Last week saw a few high profile exits and an IPO delay in Canada. Ecobee is being acquired by US-based Generac for US$770 million. Quebec City-based artificial intelligence retail tech startup, Coveo filed to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker ‘CVO’. Montréal-based Sharethrough has postponed its IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Sophic Client, GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, Sophic Client) received mention in the Washington Post, referencing streamer TimTheTatman joining its Complexity unit. In the USA, Rivian plans to sell a portion of its US$60 billion IPO directly to SoFi users. Cloud software firm HashiCorp filed to go public and Cloud-based expense management software maker Expensify plans to raise up to US$242.5 million in an IPO. Zillow now looks to sell 7,000 homes for US$2.8 billion, and Cathie Wood’s Ark sold 3.9 million shares of Zillow on Wednesday as the company’s exit from home-flipping sent shares plunging. The US House passed a more than US$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday. The Senate approved the revamp of transportation, utilities and broadband in August. Lastly, the global chip shortage ‘is far from over’ as wait times get longer.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Ecobee to be acquired by US-based Generac for US$770 million.

Wisconsin-based Generac Holdings is acquiring Toronto smart thermostat startup Ecobee for up to $770 million USD, contingent on the achievement of certain performance targets. Generac is acquiring Ecobee to beef up its position in the connected smart home energy consumer market. At closing and subject to customary adjustments, Generac will pay US$200 million in cash along with US$450 million in common stock to the current equity holders of Ecobee. Additionally, upon achievement of certain performance targets between closing and June 30, 2023, the sellers may receive up to US$120 million in additional shares of Generac common stock. The acquisition is expected to close during the fourth quarter, after which Ecobee will continue to operate as a standalone subsidiary of Generac. https://bit.ly/3GGP6c7

Coveo latest Canadian tech company to file for TSX IPO.

Quebec City-based artificial intelligence retail tech startup Coveo has filed to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker ‘CVO’. The underwriters for the offering are BMO Nesbitt Burns., Merrill Lynch Canada Inc., RBC Dominion Securities Inc., UBS Securities Canada., Canaccord Genuity Corp., Oppenheimer & Co., National Bank Financial Inc., Scotia Capital., TD Securities., and Samuel A. Ramirez & Company Inc. Launched in 2004, the startup initially offered SaaS solutions in the advanced search engines market. Leveraging AI and machine learning, Coveo is a provider of e-commerce products that use data to create personalized experiences for the consumer. https://bit.ly/3nZSfLp 

Sharethrough postpones TSX debut amid Canadian tech IPO market struggles.

Montréal-based Sharethrough has postponed its initial public offering (IPO) on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The ad exchange company first filed its prospectus in October with an offering that consists of between 3.9 million and 5 million common shares priced within the range of $15 and $19. If the over-allotment option was exercised in full, Sharethrough had the opportunity to collect about $86.25 million in gross proceeds. “We have the luxury to be able to say ‘no’ to go into the public now and be able to evaluate when will be the right time we’re ready to go.” JF Cote, co-founder and CEO of Sharethrough, said the decision came from “adverse and challenging current market conditions, especially for technology companies.” “We just need the right window,” he said in an interview. “Unfortunately, the window right now is not a good time to take our boat to the open sea.” Cote cited the decision as entirely related to a difficult moment in the public market, citing the recent disappointing debuts of D2L and Q4. The results did not deter Coveo, which this week filed for its own TSX debut. The Québec-City based company operates in a different market from the likes of D2L, Q4, and E Automotive, offering SaaS solutions for the advanced search engines market. It also remains to be seen how the Canadian tech IPO results will affect Hootsuite, which sources have indicated to BetaKit plans to file to go public before the end of the year. https://bit.ly/3BLAEMl

Tiger Global the latest suitor of corporate card startup Float in new $37 million Series A.

Less than six months after securing its seed round, Float’s corporate card and spending management solution has attracted hundreds of new customers and $37 million (US$30 million) from a notable group of investors. Hyper-aggressive United States-based investor Tiger Global led the Series A round, which also saw participation from Float’s existing investors. That list includes Golden Ventures, Susa Ventures, Michael Hyatt, Tiny Capital, Garage Capital, A-Star, and Global Founders Capital. The all-equity financing round brings Float’s total funding to date to around $42 million. While the valuation has not been disclosed, an investor called its size “significant” (Tiger Global has been known to “move quicker, pay higher prices and forgo board seats” with its investments). https://bit.ly/3k4BTjA 

Owl.co raises $30 million in series B to scale insurance claim monitoring solution.

Vancouver-based insurance tech startup Owl.co has raised $30 million in its Series B funding round led by Cota Capital. Launched in 2018, Owl has developed an AI-enabled end-to-end encrypted platform that helps banks and insurance companies handle critical processes around customer data collection. The startup claims that their tech finds five times more fraudulent cases than other solutions. Owl intends to use the $30 million to scale its current offerings and expand its full-time staff in the United States and Canada by 20 percent before the end of the year. https://bit.ly/2Yki1Bj

 Smart thermostat startup Mysa raises $20.3 million.

Newfoundland-based smart thermostat tech company Mysa has raised $20.3 million in its all-equity Series B funding led by Cycle Capital. A brainchild of Joshua and Zachary Green, Mysa was spun out of Dalhousie University from the former’s final year of mechanical engineering studies in 2016. Initially naming the company Empowered Homes, the pair began developing Mysa as a smart thermostat to work with electric heaters such as baseboards, fan-forced heaters, and in-floor heaters. Homeowners can efficiently adjust the heating and cooling systems in their houses through the Mysa app, allowing them to reduce energy consumption and electricity bill costs. https://bit.ly/3nU9IEY

GHGSat receives $20 million from SDTC to bolster satellite technology.

Montreal-based global emissions company GHGSat has received a $20 million investment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), making it the third time the government has committed capital to the company. The announcement follows a federal government partnership with GHGSat, where the entities pledged to contribute the first high-resolution dataset to the International Methane Observatory. GHGSat said that they will share their archive, as well as provide new information collected by satellites to the hub. https://bit.ly/3k5bHW0 

Uvaro lands $14.8 million to expand tech sales training program.

Uvaro Tech Sales Training School has closed a US$12 million ($14.8 million) Series A funding round. Global multi-stage technology investment firm White Star Capital led the round, which attracted interest from a number of investors. Amplify, BDC Capital, Real Ventures, XFund, WTI, and executives from Oracle and Wave also participated. Garage Capital, where Uvaro co-founder Donna Litt is a venture partner, also invested. Christopher Bourke from White Star will join Uvaro’s board. The round closed on September 30. Uvaro previously raised $3.5 million in angel and seed rounds, making the startup’s total funding to date $15.5 million. https://bit.ly/3BCL40E

Rebranded Shakudo secures $4.2 million to help data science teams get AI solutions to market.

Toronto-based software startup Shakudo has rebranded from DevSentient and raised $4.2 million (US$3.4 million) in seed funding to expand the reach of its artificial intelligence (AI) platform for data science and machine learning (ML) teams. The startup, which was founded by a group of AI experts with experience building and working on AI teams at Georgian Partners, Borealis AI, and Bank of Montreal (BMO), has seen some strong early traction since rolling out its offering in January. https://bit.ly/3mI0M6z 

Trufan rewards consumers for web data, lands $2 million.

Trufan’s new web browser extension dubbed Surf has gained the audience analytics startup another $2 million in a seed extension round. The funds will support the growth of the startup’s recently launched, free browser extension: Surf for consumers. The extension allows users to passively earn points for their everyday browsing, and then redeem those points for items and gift cards in the extensive Surf marketplace. To date, Trufan has raised $6.3 million. https://bit.ly/3wgqPos 

Navisun acquired by OMERS Infrastructure.

OMERS Infrastructure signed an agreement with a fund managed by Ares Management Corporation to acquire 100% of Navisun LLC, an independent distributed generation solar power producer. Navisun acquires, co-develops, constructs, finances, owns and operates distributed and small utility-scale solar and storage projects throughout the United States. https://bit.ly/3nXlcYv

Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, Sophic Client) — Interesting piece referencing streamer TimTheTatman joining GameSquare’s Complexity in the Washington Post. By joining Complexity and YouTube, TimTheTatman looks to evolve, not quit streaming.

In recent times, an increasing number of prominent content creators have linked arms with esports organizations. This benefits those organizations, which frequently have a difficult time generating a reliable cash flow via the precarious business of esports alone. For example, FaZe Clan, the esports organization that announced its plan to go public with an estimated $1 billion valuation last week, generated much of its notoriety due to its stable of content creators — not its competitive performance in video games. But when creators like Betar receive splashy titles like “part-owner,” what do they actually do? Betar said that at Complexity, he does more than just flash his pearly whites and boost the brand. “I’m really plugged in and texting [CEO of Complexity’s parent company, GameSquare Esports] Justin Kenna and [Complexity founder] Jason Lake — trying to talk to them as frequently as I can and making sure we’re on the same page with stuff,” he said, using a recent pop-up store in Frisco, Texas, and a merch drop that paired Betar’s name with Cowboys iconography as examples of things he’s helped plan. “It’s not just like, ‘Here’s some money each year, promote the brand.’ I have a drive to make this as big and as good as I can because obviously I am now also an owner of this.” https://wapo.st/3q9Hwkt

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Rivian plans to sell a portion of its US$60 billion IPO directly to SoFi users.

Rivian plans to sell a portion of its IPO directly to retail investors via SoFi’s online brokerage platform, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The move adds to the growing trend of fintech companies attempting to level the playing field for retail investors by giving them the same access to IPO shares that institutional investors on Wall Street have. Most recently, Robinhood offered a portion of its IPO shares directly to users of its platforms. Rivian plans to sell 135 million Class A shares in its IPO, meaning 675,000 shares will be allocated to SoFi users. Retail investors on SoFi’s investment platform will be able to purchase a set amount of shares of Rivian stock at its IPO price, rather than after it begins trading. Rivian is gearing up to go public later this month at a valuation of more than $60 billion, making the electric vehicle company more valuable than Honda. https://bit.ly/3CINyvz

Cloud software firm HashiCorp files to go public.

HashiCorp, a San Francisco-based startup whose software secures and manages applications running on multiple cloud providers, has filed to go public via an initial public offering. The company is aiming for a valuation of US$10 billion or more, according to Bloomberg. If successfully achieved, that would be a significant step up from the US$5.3 billion valuation HashiCorp received from investors in a March Series E financing. HashiCorp posted revenue of US$212 million for the fiscal year ending in January, up 75% from US$121 million the previous twelve months, according to the filing. The company isn’t profitable: it posted a net loss of US$83.5 million for fiscal year 2021, up from US$53.4 million in 2020. The company has benefitted from pandemic restrictions that forced more business activities online. HashiCorp’s products also cater to a growing trend inside large companies such as JPMorgan Chase, which prefer using services from several cloud providers, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google, rather than just one provider. The strategic importance of HashiCorp’s software to IT operations teams and cloud developers has long made it a target for potential suitors. An example is Cisco Systems, which in 2019 held preliminary discussions with HashiCorp about an acquisition of the startup, though they didn’t advance very far, The Information first reported. Earlier investors in HashiCorp include IVP, GGV Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Haystack. https://bit.ly/3BLASTH

Cloud-based expense management software maker Expensify to raise up to US$242.5 million in planned IPO.

Expensify Inc. , a cloud-based expense management software platform, set terms for its initial public offering on Monday, with plans to offer 9.7 million shares priced at US$23 to $25 each. The company would raise US$242.5 million at the top of that range at a valuation of more than US$2 billion, based on the 80.9 million shares expected to be outstanding after the deal closes. The company has applied to list on Nasdaq, under the ticker “EXFY.” JPMorgan, Citigroup and BofA Securities are lead underwriters in a syndicate of six banks working on the deal. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes and working capital, with part earmarked for bonuses for staff during the fourth quarter. The company had net income of US$14.7 million in the six months to end-June, up from US$3.5 million in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose to US$49.5 million from US$25.2 million. The deal comes at a time when the Renaissance IPO ETF is up 6% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 22.6%. that helps the smallest to the largest businesses simplify the way they manage money. https://on.mktw.net/3byHw4R

TradeStation Group to become public company through business combination with Quantum FinTech.

Transaction aims to propel brand awareness of TradeStation’s online multi-asset trading platform and product offerings as a self-clearing online broker for the equities, options, futures and cryptocurrency self-directed investor markets. US$1.43 billion implied pro forma enterprise value at closing. Fully committed US$115 million PIPE investment by strategic and institutional investors led by Monex Group, Inc. and Galaxy Digital LP, US$50 million each, and including XBTO Ventures, LLC and Appian Way Asset Management. TradeStation’s parent, Monex, 100% owner today, to retain all of its equity in TradeStation, and estimated to own approximately 80% of company at closing – Monex’s shares in TradeStation will be subject to lock-ups, some up to three years. https://bwnews.pr/3ES2dFK

NerdWallet shares jump over 70% in IPO.

Shares of personal finance company NerdWallet soared to above US$30 as it began trading on Thursday, a nearly 70% increase from its initial public offering price of US$18. With the jump in share price Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco-based company had a market capitalization of roughly US$2 billion. The company’s public debut comes amid a flurry of IPOs within the technology sector that have seen their stock rise sharply in their trading debuts. Just yesterday, shares of direct-to-consumer sneaker company Allbirds nearly doubled in its first day as a public company. NerdWallet has reported growth in revenue, taking in US$245 million in 2020—a 7% increase from 2019. And through the first nine months of 2021, the company has reported a 14% increase in revenue from all of 2020. The company has traditionally been profitable, and posted a net income of just over US$5 million in 2020, but have reported a net loss of US$34.6 million through the first nine months of 2021. https://bit.ly/3qcVuSH

Kakao Pay IPO: Korean payments app doubles in Seoul trading debut.

Kakao Pay Corp., South Korea’s largest mobile payments app, more than doubled in its debut in Seoul, following a rocky path to public markets that was marked by heightened regulatory scrutiny. Shares of Kakao Pay surged more than 150% in early trading on Wednesday after pricing the offering at 90,000 won. The startup, backed by Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co., raised 1.53 trillion won (US$1.3 billion), giving the online payments service a market capitalization of more than 11.7 trillion won before the start of trading. https://bloom.bg/3mH3iK0

Autonomous vehicle company Aurora is now a publicly traded company.

Aurora, the startup that was founded by the former head of Google’s self-driving car project, has officially begun trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange under ticker symbol ‘AUR’. It’s a significant milestone for the company which has struggled with inflated expectations, missed deadlines, and a host of technological challenges. Last summer, the company announced that it would go public through a reverse merger with a special acquisition company, called Reinvent Technology Partners Y. Upon closing, Aurora said they will have US$1.8 billion which will help its quest to become a provider of self-driving hardware and software to companies in the industries. https://bit.ly/3BQKvQK

Cathie Wood’s Ark sold 3.9 million shares of Zillow on Wednesday as company’s exit from home-flipping sent shares plunging.

Cathie Wood’s Ark invest is changing their tune on Zillow stock after the real estate company exited its iBuyer home-flipping business earlier this week. The suite of ETFs managed by Ark sold a combined 3.9 million shares of Zillow, as it plummeted 25% following a poor earnings call. Zillow stock is down more than 30% this week alone, and has plunged 50% year-to-date. https://bit.ly/3qpCAIr 

Zillow looks to sell 7,000 homes for US$2.8 billion after flipping halt.

Zillow Group Inc. is looking to sell about 7,000 homes as it seeks to recover from a fumble in its high-tech home-flipping business. The company is seeking roughly US$2.8 billion for the houses, which are being pitched to institutional investors, according to people familiar with the matter. Zillow will likely sell the properties to a multitude of buyers rather than packaging them in a single transaction, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. https://bloom.bg/3jXRvW5

McAfee in talks to go private in deal worth more than US$14 billion.

Antivirus software company McAfee is in advanced talks to go private in a deal worth more than US$14 billion including debt led by private equity firm Advent International, according to two people briefed on the negotiations. The buyout would be one of the largest of the year and, if successful, mark an end to McAfee’s brief run on public stock markets after its initial public offering in October 2020. Boston-based Advent is leading a consortium of investors, including private equity firm Permira; Canadian pension plan CPP Investment Board; Crosspoint Capital; Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, the people said, describing the talks as advanced. McAfee has total debt of about US$4 billion, meaning the deal would put its equity value at more than US$10 billion. https://on.ft.com/3EQVSKB

EnPro to acquire chip maker NxEdge for US$850 million in cash.

EnPro Industries Inc. said on Friday that it has agreed to acquire NxEdge, a manufacturing, cleaning, coating and refurbishment provider for the semiconductor industry, from Trive Capital for $US850 million in cash. NxEdge will become part of Enpro’s advanced Surface Technologies segment, and is expected to bring new customers and geographic reach. The company is expected to generate about $US190 million in revenue in 2021. The deal is expected to close by the year-end. https://on.mktw.net/3H51B1t 

Huawei said to sell key server division due to U.S. blacklisting.

Huawei Technologies Co. is in advanced talks to sell its x86 server business after the U.S. blacklisting of the company made it difficult to secure processors from Intel Corp., the latest blow to the Chinese technology giant from American sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter. The Shenzhen-based company is selling the server business to a consortium that includes at least one government-backed buyer, the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations aren’t public. The precise value of the deal couldn’t be learned, but it’s likely billions of yuan, they said. https://bloom.bg/3jUrE1a

Musk says ‘no contract has been signed yet’ with Hertz, despite its announced order of 100,000 Tesla Model 3 cars.

Musk was replying to a tweet from an account named Tesla Silicon Valley Club, which showed a chart of Tesla’s rising stock price along with a thank you to the company’s chief executive officer, the world’s richest person. https://bit.ly/3mBpxkD 

House passes US$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes transport, broadband and utility funding, sends it to Biden.

The House passed a more than US$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Friday, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk in a critical step toward enacting sprawling Democratic economic plans. The Senate approved the revamp of transportation, utilities and broadband in August. The legislation’s passage is perhaps the unified Democratic government’s most concrete achievement since it approved a US$1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in the spring. https://cnb.cx/2ZXPTEy

Emerging Technologies

DeepMind spins out new Alphabet company focused on drug discovery.

The new company, called Isomorphic Laboratories, will be based in the U.K. and be led “in its initial phase” by Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s co-founder and chief executive, according to a blog post Hassabis authored. He said he would continue to serve as DeepMind’s CEO as well. https://bit.ly/3k9syH7

Facebook – An update on our use of face recognition.

We’re shutting down the Face Recognition system on Facebook. People who’ve opted in will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos and we will delete more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates. https://bit.ly/3BSulGV

 Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings.

Microsoft is entering the race to build a metaverse inside Teams, just days after Facebook rebranded to Meta in a push to build virtual spaces for both consumers and businesses. Microsoft is bringing Mesh, a collaborative platform for virtual experiences, directly into Microsoft Teams next year. It’s part of a big effort to combine the company’s mixed reality and HoloLens work with meetings and video calls that anyone can participate in thanks to animated avatars. https://bit.ly/3GJKL7X 

Zoom launches ‘pilot program’ to test showing ads to free users.

Anything that seems too good to be true usually comes to an end. This time, Zoom, the video client that has helped people around the world get their jobs done throughout the pandemic, has announced a pilot program to start showing ads to free users. This pilot advertising program will enable Zoom to “support investment and continue providing free Basic users with access to our robust platform.” As of now, ads will be rolled out only on the browser page users see once they end their meeting. The video platform explains that only free basic users in certain countries will see these ads “if they join meetings that are hosted by other free basic users.” Zoom says it has also updated its privacy statement to account for this advertising program. https://bit.ly/3wg9hZn 

Apple’s AR/VR headset to support Wi-Fi 6.

Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is back with another claim about Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset. After saying that the device is expected to face production delays due to its complex design. Since mixed-reality headsets require more bandwidth due to very high resolution content and low latency, Kuo expects that these devices will all embrace Wi-Fi 6 support. It’s worth noting that Apple’s new device won’t be the first with such technology, as Facebook’s popular Oculus Quest already supports Wi-Fi 6, which enables streams up to 120Hz compared to 90Hz or less when using Wi-Fi 5. Kuo says in his note that not only Apple, but also Meta and Sony are expected to introduce new AR/VR devices in 2022 with built-in Wi-Fi 6/6E. For the long-term future, Kuo believes that companies will also adopt 5G mmWave for mixed-reality headsets to further enhance the wireless experience and reduce the need for a computer or other device.According to rumors, Apple’s mixed reality headset will be extremely premium with advanced sensors, 8K displays, and super powerful chips. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says the device will be “pricey,” while other reports suggest the product could cost as much as US$3,000. https://bit.ly/3mCaebl

Boeing receives FCC approval for satellite internet system.

Boeing has secured FCC approval to deploy and operate a satellite internet system capable of beaming high-speed broadband to US consumers and businesses. The low-Earth orbiting satellites from Boeing will also operate at an orbit of 656 miles, which is about 300 miles higher than SpaceX’s Starlink constellation. Meanwhile, the non-geostationary satellites from Boeing will circle the planet at a distance of at least 17,000 miles. The date for when Boeing plans to release the service remains unsaid, but the company did introduce the 702X satellite in 2019 which is capable of low-Earth orbit, and can supply internet connectivity. https://bit.ly/300rrTe

SpaceX Starlink targets 200K terminals in India, eyes Asia growth. SpaceX’s satellite internet network, Starlink, wants to roll out 200,000 user terminals in India in an effort to expand its service in Asia, according to a company presentation. Starlink has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India called Starlink Satellite Communications Private, the company’s India director, Sanjay Bhargava, wrote in a LinkedIn post Monday. Bhargava, a former PayPal executive, said in the post that the subsidiary can now apply for licenses and open bank accounts. The subsidiary has a “stretch goal” to deploy 200,000 Starlink user terminals in more than 160,000 rural districts in India by December 2022, per a company presentation that Bhargava shared on LinkedIn last week. The user terminals, which connect to the Starlink satellites, are part of the US$499 kit users buy after signing up to the $99-a-month internet service. https://bit.ly/3nYZgMw

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Snap, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube lose nearly US$10 billion after iPhone privacy changes.

Apple’s decision to change the privacy settings of iPhones caused an estimated US$9.85 billion of revenues to evaporate in the second half of this year at Snap, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as their advertising businesses were shaken by the new rules. Apple introduced its App Tracking Transparency policy in April, which forced apps to ask for permission before they tracked the behaviour of users to serve them personalized ads. Most users have opted out, leaving advertisers in the dark about how to target them. Advertisers have responded by cutting back their spending at Snap, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and diverted their budgets elsewhere: in particular to Android phone users and to Apple’s own growing ad business. https://on.ft.com/3k1nJj4

Netflix unveils first five mobile games for Android.

It’s games on for Netflix Inc. The videostreaming giant on Tuesday unveiled five mobile games on its app, including “Stranger Things: 1984,” “Stranger Things 3: The Game,” “Shooting Hoops,” “Card Blast,” and “Teeter Up.” The games are available on Android phones before they come to Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Apple is one of Netflix’s primary rivals. The games come with Netflix subscriptions and will not include advertisements or in-app purchases, the company said. Netflix executives have pointed to mobile gaming as the next big chapter in the company’s evolution. https://on.mktw.net/3mIG6LK

Meta is reportedly planning physical stores to showcase its product.

Even before rebranding, Meta, who was formerly known as Facebook, has been discussing the possibility of opening retail stores. If Meta were to open retail locations, they will reportedly be more like experience stores introducing people to devices developed by its Reality Labs division rather than outright shopping retail. Those devices include things like Oculus Quest virtual reality headsets and portable gadgets. The stores could also showcase the augmented reality glasses that were developed with Ray-Ban. https://tcrn.ch/302SnSn

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Kroger targeted by fake crypto press release.

A fake press release from wire service PR Newswire said Friday that Kroger planned to accept cryptocurrency payments in bitcoin cash. The retailer said in a statement to The Information that the “communication was fraudulent and is unfounded and should be disregarded.” The hoax caused a brief spike in price for bitcoin cash, which is a spinoff of bitcoin. The digital currency’s price rose 5% from US$602 to US$630 in less than 15 minutes, but is now at US$600. Kroger isn’t the only retailer to have been targeted by false crypto news, indicating that this could be a growing problem. Walmart faced a similar situation in September after a fake press release on GlobeNewswire said the retailer was going to accept payments in litecoin, which caused a temporary rise in price for the cryptocurrency. The Kroger press release has since been removed from PR Newswire, as well as from the retailer’s invesor relations website, which has an automatic feed from the wire service. https://bit.ly/3GUpwR1

Coinbase is trying out a subscription service for customers that would include no-fee trading, report says.

Coinbase is testing a new subscription service that would include enhanced support and fee-less trading. The crypto service that has more than 68 million users is launching the service called Coinbase One to a small number of users at first. A company spokesperson confirmed the news on the service with Insider and said customers can buy, sell, and convert cryptocurrencies without a fee, though spread fees would still apply. https://bit.ly/3wjYlKj

US$9.5 billion spent using Chinese central bank’s digital currency.

Some 140 million people had opened “wallets” for China’s new digital yuan as of October and used it for transactions totalling around 62 billion yuan (US$9.7 billion), a senior Chinese central bank official said on Wednesday. However, Mu Changchun, the director-general of the digital currency institute of the People’s Bank of China, told Hong Kong’s “Fintech Week” conference there was no official launch date for the digital currency, also known as the e-CNY. Central banks around the world are looking at developing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to modernise their financial systems, ward off competition from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and speed up domestic and international payments. China’s efforts are among the most advanced globally, and the country has been running various trials and pilot schemes of different payment scenarios since last year.  Mu said so far 1.55 million merchants could accept payments using eCNY wallets, including utilities, catering services, transportation, retail and government services. https://reut.rs/3mI2tRt


Global chip shortage ‘is far from over’ as wait times get longer.

Almost a year into a global chip shortage, the problems are increasing for many customers as delays get even longer and sales are lost. The global semiconductor shortage is worsening, with wait times lengthening, buyers hoarding products and the potential end looking less likely to materialize by next year. Demand didn’t moderate as expected. Supply routes got clogged. Unpredictable production hiccups slammed factories already running at full capacity. The $464 billion semiconductor industry has been unable to keep pace, leading to lost revenue across the board. The pain is spreading beyond the initially affected—like car makers and home appliance manufacturers—to makers of other products, including medical equipment and smoking devices. The smartphone industry will grow by just 6% year-over-year, or half the initial forecast from earlier this year, because of chip woes, according to Counterpoint Research, which tracks handset shipments. Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said he would have thought six months ago that chip shortages would start easing by this time. But now he said they will likely last until 2023. Wells Fargo Investment Institute recently revised down its U.S. GDP forecast to 6.3% from 7% as the chip shortage limited the supply of consumer goods. https://on.wsj.com/3BFerPI 

iPhone 14 unlikely to feature 3nm chips as TSMC faces production challenges.

Amid the Apple Silicon transition for the Mac and continued advancement of the iPhone and iPad, Apple’s relationship with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is deepening and evolving. The A15 processor in the iPhone 13 is manufactured using a 5nm process. TSMC is in the midst of transitioning to a 3nm manufacturing technique, but is facing challenges in doing so. Despite these delays, TSMC is still expected to be the first to reach 3 nanometers, ahead of other chipmakers such as Intel and Qualcomm. Financially, the relationship between TSMC and Apple is said to be incredibly interdependent. Apple reportedly accounted for a quarter of its US$48.08 billion in total revenue last year. This marks a major increase from US$21.43 billion in 2013 total revenue, which is when the two companies first started significantly working together. https://bit.ly/3EFooPe

Nintendo Switch production cut by 20% as chip shortage continues.

As Nintendo nears the 100 million units sold mark on its wildly popular Nintendo Switch console, the Japanese gaming giant is being forced to decrease production. Nintendo is expected to decrease production of its flagship gaming console by as much as 20%, according to a new report from Nikkei. The reason, like so many other recent consumer goods shortages, is the ongoing global microchip shortage. Nintendo was expected to produce 30 million Nintendo Switch consoles between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, but has reduced that expectation to 24 million, the report said. Even with 6 million fewer consoles produced, Nintendo is still expected to reach and exceed 100 million units sold before the end of its fiscal quarter in March 2022. The company already sold over 89 million units as of June 30, 2021, according to Nintendo’s investor information page. https://bit.ly/3qjD7LZ

Tencent flags progress on three chips in development, investment effort.

Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings touted progress in semiconductor chip development and investment on Wednesday, offering a rare public glimpse of its R&D initiatives. Best known for computer games and social media app WeChat, Tencent has been steadily investing in research and development of semiconductors, along with other Chinese tech firms. Tang, a senior executive vice president and chief executive of Tencent’s cloud and smart industry group, flagged advances in three directions at a company event. He highlighted three chips developed by Tencent. These are a chip for AI computing called Zixiao, another for video processing, known as Canghai, and a chip for high-performance networks that is designated Xuanling. The company also announced its Orca cloud operating system. The comments come after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, a Tencent competitor in China’s market for cloud computing, unveiled a new server chip for data centres last month. These efforts dovetail with China’s push to boost the domestic semiconductor industry, which has become a key point of tension between Washington and Beijing. https://reut.rs/3bGPrNM 


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