Last week was mixed despite Nvidia’s stellar earnings and guidance. Nasdaq composite rose 1.4% for the week (fifth straight weekly gain, and an all-time record). S&P 500 index closed marignally higher (after a brief record high Thursday). Dow Jones lost 2.3% last week. Nvidia revenue rose 262% to US$26 billion in the quarter that ended in April as its artificial intelligence chip sales helped the company beat its revenue projection for the quarter by more than 30% for the second quarter in a row. Free cash flow rose by nearly 6 times to US$14.9 billion in the April quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. And the company gave another strong revenue projection for the current fiscal quarter, which ends in July, saying sales would rise about 107% from last year. Anduril is seeking a US$12.5 billion valuation after doubling revenue. SpaceX is weighing a plan to sell shares at US$200 billion valuation. Shares of database provider Snowflake fell 5% on Thursday after the company said a day earlier that revenue growth had “moderated” in April. Microsoft unveils new AI ‘agents’ to automate workplace tasks and AI focused PCs. U.S. approved NASDAQ and NYSE requests to list Ether ETFs. Ether has jumped nearly 30% in recent days on the anticipation of the SEC decision. In Canada, Blackline announced a $20 million bought deal and $10 million concurrent private placement. Sophic Capital client, Kraken Robotics completed a $20 million bought deal equity financing. Sophic Clients, ADM Endeavors, Legend Power Systems, OneSoft Solutions reported quarterly results. ADM’s focus is now on expanding operational capacity from its new facility in 2024. LPS closed on some large deals, has a strengthened balance sheet, and a growing pipeline. OneSoft reported 30%+ y/y revenue growth, and estimates 2024 in the range of $15 – $16 million, 44% to 54% y/y growth.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Blackline (BLN-TSX) announces $20 million bought deal financing and $10 million concurrent private placement.

Blackline Safety entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters (the “Underwriters”) led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. to purchase on a bought deal basis, 4,950,000 common shares of Blackline (“Common Shares”) at a price of $4.05 per Common Share (the “Offering Price”) for gross proceeds to the Company of approximately $20 million (the “Offering”). The Company has granted the Underwriters an over-allotment option exercisable at any time up to 30 days following the closing of the Offering, to purchase up to an additional 742,500 Common Shares at a price per Common Share equal to the Offering Price. In the event that the over-allotment option is exercised in full, the gross proceeds of the Offering will be approximately $23 million. Concurrently with the Offering, the Company intends to complete a non-brokered private placement (the “Concurrent Private Placement”) of approximately $10 million of Common Shares (the “Placement Common Shares”) at the Offering Price to DAK Capital Inc. (“DAK”). The Placement Common Shares will be subject to a statutory hold periods. https://tinyurl.com/yzc8k4d4

Sophic Capital client Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC) completes $20 million bought deal equity financing.

Kraken Robotics closed its previously announced “bought deal” short form prospectus offering (the “Offering”) of common shares of the Company (“Common Shares”). A total of 21,185,300 Common Shares were sold at a price of $0.95 per Common Share for gross proceeds of $20,126,035, inclusive of the full exercise of the over-allotment option by the Underwriters (as defined below). The Offering was led by Cormark Securities Inc. as lead underwriter, on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters including Beacon Securities Limited, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. and Raymond James Ltd. (the “Underwriters”). The Offering is subject to TSX Venture Exchange’s (“TSXV”) final acceptance of requisite regulatory filings. https://bit.ly/44Vqj0j

Sophic Client ADM Endeavors (ADMQ-OTCQB) reports first quarter fiscal 2024 financial results.

Just Right Products Inc., the wholly owned subsidiary of ADM Endeavors (“ADM” or the “Company”) (OTCQB: ADMQ), announced its financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2024 (“Q1 2024”). Revenue in Q1 2024 was US$1,056,138, a 64.9% or US$415,694 increase over Q1 2023. Gross margin improved from 21% in Q1 2023 to 32% in Q1 2024 due to the integration of Innovative Impressions. The operating loss improved by US$95,150, from US$154,313 in Q1 2023 to US$59,163 in Q1 2024. The net loss improved by US$46,461, from US$110,597 in Q1 2023 to US$64,136 in Q1 2024. At March 31, 2024, the Company had cash of US$177,964, access to a line of credit for US$3,000,000 and accounts receivable of US$274,117. The first quarter of 2024 is a testament to our strategic pivot into the government sector, as we build upon the successes of Fiscal 2023 and transform the Company to prepare for accelerated growth,” said ADM Endeavors CEO Marc Johnson. “The first quarter of the year is historically our weakest, and we anticipate the strong sales momentum will continue throughout the year as we secure new contracts and expand existing ones. ADM is also actively pursuing accretive acquisitions to bolster sales, add key personnel and equipment, and broaden our customer base. “With demand already established, our focus now shifts to expanding our operational capacity. The new facility, which is in construction, will serve as a centralized manufacturing hub, fulfillment center, and retail storefront, consolidating operations under one roof to drive margin expansion and better enable us to serve our customers,” added Mr. Johnson. “The facility is expected to be opened towards the end of the year.” As of December 31, 2023, ADM has received Penny Stock Exempt status from the OTC Markets Group. Securities of (OTCQB: ADMQ) are no longer a Penny Stock as defined in SEC Rule 240.3a51-1. https://tinyurl.com/43arx7nf

Sophic client Legend Power Systems Inc. (LPS-TSXV, LPSIF-OTC) reports Q2 F2024 financial results.

Revenue was $124 thousand versus $74 thousand in Q2 F2023, Adjusted EBITDA loss of $811 thousand versus a $1.04 million loss in Q2 F2023, Net loss of $907 thousand versus a $1.19 million loss in Q2 F2023. Cash of $515 thousand, no debt, and $1.9 million in working capital at March 31, 2024. Subsequent to quarter end, LPS received over $750 thousand in deposits on signed sales orders. “We are very excited to have closed on some large deals this quarter, including a double-digit landmark deal with a prominent commercial real estate owner/operator,” said Randy Buchamer, Legend Power Systems CEO. “As we work to close additional deals, our pipeline continues to grow. We continue to manage our cash carefully and expect that with deposits and working capital we are funded into fiscal 2025. that will help with working capital going forward. I look forward to being able to update investors as additional deals are finalized in the coming quarters.” The first unit shipped to the US Federal Government, to the Department of Homeland Security, and is expected to be installed in the next couple months. The Green Proving Ground program for the United States General Services Administration, which operates approximately 1,800 federally owned buildings is proceeding well. A second unit will be commissioned and shipped in the coming months. The Company continues to build upon key milestones achieved in the prior year, the deployment and evaluation schedule continues to progress. Progress continues with the City of New York’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) IDEA program. The City of New York has closed its first round of bids for school projects, which includes the SmartGATE solution in the specification and the award is expected to result in bookings in the near future. The pipeline remains very strong with opportunities into government and commercial real estate including residential, hospitality, big box retail and commercial office. Currently Legend Power Systems is engaged in active sales processes with several of the top firms in the Commercial Real Estate space, with large building portfolios. https://tinyurl.com/2s32s255

Sophic client OneSoft Solutions Inc. (OSS-TSXV, OSSIF-OTC) reports Results for First Quarter ended March 31, 2024.

Revenue this quarter increased by 32% over Q1 Fiscal 2023. Gross profit this quarter increased by 40% over Q1, Fiscal 2023. Gross margin increased to 74.8% from 70.5%. Net loss increase of $77,000 is attributed to increased costs. Adjusted EBITDA, a Non-GAAP measure reconciled to the net loss below, improved by $135,000 in Q1 2024. Cash and cash equivalents increased by $3.2 million to $8.0 million as at March 31, 2024. The Company continued to develop new functionality modules that integrate with the CIM platform, including External Corrosion Management (“ECM”), Crack Management (“CM”), Probabilistic Risk Management (“RM”) and Geohazard Strain Management (“GS”). A product manager for RM was recruited in the quarter and whose employment commenced April 1, 2024. Management believes this addition to staff will accelerate the pace of development of RM. The Company announced commercial availability of its first version of a new Crack Management (“CM”) module, wherein input from initial users will be used to iterate deeper functionality into subsequent versions of CM. Several customers continued to expand their use of CIM by ingesting additional miles and adopting the new functionality offered to them, including the Internal Corrosion (“IC”) module that generated new subscription revenue and associated service revenue in the quarter. Management is optimistic that these modules, after they are completed and fully commercialized, will be embraced by current and future customers. This is based on expressions of interest from customers and input from the formalized steering committee initiated at the October 2023 user group event that is comprised of senior industry personnel whose roles include direct integrity management functions and control of the associated budgets. The Company encountered several administrative delays by prospective customers which delayed the signing of new CIM contracts in Q1 2024, and which Management believes will occur in Fiscal 2024. Fiscal 2024 revenue is estimated to be in the range of $15 million to $16 million, representing a 44% to 54% increase, respectively, over Fiscal 2023 revenue. Revenue in Q1 2024 was below expectation due to delayed signing of new customers in the quarter. Management believes the Q1 2024 revenue gap will be overcome and is confirming its Fiscal 2024 revenue guidance at this time. The Net Loss and Adjusted EBITDA results for Q1 2024 include $344,000 of expenses incurred in Q1 for M&A investigation. Although a portion of these expenses were not contemplated when the Fiscal 2024 guidance was published, Management is not changing its Fiscal 2024 Guidance at this point but will review this after the conclusion of Q2 2024 to determine if any revisions to its Guidance estimates are warranted. https://tinyurl.com/yhejvxkb

CoLab raises $28.6 million Series B to grow its team and incorporate AI.

Newfoundland’s CoLab Software has raised $28.6 million (US$21 million) in Series B funding as it looks to expand its team and incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into its engineering design collaboration and communications platform. The company is also investing some of its Series B funding toward developing its platform, including AI solutions. The all-equity round, which closed at the end of April, was led by Insight Partners with participation from returning investors Y Combinator, Killick Capital, and Pelorus VC as well as Spider Capital and Panache Ventures. The company had grown its annual recurring revenue by a factor of ten since its 2021 Series A round. CoLab previously raised a pre-seed round of $600,000 in 2018 before becoming the first company from Atlantic Canada to be accepted into the Y Combinator accelerator program and immediately raised a $2.7 million seed round after the accelerator’s Demo Day. The startup went on to raise a $21 million (US$17 million) Series A round in October 2021 to further expand its sales team. https://tinyurl.com/42nmdwa3

Bench and Shopify alumni announce $11 million to build “the Stripe for accounting” with Teal.

Led by two accounting software veterans, Vancouver-based Teal has announced approximately $11 million (US$8 million) in seed funding to provide bookkeeping infrastructure to vertical software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses. Teal’s all-equity, all-primary seed round was led by Torch Capital with support from fellow New York-based firms General Advance and Dash Fund, Silicon Valley’s Basis Set Ventures, and undisclosed executives at large tech firms like Service Titan, Plaid, Brex, Unit, and Gusto. https://tinyurl.com/2p92tdmt

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Anduril seeks US$12.5 billion valuation after doubling revenue.

Military defense startup Anduril has had early discussions to raise what would be one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year so far, seeking about US$1.5 billion of fresh funds that would value the company at US$12.5 billion or more, two people who have spoken to the company said. The potential funding round would be an increase from the US$8.5 billion valuation at which investors including Valor Equity Partners and Founders Fund valued the company a year and a half ago. The company, which has raised more than US$2 billion overall since its founding seven years ago, told investors it roughly doubled revenue to about US$500 million last year. The new investment, if completed, would further show how private tech investors are plowing large slugs of funding into a small number of fast-growing, loss-making companies ahead of potential IPOs. Cybersecurity startup Wiz recently raised US$1 billion at a US$12 billion valuation, while enterprise software company Databricks raised US$500 million at a US$43 billion valuation last September. https://tinyurl.com/3ppc43jh

SpaceX weighs plan to sell shares at US$200 billion valuation.

Employees and insiders like investors to sell shares — that may kick off in June, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. The price for the upcoming tender offer hasn’t been decided but SpaceX is weighing offering shares at US$108 to US$110 apiece, said one of the people. Terms aren’t finalized and the size of the tender offer could change depending on interest from both insider sellers and buyers. “We do liquidity rounds for employees and investors every ~6 months,” Musk posted on X, referencing the periodic tender offers. He said SpaceX has no need for additional capital and will buy back shares. A US$200 billion valuation would be a premium to the US$180 billion valuation the company obtained through its most recent tender offer. Already, SpaceX is on par with some of the world’s largest, publicly traded companies by market capitalization. https://archive.ph/ZZ39K

Elon Musk’s xAI secures new backing from Andreessen, Lightspeed, Sequoia and Tribe.

Elon Musk’s xAI has secured new backing from Silicon Valley venture capital giants Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Tribe Capital, as the tech billionaire closes in on a new funding round valuing the artificial intelligence start-up at US$18 billion. The investors have committed to joining xAI’s latest financing in which Musk is seeking to raise close to US$6 billion, according to people familiar with the negotiations. However, one investor involved in the round said the Tesla and X chief remains “a few hundred million dollars” short of that target. The funding deal comes as Musk seeks to secure the financial firepower to catch-up with market leaders OpenAI, Anthropic and Google, all of which have released more powerful generative AI models than xAI. His pitch to investors is that xAI can gain ground thanks to its connection to the other companies he leads — which could provide technology, data and early revenue as a customers of the start-up. The funding round would give xAI a so-called “post-money” valuation of US$24 billion once the new investment is taken into account, and help the start-up develop new versions of its Grok chatbot. A Silicon Valley investor added that much of the funding round had been sourced via banks and special purpose vehicles, including outside of the US. The Financial Times first reported in January that xAI was in talks to raise as much as US$6 billion. It had instructed Morgan Stanley to co-ordinate discussions with potential investors around the world, including sovereign wealth funds, family offices and retail investors in the Middle East and Hong Kong. https://archive.ph/KPgHw

Scale AI raises US$1 billion in round backed by Accel, Amazon and Nvidia.

Scale AI said it has raised US$1 billion at a US$13.8 billion valuation in a new funding round led by venture firm Accel. New investors include the venture arms of several large tech firms, including Amazon, Meta Platforms, Cisco Investments, Intel Capital, ServiceNow Ventures and AMD Ventures. The Information reported in March Accel was in talks to lead the investment. The funding round follows a 150% gain in revenue last year, to US$675 million, as the data labeling startup expanded its business helping generative AI model developers, including OpenAI, fine-tune their large language models. Scale CEO Wang, who co-founded the company in 2016, told Fortune he expects the company’s annual recurring revenue, or the subscription revenue expected over the next 12 months, to hit US$1.4 billion this year and for the company to be profitable this year. https://tinyurl.com/rvh6krkr

Google to invest in Walmart-backed Indian Amazon rival Flipkart.

Google plans to invest in Flipkart, the Indian Amazon rival that’s majority owned by Walmart, Flipkart said in a statement on Friday. Google will invest US$350 million in Flipkart as part of a Walmart-led US$1 billion round valuing the company at US$37 billion, according to Reuters. Google will provide cloud services to Flipkart as part of the deal, Flipkart said, though it did not say whether it would work exclusively with Google. In 2017, Microsoft invested in Flipkart and said it would be its exclusive cloud provider. And in the U.S., Walmart buys cloud services from both Google and Microsoft. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. https://tinyurl.com/pcnkmx7t

Humane is looking for a buyer after the AI Pin’s underwhelming debut.

Humane, the startup behind the poorly-reviewed AI Pin wearable computer, is already hunting for a potential buyer for its business. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which says the company — led by former longtime Apple employees Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno — is “seeking a price of between US$750 million and US$1 billion.” That might be a tough sell after the $699 AI Pin’s debut: the device has been widely panned for its slow responses and a user experience that falls well short of the always-on, wearable AI assistant concept that its founders promised in the run-up to the device’s release. The product was pitched at least partially as a way for people to be more present and reduce their ever-growing dependence on smartphones. Humane was valued at US$850 million by investors in 2023, but that was before its first-ever product was universally criticized by reviewers. There are some novel and clever ideas in there, but the AI Pin’s software is underbaked and too inconsistent, and the hardware has exhibited poor battery life and overheating issues. Humane has pledged to address some of those bugs with firmware updates. Just last week, it rolled out OpenAI’s GPT-4o model to further enhance the device’s smarts. https://tinyurl.com/58a6h4bu

Snowflake’s talks to buy startup Reka for US$1 billion fall apart.

Snowflake’s discussions to acquire the AI startup Reka for US$1 billion have broken down, according to a person told by the company’s leaders, making a deal between the two companies unlikely. Bloomberg last week reported that Snowflake, which has invested in Reka, was considering acquiring the startup, which trains large-scale AI models. The saga illustrates the tough environment faced by generative AI startups, many of which are struggling to generate revenue while incurring high costs as they develop cutting-edge models. Even more well-established AI startups like Anthropic have faced questions about whether their future profits will grow into their high valuations. Reka, which was founded in 2022 by former Google and Meta AI researchers, was most recently valued at US$300 million in a funding round last year.Snowflake’s discussions to acquire the AI startup Reka for US$1 billion have broken down, according to a person told by the company’s leaders, making a deal between the two companies unlikely. Bloomberg last week reported that Snowflake, which has invested in Reka, was considering acquiring the startup, which trains large-scale AI models. The saga illustrates the tough environment faced by generative AI startups, many of which are struggling to generate revenue while incurring high costs as they develop cutting-edge models. Even more well-established AI startups like Anthropic have faced questions about whether their future profits will grow into their high valuations. Reka, which was founded in 2022 by former Google and Meta AI researchers, was most recently valued at US$300 million in a funding round last year. https://tinyurl.com/4yj537ak

Nvidia forecasts strong growth after reaping US$14.9 billion quarterly profit.

Nvidia revenue rose 262% to $26 billion in the quarter that ended in April as its artificial intelligence chip sales helped the company beat its revenue projection for the quarter by more than 30 percentage points for the second quarter in a row. Free cash flow rose by nearly 6 times to US$14.9 billion in the April quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. (It also generated US$14.9 billion in net profit.) And the company gave another strong revenue projection for the current fiscal quarter, which ends in July, saying sales would rise about 107% from last year. The results suggest that neither competitors nor restrictions on its sales to China are getting in Nvidia’s way. Its next-generation AI chips, Blackwell, are due to arrive at the end of the year, which could set up the company for strong sales next year. Demand will exceed Blackwell supply “well into next year,” CFO Colette Kress said. Nvidia also gave investors two additional sweeteners by raising its quarterly cash dividend 150% and saying it would issue a 10-to-1 stock split to make it easier for investors to buy its stock. Shares rose nearly 7% in after-hours trading, after nearly doubling in the past six months. The company’s market capitalization is US$2.3 trillion, behind only Microsoft and Apple. https://tinyurl.com/ypmzeckx

Zoom revenue rises 3%, forecasts slower second quarter.

Zoom said revenue in the first quarter ended in January 31 rose 3% to US$1.14 billion, above its forecasts, but said it expects growth to slow in the current quarter. Free cash flow grew 44% to US$570 million. Zoom’s shares rose 1.5% in after hours trading. They’ve declined 6% so far this year. After riding a pandemic explosion in demand for video conferencing, Zoom’s growth has cooled. The company is betting new business customers and AI tools will drive its growth, though results have been modest so far. Its business focused on customers served by its sales team—as opposed to those who transact on its website—rose 5% and made up 58% of sales. For the second quarter, Zoom expects revenue to be around US$1.15 billion, a less than 1% growth from last year. https://tinyurl.com/4ajzrf3r

Snowflake shares fall 5% as revenue growth slows despite AI push.

Shares of database provider Snowflake fell 5% on Thursday after the company said a day earlier that revenue growth had “moderated” in April. Snowflake’s software revenue grew 34% to US$787 million in the quarter that ended in April, beating its prior projection by five percentage points, but it projected slower software revenue growth of 26% to 27% in the current fiscal quarter. By contrast, revenue at other enterprise and cloud providers such as Microsoft and Google Cloud have accelerated lately. CFO Mike Scarpelli also said profit margins in the current fiscal year would drop by 3 percentage points due to the company’s use of pricey Nvidia AI server chips needed to train and run AI models. Snowflake recently trained its own foundation model, dubbed Arctic, which it published last month. CEO Sridar Ramaswamy told investors that the company’s spending on the model would pay off, stating that Snowflake used a “remarkably small amount of GPU compute” relative to the model’s size and that he is “very comfortable with the pace, the investments and the choices that we are making to make AI effective for Snowflake.” Snowflake pitches the model as a tool customers can use to quickly analyze their data and find insights faster than existing analytics tools. The stock still hasn’t recovered from a 27% drop three months ago, when Ramaswamy ascended to the top job. https://tinyurl.com/4x3tvk86

Hims shares soar after US$199 weight loss shot launch.

Shares of Hims & Hers Health soared more than 30% Monday after the telehealth company announced plans to offer its own versions of popular GLP-1 weight loss shots to compete with brand-name drugs like Wegovy, manufactured by Novo Nordisk, and Zepbound, made by Eli Lilly & Co. The shots, which have exploded in popularity over the past year, have become increasingly difficult for patients to get their hands on, and can be pricey if insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost of the medication. In response to shortages, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed compounding pharmacies to make their own versions of the drugs with similar ingredients. That opened the door for Hims and others, like General Catalyst and FirstMark-backed telehealth rival Ro, to sell the drugs, often for much cheaper than typical pharmacy prices. Hims will sell a monthly supply of its compounded semaglutide for US$199, compared to roughly $1,350 for a month of Wegovy without insurance. Hims began prescribing other drugs off-label to help with weight loss in December and expects weight loss drugs to account for more than US$100 million in revenue by the end of next year, the company said in a press release. https://tinyurl.com/275c4na5

Emerging Technologies

Microsoft unveils new AI ‘agents’ to automate workplace tasks.

Microsoft will soon let its customers use artificial intelligence “agents” that can handle multi-step tasks without human supervision, either for a customer’s internal needs or for the products they offer to their own customers, CEO Satya Nadella said Tuesday at a company event. Tasks include handling customer service questions, booking travel reservations on behalf of customers, and one type of agent can automate the way corporate IT departments process and respond to help desk tickets, the company said. The new features are part of Microsoft’s Copilot Studio, which lets businesses or developers cobble together new capabilities on top of Microsoft’s OpenAI-powered Copilot chatbot. The Information previously reported that Microsoft was planning to unveil new agent-like AI tools. The announcement reflects Microsoft’s efforts to make its AI-powered software more useful to businesses in order to convince customers to move beyond experimentation and begin spending more heavily on the products. Microsoft charges US$200 per month for companies to run a chatbot they’ve built in Copilot Studio, with additional charges once they or their customers exceed 25,000 messages to the bot. Microsoft hasn’t revealed exactly how much revenue its Copilot products have generated, but said last month that AI sales were growing revenue in both its Azure cloud business and the unit that includes its Office software. Other firms including Google, OpenAI, and Meta have said that they’re working on various versions of agents that can automate complex tasks. https://tinyurl.com/yc7vzjt9

Microsoft unveils AI-focused PCs.

Microsoft on Monday announced new conversational artificial intelligence features for Windows PCs and a line of Surface computers that use processors made for running the AI in hopes of spurring revenue in a business that has sagged in recent years among a broader slowdown in PC sales. In the new computers, Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Copilot, which relies on the latest technology from OpenAI, will be able to “see” what’s happening on people’s screens and analyze the applications they’re running. Last week, OpenAI launched a ChatGPT app for Mac computers that aims to perform similar tasks. Microsoft also announced a new Copilot feature, Recall, that will let people ask the chatbot about previous files or windows they had used in past weeks, which Copilot will be able to resurface. For instance, people will be able to describe an image they saw online or a conversation they had in Discord, and Copilot will theoretically be able to find the item in question and link back to it. Google announced a similar feature last week at its annual conference for developers. The AI-focused Windows PCs, which launch next month, will use chips from Qualcomm, AMD and Intel that are optimized for Copilot, Microsoft said. Windows laptop manufacturers including Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, HP and Acer will offer such PCs, and Microsoft will start selling two Microsoft-branded Surface PCs for Copilot. https://tinyurl.com/48yxavpk

Apple’s foldable MacBooks rumored to ship in 2026.

More details have emerged about the MacBook-like foldable Apple has supposedly been working on. A new report from Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates that Apple could ship more than 1 million devices with a 20-inch folding display in 2026, a shift from his previous projection that it would start shipping in 2027. Even though past rumors suggest that Apple will go with a 20-inch display, Kuo says that Apple is also considering an 18.8-inch panel. When closed, the 20-inch version will reportedly look similar to a 14- to 15-inch MacBook, while the 18.8-inch device will look like a 13- to 14-inch MacBook. Apple is working with LG Display to make the folding screen as “crease-free as possible,” Kuo says. The device will reportedly feature Apple’s M5 processor and could go into production as soon as the end of next year. Supply chain analyst Ross Young first drew attention to Apple’s 20-inch foldable in 2022, a rumor Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman later backed up. At the time, Gurman said the iPad / MacBook hybrid could feature a dual-screen display without a physical keyboard and trackpad. https://tinyurl.com/287z7m5m

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

News Corp and OpenAI strike multiyear deal.

News Corp and OpenAI signed a multiyear agreement that will allow the latter to use content from The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and other News Corp media brands in response to questions users submit to OpenAI’s products. With the companies didn’t disclose financial terms of their deal, The Journal reported that it was worth more than US$250 million to News Corp over five years. The agreement represents a shift from News Corp’s sometimes contentious dealings in the past with tech companies over their use of news content. Robert Thomson—CEO of News Corp, the news media empire founded by Rupert Murdoch—was for years a vocal critic of Google, whom he accused of using news content without compensating publishers. Eventually, in 2021, News Corp struck a multiyear agreement with Google. Thomson has hinted in recent months that News Corp preferred to negotiate with AI companies about using News Corp content, rather than sue them. Another prominent news publisher, The New York Times, has chosen the second option, filing a lawsuit against OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft, in December. https://tinyurl.com/y3bhhxe9

Alphabet, Meta Look to strike licensing deals with Hollywood studios.

Alphabet and Meta have offered Hollywood studios tens of millions of dollars to license content so they can train artificial intelligence that generates unique videos based on descriptions of users want to see, Bloomberg reported. AI videos are a major frontier for Alphabet and other AI competitors, and developing them requires analyzing a large amount of existing videos. OpenAI, which has been having similar licensing talks with studios, according to Bloomberg, unveiled a video-generating model called Sora in February but hasn’t released it publicly. Google previewed its own version, Veo, earlier this month. A slew of startups such as Midjourney and Runway also are developing AI video services. In recent months, major AI developers have sought to strike licensing deals with content publishers as concerns have arisen about the way some of the developers used copyrighted data without permission. On Tuesday, OpenAI and News Corp. announced a multiyear deal that could be worth more than $250 million over five years to News Corp., the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, other publishers such as the New York Times have sued OpenAI over how it allegedly used its content to help power answers in ChatGPT. https://tinyurl.com/2fyz59mn

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Scarlett Johansson says she hired lawyers over OpenAI voice feature.

Scarlett Johansson said Monday that OpenAI agreed to disable an artificial intelligence-generated voice in ChatGPT that sounded “eerily similar” to her own after the actress’ lawyers contacted the company about the resemblance, according to a statement provided to Variety. Johansson said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had twice asked her to voice the system, including two days before OpenAI’s demonstration of a real-time voice chat feature last week. She declined the first request in September for “personal reasons” but didn’t respond to the second prior to the demo, she said. After OpenAI showed off its voice assistant last Monday, and her friends and the public noted the similarities between the “Sky” voice and her own, she asked her lawyers to send two letters to OpenAI detailing what happened. The actress’ allegations provide more details to the events that led up to OpenAI’s decision early Monday to remove the “Sky” voice. In a blog post, OpenAI said it hired an actor to produce the ChatGPT voices and claimed “Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.” Altman has said publicly that the company took inspiration from “Her,” the 2013 movie Johansson voiced, in its development of an AI assistant. He also teased the new feature in a post on X the day before the Monday event, with one word: “her.” https://tinyurl.com/3jwtw2wa

Meta creates group to advise on AI products.

Meta Platforms on Wednesday said it had created an advisory group of four outside tech executives to consult with its leaders about the company’s artificial intelligence technology and products. The members of the group, called the Meta Advisory Group, are: Stripe CEO Patrick Collison; former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman; Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke and Charlie Songhurst, an investor and former executive at Microsoft. A Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg the group would offer “insights and recommendations on technological advancements, innovation and strategic growth opportunities.” None of the members of the group will be paid, the spokesperson told Bloomberg. The members are not elected by Meta’s shareholders and do not have a fiduciary duty to the company, the spokesperson said. https://tinyurl.com/43phhmub

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Ether jumps on optimism over ETF approval odds.

Ether jumped 15% to more than US$3,500 Monday, driven by market optimism that the Securities and Exchange Commission could approve one or more exchange-traded funds that invest directly in the second-largest crypto token. The surge came after Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Eric Balchunas and James Seyffart raised their estimated odds of a spot Ether ETF approval this week to 75% from 25%. CoinDesk reported that the SEC had asked stock exchanges to update their so-called 19b-4 filings on an accelerated basis. Those filings are required for the exchanges to list the ETFs. Still, an approval is not guaranteed. The SEC will need to approve both the 19b-4 filing by exchanges and the S-1 filing by issuers before the products can officially launch. The SEC is set to make a decision on the 19b-4 filing for VanEck’s application on May 23, the first among prospective issuers. https://tinyurl.com/24vkjnrh

U.S. approves NASDAQ, NYSE requests to list Ether ETFs.

In a victory for the crypto industry, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved requests from Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Board Options Exchange to list exchange-traded funds tied to the price of ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency. ETFs tied to bitcoin, the top cryptocurrency, began trading in January. The approval is a win for eight proposed issuers of the spot ether ETFs, including BlackRock, Fidelity, and Grayscale. Ether rose 1.7% to $3,800 on Thursday but has jumped nearly 30% in recent days on the anticipation of the SEC decision. Shares of Coinbase, a key service provider for most of the proposed ether ETFs, also rose Thursday in after-market trading. The SEC decision was the first step in a two-part process before any ether ETF can launch. The SEC will also need to greenlight prospectus filings from the ETF issuers that disclose information and risks for investors. The launch of ether ETFs, if ultimately approved, could still take weeks or months. https://tinyurl.com/49svu3ce


TSMC says ASML’s most-advanced chip machines are too expensive.

ASML Holding NV’s new advanced chip machines have a daunting price tag, according to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., one of the Dutch company’s biggest clients. “The cost is very high,” TSMC Senior Vice President Kevin Zhang said at a technology symposium in Amsterdam on Tuesday, referring to ASML’s latest system known as high-NA extreme ultraviolet. “I like the high-NA EUV’s capability, but I don’t like the sticker price.” ASML’s new machine can imprint semiconductors with lines that are just 8 nanometers thick — 1.7 times smaller than the previous generation. The machines costs €350 million (US$380 million) apiece and weigh as much as two Airbus A320s. ASML is the only company that produces equipment needed to make the most sophisticated semiconductors, and demand for its products is a bellwether for the industry’s health. Intel Corp. has already placed orders for the latest high-NA EUV machine and got the first one shipped to a factory in Oregon in late December. But it’s not yet clear when TSMC will start buying the equipment. https://archive.ph/1bFFC

ASML and TSMC can disable chip machines if China invades Taiwan.

Firms can remotely shut off advanced EUV chip-making machines US officials concerned over risk of conflict to chip industry. ASML Holding NV and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. have ways to disable the world’s most sophisticated chipmaking machines in the event that China invades Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter. Officials from the US government have privately expressed concerns to both their Dutch and Taiwanese counterparts about what happens if Chinese aggression escalates into an attack on the island responsible for producing the vast majority of the world’s advanced semiconductors, two of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity. https://tinyurl.com/cv42v2py

Secret meeting between Apple and TSMC reported, possibly to reserve all 2nm capacity.

A new report says that there was a “secret meeting” between Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams and the company’s exclusive chipmaker TSMC. It’s being speculated that the meeting may have been to agree a deal for Apple to reserve all of TSMC’s 2nm capacity, in the same way it reportedly did with 3nm tech. TSMC has long been Apple’s exclusive chipmaker for A-series and M-series processors because the Taiwanese company has a significant global lead in ever smaller processes. Apple reportedly booked 100% of TSMC’s 3nm chipmaking capacity for the A17 Pro chip used in the iPhone 15 Pro models, the M3 chips used in the latest Macs, and the M4 chip used in the new iPad Pro. That deal ensured that Apple would have sufficient capacity to keep up with demand for its own products, while also locking out rivals who might aim to try to catch up with its own processors. Secret meeting may have been about 2nm exclusivity. Market intelligence company TrendForce cites a local report of Apple COO Jeff Williams visiting Taiwan to meet with TSMC’s president. Williams recently made a visit to TSMC, and was personally received by TSMC’s President, C.C. Wei, according a report by Economic Daily News. The low-profile visit was made to secure TSMC’s advanced manufacturing capacity, potentially 2nm process, booked for Apple’s in-house AI-chips, according to the report. It would make perfect sense for Apple to again seek exclusivity on TSMC’s latest processes. In addition to the chips needed for consumer products, Apple is believed to be developing a new “AI chip” for data center servers as part of the iOS 18 launch later this year. This is expected to help power a much more powerful version of Siri, boosted by ChatGPT tech provided through a deal with OpenAI. While Apple is aiming to be able to run its own LLM on-device, it’s likely that this would have limited capabilities, and that remote processing power would be needed for the full set of AI features expected to be announced next month. https://tinyurl.com/yzay8u6d


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