The New York Times published an interesting piece about Toronto’s booming tech sector last week. Toronto is now the third-largest tech hub in North America. It is home to more tech workers than Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., trailing only New York and Silicon Valley, according to CBRE, a real estate company that tracks tech hiring. Interestingly, last week, we counted ~$150 million of activity in the Canadian VC ecosystem, against a backdrop of high public market volatility. SoftBank seeking US$60 billion valuation for Arm, which would imply a far higher multiple of Arm’s revenue and profits than is common in the chip sector. GoTo Group, an Indonesian startup giant, raised about US$1.1 billion in one of the world’s largest initial public offerings announced since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LP has struck a deal to buy Anaplan Inc. for $10.7 billion, the latest in a recent string of big leveraged buyouts. Instacart Inc., a pandemic darling that’s now facing decelerating growth, is slashing its valuation by almost 40% to about US$24 billion, a move it says will help the company attract talent and adapt to market conditions. Uber stock gains after company strikes partnership with NYC taxis. Nikola stock price soars after it begins production on electric truck. Adobe slumps 11% as the software maker says halting sales in Russia will reduce yearly revenue. Shares of Okta dropped more than 7% Tuesday following reports of a data breach. Famed short-seller Jim Chanos revealed he’s betting against crypto exchange Coinbase. “Coinbase is what we would call a bubble stock,” he told CNBC’s Scott Waper on Friday. Late Thursday night in Brussels European lawmakers reached a tentative agreement after nearly two years of negotiations on rules restricting certain business practices of Google, Apple, Meta Platforms, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies. Nvidia is exploring using Intel’s manufacturing services.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Canadian Armed Forces veteran, Shopify co-founder team up for $50 million military tech fund.
With the assertion that “building companies is a special operation,” One9 Venture Partners has announced the launch of its Special Mission Fund I. The fund is focused on national security and infrastructure and will be co-led by general partners Glenn Cowan and Daniel Weinand. Cowan is a retired squadron commander in Canada’s Joint Task Force 2 while Weinand is a co-founder of Shopify. Cowan is the founder and CEO of One9, under which the venture fund operates – Cowan created One9 as a way to invest in, support, and create defence technologies. https://bit.ly/3utqePF
FinTech startup Reach secures $30 million in equity and debt.
FinTech startup Reach has raised $30 million led by Vistara Growth. Reach confirmed the deal to BetaKit after it was first reported by The Globe and Mail. According to the publication, the round includes equity and debt. The round saw participation from Canadian oil and gas entrepreneurs Doug Hunter (through Bluesky Equities) and Del Mondor (through Tribune Capital), and the United States venture capital firm Rising Tide. https://bit.ly/36ncGNP
MaxSold raises $16.1 million to expand online auctioning platform.
Kingston-based MaxSold secured $11.1 million in a Series B investment round led by new investor Framework Venture Partners with participation from existing investor Canadian Business Growth Fund. MaxSold also received $5 million in growth capital from Silicon Valley Bank. Founded in 2010, MaxSold offers an online platform for auctioning a large volume of content quickly, for the purposes of downsizing, decluttering, estate sales, or excess inventory. Its platform lets users photograph and catalogue items, post the auction online, conduct digital marketing, schedule buyers on pickup day, and collect payments. https://bit.ly/3JMovLF
Bootstrapped since 2008, Helcim raises $16 million for Stripe-style payment solution.
After bootstrapping for years, and pivoting two years ago, FinTech startup Helcim has raised $16 million CAD in what it’s referring to as a Series A round. Nic Beique, Helcim’s CEO and founder, acknowledged that going from bootstrapped to Series A is rare. “You do angel, pre-seed, seed, and so on,” Beique told BetaKit. “For us, it’s from bootstrapped straight to Series A.” https://bit.ly/3Dd2Mu3
CarbiCrete secures $15 million to scale carbon removal tech. Montréal-based cleantech firm CarbiCrete has raised $15 million in what the company classifies as the first close of its Series A round. https://bit.ly/35aFrfS
IntelliCulture closes $1.7 million Emmertech-led seed round to scale farm management platform. Kitchener-Waterloo farm management software startup IntelliCulture has secured $1.7 million in seed financing led by AgTech-focused Saskatchewan-based investor Emmertech. The all-equity March round also drew participation from London, Ontario’s 519 Growth Fund, and a group of undisclosed strategic investors and industry experts that IntelliCulture founder and CEO Cole Powers described as technology and SaaS experts with a lot of product development experience. https://bit.ly/3JG8OG5
RoofBundle secures $500,000, support from construction players to fuel launch of roofing software solution.
RoofBundle, a Winnipeg-based startup, has secured $500,000 in pre-seed funding and the support of other construction players to do just that. https://bit.ly/3umftyE
Toronto’s tech industry Is quietly booming. As the tech industry continues to expand and communities all over the world compete for tech jobs outside Silicon Valley, many executives, investors and entrepreneurs are promoting warm climes like Austin and Miami as the next big tech hubs. But they are tiny tech communities compared with the new hub growing in the cool air along the shore of Lake Ontario. Thanks to years of investment from local universities, government agencies and business leaders and Canada’s liberal immigration policies, Toronto is now the third-largest tech hub in North America. It is home to more tech workers than Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., trailing only New York and Silicon Valley, according to CBRE, a real estate company that tracks tech hiring. Toronto’s tech work force is also growing at a faster clip than any hub in the United States. And unlike many cities, Toronto is likely to have the resources needed to sustain the trend. It is the fourth-largest city in North America — with about three million people in the city and more than six million in the metro area — behind only Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles, and its roots in technology run deep. In Toronto, U.S.-based companies can also speed the arrival of new tech talent from other countries — a talent stream that has long been the lifeblood of the American tech industry. As the U.S. immigration system slowed and sputtered under the Trump administration, Canada introduced programs intended to bring skilled workers into a country that is already unusually diverse. Nearly 50 percent of Toronto’s residents were born outside the country, according to the city. In and around Toronto, local institutions are intent on feeding the tech ecosystem. Ontario recently passed a law that explicitly bars companies from enforcing noncompete clauses in employment contracts, encouraging employees to found their own start-ups. Backed by a $100 million donation from local business leaders, the University of Toronto is building a complex that will house A.I. and biotech companies. https://nyti.ms/3Ld2rKD
Walmart Canada investing $118 million to build new fulfillment centre in Calgary area.
Walmart Canada is investing more than $118 million to build a new high-tech sortable fulfillment centre in Rocky View County, Alberta, located just outside of Calgary. The investment is part of the retailer’s plan to expand, revolutionize and transform its best-in-class supply chain network while increasing its e-commerce capabilities to better serve Walmart customers. It is part of Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion investment to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient for Walmart customers as the retailer plans to invest for continued growth in Alberta and across Canada. https://bit.ly/36xoaOB
Visa Canada and DoorDash deliver real-time payments via Stripe.
Visa announced a new offering with DoorDash, a leading last-mile logistics platform, to help enable faster payouts to eligible Dashers across Canada. The new feature, called DoorDash Fast Pay, is facilitated by Stripe’s Instant Payouts product, made available through Stripe’s financial institution partner and powered by Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time1 push payments platform. https://bit.ly/3Ni6iIl
Apple Maps expands detailed 3D buildings to Canada.
Apple on Thursday announced that it is bringing the new Apple Maps experience with detailed 3D buildings and enhanced navigation to Canada. The new maps, which were built from scratch, will be available in selected Canadian cities. https://bit.ly/3D9Q7YS
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
SoftBank seeking US$60 billion valuation for Arm.
SoftBank is seeking a US$60 billion valuation as it prepares to take Arm Ltd public after its deal to sell the British chip technology firm to Nvidia Corp fell apart last month, Bloomberg reported. The valuation would be nearly double the US$32 billion that SoftBank paid for Arm in 2016 when it took the publicly traded firm private and well above the US$40 billion that Nvidia had initially offered, an amount that eventually ballooned as Nvidia’s stock price rose. Bloomberg also reported that Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Mizuho Financial Group were preparing to provide a loan to Arm ahead of its IPO and could have lead roles in the return to public markets. Bloomberg had previously reported that SoftBank was insisting that banks that wanted to lead the IPO provide a margin loan to Arm, which would have the effect of incentivizing the banks to make good on their valuation promises to SoftBank. A US$60 billion valuation would be a far higher multiple of Arm’s revenue and profits than is common in the chip sector. https://bit.ly/3LdtBAU
GoTo raises about US$1.1 billion in IPO priced near mid-range.
GoTo Group, an Indonesian startup giant, raised about US$1.1 billion in one of the world’s largest initial public offerings announced since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, pricing the deal near the middle of the range. https://bloom.bg/3IEP3gO
Israeli tech company Hub Security going public on Nasdaq via SPAC merger.
Israel-based Hub Cyber Security said Wednesday it agreed to be acquired by special purpose acquisition company Mount Rainier Acquisition Corp. at an enterprise value of US$1.28 billion. When the transaction closes as expected in the third quarter, the company will operate under the name Hub Security under the ticker “HUBC” for trading on the Nasdaq. https://on.mktw.net/3LjRoPX
Alphabet’s quantum tech group Sandbox spins off into an independent company.
Sandbox, Alphabet’s quantum technology group, is spinning off into an independent company, it announced Tuesday. Alphabet has been relatively quiet about Sandbox, which was launched in 2016 by Jack Hidary. It operated as a separate group outside of Alphabet’s well-known moonshots division, X, which has spun off a handful of its companies into its “other bets” segment. https://cnb.cx/3iHW4Tb
Thoma Bravo to Buy Anaplan for US$10.7 billion.
Private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LP has struck a deal to buy Anaplan Inc. for $10.7 billion, the latest in a recent string of big leveraged buyouts. Under the terms of the deal, which was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, Anaplan shareholders are to receive US$66 a share in cash, the company said. Anaplan Chief Executive Frank Calderoni plans to continue to lead the company. https://on.wsj.com/3iI0kC9
Instacart slashes its valuation by almost 40% to US$24 billion.
Instacart Inc., a pandemic darling that’s now facing decelerating growth, is slashing its valuation by almost 40% to about US$24 billion, a move it says will help the company attract talent and adapt to market conditions. https://bloom.bg/3qAWpLS
Uber stock gains after company strikes partnership with NYC taxis.
Shares of Uber Technologies Inc. are up more than 5% in premarket trading Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company has struck a deal to list all New York City taxis on its app. https://bit.ly/3JArYNr
Nikola stock price soars after it begins production on electric truck.
Nikola jumped 17% on Thursday after the embattled auto maker said it started production of its electric semi-trucks. The Nikola Tre is a semi-truck that is estimated to have up to 350 miles in range per charge. The company said it expects to build 300-500 of the electric semi-trucks in 2022. https://bit.ly/3DcoHBA
Adobe slumps 11% as the software maker says halting sales in Russia will reduce yearly revenue.
Adobe sees yearly revenue declining by $75 million after halting sales in Russia and Belarus. The company continues to provide digital media services in Ukraine. https://bit.ly/3qCe4Ty
Okta plunges after hackers claim cyberattack that puts thousands of the company’s business customers at risk.
Shares of Okta dropped more than 7% Tuesday following reports of a data breach. A group called LAPSUS$ posted what it claimed to be photos of Okta’s internal servers. Okta’s CEO took to Twitter and said there was no evidence of any ongoing malicious activity. Okta stock dropped Tuesday after a group of hackers claimed an illegal data breach at the digital authentication company. https://bit.ly/36P5ppy
Veteran fund manager Jim Chanos is shorting ‘bubble stock’ Coinbase.
Famed short-seller Jim Chanos revealed he’s betting against crypto exchange Coinbase. “Coinbase is what we would call a bubble stock,” he told CNBC’s Scott Waper on Friday. The veteran fund manager doesn’t expect Coinbase to turn a profit this year. Short-seller Jim Chanos revealed he’s betting against Coinbase, and suggested the crypto exchange is earning more than it should. https://bit.ly/36KaPCo
Tencent reports slowest revenue growth as ad sales drop.
Chinese social network and video game giant Tencent reported an 8% increase in revenue for the fourth quarter, its slowest-ever quarterly growth as a public company. The results highlight the tough environment for Chinese internet companies amid Beijing’s continued regulatory crackdown on the sector and the country’s economic slowdown. Tencent’s advertising revenue declined 13%. Demand was weak from advertisers in categories such as education, videogames and internet services, after those sectors got hit hard by Beijing’s regulatory crackdown. Revenue from games in China, which account for more than 20% of Tencent’s total revenue, grew only 1% in the quarter due in part to new restrictions on minors’ gameplay time in accordance with new regulations. One bright spot was the overseas game business, which delivered a 34% rise in revenue. More regulations and scrutiny will be the “new norm,” not just in China but around the world, said Tencent President Martin Lau during a conference call with reporters. Asked about whether Tencent is in talks with Chinese authorities about potential changes to its fintech business including the WeChat Pay digital payment service, Lau said that Tencent has been continuously exploring options including the establishment of a financial holding company. “The fundamental starting point is that we need to be completely compliant” with regulations, he said. https://bit.ly/35k0IE8
Alibaba increases buyback program to US$25 billion.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. announced late Monday that it was upsizing its share-buyback program. The Chinese e-commerce giant is now authorized to repurchase up to US$25 billion in shares, whereas the prior authorization was for $15 billion. The program will be effective for a two-year period that ends in March 2024. https://on.mktw.net/3tDysFG
Apple planning new hardware subscription service for iPhone and iPad.
Apple is planning a major change for how customers buy hardware products, starting as soon as later this year with the iPhone. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is planning to let users buy iPhone and iPad hardware “similar to paying a monthly app fee.” https://bit.ly/36Ms9GM
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Apple-owned Shazam updated with in-depth concert and tour information.
Apple-owned Shazam is rolling out a handful of new features centered around concerts. With the latest version of the Shazam app for iOS, users can “explore upcoming live music shows” thanks to integration with Bandsintown. Apple and Shazam also tout that this new feature will help increase exposure for artists. With Bandsintown integration, Shazam will now show you concert information and ticket information when you search for a song or Shazam a song. https://bit.ly/3IFe1MZ
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
EU lawmakers reach deal on sweeping new rules to rein in tech giants.
Late Thursday night in Brussels European lawmakers reached a tentative agreement after nearly two years of negotiations on rules restricting certain business practices of Google, Apple, Meta Platforms, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies. After an eight hour negotiating session on Thursday EU officials agreed on a framework for rules to prevent the largest internet companies from abusing their positions in online markets. Apple and Google would be forced to allow competing app stores and payment systems on their devices, and Amazon would face limitations on how it competes against third-party retailers on its marketplace. The rules would target companies with a market cap over US$83 billion or around US$8.2 billion in annual revenue. The law, known as the Digital Markets Act, must still be finalized and likely won’t take effect until next year. Still, it is one of the most aggressive actions taken to date in the global battle to rein in the tech giants, and is being passed despite fierce opposition from the companies. Lawmakers hope the law will eliminate the need for lengthy, resource intensive investigations by putting the onus on the companies to prove their conduct is legal. The EU law will also serve as a model for other countries including the U.S., UK, and Australia which are also working to enact similar rules. A half dozen bills in the U.S. alone are designed specifically to curtail the power of Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft. https://bit.ly/35frddH
Okta denies that hacking group breached its systems as Microsoft confirms limited breach.
A hacking group called Lapsus$ late Monday announced it had broken into the systems of identity and access management software provider Okta two months ago, circulating screenshots showing purported activity from an administrator’s account. But in a subsequent blog post, Okta’s Chief Security Officer David Bradbury said its service “has not been breached and remains fully operational.” A cybersecurity forensics firm Okta hired in January found that an attacker did gain access to a third-party support engineer’s laptop from Jan. 16-22, but that machine didn’t have access to Okta’s customer database, said Bradbury. A successful breach of Okta, which thousands of large companies and government agencies use to manage access to their applications and data, could have far-reaching and devastating effects. Already, some software firms that have integrated their products with Okta’s, such as Cloudflare, have clarified that their systems weren’t breached. The big question—and one that Bradbury and Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon are certain to face in the coming weeks—is why the company didn’t disclose the incident earlier. Shares of Okta dipped 10% in the wake of the news. Microsoft Corp. said the same hacking group has gotten “limited access” to its system. https://bit.ly/3uwOLTZ
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
BlackRock’s Larry Fink says digital currencies could get a boost from Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine.
Digital currencies could get a boost from Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said. “The war will prompt countries to re-evaluate their currency dependencies,” he wrote in a letter on Thursday. BlackRock is studying digital currencies and stablecoins because of client interest, he said. https://bit.ly/37PBP3R
El Salvador postpones bitcoin bond issue, expects better conditions.
El Salvador postponed an unprecedented issue of a bitcoin-backed bond planned for last week, as the government decided to wait for favorable conditions in the financial market, Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya said on Tuesday. https://reut.rs/3uwSCjM
Crypto isn’t decentralized.
It’s actually run by a handful of big wigs exploiting low-paid workers, says long-time internet academic. The world of crypto relies on central entities and low-paid workers, one critic says. The market has a “colonialist mindset” focused on planting flags and making money. Crypto aims to be decentralized, but the market is already becoming “recentralized.” Crypto may not be the decentralized, equal-investment opportunity people think it is, according to some critics. https://bit.ly/36n4Svy
Nvidia is exploring using Intel’s manufacturing services.
Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang on Tuesday said the company is exploring using chip manufacturing services from Intel Corp, one of Nvidia’s biggest rivals. Nvidia has taken the crown from Intel as the biggest American chip company. But unlike Intel, Nvidia does not make its own chips – it sources them from manufacturing partners like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung. Intel, for its part, is trying to lure in other chip companies to use its factories as part of its turnaround plan. At a press conference Tuesday, Huang said Nvidia is looking to expand its base of manufacturing partners and is in talks with Intel. “They’re interested in us using their foundry. We’re interested in exploring it,” Huang said. He cautioned, however, that the talks could take a long time to develop into a manufacturing partnership. “It’s not just about desire. We have to align technology. The business models have to be aligned. Capacities have to be aligned,” Huang said. “We’re not buying milk here. This is really about integration of supply chains.” For decades, Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, were mostly complementary to Intel’s central processing units, or CPUs. They were usually paired in gaming computers or artificial intelligence servers. But now the two compete directly, with Intel getting into the GPU market and Nvidia entering the CPU market. Many chip industry analysts have wondered whether a fierce rival like Nvidia would ever trust Intel’s factories with intimate knowledge of its chip designs. Huang dismissed those concerns on Tuesday, saying the companies already share copious information to make their chips work together. “Intel has known our secrets for years. AMD has known our secrets for years. We are sophisticated and mature enough to realize that we have to collaborate,” Huang said. “It turns out that paranoia is just paranoia. It turns out that people want to win, but no one is out to get you.” https://bit.ly/3uvDSls
Chipmakers face two-year shortage of critical equipment.
Chipmakers’ multibillion-dollar expansion plans will be constrained by a shortage of critical equipment over the next two years as the supply chain struggles to step up production, according to one of the industry’s most important suppliers. The warning comes from Peter Wennink, chief executive of ASML, which dominates the global market for the lithography machines used to make advanced semiconductors. https://on.ft.com/3qC5hky
USPS is doubling its initial order of electric mail delivery trucks.
The United States Postal Service announced its initial order of 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles, 10,019 of which will be battery-electric vehicles. It’s a notable number considering the agency’s resistance to calls for increasing the number of EVs in its future delivery fleet. https://bit.ly/3L6UQxc
Stellantis plans to build an EV battery plant in the US.
Stellantis, the parent company of Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler, plans to build an electric vehicle battery factory in the US. The news came out of an announcement Wednesday that the automaker would invest $4.1 billion on a new battery facility in Canada, along with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution. https://bit.ly/3uwXXaO
Maserati jumps into luxury EV market with all-electric Grecale compact SUV.
Italian luxury automaker Maserati unveiled the Grecale, a brand-new compact SUV that will come in a range of powertrains, including an all-electric version in 2023. It will be the tip of the spear in Maserati’s plan to become an EV-only brand by 2030. Last week, Maserati announced plans to launch a range of EVs bearing the brand name Folgore, which is Italian for “lightning.” One of the first vehicles to feature that nameplate will be the Grecale, a crossover SUV slotting underneath the mid-size Levante. https://bit.ly/3JNoBTC
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