After three successive weeks of extraordinarily strong capital markets activity by the Canadian technology and clean tech sectors, this past week was impacted by ongoing market volatility as we expected last week. The impact was particularly pronounced across small-cap and micro-cap equities. Public markets equity raises were under $100 million by our count. We are keeping an eye out on the performance of TAAL (an interesting Bitcoin SV play) and General Pizza (our due diligence found the pies to be delicious!). In the USA, we’re eager to see public debuts by Coupang, Instacart, Rocket Lab and Cipher in coming weeks/months.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
TAAL (TAAL-CSE) announces marketed public offering of up to $40 million.
The company announced that it has filed a preliminary short form prospectus in connection with the proposed offering of units of the Company (the “Units”) at a price of $4.60 per Unit (the “Offering Price”) for minimum gross proceeds of $26.0 million and up to a maximum of $40.0 million (the “Offering”). http://bit.ly/3bnLi1D
GreenSpace (JTR-TSXV) announces private placement.
The company has engaged a syndicate of agents led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. (collectively, the “Agents”) on a commercially reasonable best-efforts basis in connection with a proposed brokered private placement (“Offering”). The Offering will consist of units (the “Units”) of the Company to raise gross proceeds of up to $3,000,000 and the Agents have an option to increase the size of the Offering by up to 15% at any time prior to the closing of the Offering. The issue price per Unit will be determined in the context of the market and the performance of this micro cap stock. http://bit.ly/2MQk2zy
General Assembly Pizza files preliminary prospectus to go public via the TSXV.
Toronto-based restaurant turned pizza subscription service General Assembly Pizza (GA Pizza) has filed to become a publicly listed company on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV). Filings dated February 26 show that GA Pizza has filed a non-offering preliminary prospectus and is applying to list in the TSXV. No securities are being offered as part of the plans to go public. The filings followed shortly after GA Pizza closed an oversubscribed $13 million Series A round via private placement, exceeding its $3.5 million target. According to the startup, its subscription service has amassed 2,000 subscribers since its September 2020 launch. http://bit.ly/2PAm1cg
Killi (MYID-TSXV) increases previously announced non-brokered private placement by $1.5 million due to strong demand from investors, bringing the total amount of the offering to $4.5 million.
“Privacy changes including those most recently from Google and Apple are accelerating the trend towards consumer privacy,” said Neil Sweeney CEO & Founder of Killi. “The increased demand from investors for this private placement is further validation of our approach to democratizing data for consumers as well as our rapid progress. This additional capital will help us expand on our mission at a faster rate while providing more ammunition to generate awareness of Killi.” http://bit.ly/3cawKBB
Martello (MTLO-TSXV) announces private placement concurrent with bought deal.
The company announced that in addition to the bought deal offering previously announced on February 25, 2021 and March 3, 2021 (the “Bought Deal Offering”), the Company intends to complete a concurrent non-brokered private placement of up to 2,310,502 units at an offering price of $0.19 per unit (the “Private Placement Units”) for aggregate gross proceeds of up to approximately $439,000 (the “Concurrent Private Placement”). http://bit.ly/38cCSIu
RATESDOTCA Group Ltd. raises $51 million in funding to transform the car insurance shopping experience.
The company has completed a $51 million round of funding through a combination of additional equity investment from its majority shareholder Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (“Ontario Teachers'”) and debt financing led by BMO Financial Group (“BMO”) through a syndicated facility with TD Bank Group (TD). http://bit.ly/3sKUBys
Rivalry announces US$20 million funding round.
Toronto-based esports betting platform Rivalry has announced the completion of a US$20 million funding round to scale its operations and country licensing programme. According to the release, the funding round comprised institutional investors from Canada, the United States, the European Union, and an unnamed ‘major gaming operator’. Additionally, Rivalry has announced its intention to pursue an initial public offering (IPO), anticipated to be completed later this year. Rivalry launched officially in February 2018 with a core focus on esports wagering, but has since expanded into traditional sports offerings and proprietary casino games. Notably, the betting platform owns all of its intellectual property, forgoing white label solutions with in-house software development, which has helped provide a more intimate and customised user experience. http://bit.ly/3uYbxn2
Snapcommerce secures $107 million to build a mobile commerce leader.
Snapcommerce (formerly Snaptravel) has secured $107 million in growth funding, signalling confidence from investors in the company’s mission to expand beyond the travel space. The round was led by longtime Snapcommerce investor Inovia Capital through its Growth Fund I, with international private equity firm Lion Capital joining as co-lead. The round also included participation from Acrew DCF, Thayer Ventures and Full In Partners, and included existing Snapcommerce investors Telstra Ventures and Bee Partners. http://bit.ly/30jwUBh
PocketPills raises $30 million Series B amid continued demand for virtual healthcare solutions.
PocketPills, a Surrey, British Columbia-based digital pharmacy startup, has closed a $30 million CAD Series B round of funding. The all-equity round was led by Telus Ventures, with participation from previous investor WaterBridge Ventures and undisclosed large family offices. http://bit.ly/3rpQszY
Amid rise in remote work, Dooly announces $25.5 million to scale sales enablement platform.
Vancouver-based Dooly has raised $25.5 million CAD in funding as the company looks to scale its sales enablement software, which aims to reduce the administrative burden on sales professionals. Dooly touts itself as “the fastest way” to update Salesforce, take notes, and manage deals for sales professionals. Dooly’s seed round was led by Boldstart Ventures, and also included BoxGroup, Basement Fund, and several strategic investors, such as Dimitri Sirota, CEO of BigID. The startup’s Series A round was led by Addition and included participation from Boldstart Ventures, Battery Ventures, BoxGroup, SV Angels, and Mantis, the venture firm founded by electronic DJ duo The Chainsmokers. Other strategic Series A investors include Zander Lurie, CEO of SurveyMonkey, and Jay Simons, former CEO of Atlassian. http://bit.ly/3egCe0o
Ocean Supercluster commits $12 million to real-time analytics for aquaculture project.
The Atlantic Canada-based Ocean Supercluster has committed close to $12 million to a project focused on providing real-time analytics for the aquaculture industry. The project is worth almost $27 million, with $14.8 million coming from matching industry contributions. The Integrated Operations and Real-Time Analytics Project is being led from Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, and is meant to bridge gaps between land, sea-based, and processing operations that exist in the aquaculture industry. The project is set to provide real-time information, analytics and environmental connectivity to improve overall operations. http://bit.ly/3bp7dpv
Evolve files preliminary prospectus for Ether ETF.
Evolve has filed a preliminary prospectus with the Canadian securities regulators for the Ether ETF (“ETHR” or “the Fund”). ETHR is designed to provide investors with exposure to Ether, currently the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. http://bit.ly/3c4Vg79
Torstar to launch Ontario-based internet gaming business.
“We are excited at the prospect of participating in a regulated online Ontario gaming market with a made-in-Ontario product,” said Corey Goodman, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Torstar. “As an Ontario-based media business and trusted brand for more than 128 years, we believe Torstar will provide a unique and responsible gaming brand that creates new jobs, offers growth for the Ontario economy and generates new tax revenue to help support important programs in our province.” http://bit.ly/3kSQr51
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
Fiverr cancels plan for public share offering after stock selloff, and stock falls further.
Shares of Fiverr International Ltd. dropped 4.4% in midday trading Thursday, reversing an earlier intraday gain of as much as 4.2%, even as the provider of platforms for those seeking freelance work withdrew its planned public stock offering. Fiverr said the reason for the change of mind, was that it decided “given Wednesday’s market conditions it is not in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to raise equity capital.” Fiverr’s stock had tumbled 13.0% to US$242.99 on Wednesday, after the company said late Tuesday that it has launched a public offering of US$700 million worth of shares. That selloff had moved the stock into a bear market, as it closed 24.8% below its Feb. 12 record close of US$323.10. The stock has still run up more than sevenfold (up 605.6%) over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22.2%. http://on.mktw.net/3sRe2Wx
South Korea’s Coupang seeks up to US$3.6 billion in New York IPO.
South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Inc. is seeking to raise as much as US$3.6 billion from an initial public offering in New York, which will rank as one of the largest-ever Asian listings in the U.S. Seoul-based Coupang and some existing shareholders are offering 120 million shares at US$27 to US$30 each, according to a filing Monday. At the top end of the range, Coupang will be valued at as much as $51 billion based on the number of shares outstanding. A successful IPO would be another windfall for billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. The Japanese conglomerate invested US$1 billion in Coupang in 2015 and its Vision Fund put in another US$2 billion in 2018, pushing its valuation to about US$9 billion. The SoftBank Vision Fund will own about 37% of the company’s Class A shares after the offering, according to Monday’s filing. The listing would be the fourth-biggest on record by an Asian company on a U.S. exchange and the largest since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $25 billion IPO in 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It also comes in what is expected to be a record year for Korean listings. http://bloom.bg/3qpDGjn
Grocery-delivery company Instacart is considering a direct listing, according to a Reuters report, meaning that the company could come public while bypassing a traditional initial public offering underwritten by investment banks.
The company sees risk that a traditional IPO could be underpriced, the Reuters report said. A direct listing would enable the company to go public without raising money and mirror a path taken by Spotify Technology SA , Palantir Technologies Inc., and some other tech companies that had name recognition prior to making their public debuts. http://on.mktw.net/3qiD1Al
Mobile ad tech company Applovin files for IPO.
After initially agreeing to sell itself to Chinese buyout firm Orient Hontai Capital, the company changed the deal to debt financing following regulatory pushback. In 2020, the mobile ad tech firm saw a net loss of US$125.93 million on US$1.45 billion in revenue. In 2020, the company counted 172 enterprise clients, defined as customers generating at least US$125,000 in the trailing 12 months, and 1.5 million monthly active players (unique consumer mobile devices using one of its apps), generating $41 in monthly average revenue. Applovin’s biggest shareholders include Applovin’s cofounders, KKR, Orient Hontai Capital, Angel Pride Holdings and Nimble Ventures. http://bit.ly/3c3Ftpi
Rocket Lab agrees to go public via SPAC merger with Vector Acquisition, valuing the space-transport startup at US$4.1 billion.
Space transport startup Rocket Lab announced it will go public through a merger with blank-check firm Vector Acquisition Corporation in a deal that will value the combined entity at US$4.1 billion. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Vector will change its name to Rocket Lab and will trade under Nasdaq ticker symbol RKLB. “In the history of spaceflight, Rocket Lab is one of only two private companies that has delivered regular and reliable access to orbit,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. “This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab’s ability to unlock the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our ambition to create a new multi-billion-dollar business vertical in space applications.” Rocket Lab unveiled its medium-lift Neutron rocket that is expected to launch in 2029. Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab has played a leading role in the growth of the commercial small satellite industry. Unlike Elon Musk’s SpaceX that focuses on huge satellites in bigger orbits, Rocket Lab focuses on small-rocket ventures, similar to Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic also went public via SPAC in 2019. http://bit.ly/3c0QkjL
Bitcoin mining company Cipher to go public via US$2 billion SPAC merger with Good Works.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. Upon closing, the combined companies will be named Cipher Mining and will trade under the Nasdaq ticker symbol CIFR. The deal is expected to give the combined companies US$595 million in gross cash proceeds, which includes a US$425 million PIPE (private investment in public equity) from investors such as Fidelity Management & Research Company and Counterpoint Global, a unit of Morgan Stanley. Cipher Mining is a subsidiary of Bitfury Top HoldCo B.V or Bitfury Group. Since 2011, the Bifury Group has been a provider of bitcoin mining hardware and other blockchain software and services. http://bit.ly/3qpiL07
Vizio files to go public, has sold over 80 million TVs.
Vizio filed its S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as the TV and soundbar maker heads toward an initial public offering. “We envision the Vizio smart TV as the center of the connected home — where families play games together, where friends watch movies together, where work and learning happen, and where all things in between take place,” Vizio founder, chairman, and CEO William Wang wrote in a letter that opens the S-1. “Going public is an important milestone for us as we continue to grow and execute our goals.” The filing reveals that Vizio has sold over 80 million TVs and 11 million soundbars since the company’s founding. It sold 7.1 million TVs in 2020. http://bit.ly/2ObkLvR
Compass losing money, gaining market share.
Compass lost US$270 million in 2020, and the residential real estate brokerage generated US$3.7 billion in revenue. Those figures are from a statement Compass filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday afternoon, in which the brokerage proposed offering US$500 million in class “A” common stock. The firm’s revenue has gone up by leaps and bounds each year amid a flurry of brokerage acquisitions, such as the purchase of Pacific Union in San Francisco and Stribling in New York. Also, last month: the brokerage purchased KVS Title Inc., a title and escrow company for US$52 million. It is the second such purchase of a title and escrow outfit in the past six months: Compass purchased Modus in October. http://bit.ly/3rpVHzI
Instacart’s valuation doubles to US$39 billion.
Instacart is being valued at US$39 billion in a new round of funding that will add US$265 million to the grocery delivery company’s coffers. It’s the second time Instacart’s valuation has doubled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Less than five months ago, Instacart raised US$200 million in a deal that valued it at US$17.7 billion. According to Pitchbook, Instacart is now the second largest U.S.-based unicorn, behind SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space start-up that’s valued at US$74 billion. http://cnb.cx/3v1kyvA
Twitter to offer US$1.25 billion of convertible bonds.
Twitter announced a US$1.25 billion convertible bond offering in a private placement Monday, with the proceeds to be used to pay any sums due on its 1.00% convertible senior notes due 2021 and for general corporate purposes. The social media site said it will entered hedge transactions to limit dilution upon conversion. The interest rate, initial conversion rate and other terms will be determined upon pricing. http://on.mktw.net/3kITXip
Twilio plans US$1 billion bond deal in its latest capital raise. Twilio Inc. said Wednesday it is planning to issue US$1 billion of unsecured, senior notes in the cloud communications platform’s latest capital raise. The San Francisco-based company raised $1.54 billion in an equity offering in February. http://on.mktw.net/2O8HCIr
Virgin Galactic tumbles as billionaire chairman Chamath Palihapitya sells US$211 million stake.
Shares of Virgin Galactic slid by double digits Friday after billionaire chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sold his personal stake in the space-tourism company for US$211 million. Palihapitiya cashed out 6.2 million shares at an average price of US$35, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Virgin Galactic shares dropped as much as 21% as they hit US$23.94. The stock went on to pare the loss to 13% in active trading, with daily volume midday surpassing the average volume of 20.1 million shares. Palihapitiya, with his business partner Ian Osborne, still indirectly owns 15.8 million shares via their investment vehicle, SCH Sponsor Corp. Palihapitiya in December sold 3.8 million shares in Virgin Galactic. In a tweet, he had said he needed cash to fund several new projects. http://bit.ly/3bmZasW
DraftKings stock surges after deal to be UFC’s official sportsbook, daily fantasy partner.
Shares of DraftKings Inc. rallied 4.0% in premarket trading Thursday, after the digital sports gaming company announced a deal in which it will be the UFC’s official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner. DraftKings said it will now be able to offer in-game promotions, odds integrations and UFC branding, and will have the right to use official marks and logos of the mixed martial arts organization. DraftKings will also provide free-to-play UFC games, as well as proposition bets and other sportsbook opportunities. “While DraftKings and UFC have previously collaborated on specific events, we are proud to become official partners and explore even more impactful integrations that prioritize the fan experience,” said DraftKings Chief Executive Jason Robins. The stock has soared 33.5% over the past three months through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 has edged up 3.3%. http://on.mktw.net/2PEbq05
Industry insiders say DraftKings is having M&A talks with a variety of potential targets.
The sports-betting industry is abuzz with speculation that DraftKings could be about to make a major acquisition as it looks to shore up its early-mover advantage in the growing US market. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins told investors in November that the company would “explore opportunistic and accretive M&A” and be “considering companies that may help us fuel our growth and bring more excitement to the skin-in-the-game fans.” The company said in February that it ended 2020 debt-free and with about US$1.8 billion on its balance sheet, which it could put toward deals. DraftKings is trying to take on its top rival, FanDuel, and hold on to its market share as more brands enter the industry. It was the second-largest US sports-betting brand by revenue in 2020, after FanDuel, the research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated. Industry insiders say bankers have been floating many potential targets by DraftKings, including a European operator, a tech supplier, an online-gambling company that could expand DraftKing’s gaming purview, and a media company. Front Office Sports reported in May that DraftKings was eyeing Bleacher Report, though the companies denied the speculation. Some of the names rumored more recently to be on DraftKings’ radar are media companies including TheScore and John Skipper and Dan Le Batard’s nascent Meadowlark Media venture; small sports properties like the X Games; and the poker company Run It Once. http://bit.ly/2O9FcsS
Dorsey’s Square buys music streaming service Tidal.
Jack Dorsey’s financial service firm Square is making a left turn into a completely new business, music streaming. Square said Thursday it would spend US$297 million in cash and stock to buy a majority ownership stake in Tidal, a music-streaming service owned by various musicians including Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Jay-Z. Square said the deal would extend its vision of “economic empowerment to a new vertical: musicians.” In a statement, Dorsey said the deal comes down to “one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work.” He said there was a compelling intersection “between music and the economy.” Square offers various financial services products for small merchants and also offers a Cash App that lets people send money to friends or businesses. The deal is sure to raise questions about Square’s strategic focus. In a series of Tweets, Dorsey said Square’s origins were in helping “small sellers…participate more fully in the economy and grow” and he likened that with Tidal’s origins of helping artists. Square stock was down 1.4% in pre-market trading. http://bit.ly/3kQkEBM
Okta to buy security software maker Auth0 for US$6.5 billion.
Okta Inc., a maker of identity-verification software, agreed to buy smaller rival Auth0 for about US$6.5 billion in stock, seeking to solidify its position in the growing market for digital authentication security services. https://bloom.bg/3kJJYcw
Epic Games buys maker of Fall Guys, a hit pandemic video game.
Epic Games said it acquired Tonic Games Group, the maker of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, an online video game that was one of the breakout hits of the coronavirus pandemic. The game catapulted its British creator out of obscurity last year. Fall Guys’ appeal lies in its family-friendly content, its short-but-addictive sessions and its easily accessible, multiplayer format. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed Tuesday. https://bloom.bg/3kRman5
EU to propose a ‘digital pass’ for COVID-19 vaccination/test status to help safer travel.
The European Commission has said it will present a legislative plan later this month for what it’s calling a “digital green pass” — aka a digital certificate — which it says will be aimed at facilitating cross-border travel in the age of coronavirus. President Ursula von der Leyen said today that the planned digital tool will aim to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated — but not just that; the “digital green pass” will also display the results of tests, i.e. for those who have been unable to get a vaccine yet, along with information on “COVID-19 recovery”. http://tcrn.ch/3v1zni6
Microsoft debuts its AR/VR meetings platform Mesh.
At a special AR/VR focused event held inside its virtual reality community platform Altspace, Microsoft showcased a new product aiming to provide their AR HoloLens platform and VR Windows Mixed Reality platform with a shared platform for meetings. The app is called Microsoft Mesh and it gives users a cross AR/VR meeting space to interact with other users and 3D content, handling all of technical hard parts of sharing spatial multi-player experiences over the web. Like Microsoft’s other AR/VR apps, the sell seems to be less in the software than it is in enabling developers to tap into one more specialization of Azure, building their own software that builds on the capabilities. The company announced that AltspaceVR will now be Mesh-enabled. http://tcrn.ch/38eOVFh
Amazon to open cashierless store in London.
The Seattle company said it will debut a 2,500-square foot Amazon Fresh-branded store in London on Thursday. The store, like its U.S. counterparts, will use an array of cameras and other sensors to track shoppers as they pull items off the shelves, and charges a credit card on file after they exit. The stores represent the retail and technology giant’s biggest effort to reshape physical retailing. Amazon is also offering to license the system, which it calls Just Walk Out technology, to other companies. https://bloom.bg/3rfWB1n
SpaceX’s biggest rocket manages first landing, then explodes.
The Starship SN-10 prototype lifted off from SpaceX’s seaside launch pad at about 5:15 p.m. in Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday, based on a live video stream on SpaceX’s website. The rocket then flew to an altitude of about 10 kilometers (around 6 miles) before turning its engines back on and settling on the landing pad with a slight lean. https://bloom.bg/38btV27
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Disney CEO indicates theatrical window won’t return to normal.
Disney’s CEO put another nail in the coffin of the traditional theater business. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley conference on Monday, Bob Chapek said that once the pandemic ends (and theater-going returns to near normal levels) he doesn’t expect to uphold the previous tradition of waiting more than two or three months after a movie was released in theaters before making it available to rent. While he’s dedicated to some kind of exclusive run in theaters for Disney’s biggest movies, the length of time between big screens and streaming will be far shorter. It’s a big move for the world’s largest entertainment company to shrink the window. But as Chapek correctly assessed, customers who got to enjoy big-budget releases sent directly to streaming services during the pandemic aren’t likely to just go back to how things were. And Disney—like all media companies—needs to satisfy their streaming service subscribers. Even if this is obvious logic these days, it’s still more bad news for the theater chains, which are in for a reckoning over the next few years. http://bit.ly/3v7gA51
Bally’s corporation signs NBA sports betting partnership.
The deal marks the operator’s second strategic sports betting partnership with a US professional sports league following an agreement with the National Hockey League (NHL) last month. The NBA partnership will provide Bally’s with access to official league data, as well as rights to use official NBA marks and logos across the company’s expanding portfolio of online sports betting products. https://bit.ly/2O48lFS
Florida sports betting bill aims to authorize retail and online wagering.
Betting would be available to players over the age of 21 through self-service kiosks operated by the Division at retail locations, and via web and mobile applications operated by licensed pari-mutuel facilities, existing tribal casinos, and professional sports venues. The proposed legislation would also allow online sports betting licensee to operate multiple websites and mobile applications. https://bit.ly/3eeBTeU
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
Google plows ahead with plan to curb how ads track users.
Google will move ahead with a plan to phase out third-party cookies that help advertisers track customers around the web, shunning alternative methods to track individuals. https://bloom.bg/3e9BGJB
Google flags higher ad rates in France, Spain after digital tax.
Google has told customers that it will raise the rates for advertisements on its French and Spanish platforms by two percent from May to help offset the impact of a digital tax on profits. France has collected the levy since 2019, and Spain since this year, under pressure from voters to make US tech giants pay a greater share of taxes in countries where they operate. The ad rate increase is to “cover a part of the cost of conforming to laws concerning taxes on digital services in France and Spain,” the internet giant said in an e-mail seen by AFP. http://yhoo.it/30j37IT
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Watch out, PayPal. Square just launched its own bank.
Square, the financial payments firm run by Jack Dorsey, launched an in-house bank that it says will allow it to “operate more nimbly” in an increasingly crowded fintech market. The firm announced Monday that the bank has begun operations after completing the charter approval process with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. http://cnn.it/3sSWwBd
Ant Group boss tries to quell employee discontent with promise of eventual IPO.
Facing discontent among employees, Ant Group Co.’s leader said the Chinese financial-technology giant would eventually go public and that the company would look for ways to help workers monetize some of their shares. The liquidity solution Ant is working on will likely be a program to buy back some of the employees’ shares, according to people close to the firm. April is typically the month when Ant awards discretionary annual bonuses to employees. Many of Ant’s 16,000-plus workers had received share-based compensation, and they were on the cusp of reaping a windfall from Ant’s listing, which had valued the company at more than US$300 billion last fall. That represented a doubling in Ant’s valuation from mid-2018, when its last round of private fundraising valued the company at US$150 billion. Instead, the owner of popular payments network Alipay has been forced to restructure its business, dial back riskier activities and fall fully in line with financial regulations that are likely to crimp its growth and profitability. Investors and analysts expect Ant to have a lower valuation as a result, and the company is planning to overhaul its business into a financial-holding company that would be overseen by China’s central bank. http://on.wsj.com/30i5Ouw
Moderna, IBM explore blockchain tech, AI to support ‘smarter’ management of COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. announced Thursday plans to work together to find technologies to support “smarter COVID-19 vaccine management.” The technologies the companies will explore include artificial intelligence, blockchain and hybrid cloud, the companies said. “Moderna is committed to working with a coalition of partners to increase education and awareness of the importance of vaccination to help defeat COVID-19,” said Michael Mullette, a managing director of North America commercial operations at Moderna. “We look forward to working with IBM to apply digital innovations to build connections between organizations, governments, and individuals to instill confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.” http://on.mktw.net/30h5ADPs
Cathie Wood says digital wallets will ‘gut’ traditional banks – and expects bitcoin to rise by as much as US$400,000.
Cathie Wood said the growth of digital wallets will “gut” traditional banks. She expects the price of bitcoin to increase by between US$40,000 to US$400,000. The Ark Invest founder said US stock markets are filling up with “value traps.” http://bit.ly/3bnrknW
PayPal to buy Crypto custody firm Curv.
One source tells CoinDesk that Curv could be sold for as much as US$500 million. PayPal is said to be in the process of buying Curv, a technology firm that powers the secure storage of cryptocurrency, according to three sources familiar with the situation. Israeli news outlet Calcalist reported Tuesday that Curv was being sold for between US$200 million and US$300 million, without naming the buyer. http://bit.ly/3c1dlmK
Grimes made US$5.8 million in under 20 minutes selling crypto-based artwork.
Grimes auctioned off a collection of digital artwork for millions of dollars. The singer launched her digital collection, “WarNymph,” on Sunday and plans to sell the crypto art for 48 hours. Over the past few weeks, sales of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have taken off. NFTs, which operate as a unique type of digital asset or token, have in some instances sold for millions of dollars apiece, contributing to a crypto-art market that’s valued at over US$100 million. http://bit.ly/3sNUAK8
The explosive (and inclusive) potential of NFTs in the creative world.
Digital collectibles are having a very large moment. Just last month, a piece of digital art by Beeple sold for US$6.6 million on online art marketplace Nifty Gateway. Meanwhile, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda recently sold clips of a song via online marketplace Zora. Over on Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, more than 200,000 people recently waited hours for the chance to buy one of just 10,631 packs of digital NBA moments.Those marketplaces, along with others, are where people go to buy digital assets, or, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that live on the blockchain. http://tcrn.ch/3sQSidm
Bitcoin falls 4% after Biden nominee Gary Gensler says SEC will seek to eliminate fraud and manipulation in crypto markets.
Bitcoin shed as much as 4% on Tuesday following Senate testimony from President Joe Biden’s nominee for Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler. Gensler said that the SEC would seek to enforce investor protections in the crypto market, including ensuring that the custody of digital assets are safe and seeking to eliminate fraud and manipulation from cryptocurrency markets. The SEC must ensure that crypto markets “are free of fraud and manipulation, and I think that’s the greater challenge, frankly, because some markets, usually operating overseas, have been rife with fraud,” Gensler said. https://bit.ly/3qgL5l3
New York Attorney General says cryptocurrencies are ‘high-risk’ and ‘unstable’, and urges caution when trading.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday called cryptocurrencies “high-risk” and” unstable” investments in a rebuke of the rapidly evolving market, urging investors to exercise “extreme caution” when trading digital assets. The state’s top law enforcement official further warned investors of “speculative bubbles”. “Too often, greedy industry players take unnecessary risks with investors’ money,” James said in an investors’ alert. “All investors should proceed with extreme caution when investing in virtual currencies. Cryptocurrencies are high-risk, unstable investments that could result in devastating losses just as quickly as they can provide gains.” James also reminded brokers, dealers, and advisors, among others, of the possibility of facing “both civil and criminal liability” for unauthorized and unregistered business transactions. “Many operators of virtual currency trading platforms are themselves heavily invested in virtual currencies, and trade on their own platforms without oversight,” she said. http://bit.ly/38bNdEC
MicroStrategy buys another 205 bitcoins, for US$10 million.
MicroStrategy Inc. disclosed that it just spent US$10.0 million in cash to buy 205 bitcoins on Friday. The enterprise software and bitcoin holder said it paid an average price of US$48,888 for each bitcoin, including fees. Bitcoin were recently down 1.1% at US$47,909, while MicroStrategy shares shed 2.3% in premarket trading. The company said as of March 5, it holds about 91,064 bitcoins, which were acquired at total spend of US$2.20 billion at an average price of about US$24,119 per bitcoin. MicroStrategy’s stock has soared 96.9% over the past three months through Thursday, while bitcoin prices have rocketed 156.4% and the S&P 500 has gained 1.9%. http://on.mktw.net/3efwRi5
MicroStrategy spent US$15 million to buy 328 bitcoins on Monday.
Shares of MicroStrategy Inc. surged 6.6% in premarket trading Monday after the enterprise software and bitcoin holder disclosed that on Monday, it paid US$15 million in cash to buy about 328 bitcoins. The company said it paid an average price of about US$45,710 per bitcoin, including fees and expenses. Bitcoin was recently up 7.1% at US$48,360 in early trading Monday. As of March 1, MicroStrategy said it has paid out US$2.19 billion to buy about 90,859 bitcoins, at an average purchase price of about US$24,063 per bitcoin. http://on.mktw.net/3beOsoo
CBOE files for approval to list the first US bitcoin ETF.
CBOE Global Markets has filed a request with the US Securities and Exchange Commission seeking approval to list shares of asset manager VanEck’s bitcoin exchange-traded fund, in the latest attempt to launch a bitcoin ETF in the US. CBOE on Monday filed a Form 19b-4 seeking permission to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. The filing builds on Van Eck’s earlier S-1 filing from December 30. VanEck also filed a proposal in September 2019, which it withdrew. https://bit.ly/30gG6X7
Goldman Sachs restarts cryptocurrency desk amid bitcoin boom.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has restarted its cryptocurrency trading desk and will begin dealing bitcoin futures and non-deliverable forwards for clients from next week, a person familiar with the matter said. The team will sit within the U.S. bank’s Global Markets division, the person said. The desk is part of Goldman’s activities within the fast-growing digital assets sector, which also includes projects involving blockchain technology and central bank digital currencies, the person said. As part of this work, the bank is also exploring the potential for a bitcoin exchange traded fund and has issued a request for information to explore digital asset custody, the source said. http://reut.rs/30fvmrQ
Nio falls as Chinese EV maker says chip shortage will dent second-quarter production.
Nio shares dropped by nearly 10% on Tuesday after the electric vehicle maker said a global chip shortage would reduce the quarterly number of cars it had aimed to produce. Nio’s projection underscores the tight supply of chips resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected a range of industries. The China-based automaker said it reached production capacity of 10,000 units per month in January by having two shifts in some of its workshops. That marked an increase from 7,500 units. However, “in the second quarter we may only be able to secure overall supply chain production capacity of 7,500 units per month,” because of chipset supply and battery supply constraints, said Nio CEO William Li, during the company’s earnings call on Tuesday. http://bit.ly/3caqzhf
House energy and commerce leaders unveil sweeping climate change legislation.
The 981-page bill calls for a federal clean energy standard that sets an interim goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. https://politi.co/3bfAnXZ
U.S. saw huge boom in new battery storage at end of 2020.
U.S. additions of energy storage capacity shattered their previous records in the fourth quarter of 2020, per new data from the consultancy Wood Mackenzie. It signals the growing mainstreaming of technologies that help integrate more renewables onto power grids, provide backup energy and other benefits. 2,156 megawatt-hours came online in the final three months of the year, which is 182% higher than the prior quarter, according to the analysis released with the U.S. Energy Storage Association. California is the largest market by far. http://bit.ly/3kMKeYq
FedEx is going all-electric. It will invest US$2 billion in a zero-emissions delivery fleet and other carbon-cutting measures by 2040, it said.
FedEx’s entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will be zero-emission electric vehicles by 2040, the delivery giant said Wednesday, as it announced plans to make its global operations carbon-neutral. The company planned to invest US$2 billion into vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration, it said. FedEx would replace existing vehicles over the next 19 years, it said. It said that by 2025, half of all its FedEx Express global pickup and delivery purchases would be electric, rising to 100% of all purchases by 2030. http://bit.ly/3qq1a8d
Volvo says it will only sell electric cars by 2030 and you’ll have to buy them online.
Volvo is the latest car company pledging to go all-in on electric vehicles. The carmaker announced plans Tuesday to phase out the production of gas-powered vehicles, including hybrids, by 2030. It will also move to only sell its fully electric cars online. Volvo is still committed to its previous plan to generate 50% of its global sales from EVs by 2025, and the other half from hybrids. The company said it plans to launch “several” new electric models in coming years. It currently sells one, the XC40 Recharge crossover, and unveiled its second, the C40 Recharge, on Tuesday. http://bit.ly/2MUClng
Xcel proposes US$1.7 billion transmission investment in Colorado to unlock nearly 5.5 GW new renewables.
Xcel has a goal of cutting carbon emissions entirely by mid-century, in line with a number of other utility climate aims, and estimated in its latest earnings that it had reached a milestone of reducing half its emissions below 2005 levels by the end of 2020. On Tuesday, the utility unveiled part of its Colorado plan, which is heavily focused on upgrading transmission in order to maximize renewable energy’s reach on the grid. https://bit.ly/3bjPyiY
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