It was a robust week for tech financing in Canada, as well as another high profile M&A exit. While, in the USA, there’s news of a few more high profile tech IPOs. Usually capital markets activity slows down markedly between the American Thanksgiving holiday and the New Year, but with a lack of Holiday parties this year, it remains to be seen if this holds true.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

The Bitcoin Fund (QBTC-TSX, QBTC.U-TSX) announces successful overnight offering. The Bitcoin Fund is pleased to announce a successful overnight treasury offering of 2,850,000 Class A units. Gross proceeds of the offering are expected to be approximately $75.6 million. The Fund seeks to provide unitholders of the Fund with (a) exposure to the digital currency bitcoin and the daily price movements of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin and (b) the opportunity for long-term capital appreciation. https://bit.ly/2KmjEqM

Converge Technology Solutions Corp. (CTS-TSXV) announces upsize to previously announced bought deal financing. Under the amended terms, the Underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 13,400,000 common shares of the Company at a price of $3.00 per Offered Share for gross proceeds to the Company of $40,200,000. https://bit.ly/3kJiX7r & https://bit.ly/3fdkp0R

AcuityAds (AT-TSX) announces a $20 million bought deal offering. AcuityAds Holdings Inc. announced that the Company, along with Tal Hayek, Joe Ontman, Rachel Kapcan and Ov2 Capital Inc., an entity which Sheldon Pollack controls or directs (the “Selling Shareholders”) have entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by TD Securities Inc. and Canaccord Genuity Corp., pursuant to which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase, in aggregate, 3,280,000 common shares of AcuityAds, at a price of $6.10 per Share and offer them to the public by way of short form prospectus for total gross proceeds of approximately $20 million. Under the agreement, 1,968,000 Shares will be issued from treasury by AcuityAds for gross proceeds of approximately $12 million (the “Treasury Offering”) and an aggregate of 1,312,000 Shares will be offered by the Selling Shareholders for aggregate gross proceeds to the Selling Shareholders of approximately $8 million (the “Secondary Offering”). Each of the Selling Shareholders is selling approximately 10% of his or her holdings of AcuityAds common shares, and will continue after the Offering to retain a substantial interest in the Company. https://bit.ly/3pZGncK

CI Global Asset Management files preliminary prospectus for CI Galaxy Bitcoin Fund. CI Global Asset Management and Galaxy Digital Capital Management L.P. announced that CI GAM has filed and obtained a receipt for a preliminary prospectus for the initial public offering of CI Galaxy Bitcoin Fund. The Fund is a closed-end investment fund which seeks to provide unitholders with exposure to bitcoin through an institutional-quality fund platform. The Fund will invest directly in bitcoin with the Fund’s holdings of bitcoin priced using the Bloomberg Galaxy Bitcoin Index, which is designed to measure the performance of a single bitcoin traded in U.S. dollars. The BTC is owned and administered by Bloomberg Index Services Ltd. https://bwnews.pr/2UNEf9w

Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV) awarded $5 million deal with major telecom operator. One of the world’s leading telecommunications infrastructure operators selects Smart Off-Grid Power Systems to power an initial 400 towers in Africa. The company announced that a major innovative telecom infrastructure operator selected Clear Blue to power 400 telecommunications sites in rural Africa. The initial order of Smart Off-Grid Power Systems is worth approximately $5 million in revenue to Clear Blue during Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, with gross margins in line with what the Company has historically reported. Clear Blue currently expects that 30% of this revenue will be realized in Q4 2020, and the remainder in Q1 2021. Under the 3-year service agreement, Clear Blue will also provide on-going management through Illumience, its cloud-based management and control service, which will result in additional monthly revenues on an ongoing basis. Clear Blue has been building its inventory in anticipation of this order and already has 1,000 Smart Off-Grid devices manufactured and ready for shipment in Q4. Furthermore, Clear Blue anticipates that the roll-out of these rural telecom sites will expand to 2,000 sites or more in Africa. Follow-on orders to provide Smart Off-Grid Power for these sites could bring significant revenues for Clear Blue over the next two years. https://bit.ly/2IRBwth

FinTech and healthtech startup Aya comes out of “stealth” with $3.7 million in seed financing. Toronto-based Aya, which creates payments solutions and program administration for employee benefits packages, has raised a $3.7 million seed round of financing. The round was led by MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and Luge Capital with participation from Anthemis Group, BDC Capital, StandUp Ventures, and several angel investors. https://bit.ly/3304nmd

Nasdaq to buy Verafin in US$2.75 billion cash deal. Stock exchange operator Nasdaq said on Thursday it will acquire Canadian fintech firm Verafin, which makes fraud detection and anti money laundering software, for US$2.75 billion in cash. The deal will strengthen Nasdaq’s existing suite of regulatory technologies, enabling regulatory agencies and Nasdaq’s network of almost 250 banks, broker-dealers, exchanges and buy-side organizations to take advantage of Verafin’s software, Nasdaq said. Verafin last raised $388 million in private equity funding in September 2019 at an undisclosed valuation, PitchBook data shows. Investors in the Newfoundland-based financial technology company include Spectrum Equity, Teralys Capital, BDC Capital, Information Venture Partners and Northleaf Capital Partners. https://bit.ly/32ZpfJZ

Toronto-based Fiix Inc. to be acquired by Rockwell Automation. Rockwell Automation, Inc., announced on Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Fiix Inc., a Toronto-based startup that specializes in artificial intelligence-enabled computerized management systems (CMMS). The purchase price and details of the acquisition were unspecified, however, the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2020. Founded in 2008, Fiix’s cloud-native CMMS creates workflows for the scheduling, organizing, and tracking of equipment maintenance, connecting to business systems to assist in data-driven decision making. The company’s revenue reportedly grew 70 percent in 2019 with more than 85 percent recurring revenue. It is also said to hold more than two million assets under management, with more than six million work orders each year. In 2019, Fiix acquired Colorado-based Alchemy IoT, an industrial intelligence asset company, adding AI to the startup’s maintenance and asset management software. Earlier that same year, Fiix announced a $53 million Series C round and closed a US$12 million Series B round in 2018. https://bit.ly/3fcqv1f

Shopify (SHOP-TSX, SHOP-NYSE) expands payment options for US merchants through partnership with Alipay. Shopify has partnered with major Chinese digital wallet platform Alipay to expand its payment options for merchants based in the United States. The new partnership is aimed to allow Shopify merchants to accept payments through Alipay from its more than one billion annual active users in China. The hope is to eventually expand this partnership in other Asian countries. Previously, Shopify merchants were able to offer Alipay as a payment method through third-party providers. Through this new partnership, Shopify said its merchants can make payments simpler for a broader pool of consumers. Alipay is the latest of a flurry of partnerships Shopify has inked with tech giants this year in order to bolster merchants’ e-commerce capabilities. https://bit.ly/2UzVVVY

(Killi, MYID-TSXV): A startup that pays consumers for their data is rolling out a way for their customers to earn monthly payments by passively sharing information.  Consumer data — from location tracking to browsing history to spending habits — is a US$100 billion industry. And it’s growing. But consumers don’t benefit from the sale of their data. Killi, a consented data-sharing app, is looking to change that. “There is universal acceptance around this idea that consumers should have some sort of transparency, knowledge, and compensation around the use of their data,” Neil Sweeney, CEO of Killi, told Business Insider. “When you juxtapose that against the data market or the ad market or the media market, the entire industry is driven by data, but  there is no consumer inclusion whatsoever.” Through its app, users consent to Killi tracking information like location. Killi then sells that data to merchants and other data companies, splitting the profits 50/50 with its users. Now, it’s shifting its strategy away from paid surveys and active data sharing toward a more passive user experience. The survey-based model wasn’t easy to scale, Sweeney said. So to keep users on the platform, Killi is now offering guaranteed monthly payments for passively sharing their data. “It has to be passive, where the compensation is happening in the background and it doesn’t require a lot of active participation from the consumer,” Sweeney said. Killi was affiliated with Freckle IoT, a marketing data company that analyzes the effectiveness of advertisements on channels like mobile, TV, and social media in driving customers to a targeted physical location. In April, marketing analytics firm PlaceIQ acquired Freckle IoT, separating the company from Killi, which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada. https://bit.ly/3pDuclH

New proposed law to better protect Canadians’ privacy and increase their control over their data and personal information. This legislation takes a number of important steps to ensure that Canadians will be protected by a modern and responsive law and that innovative businesses will benefit from clear rules, even as technology continues to evolve, including: increasing control and transparency when Canadians’ personal information is handled by companies; giving Canadians the freedom to move their information from one organization to another in a secure manner; ensuring that Canadians have the ability to demand that their information be destroyed; providing the Privacy Commissioner with broad order-making powers, including the ability to force an organization to comply and the ability to order a company to stop collecting data or using personal information; and ensuring the strongest fines among G7 privacy laws—with fines of up to 5% of revenue or $25 million, whichever is greater, for the most serious offences. The proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 builds a foundation of trust and transparency between citizens, companies and government, while ensuring that innovators and businesses benefit from a modernized framework with clear rules. https://bit.ly/32ZGPha

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Gaming tool app Roblox files to go public. Roblox, an app that offers games and game creation tools, filed its IPO paperwork with the SEC Thursday evening. Roblox joins Affirm, which filed yesterday, as well as Airbnb and DoorDash, which both filed within the past week. The San Mateo, California–based company reported in a securities filing it generated US$488 million in revenue in 2019, up 56% from the prior year. Roblox makes money by selling a virtual currency, called Robux, and through a premium subscription service. Its audience skews younger: 75% of American 9-12 year olds are on Roblox, and over half of all kids and teens under 16 in the U.S. are on the platform. This July, Roblox exceeded 150 million monthly active users over the age of 7. It also has over 2 million active game creators. Founded in 2004, Roblox has raised US$335 million to date. It was last valued at US$4 billion in February 2020, PitchBook data shows. Investors in Roblox include Andreessen Horowitz, Tencent Holdings and Tiger Global Management, among others. https://bit.ly/3nM9ePx

Wish files to go public. The parent company of ecommerce site Wish, ContextLogic, filed to go public on Friday morning, the latest in a spate of late-in-the-year IPO candidates. Wish follows gaming software firm Roblox, DoorDash, Airbnb and Affirm, all of which have filed to go public in the past week. The timing implies the five companies will hit the public markets in early to mid December, right before the holiday period when IPOs usually end for the year. Wish runs a mobile commerce platform for merchants, mostly based in China, although it has been gradually expanding to include merchants in North America and Europe. The filing showed that Wish’s revenue growth rate slowed sharply last year from 2018, to 10% from 57%, but picked up to 32% in the first nine months of this year, a reflection of how the pandemic is driving more people to online shopping. https://bit.ly/332FplQ

Affirm just made its IPO filing public, providing the first detailed look inside the breakout ‘buy now, pay later’ fintech startup’s finances. Affirm, a fintech startup founded in 2012 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, is among a cohort of “buy now, pay later” startups that enable consumers to use microloans to defer their payments on goods they purchase online. The company reported a net loss of US$125.8 million during its latest fiscal year, which ended on June 30, down more than 6% from FY 2019. Affirm’s annual revenue increased to US$509.5 million, up 93% from US$264.4 million year-over-year — total expenses also grew around 67% during the same period to US$617.3 million from US$391.8 million, according to the filing. Affirm reported just shy of US$174 million in quarterly revenue for Q1 2021, up nearly 98% from US$87.9 million during the same quarterly period last year, while net losses dropped by around half to US$15.3 million from US$30.6 million as installment payment startups have exploded during the pandemic. Affirm was valued at US$2.9 billion in April 2019 and has raised US$1.6 billion to date from investors, according to PitchBook. Its largest investors, according to Wednesday’s filing, are Jasmin Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, and Shopify. https://bit.ly/2IPLVFE

Robinhood is lining up advisers for a possible 2021 IPO, Bloomberg reports. Robinhood may be making the first moves in its long-targeted initial public offering. The stock-trading startup has asked banks to submit proposals to advise an IPO, Bloomberg news reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources “with knowledge of the matter.” According to Bloomberg, the listing could happen as soon as the first quarter of 2021, as an end to the Trump administration soothes anxious investors’ nerves and helps markets slowly return to record highs. Airbnb and DoorDash notably both filed prospectuses this month. A Robinhood spokesperson declined to comment on the report. It’s also possible plans for an IPO are disrupted. Preparations to go public aren’t new for Robinhood, and CEO Baiju Bhatt said as early as 2018 that the company was looking towards an eventual IPO. More than two years later, the startup is now worth close to US$12 billion following its latest funding round in September. https://bit.ly/3ns9nHY

Bitcoin investigation giant to raise US$100 million at US$1 billion valuation. A new bitcoin unicorn is about to be born. After days of rumors flying around the cryptocurrency industry, investigation firm Chainalysis confirmed exclusively to Forbes it expects to raise US$100 million venture capital at a US$1 billion valuation as soon as next week. Led by Tiger Global alum Lee Fixel’s newly founded venture capital firm, Addition, the Series C round is expected to be joined by previous investors Accel, Benchmark, and Ribbit. Though Chainalysis CEO and co-founder Michael Gronager declined to share the actual revenue generated by the firm, Forbes estimates it made US$8 million in 2018, and Gronager says its revenue increased by about 96% over the past year. With revenue expected to double next year and again in 2022, the investment is further evidence there’s more money to be made in crypto than by just buying low and selling high. In addition to helping the U.S. Department of Justice track down more than US$1 billion worth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that was seized earlier this month, Chainalysis now counts 350 total customers, including state governments and private institutions. https://bit.ly/2Kmh1Fq

Airbnb to give employees ability to sell some vested shares. Airbnb plans to give current and former employees some ability to sell shares in the company’s initial public offering, before the traditional six-month lock-up period ends, the company’s chief financial officer wrote Monday night. The move would ensure the company has enough freely floating shares for its December public offering, but adds risks of potentially oversupplying the market and driving down the price. The move follows a similar carveout by gaming platform Unity, which went public in September and has seen a steady stock rise. Airbnb CFO Dave Stephenson wrote to company alumni that holders of vested stock options and restricted stock units will potentially get two chances to sell shares ahead of the lock-up. The first opportunity is within the first seven days of the IPO listing—likely in mid-December—in which as much as as 15% of the total vested stock options and RSUs can be sold.  For each shareholder, the company will have to confirm “how many of those shares you can sell during the first trading window. The second option might be in March, after Airbnb reports fourth-quarter earnings, as long as the company’s stock price stays 33% above its IPO price, Stephenson wrote. Airbnb previously had been mulling going public via direct listing, which would have allowed current and former employees to sell shares immediately. The option to at least sell some shares in the IPO could also allow current and former employees the ability to sell stock in order to cover tax obligations. Some RSUs are expected to expire in March for employees who joined the company in early 2014. Historically, Airbnb has restricted private stock trades on the secondary market. https://bit.ly/35B1AS6

SoftBank founder has US$80 billion to defend his AI vision. “If our shares drop down, I will buy back more shares more aggressively,” the chief executive officer said at the New York Times DealBook conference Tuesday. “We have US$80 billion in cash at hand.” After a record fall in its share price in March, SoftBank unveiled plans to offload 4.5 trillion yen (US$43.2 billion) in assets and buy back 2.5 trillion yen of its own stock. The idea of going private through a buyout has been discussed within SoftBank for at least five years, but Son declined to comment on whether he would take his company off the stock market. Son also defended his recent investment in public equities. SoftBank has poured about US$20 billion into tech stocks and derivatives through a unit in which the billionaire personally holds a one-third stake. A 292 billion yen derivative loss in the September quarter helped all but wipe out gains it made in the first quarter. https://bloom.bg/36IMGZq

Walgreens, CVS stocks tumble after Amazon launches rival pharmacy. Shares of drug store chains tumbled Tuesday, after Amazon.com Inc. launched a rival online pharmacy, that provides discounts and free two-day delivery for Prime members. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s stock plunged 9.8% to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s premarket losers. https://on.mktw.net/2KhjVeJ

FireEye raises US$400 million investment led by Blackstone. FireEye Inc. said Thursday it raised US$400 million in an investment led by an arm of Blackstone Group Inc., sending shares in the cybersecurity company surging about 10% in extended trading. The Milpitas, California-based company said it will use the investment to support “strategic growth initiatives,” one of which was also outlined Thursday. FireEye said it acquired Respond Software, a cybersecurity investigation automation company, according to a company statement. The transaction closed Wednesday and is valued at about $186 million in cash and stock.  https://bloom.bg/3pOMtfE

Emerging Technologies

Microsoft aims to build cybersecurity into PC chips. Microsoft, which has been building cybersecurity features into its Windows operating systems for more than two decades, is now extending its efforts into PC chips. Together with chipmakers Intel, AMD and Qualcomm, Microsoft is developing a new kind of chip–called the Pluton security processor–which it plans to include in future Windows PCs. It will include cybersecurity software that is similar to what Microsoft uses to prevent Xboxes from being modified in order to run pirated games. The move reflects the growing sophistication of hacking methods targeting Windows PCs, which include cases where attackers have gained access to encryption keys and personal data after stealing PCs. It also shows that while Windows is no longer the center of Microsoft’s business, the software giant and its chip partners are still working to stay ahead of attackers. https://bit.ly/39aEVOP

SpaceX launches first regular commercial flight. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, the private firm founded by Elon Musk, launched its first commercial spaceflight with four astronauts bound for the International Space Station, the New York Times and other media outlets reported. The launch is a milestone for commercial spaceflight, and trips by private customers could soon follow. The SpaceX spacecraft, known as the Crew Dragon, had previously ferried two NASA astronauts to the ISS in May, but that was a test flight that wasn’t considered part of its regular commercial operations. NASA’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that the government agency is paying around US$55 million per seat on the SpaceX spacecraft. https://bit.ly/35I5Wqy

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

WarnerMedia to release Wonder Woman sequel direct to streaming. HBOMax will get a huge boost this December. WarnerMedia announced today it will be releasing its superhero film Wonder Woman 1984 on its streaming service HBOMax at the same time it puts it into theaters. This is the biggest movie to date that was effectively moved from theaters to streaming. Disney did it on a smaller scale this summer with Hamilton—to great success. Disney also tried a hybrid approach with Mulan, which it made available to rent for a steep US$30. If Wonder Woman ends up bringing on many new subscribers, which it very likely will, this will be another huge crack in the theatrical business model. The question becomes next year as the COVID vaccine starts to roll out worldwide whether things will revent back to the old ways with exclusive theaterical windows—or the hybrid approach is here to stay. https://bit.ly/3kRgx6R

Apple’s Shazam crosses 200 million monthly active users. Apple acquired Shazam back in late 2017 (the deal closed in 2018), and now the company has announced that the application has crossed 200 million monthly active users. Shazam is available as a standalone app in the App Store and the Google Play Store, as well as available through Siri, and recently made its way into Control Center with iOS 14.2. (The 200 million figure does not count Siri requests as an active user.) Whilst Apple has kept the dedicated apps alive several years after the acquisition completed, it is also believed that Shazam technology helped to enable innovations in Apple Music like the real-time lyrics feature. https://bit.ly/2Kg2R8N

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

State, federal antitrust lawsuits likely to challenge Facebook for buying rivals and weaponizing data. State and federal investigators are preparing to bring antitrust charges against Facebook that will challenge the tech giant’s acquisition of two rivals, Instagram and WhatsApp, alleging that the deals helped create an anti-competitive social networking juggernaut that has left users with few quality alternatives. The charges form a critical part of what could be a wide-ranging legal salvo, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, ultimately threatening to saddle Facebook with its toughest regulatory challenge in its nearly 17-year history. As the state and federal probes enter their final phases, investigators have explored how Instagram and WhatsApp changed in the years after Facebook purchased them, according to the three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a law enforcement proceeding. Government antitrust watchdogs have weighed whether to contend in lawsuits that these transactions have left users with worse services — and fewer privacy protections — than they might have had if the companies had remained independent, the sources said. https://wapo.st/3nLAjCL

Apple cuts App Store commission rate to 15% for many developers with new Small Business Program. Apple has announced a notable change to its App Store commission structure today. The company is launching the App Store Small Business Program, which will lower the App Store commission to 15% for developers who earned up to US$1 million in proceeds during the previous calendar year. Apple says that existing developers who earn up to US$1 million in a calendar year are eligible for this new App Store Small Business Program. The US$1 million number is based on post-commission basis. This means developers are eligible for the program until their proceeds, after Apple takes its cut, exceed US$1 million. https://bit.ly/2INVPaG

eCommerce

Walmart earnings top expectations as customers’ new shopping habits send e-commerce sales soaring 79%. Walmart reported third-quarter earnings on Tuesday that topped Wall Street’s expectations as customers continued to shop online and sent U.S. e-commerce sales soaring by 79%. The discounter said customers are embracing the new ways of shopping they adopted during the global coronavirus health crisis. As the holiday shopping season begins, instead of browsing store aisles, more of them are shipping purchases to their homes, getting groceries dropped off at their doors or picking up online purchases by the curbside. Walmart has been one of the beneficiaries of stay-at-home trends during the pandemic — a trend that continued in the most recent quarter, even without a boost from government stimulus dollars. Since the spring, Americans have turned to its stores and website for groceries, cleaning supplies and items to pass the time, from puzzles to bicycles. The company has hired over half a million new employees this year. Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said the shift in purchasing patterns at the start of the pandemic amounted to “three to five years of acceleration in e-commerce, really in a period of weeks and months.” https://cnb.cx/2KjHBPD

Who’s a very good pandemic business? Chewy is. Oh, yes it is. The usual suspects topped the list of the best-paid executives in the U.S. published by Bloomberg News in July. No. 1 was Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk, with a 2019 payday of nearly $600 million, followed by Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook at $134 million. The top 10 also included bosses at Intel, Alphabet, and Blackstone Group. The list did contain one surprise: At No. 5 stood one Sumit Singh, chief executive officer of Chewy Inc., an online retailer of food, toys, apparel, and medicine for pets. Singh joined Chewy in 2017, was elevated to CEO after seven months, and in 2019, his first full year on the job, earned $108.2 million in salary, bonus, and stock grants. That sum was even more remarkable given that Chewy, in nine years of existence, has yet to post a profitable quarter. https://bloom.bg/35JOfGW

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

How Quantopian’s open-source investment dream died.  Back in 2011, John Fawcett and Jean Bredeche had the dream of democratizing investing. They envisioned a platform that would make quantitative analysis and investment accessible and understandable for anyone who was keen to give it a try, kicking down doors for the everyman that had mostly been open to hedge funds or super-rich angel investors until that point. Quantopian was launched off the back of that dream. A platform that taught users about quant investment and gave them a platform to write and save their own code, Quantopian was supposed to be the first crowd-sourced hedge fund. For years, users iterated on each other’s code as a community developed on the platform, full of users with and without financial backgrounds. These users would pit their algorithms against one-another, and Quantopian would go on to use the winning equations to manage investor assets, giving the winners some returns. https://bit.ly/3ntDEGq

Google Pay’s massive relaunch makes it an all-encompassing money app. It will include tap-to-pay, peer-to-peer, personal finance aggregation, customizable deals, and even full banking services. Google Pay for both Android and iOS is relaunching with a giant array of new features. It turns the app from something that most people think of as a tap-to-pay card repository or peer-to-peer payment system into a much more ambitious service. The new app begins rolling out across the United States today (Nov 18). https://bit.ly/376dCT9

Bitcoin trades at highest level in nearly three years. When bitcoin prices tumbled in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., it cast doubt on the notion that digital currencies might serve as a safe haven amid gyrations in traditional securities. But it turns out bitcoin could be a flight-to-safety play after all. After gaining ground more or less steadily since spring, bitcoin’s price has surged this month, crossing the US$18,000 mark this week for the first time since December 2017. Analysts say bitcoin is benefiting from concerns about inflation as governments seek to rev up struggling economies. Bitcoin also has gained wider acceptance among financial technology firms like PayPal and Square. Time will tell whether the gains hold. Bitcoin has had a furious rally before, closing in on US$20,000 in late 2017 only to plummet some 80% the following year. https://bit.ly/3pUwGwf

Bitcoin’s massive rally is different from the ‘speculative frenzy’ of 2017 as more institutional investors buy in, says Mike Novogratz. The investor told CNBC on Wednesday that the crash in Bitcoin’s price after its record highs in 2017 was the result of a “global speculative frenzy” driven by retail investors. Now, institutional investors are adopting Bitcoin, and price of the cryptocurrency could reach US$60,000 by the end of 2021, he said. “You can’t buy bitcoin at Citibank or Bank of America, but their strategists are talking about it,” the Galaxy Digital CEO said. “We’re seeing institutions buy into this, we’re seeing high net worth families buy into this, across the board you’re getting institutional adoption.” Novogratz explained that Bitcoin has “hit escape velocity,” as investors around the globe view it increasingly as a store of value rather than a speculative vehicle. He said young investors on social media see bitcoin as “social money,” while baby boomers view the cryptocurrency as a macro hedge against paper money. He also said that investors around the world are growing less trustworthy of fiat money as governments print more of it. The investor expects Bitcoin to hit US$20,000 by the end of 2020 and then pull back and hover around US$16,000 before it skyrockets to around US$60,000 by the end of 2021.  https://bit.ly/2UJ5QZu

Binance sues Forbes for defamation. According to the Complaint: Forbes published numerous false statements about Binance, claiming that it created a corporate structure designed to “intentionally deceive regulators,” and engages in activity “characteristic of money laundering.” All such statements are false and highly defamatory. https://bit.ly/3lOrfw3

Semiconductors

Cerebras’ wafer-size chip is 10,000 times faster than a GPU. Cerebras Systems and the federal Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory announced that the company’s CS-1 system is more than 10,000 times faster than a graphics processing unit (GPU). On a practical level, this means AI neural networks that previously took months to train can now train in minutes on the Cerebras system. Cerebras makes the world’s largest computer chip, the WSE. Chipmakers normally slice a wafer from a 12-inch-diameter ingot of silicon to process in a chip factory. Once processed, the wafer is sliced into hundreds of separate chips that can be used in electronic hardware. But Cerebras, started by SeaMicro founder Andrew Feldman, takes that wafer and makes a single, massive chip out of it. Each piece of the chip, dubbed a core, is interconnected in a sophisticated way to other cores. The interconnections are designed to keep all the cores functioning at high speeds so the transistors can work together as one. Cerebras has raised US$450 million and has 275 employees. https://bit.ly/35SYCsh

ESG

Blockbuster’ installation figures forecasted for US residential PV sector as project backlogs soar. The US residential solar sector looks to be on track for a strong fourth quarter of the year as installers ramp up efforts to reduce project backlogs. Philip Shen, senior research analyst at Roth Capital, said he is more positive on the outlook for growth in 2021 after the investment bank hosted a webinar with US residential PV industry stakeholders who are generally bullish about the industry’s outlook. https://bit.ly/3pBCnyG

Biden plans to move fast with a ‘Climate Administration.’ here’s how. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., eager to elevate climate change issues throughout his administration, is already drafting orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy not only in environmental agencies but in departments from Defense to Treasury to Transportation. Top candidates for senior cabinet posts, such as Michèle Flournoy for defense secretary and Lael Brainard for Treasury, have long supported aggressive policies to curb climate change. Mr. Biden’s inner circle routinely asks “is the person climate-ambitious?” of candidates even for lower profile positions like the White House budget and regulatory offices, according to a person advising the transition. https://nyti.ms/2ISnuHk

Invenergy to install whopping 1.31-GW solar project in Texas. Invenergy, a leading privately-held global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions, today announced a 1,310-megawatt solar energy generation facility that will be the largest in the United States upon completion. Currently under construction in northeast Texas, the Samson Solar Energy Center will support the sustainability objectives of five major consumer brands and supply power to three Texas municipalities. https://bit.ly/3lLmHqr

Tesla stock jumps on carmaker’s addition to the S&P 500. S&P Dow Jones Indices announced on Monday that Tesla will join the S&P 500 effective prior to trading on Monday, Dec. 21. Tesla shares spiked more than 13% in extended trading on the news, as money managers with funds that track the S&P 500 will need to buy the stock for their portfolios. Upon entry, Tesla is already one of the S&P 500′s 10 most valuable companies based on Monday’s closing prices. Tesla was snubbed in September after it met criteria to be included in the S&P 500 but was not initially picked by the S&P 500 Index Committee. https://cnb.cx/3lFHlrR

Jeff Bezos announces US$791 million in donations for climate groups. Jeff Bezos has announced US$791 million in grants for NGOs and conservation groups as part of the Amazon founder’s “Bezos Earth Fund” set up to fight climate change. On Instagram, Bezos said 16 groups would share the grants, which included the World Resources Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Wildlife Fund. The announcement confirms a report in The Atlantic from earlier this month, which outlined how Bezos planned to distribute his US$10 billion earth fund by doling out large sums to some of the largest environmental and energy groups in the United States. https://bit.ly/36IWpif

US greenhouse gas emissions see historic plummet. Carbon dioxide emissions from the US economy are nose-diving this year to a level not seen since 1983, according to new estimates by BloombergNEF. The planet-heating pollution is on track to fall by 9.2 percent from last year, which the private research organization says would be the biggest reduction on record. The steep drop is mostly the result of the COVID-19 pandemic upending business as usual. With many Americans working from home or no longer working, transportation — the most polluting sector in the US — had its biggest year-on-year drop ever. The sector also contributed the most to the country’s overall reduction in emissions. Power sector emissions will probably see a record drop this year, too, BloombergNEF estimates. Globally, emissions are projected to fall by up to 7 percent this year. If those cuts were intentional and not the result of an economic and health crisis, that would be reassuring news. Greenhouse gas emissions need to keep dropping by more than 7 percent every year for the entire decade in order for the world to keep climate change at a relatively manageable level, according to United Nations scientists. For that to happen, economies need to rapidly shift to cleaner energy. Workers can’t stay home forever. Without that intentional shift to renewables, the globe will likely continue to careen further into climate catastrophe once the pandemic is under control. After this year’s historic drop in climate pollution, BloombergNEF expects a record rise in US year-on-year emissions in 2021. https://bit.ly/3kSExXk

Sophic Capital Client Insights

UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC): UGE Sells Solar Facility Well Above Current Implied Valuation.  UGE International announced the sale of one of its completed solar projects (AND 3 new ones AND the completion of another). Last week, Sophic Capital wrote that solar projects under construction have sold for multiples much higher than what the market values UGE International. UGE’s project sale multiple shows that the market still undervalues the Company. https://bit.ly/35TgUcZ

AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTC): AnalytixInsight’s Hidden Value in an AI-Powered FinTech Play. Capital markets regulations are pressuring traditional business models for producing investment research. MiFID II, for example, requires the separation of research costs and trading commissions. This resulted in less buy-side spending on sell-side research. Machine-generated research could be an attractive alternative across the broker dealer spectrum, especially in Europe where the discount broker business is evolving. MarketWall, AnalytixInsight’s stock trading and financial apps subsidiary, could be a big beneficiary from these trends. https://bit.ly/3nIhoZo

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