscription streaming video game.
Univision is the latest entertainment company to jump into the so-called streaming wars, with plans to launch a free ad supported service as well as a subscription offering. The move comes just months after the U.S.-based Spanish broadcaster merged with the media arm of Mexican cable giant Televisa. While Univision is late to the streaming game, it obviously is going after a specific market in targeting a Spanish-speaking audience. And it plans to have 30 originals in its first year–a smart move to attract new customers. However the remaining question is what the pricing will be. After all it is a crowded market that Univision is entering so how much the service costs will be key. https://bit.ly/2U87UwR
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
The Trade Desk among ad-tech stocks surging after Google delays phase-out plans for cookies.
Digital-advertising stocks are rallying Thursday after Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it would delay its plans to phase out third-party cookies that track users across the web. U.S.-listed shares of Criteo SA are up more than 12% in Thursday’s session, while shares of The Trade Desk Inc. are up 13% and shares of PubMatic Inc. are up more than 8%. Google now plans to phase out cookies on its Chrome browser in a third-month period that will end in late 2023, whereas the company initially was targeting early 2022. The new schedule will give the company more time to work with industry players on devising new privacy “standards” and “is important to avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content,” Google said in a blog post. Alphabet shares are up 0.5% in Thursday morning trading and they’ve gained 71% over the past 12 months as the S&P 500 has increased 40%. https://on.mktw.net/3w3J3aN
Brave launches public beta version of its search engine with anti-tracking features.
The developers of Brave, a privacy-focused web browser, have been testing their own search engine for a while now with a small number of invited users. Starting today, Brave Search will be available to everyone as a public beta through the official browser apps and also a new website. As noted by TechCrunch, Brave announced its own search engine in March of this year following the acquisition of Cliqz, an anti-tracking browser with a built-in search engine. Similar to DuckDuckGo, Brave Search is an alternative to major search services like Google and Bing for those who are concerned about data privacy. https://bit.ly/3xRHKNz
Apple becomes latest antitrust target for Germany.
Germany’s competition authority has announced a sweeping new antitrust investigation into Apple—the fourth U.S. tech giant to be targeted by German regulators in recent months. The country’s competition regulatory, the Bundeskartellamt, said on Monday the agency would investigate how Apple integrates its hardware and software and whether the company’s behavior, particularly around the App Store and targeted advertising, damages competitors. The German regulator has seized on new competition laws passed in the national parliament earlier this year, which allow the agency to intervene earlier in markets to investigate possible antitrust issues. The Apple probe joins similar German investigations into Google, Facebook and Amazon which have all been announced this year. https://bit.ly/3xYkH3E
House panel advances sixth and final bill as final piece of Big Tech antitrust package.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday narrowly advanced a sixth and final piece of legislation as part of its Big Tech antitrust package. The “Ending Platform Monopolies Act” would eliminate the ability of dominant platforms like Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. to “leverage their control across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition.” It also could pose a problem for Google parent Alphabet Inc. , which ranks videos on its search engine, and also operates YouTube. Since Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee passed five other bills, including one that severely limits acquisitions of competitors, and another that could force Facebook Inc. to cleave Instagram and WhatsApp from its holdings. https://on.mktw.net/3y04f2O
Ireland doesn’t want to increase 12.5% tax paid by Apple, Google, and others.
The 12.5% corporate tax paid by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other companies to Ireland would have to end under a global tax plan orchestrated by the Biden administration – and the Irish government isn’t happy about it. The G7 nations and the European Union reached agreement in principle that all member countries would impose a minimum corporate tax of 15%. Ireland had previously expressed concern about this, and now says it thinks the rate should be “negotiable”. https://bit.ly/3cYCxvj
Teamsters plan aggressive push to unionize Amazon logistics workers.
One of the country’s most powerful unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, confirmed today that it plans to make a nationwide push to unionize Amazon warehouse workers and drivers. And it won’t be a gentle one. The news was first reported by Motherboard, which obtained a video and resolution announcing the effort. As the organization explained, the plan to unionize Amazon’s growing logistics business has been underway for some time, and the failure in Bessemer to do so — after the grassroots effort faced intense opposition from Amazon itself — illustrates why such an endeavor is necessary. https://tcrn.ch/3xFPy4Y
Amazon’s planned purchase of MGM faces FTC scrutiny.
The Federal Trade Commission will be the agency to review Amazon.com Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM, according to people familiar with the matter, just as the commission gets a new chairwoman who has been critical of the online giant’s expansion. Amazon last month announced its deal for MGM, which would boost its Prime Video streaming platform in a market that includes rivals such as Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co. MGM has a library of more than 4,000 films, including the James Bond franchise, and a television catalog that includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Vikings.” https://on.wsj.com/2SWBdlR
This year’s Prime Day broke sales records.
Shoppers aren’t showing any signs of getting tired of Amazon Prime Day, even though some sellers had said they weren’t planning on offering deals this year. Amazon (AMZN) said that Prime Day, held this past Monday and Tuesday, was the biggest two-day sales period for third-party sellers in the company’s history. Amazon said sales from third-party merchants outpaced its own sales. https://cnn.it/2Swsmr6
Facebook is working on visual search for shopping on Instagram.
Facebook is working on visual search technology for Instagram as it doubles down on shopping features throughout its platform. Speaking in a live audio room on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said the company is in the early stages of building camera-based search tools. The feature would be similar to ones offered by Snapchat and Pinterest, which have both invested heavily into visual search. Zuckerberg outlined two potential use cases for the technology on Instagram. When browsing Instagram, visual search could surface similar products available elsewhere in the app, or it could allow users to find products using their cameras or images from their camera roll. https://engt.co/3A3WqLl
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Banking startup Revolut seeks capital at US$20 billion valuation.
London-based financial technology firm Revolut is in discussions with investors about a new round of funding that would value the 6-year-old company at US$20 billion, Bloomberg reports. Revolut’s valuation reached US$5.5 billion in 2020 as part of a US$500 million financing led by TCV. Revolut offers app-based banking services including foreign money exchange and money transfer. Its revenue rose to £261 million in 2020 from £166 million in 2019. Losses nearly doubled in the same period to £200.6 million. The company has raised more than US$1 billion in VC funding from Index Ventures, Balderton Capital and Ribbit Capital, among others. It’s one of the most valuable European startups. https://bit.ly/3xRS0Fu
World’s top bitcoin mining-rig maker halts sales as clients flee.
Bitmain Technologies Ltd. has suspended sales of machines for spot delivery globally, aiming to prop up local prices after crypto miners fleeing Beijing’s crackdown dumped used mining rigs on the market. The world’s biggest maker of Bitcoin machines told the local mining community Wednesday it has stopped selling new equipment after prices for top-tier rigs plunged by about 75% since April. By postponing sales, it could help miners exiting the industry get better prices for their machines. Bitmain could also benefit if the reduced supply buoys prices over the longer term for new machines. https://bloom.bg/2SoL43E
Bitcoin tumbles 11% after China steps up crackdown on crypto mining and financial operations.
Bitcoin dropped as much as 11% on Monday after Chinese authorities ramped up their crackdown on cryptocurrency mining over the weekend, with bodies in the Sichuan province ordering 26 of the biggest miners to halt operations. China also said on Monday that it held a meeting with officials from major banks to reiterate a ban on providing crypto services. Other cryptocurrencies also dropped sharply, with ether down around 6% and binance coin roughly 4% lower, according to Coinmarketcap. A broader market sell-off also appeared to be weighing on crypto, as investors moved towards safer assets. https://bit.ly/3wNUGUB
Andreessen Horowitz triples down on blockchain startups with massive US$2.2 billion Crypto Fund III.
While the cryptocurrency market’s most recent hype wave seems to be dying down after a spectacular rise, Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto arm is reaffirming its commitment to startups building blockchain projects with a hulking new US$2.2 billion crypto fund. It’s the firm’s largest vertical-specific fund ever — by quite a bit. https://tcrn.ch/3qrz91J
MicroStrategy bought nearly US$500 million worth if bitcoin as prices fell.
MicroStrategy Inc. said Monday it spent about US$489 million in cash to buy an additional 13,005 bitcoins for an average price of about US$37,617 per bitcoin, including fees. The purchase comes on a day that bitcoin tumbled 9.3%, which puts it on track for the lowest close in 4 1/2 months, and is now about 49% below its record close in April. Shares of the enterprise software and bitcoin play, which has said it uses bitcoin as its primary treasury asset, dropped 7.5% in premarket trading. The company said as of June 21, it has spent about US$2.74 billion to buy 105,085 bitcoins, at an average price of US$26,080. MicroStrategy’s stock has run up 66.4% year to date through Friday, while bitcoin has advanced 11.7% and the S&P 500 has gained 10.9%. https://on.mktw.net/3xNUu8a
Crypto-custody firm Fireblocks is being sued by a company that says it was locked out of a wallet containing more than US$70 million of ether.
Israeli crypto-custody firm Fireblocks is facing a lawsuit from a company that claims it was locked out of a wallet containing more than US$70 million of ether, a report from Calcalist says. The company, StakeHound, claims that negligence by a Fireblocks employee led to the crypto assets being lost without any backup available. The Fireblocks employee allegedly did not protect or back up the private keys to a digital wallet. Then, the keys were deleted, preventing StakeHound from accessing its assets. The wallet in question had 38,178 ether coins, equal to over US$72 million at the time of writing. https://bit.ly/3qiUWIH
GlobalFoundries to build US$4 billion chip factory in Singapore.
U.S.-based chipmaker GlobalFoundries plans to build a US$4 billion manufacturing facility in Singapore that will open in 2023, Bloomberg reported. The investment comes despite attempts by the U.S. government to encourage companies to build chip factories in the U.S. to protect against supply chain disruptions. It also comes as other chipmakers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. add capacity in the U.S. and elsewhere to meet the surge in chip demand brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has increased demand for everything from computers to video-game consoles. GlobalFoundries has deep ties to Singapore. The company itself was created from a 2009 merger between AMD’s chip factories and Singapore’s Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing. https://bit.ly/3vZL4VI
TSMC to prioritize Apple and automaker silicon orders as global semiconductor shortage continues.
Via Digitimes, TSMC is set to prioritize chip orders from Apple and car manufacturers in the third quarter, as global shortages of silicon chips continues to plague manufacturing. As so many products include silicon these day, the semiconductor shortage has impacted production of many industries, although the auto industry has been most prominent. Carmakers had been pushing the Biden administration to require chip fabs to dedicate some production for their exclusive use. However, no formal bill has been signed on that front. https://bit.ly/3d5oowt
Foxconn and Pegatron increasing bonuses to recruit workers for iPhone 13.
Both Foxconn and Pegatron are offering substantial bonuses to help recruit workers for iPhone 13 production, according to a Taiwanese report. Both companies are offering recruitment bonuses worth well over a month’s average salary, with additional bonuses offered to employees who introduce friends who then accept jobs there. https://bit.ly/3wOj4p3
Winklevosses buy offsets to cut their bitcoin carbon footprint.
Gemini Trust, the cryptocurrency exchange run by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, purchased about US$4 million in credits to help offset the carbon emissions footprint of the Bitcoin it holds in custody. The firm made a donation in that amount to Climate Vault. The nonprofit purchased the permits, which will prevent more than 341,000 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Gemini plans to continue to offset its carbon footprint until only renewable energy is used in securing the Bitcoin network, Chief Executive Officer Tyler Winklevoss said in an interview. https://bloom.bg/3qqOWhb
Twilio, Asana to list on Long-Term Stock Exchange as ESG push continues.
A Silicon Valley stock exchange that encourages long-term thinking over short-term gains has landed two marquee tech companies to be among its first listings, reflecting the growing popularity of sustainable investing. Twilio Inc., a US$67 billion software company, and Asana Inc., a roughly US$10 billion cloud software company run by Facebook Inc. co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, are the first two companies to agree to dual list their shares on the Long-Term Stock Exchange. The CEOs of both companies, which also are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, were early investors in LTSE with financial stakes of less than 1.5%. https://on.wsj.com/3h6m4GU
Sophic Capital Client Insights
Sophic Client Killi (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC): Voting for personal data privacy.
Facebook data from 533 million people in 106 countries was published on a hacking forum this past April. Facebook seemed to shrug it off. Most companies do and have dismissed consumer data breaches for decades. Governments are fighting back, enacting data privacy rules that could destroy the revenue models of businesses reliant upon the collection of consumer data without consent. Killi is also hosting an investor webinar on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at 4 pm EDT. https://bit.ly/2U6Iqjs
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