Last week was tough again for tech investors, as Treasury yields surged, and stocks exhibited poor reactions to earnings. Weakness was more pronounced in the second half of the week, Dow Jones fell 1.6%, S&P 500 was down 2.4%, and Nasdaq composite lost 3.2% during the week. The week ahead has risks, including GDP and inflation data, as well as big tech earnings. OpenAI is in talks to sell shares at a US$86 billion valuation. Stack Overflow, whose site helps software engineers get answers to technical questions, has laid off about 28% of its staff. The move may be the strongest indication yet of how OpenAI’s ChatGPT has upended digital businesses this year. The U.S. government announced new rules that restrict American firms such as Nvidia and Intel from selling advanced semiconductors, including artificial intelligence chips, to Chinese companies. Shares of critical chip firm ASML dropped 4% after these new U.S. curbs, and an outlook warning. Lockheed beat estimates on sustained weapons demand amid geopolitical tensions. Snap’s stock rose 12% after CEO Spiegel targeted 20% revenue growth. Okta’s stock fell 11% after it disclosed on Friday that hackers breached its systems and read some customers’ files. Amazon is rolling out expanded robotics operations at fulfillment centers built on updated sorting machines, robotic arms, and its Roomba-like mover bots. In Canada, Sophic Client UGE International announced Q3 2023 milestones and business updates, and announced commercial operation for its community solar project in Norway, Maine. Sophic Client Kraken announced a $3 million contract in Europe. GameSquare will acquire one of the biggest names in gaming, FaZe Clan and will complete a private placement to raise US$10 milion. BBTV Holdings announced its going private transaction.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Sophic Client UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) announces Q3 2023 milestones and business updates.
During the quarter, UGE achieved the Notice to Proceed (NTP) milestone for a rooftop community solar project in New York City totaling 1.4MW, UGE’s largest rooftop community solar project to date. An independent third party appraised the project at a value of US$2.82 per watt, for a total project value of US$3.9 million. UGE will receive a grant through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s Clean Energy Communities program expected to total US$1.7 million. On October 10, soon after the close of the third quarter, the Company achieved NTP for a 3.5MW Community Solar Project in Oregon their first project in the State. The project is scheduled to reach commercial operation in June 2024. With the Oregon project, UGE has reached NTP on 18.1MW of projects so far in 2023. Three rooftop community solar projects totaling 1.8MW are in the late stages of construction and are currently anticipated to reach commercial operation before the end of this year. UGE had all three projects appraised by an independent third-party, for a cumulative total value of US$5.1 million. The two New York projects will receive NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities grants, which are expected to total US$413,500. On September 30, 2023, the Company’s backlog totaled 343MW. UGE’s stage 3.0 development pipeline, which represents projects with site control secured but yet to receive investment committee approval, grew by 16MW in Q3 to now total 621MW. As of September 30, 2023, the Company has a pre-development pipeline (stages 1 and 2) of over 2 gigawatts, as well. On August 24, UGE closed an overnight marketed offering of debentures for aggregate gross proceeds of US$5,749,655. https://bit.ly/3Qkur4c
Sophic Client UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) achieves commercial operation for community solar project in Norway, Maine.
UGE announces that its 1-megawatt community solar farm in Norway, Maine reached commercial operation and has begun generating electricity. The Norway Community Solar Farm is built atop a former landfill, making this project a ‘brightfield’ – a brownfield site redeveloped into a solar project. In total, the solar farm will offset over 1,000 metric tons of CO2 each year, the equivalent generated by burning more than 150,000 gallons of gasoline. UGE had the project appraised by an independent third party at a value of US$3.29 per watt, with the project’s total fair market value at $3.6 million. Originally when NTP had been declared, a preliminary valuation of US$2.62 per watt was announced. As a brownfield redevelopment project, the Norway Community Solar Farm meets the criteria necessary to receive a 40% Energy Tax Credit. In addition to the Norway Community Solar Farm, UGE has nine additional community solar projects totaling 16MW under development in Maine, with the next one on track to reach commercial operation this fall. With the completion of this project, UGE’s operating portfolio now stands at 4.8MW, with an additional 18.1MW of projects having reached their NTP milestone this year to-date. https://bit.ly/3Q1k4Bc
Sophic Client Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC) announces $3 million boulder detection survey contract for offshore wind farm project in Europe.
Kraken Robotics Inc. announces it has received a $3 million contract to carry out boulder detection subsea survey services as part of an Offshore Wind Farm Project, located in Europe. https://bit.ly/3S5Udul
GameSquare (GAME-NASDAQ, GAME-TSXV) to acquire one of the biggest names in gaming, FaZe Clan (FAZE-NASDAQ).
Combined, FaZe Clan and GameSquare generated annual revenue of approximately US$138 million and achieved a 26.3% gross margin in 2022. Management expects to realize over US$18 million in run-rate cost savings from the FaZe Clan acquisition, supported by reduced duplicate corporate costs and other cost savings. The combined company plans to give guidance once the transaction is closed in the fourth quarter of 2023. At the effective time of the Merger and subject to the terms and conditions of the Merger Agreement, each issued and outstanding share of FaZe Clan common stock, will be converted into the right to receive 0.13091 shares of GameSquare’s common stock. In addition, in connection with the Merger, GameSquare is to complete (i) a private placement in public equity with certain accredited institutional investors to raise US$10,000,000 through the sale of GameSquare common stock. https://tinyurl.com/era3d43h
BBTV Holdings (BBTV-TSX) announces going private transaction.
BBTV Holdings Inc. announced that, based on a recommendation of an independent committee of the Company’s board of directors, it has entered into an arrangement agreement with 15384150 Canada Inc., whereby the Company will effect a going private transaction by way of a statutory plan of arrangement under Section 192 of the Canada Business Corporations Act. Pursuant to the Arrangement, the Purchaser, which is a corporation owned by Shahrzad Rafati, the founder, Chief Executive Officer and a director of the Company, and Hamed Shahbazi, a director of the Company, will acquire all of the issued and outstanding subordinate voting shares of the Company at a price of $0.375 per Subordinate Voting Share. In connection with the Transaction, one of Canada’s leading alternative capital providers provided a commitment letter to the Purchaser for certain debt facilities to be made available to the Purchaser through one or more investment funds or accounts managed or advised by the Lender, in the aggregate principal amount of $40 million, including a term loan (the “New Loan”). The SPV Participants will be providing a $5,000,000 personal guarantee of the debt facilities. The Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, and is cross-conditional with the advance of the New Loan and the refinancing of the MEP Loan and is expected to close on or about November 30, 2023. https://tinyurl.com/5fjw2am8
Procurify closes $68 million Series C to invest in AI, global expansion of spend management platform.
Vancouver-based spend management and procurement software startup Procurify has secured more than $68 million (US$50 million) in Series C funding. The all-equity, all-primary round closed in the summer and was led by United States-based FinTech investor Ten Coves Capital and included a co-investment from fellow new investor Export Development Canada. It also saw participation from existing Procurify backers like Toronto’s Information Venture Partners and Boston-based HarbourVest Partners. Amid a tough economic environment, Procurify claimed it has seen a 100 percent year-over-year increase in new sales. https://tinyurl.com/eh6swhau
Hiive secures $5.7 million Series A to improve VC secondary trading.
After bootstrapping itself to cash flow breakeven and seeing a year of growth amid challenging VC and public market conditions, Hiive has secured its first external capital: $5.7 million (US$4.2 million) in Series A financing. Hiive’s Series A round, which closed in mid-September, saw participation from Uncorrelated Ventures, Splash Capital, Harmony Venture Partners, Hack VC, Agmen Capital, and Lending Club founder and Upgrade CEO Renaud Laplanche—the majority of which have already been using Hiive’s platform. Per Desai, the round was raised via a simple agreement for future equity (SAFE) at a $105 million (US$77-million) post-money valuation cap. https://tinyurl.com/5xv99ejb
Airbnb faces new curbs in canada after sharp rise in rents.
Canada’s government is examining new measures to rein in short-term rental services such as Airbnb Inc. as policymakers try to cool inflation in apartment and house rents. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday the government is looking at what laws or regulations it can bring in to curb the use of platforms that offer rented accommodation for a few days or weeks at a time. She heaped praise on the province of British Columbia, which this week introduced a proposed law to restrict many residents from renting their investment properties on Airbnb, Flipkey and similar services. “We know that short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and VRBO mean fewer homes for Canadians to rent, especially in urban and populated areas of our country,” Freeland said during a press conference in Ottawa. She said she has seen estimates that as many as 30,000 more homes could be made available for rent in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, if those platforms were restricted. “It is so important that we are examining whether there are any tools in federal jurisdiction that we could use that would make a difference in this space.” https://archive.ph/cWheu
Traffic management startup Miovision closes $36 million, bringing latest round to $296 million.
This latest injection comes six months after Miovision closed $260 million from Telus Ventures, Maverix Private Equity, and Export Development Canada (EDC). Telus, Maverix, EDC, McRock Capital, HarbourVest Partners, and BDC Capital’s Growth Venture Co-investment Fund invested in this latest tranche. Miovision, which has made four acquisitions in the last two years, said in statement it hopes to capture a “growing share” of the traffic management market. The company plans to use the new funding to fuel both organic and inorganic growth, which includes product development. Miovision uses a combination of computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to help cities reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. The Kitchener-Waterloo-based company has created both software and hardware aimed at helping communities remotely manage and track their traffic networks. Today, Miovision has offices in Germany, Serbia, and the United States. The company claims since 2005, its systems have detected over 30 billion vehicles and 1.5 billion pedestrians, assisting nearly 1,500 customers in 63 countries. https://tinyurl.com/ycyvvvzx
Apple out as anchor retailer for The One after Toronto development runs out of time.
The writing has been on the half-constructed walls for a while now. Apple will not be opening a new flagship retail location at The One in Toronto. Why? The massive hotel/condo/retail location doesn’t actually exist yet. The project ran out of time to uphold its contractual agreement with Apple to open on time.That’s a massive loss for the developers of the 85-story tall development in Toronto. Despite planning to open by the end of last year, the mega construction still has another 45 floors to go. The project is now said to be aiming for March 2025. Apple won’t be present, if that happens, at least to start. CityNews (H/T iPhone in Canada) reports that Apple is officially off the project: Apple Inc. was reportedly slated to open its flagship store on the main floor of The One’s retail space. But the court documents state: “The Project recently lost its anchor retail tenant, and no replacement anchor tenant has been secured.” No Apple Store? No problem. The area has four others anyway. Apple’s involvement in the years-long project was essentially dead since early last year when the company sued to terminate its contract with the site developers over missing key deadlines. Apple is simply no longer the one for … The One. https://tinyurl.com/46hn257m
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
OpenAI is in talks to sell shares at US$86 billion valuation.
OpenAI is in talks to sell existing employees’ shares at an US$86 billion valuation, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The artificial intelligence startup behind ChatGPT is negotiating the transaction, known as a tender offer, with potential investors, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information. The firm hasn’t finalized allocations and terms could still change, some of the people said. OpenAI, which counts Microsoft Corp. as a 49% owner, is led by Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman. At US$86 billion, it would leapfrog the likes of Stripe and Chinese online retailer Shein to become one of the world’s most valuable closely held companies, behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX and TikTok parent ByteDance. https://archive.ph/KSquB
U.S. bars Nvidia from selling advanced AI chips to China.
The U.S. government on Tuesday announced new rules that restrict American firms such as Nvidia and Intel from selling advanced semiconductors, including artificial intelligence chips, to Chinese companies. The restrictions aim to close loopholes in chip-related rules the U.S. announced last year. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, Nvidia said the rules will ban sales of its A800 and H800 chips, which were designed specifically for export to China. Limiting China’s access to chips has been a key focus of the Biden administration and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who have said they want to prevent China from using the chips for their military purposes. Of the more than US$10 billion Nvidia generated in data center sales last quarter, 20 to 25 percent of the revenue came from sales in China. Nvidia’s stock price closed down 4.7% on Tuesday on the news. https://tinyurl.com/24bh3yaa
Elliott considers buyout of supply-chain software firm E2open.
Elliott Investment Management is considering making a proposal to take supply-chain software company E2open Parent Holdings Inc. private, according to people familiar with the matter. The activist hedge fund is evaluating its next steps and could engage with E2open’s board, the people added, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. E2open shares plummeted by a record 50% and touched an all-time low on Oct. 11 after the company cut its earnings forecast and ousted longtime chief executive officer Michael Farlekas. Board member Andrew Appel was named interim CEO. Its shares closed trading Friday at US$2.45 each, giving E2open a market value of US$743 million. Deliberations are at an early stage and Elliott could still decide against pursuing a buyout, the people said. A representative for E2open didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Elliott participated in the original buyout of E2open in 2015 when Insight Venture Partners led a deal to buy it. Elliott is still a top 10 shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Other top 10 investors in the company include private equity firm Francisco Partners, Neuberger Berman, Temasek Holdings Pte, and Insight. https://archive.ph/IiElo
LinkedIn lays off 3% of staff.
LinkedIn will lay off 668 employees in product, engineering, talent, and finance teams, representing roughly 3% of its 20,000 employees, the Microsoft-owned company said Monday. This is the third time LinkedIn has cut staff this year. It laid off 716 people in May as it downsized its China operations and cut recruiting teams earlier this year. Microsoft has cut more than 10,000 jobs across its divisions this year in an effort to reduce costs as software and PC sales have slowed. Microsoft’s layoffs this year have surpassed the number of staff CEO Satya Nadella cut in 2014, after he took the helm. https://tinyurl.com/25dmwz32
Nokia to cut up to 14,000 jobs after 69% profit plunge.
Nokia on Thursday said it would cut up to 14,000 jobs as part of a cost reduction plan following a plunge in third-quarter earnings. The Finnish telecommunications giant said that it will reduce its cost base and increase operation efficiency to “address the challenging market environment.” It is targeting to lower its cost base on a gross basis from 2023 by between 800 million euros ($842.5 billion) and 1.2 billion euros by the end of 2026. One of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment makers, Nokia has been facing headwinds from a slowing global economy and from infrastructure spending reductions made by mobile operators. Sales from Nokia’s biggest unit by revenue, its mobile networks business, declined 24% year-on-year to 2.16 billion euros, with operating profit for the division diving 64% year-on-year. Cost cutting measures have also taken place in the U.S. this year, particularly with carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. Nokia said this was mainly driven by declines in North America. https://tinyurl.com/bdfthjjv
Stack overflow, hurt by ChatGPT’s rise, lays off 28% of staff.
Stack Overflow, whose site helps software engineers get answers to technical questions, has laid off about 28% of its staff, according to a blog post from Chief Executive Officer Prashanth Chandrasekar on Monday. The move may be the strongest indication yet of how OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which also provides answers to the same type of questions, has upended digital businesses this year. Stack Overflow, owned by Dutch investment firm Prosus, cut 10% of staff in May after doubling its workforce to more than 500 people last year, before ChatGPT launched. The Information reported in April that Stack Overflow, founded in 2008, was one of several software companies in danger because of the rapid rise of generative artificial intelligence. https://tinyurl.com/yvwthwry
Tesla CEO Elon Musk sounds pessimistic note about economy on earnings call.
Tesla reported third-quarter results after the bell Wednesday. The company’s shares rose as much as 2.4% in extended trading after the report crossed, but then sank more than 4% after CEO Elon Musk cautioned that the Cybertruck would not deliver significant positive cashflow for 12 to 18 months after production begins, and emphasized that the company is focused on making its cars more affordable amid a high-interest rate environment. It was the first time Tesla has missed on both earnings and revenue since its second-quarter 2019 report in July 2019. Tesla executives said on an earnings call that they are “laying the groundwork to begin construction,” on a new factory planned in Mexico. But Musk said before Tesla goes “full-tilt” on the Mexico factory, the company is working to bring down the price of its cars. https://tinyurl.com/yr8y96ek
Netflix profit beats expectations, ad-tier subscriptions rise.
Netflix reported a boost in subscriber growth driven by a password-sharing crackdown efforts and interest in its new ad-supported tier. The streaming giant said after the market closed Wednesday that it had added 8.76 million global subscribers during the third quarter, higher than 5.49 million Wall Street had expected, according to estimates from Street Account. It’s the biggest quarterly net add total for the company since it added 10.1 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2020 – when Covid restrictions kept people home. Netflix said that its ad plan membership grew nearly 70% quarter over quarter, although it did not disclose what percentage of its base is subscribed to this tier. https://tinyurl.com/yjuvt9e5
Shares of critical chip firm ASML drop 4% after new U.S. curbs, outlook warning.
Chip equipment firm ASML reported a year-on-year rise in profit in the third quarter and beat analyst estimates, but forecast 2024 revenue will be flat. ASML is one of the most important semiconductor firms in the world, producing tools known as extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, which are required to manufacture the most advanced chips globally. ASML shares were down nearly 4% just after 8 a.m. London time, as rising geopolitical concerns offset the profit rise. “The semiconductor industry is currently working through the bottom of the cycle and our customers expect the inflection point to be visible by the end of this year,” ASML CEO Peter Wennink said in a Wednesday statement. “We therefore expect 2024 to be a transition year.” Wennink added that the company is taking a more “conservative view” of 2024 and expects a revenue number similar to 2023. “But we also look at 2024 as an important year to prepare for significant growth that we expect for 2025.” The semiconductor market has had a tough year amid weak demand for products like smartphones and laptops, which these components go into. Companies like Taiwan’s TSMC and Samsung, two of the world’s biggest chip manufacturers and customers of ASML, have cut their capital expenditure this year as a result. ASML net bookings in the third quarter totaled 2.6 billion euros, a 42% plunge from the previous quarter, as its customers cut back on spending. Still, ASML has reaffirmed its guidance for net sales to increase 30% year-on-year for 2023. https://tinyurl.com/46bwat7h
Lockheed beats estimates on sustained weapons demand amid geopolitical tensions.
U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin shares are up 2% after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter revenue and profit on Tuesday, as geopolitical tensions fueled sustained demand for its military equipment. During pre-market trading Lockheed shares were down as much as 2.1% due to weak sales in the unit that makes the F-35 fighter jet, but reversed in early trading in New York to US$450.52 per share, up 2%. The war in Ukraine has prompted restocking arms and ammunition such as shoulder-fired missiles, artillery and other weaponry, providing U.S. defense companies with lucrative Pentagon contracts. Lockheed’s weapons, such as the guided multiple launch rocket system and Javelin anti-tank missiles, made in conjunction with defense company RTX, have proven critical to Ukraine’s war efforts. However, Lockheed is still hindered by pandemic-related labor and supply chain disruptions that continue to affect business lines like the aeronautics business which makes the advanced F-35 fighter jet. “We are still paced by a few key items,” Lockheed’s Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John told Reuters in an interview, such as “processor assemblies, solid-rocket motors, castings and forgings”, though they have seen progress in this last quarter. As a result, sales at its aeronautics unit, the largest by size, saw a 5.2% decline in the third quarter. The company last month cut its full-year F-35 jet delivery target on supplier delays but reaffirmed its 2023 financial goals on Tuesday. https://tinyurl.com/55k6atz9
Snap’s stock rises 12% after CEO Spiegel targets 20% revenue growth.
Snap’s share price rose nearly 12% on Monday, closing at US$9.72, after CEO Evan Spiegel told the social media network’s staff that it hoped to increase revenue by 20% by the end of 2024. The owner of Snapchat also aims to log more than 475 million daily active users in the fourth quarter of 2024. That would mark a rise from 397 million reported in July and top analyst forecasts of 448 million for next year, according to CNBC. Snap confirmed the numbers in the memo, first reported by The Verge, but said they were “stretch goals.” Growth of 20% would mark a rapid recovery for Snap. This year, analysts predict Snap’s revenue will fall 2%, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The company’s revenue rose just 12% last year. From 2019 through 2021, Snap grew at an average of 52% annually. https://tinyurl.com/mrykwwr9
Okta says hackers accessed customer files, stock falls 11%.
Okta’s stock fell 11% after it disclosed on Friday that hackers breached its systems and read some customers’ files. The hackers used a stolen credential to gain access to Okta’s customer support service and access some customer logs, but the company’s two-factor authentication service itself was not compromised, Chief Security Officer David Bradbury said in a blog post. Okta, which provides software for companies to manage apps and employee logins, notified customers of the breach on October 19, more than two weeks after the cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust detected evidence of the breach and notified Okta, according to a blog post BeyondTrust published. BeyondTrust said it was an Okta customer whose files were read by the hackers. This isn’t Okta’s first major breach. The company said in 2022 that more than 300 customers’ accounts may have been compromised after hackers accessed the laptop of an engineer doing work for Okta. https://tinyurl.com/y63fns3j
iPhone 15 reportedly selling worse than iPhone 14 in China.
Apple’s newest iPhone 15 lineup is apparently not selling that well in China, according to new analyst research revealed via Bloomberg. The report indicates a decline in sales of iPhone 15 in its first 17 days of availability, compared to the same period for the iPhone 14 last year. The analysts estimate a 4.5% drop, which — at Apple’s scale — equates to millions fewer devices sold. The downturn in sales performance is attributed to an ongoing weakness in consumer demand and strong competition from domestic rivals like Huawei. Research analysts at Jefferies indicate Huawei has beaten Apple to now become the best-selling smartphone manufacturer in the region, and believe that the trend will continue through 2024. https://tinyurl.com/yst7bnpv
It is ‘nearly unavoidable’ that AI will cause a financial crash within a decade, SEC head says.
The chair of the SEC has warned that AI could trigger a financial crisis, as Wall Street rushes to adopt the new technology. Gary Gensler told the Financial Times that it was “nearly unavoidable” that AI would cause a financial crash as soon as the late 2020s or early 2030s, and said that reliance on models developed by tech companies could lead to economic chaos. Gensler called for AI regulation that addresses both the underlying AI models built by tech companies and how they are used by Wall Street banks, describing it as a “cross-regulatory challenge.” https://tinyurl.com/nmw53tp8
Amazon is bringing drone deliveries to the UK and Italy next year.
Amazon announced that it will be bringing its drone delivery offerings to the U.K. and Italy by the end of 2024. The news also includes a third U.S. location, following Lockeford, California and College Station, Texas. No more specifics about the locations were announced — it’s promising to make those announcements in “the coming months.” The U.S. location will be a third state, joining California and Texas. Once the feature is live in their location, customers can choose drone delivery from the drop-down for products weighing less than five pounds. The new areas will be served by MK30, a new drone announced at last year’s Delivering the Future event. Per the company, the new drone has double the range of its predecessor, is quieter and capable of handling a broader range of weather conditions. Amazon has a stated goal of delivering 500 million packages by the end of the decade — obviously those sort of numbers are going to require a far larger network. Doing so will require working closely with national and local governments to deal with regulations around this new kind of package delivery. https://tinyurl.com/yxkfzbxc
GM, Cruise and Honda to launch robotaxi service in Japan.
General Motors, self-driving car subsidiary Cruise and Honda plan to launch a robotaxi service in Japan under a new joint venture, the three companies announced today. The companies intend to launch the service with the custom-built Cruise Origin vehicles in central Tokyo in early 2026. The service will start with dozens of Cruise Origins. The fleet will eventually expand to 500 Cruise Origin vehicles, the companies said, adding that the plan is to scale the service area beyond central Tokyo. https://tinyurl.com/2ct9tavh
Folding iPad as soon as 2024, says report – but 2025 more likely.
We’ve been hearing claims about folding iPhones and folding iPads for years now, with the latest supply chain report saying that it could launch as soon as 2024. Apple will launch a foldable iPad ahead of a folding iPhone. We saw the first folding Android phone back in 2019, and of course as soon as Samsung or another Apple competitor does something, the “Apple being left behind” pieces immediately follow. The folly of launching before the tech was ready for real-life use very quickly became apparent, with the launch of the first Galaxy Fold model proving to be a complete disaster. While there hasn’t been much consistency among analyst predictions, one consensus view does appear to have emerged: that Apple will launch a folding iPad ahead of a folding iPhone. https://tinyurl.com/3nsf5nka
Apple’s cheaper Vision Pro follow-up still won’t be cheap.
Mark Gurman writes in his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg that the more affordable follow-up to the Apple Vision Pro will “likely” ditch the external display to help it reach an internally-discussed price point between US$1,500 and US$2.500. Gurman also reiterates what he wrote in June — that the more affordable version will probably run on an iPhone-grade chip, have fewer cameras, and get lower-resolution screens inside. Ditching the external display means Apple would lock one of the Vision Pro’s marquee features — EyeSight — behind the paywall of the more expensive versions. EyeSight is the thing that lets you see an on-the-fly render of the wearer’s eyes so they can “look” at you when you’re talking to them, and so you can tell, at a glance, if they’re occupied or if they’re actually seeing what’s in front of them. https://tinyurl.com/2x5n43av
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Netflix’s first live sports broadcast will be a golf tournament between PGA Tour pros and F1 drivers.
Netflix is tapping into the popularity of two of its existing properties for its first live sports broadcast. The streaming service announced Tuesday that it would broadcast the “Netflix Cup” golf tournament on Nov. 14. The eight-hole tournament will feature four PGA Tour pros and four Formula 1 golfers competing against each other. The top two PGA/F1 teams at the end of the eight-hole tournament will advance to a winner-take-all ninth hole at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas. The tournament begins at 8 p.m. ET and is being held days before the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18. All eight participants have been key participants in their sports’ Netflix docuseries. “Drive to Survive” is widely credited with boosting United States interest in Formula 1, especially as viewers searched for sports content during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the success of “Drive to Survive,” the streaming platform launched “Full Swing” in February to chronicle the lives of PGA Tour players. https://tinyurl.com/4c84dx7w
Apple still expected to make a play at streaming NBA games.
The Wall Street Journal published a report that details the state of play between the National Basketball Association and its distribution partners. Unsurprisingly, Apple’s name is still in the mix, although it doesn’t sound like there has been any significant development. That’s in part because ESPN and TNT have through April 2024 to decide on their own packages. ESPN and TNT, which carry roughly 165 nationally televised games combined, are exploring signing up for smaller packages, said people familiar with the situation. Those companies already are in renewal talks with the NBA, with an exclusive negotiation period set to expire in April. If ESPN and TNT buy fewer games, that would allow the league to create a package for a streaming video player. Amazon and Apple already have expressed interest—and are looking for much more than a small slice of NBA games. The league is looking at doing just that, some of the people said, and the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports —parent of the Bally Sports branded regional channels that once operated under the Fox Sports Net brand—is expected to accelerate those efforts. https://tinyurl.com/fx5ys6cv
Windows 11 is now used by 400 million devices, leaked Microsoft data shows.
Windows 11 is reportedly in use by more than 400 million monthly active devices. Windows Central reports that it has seen “Microsoft internal data” that shows Windows 11 is expected to hit 500 million monthly active devices by early 2024. Windows 10 first reached 400 million active devices just over a year after release, an adoption rate that Microsoft proudly noted was 115 percent faster than Windows 7. It has taken Windows 11 two years to reach that same adoption rate, a significant slowdown considering Windows 10 reached 600 million devices a few months after its two-year anniversary. https://tinyurl.com/bdz2yuap
Netflix’s cloud gaming service begins tests in US.
Netflix is beginning to test its cloud gaming service in the U.S. after initially launching limited trials in Canada and the U.K. The service, an expansion on the company’s mobile gaming efforts which began in 2021, has seen the streamer picking up gaming studios and licensing titles from individual developers with the intention to make gaming another major arm of its business. With its cloud gaming service, Netflix now allows members to play its games on smart TVs and TV-connected devices, like Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku and others, by using their mobile phone as the gaming controller. https://tinyurl.com/zxzcrhkn
Amazon says its robots will speed up delivery and definitely not replace humans.
Amazon is rolling out expanded robotics operations at fulfillment centers built on updated sorting machines, robotic arms, and its Roomba-like mover bots. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s latest inventory processing system, which the company calls Sequoia, can speed up delivery fulfillment by 25 percent and launched this week at a facility in Houston. The new system has robots designed to work alongside humans instead of replacing them, according to Amazon. Director of robotic storage technology David Guerin says that a significant portion of its operations will use them in the next three to five years. Notably, Amazon is testing Agility Robotics’ bi-pedal Digit robot. The building blocks of Amazon’s latest system have already been in view, as the company has discussed the developments of its warehouse robots and artificial intelligence over the last year. The company’s Sparrow robot arm can identify products inside totes and pull them out. There are also the autonomous Proteus and Hercules robots that roll around like robovacs and can lift and move shelves, distribute containers, and deliver products in the building so humans don’t have to. https://tinyurl.com/bdcs7dhs
Amazon to launch e-commerce site in South Africa next year.
Amazon plans to launch a version of its e-commerce site in South Africa next year, the company said Tuesday. It would be the first time Amazon has entered a new e-commerce market since 2022. Amazon said it has started registering sellers for the new site, called Amazon.co.za, and plans to offer fulfillment services in the country. The South African e-commerce market is currently led by Takealot.com, which offers fast shipping on a wide variety of products from clothing to groceries. Before Amazon began scrutinizing spending and laying off staff late last year, the company had launched in new countries at a relatively rapid clip. Amazon launched in the Netherlands and Sweden in 2020, Poland in 2021 and Belgium in 2022. The company has not launched in any new countries this year. https://tinyurl.com/r2ea68um
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Goldman Sachs wants out of consumer lending.
Employees Say It Can’t Happen Fast Enough. When Goldman Sachs and Apple launched their joint savings account in April, Goldman held a town hall at its headquarters, where bank executives talked it up. One executive had a different message shortly afterward. “We should have never done this f—ing thing,” the Goldman partner told colleagues. Many Goldman employees agree, and the bank has reversed course on its ill-fated foray into consumer lending. Goldman is selling GreenSky at a steep loss, after buying it just last year. The bank has already sold most of its portfolio of personal loans. Privately, some Goldman executives blame Apple. Most card programs send out cardholders’ bills on a rolling basis throughout the month. Apple cardholders get their bill at the beginning of each month. That means Goldman customer-service employees get flooded early every month, making it hard for them to keep up. Goldman has lobbied Apple to let the bank change the way customers are billed, but so far has been unsuccessful, according to people familiar with the matter. https://archive.ph/rmyd6
Bitcoin ETF enthusiasts hit as fake news fuels US$85 million liquidation.
An erroneous news report that sparked a brief 10% rally in Bitcoin is shining a spotlight on a crypto industry that’s waiting with bated breath for the arrival of mass-market ETFs to revitalize its fortunes. On Monday morning, a rally in the token was quickly reversed after a news report incorrectly asserted that BlackRock Inc. had received the green light to launch a spot exchange-traded fund in the cryptocurrency. While the news may have been bogus, the money at stake was very real. Data from tracker Coinglass shows that more than US$85 million worth of trading positions, mostly from traders who were betting on lower prices, were liquidated over the past 24 hours. While misinformation is par for the course for an industry beloved by fraudsters and digital advocates alike, the episode adds to the raging debate on whether the market has actually priced in the arrival of an exchange-traded fund tracking the largest digital coin. It also underscores concerns held by regulators that retail investors lack basic protections in the crypto Wild West — a sticking point that has in the past fueled the Securities and Exchange Commission’s reluctance to broaden market access. This particular instance comes at a time of heightened expectations that a spot-Bitcoin ETF will indeed soon be available to American investors. Issuers have been trying to get a US spot-Bitcoin ETF launched for about a decade now, with no luck. Regulators have cited market manipulation and scams as some of the reasons for past denials. https://archive.ph/ZFfyY
Ferrari to accept crypto as payment for its cars in the US.
Ferrari has started to accept payment in cryptocurrency for its luxury sports cars in the U.S. and will extend the scheme to Europe following requests from its wealthy customers, its marketing and commercial chief told Reuters. The vast majority of blue-chip companies have steered clear of crypto as the volatility of bitcoin and other tokens renders them impractical for commerce. Patchy regulation and high energy usage have also prevented the spread of crypto as a means of payment. Ferrari’s Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer Enrico Galliera told that Reuters cryptocurrencies had made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint through the introduction of new software and a larger use of renewable sources. https://tinyurl.com/wtzxk8m4
Automakers have big hopes for EVs; buyers aren’t cooperating.
The auto industry’s push to boost sales of electric vehicles is running into a cold, hard reality: Buyers’ interest in these models is proving shallower than expected. While EV sales continue to grow—rising 51% this year through September—the rate has slowed from a year earlier and unsold inventory is starting to pile up for some brands. Some car companies, such as Ford Motor and Toyota Motor, are tempering their expectations for EVs and shifting more resources into hybrids, which have been drawing consumers at a faster clip. The first wave of buyers willing to pay a premium for a battery-powered car has already made the purchase, dealers and executives say, and automakers are now dealing with a more hesitant group, just as a barrage of new EV models are expected to hit dealerships in the coming years. “The curve isn’t accelerating as quickly as I think a lot of people expected,” said John Lawler, Ford Motor’s chief financial officer at a conference in September, on the EV adoption rate. “We’re seeing it flatten a bit.” The abrupt slowdown in EV sales is a contrast to a year ago, when carmakers found themselves caught off guard by long waiting lists for battery-powered cars and trucks. It is also a troublesome sign for the car manufacturers plowing billions of dollars into building factories and battery plants to support what they hope will be a strong pickup in demand for plug-in models. The share of the retail market held by EVs has leveled out at around 9% for the past several months, according to data analytics firm J.D. Power, raising broader questions about whether the industry is confronting a short-term blip or a more protracted challenge. https://archive.ph/WwIOh
GM to delay all-electric truck production at Michigan plant until late 2025.
General Motors said Tuesday it is delaying production of all-electric trucks at a Michigan plant by at least a year to “better manage capital investments” and implement improvements in an effort to make the new EVs more profitable. GM now plans to begin construction of its next-generation EVs at Orion Assembly in suburban Detroit by late 2025, instead of next year. The factory currently produces Chevrolet Bolt EV models, which GM will cease producing at the end of this year. The delay is the latest sign of potential trouble for the ambitious, multibillion-dollar plans of traditional automakers to move to electric vehicles. Adoption of EVs, which remain costly to produce and purchase, has been slower than many expected. The production delay calls into question GM’s previously announced EV goals, including cumulative production of 400,000 EVs in North American from 2022 through mid-2024, which had already been pushed back. GM also has a goal to exclusively offer consumer EVs by 2035. A GM spokesman late-Tuesday said there’s currently no change in plans to the company’s EV production targets. https://tinyurl.com/mrxhnn2e
Toyota and Lexus will implement Tesla’s NACS connector on future EVs.
Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus will start implementing Tesla’s winning charging plug standard known as the North American Charging Standard, or NACS, in “certain” vehicles starting in 2025. Toyota will also provide current and soon-to-be EV buyers with adapters to access to 12,000-plus Tesla Supercharger stations. https://tinyurl.com/4dmhfbdu
Amazon’s fleet of Rivian-made electric delivery vans reaches 10K in US.
Amazon’s 10,000 Rivian-made all-electric van are delivering packages throughout the United States, the e-commerce company revealed Tuesday evening during its Delivering the Future event. Amazon, which owns a stake in Rivian, reached a deal with the automaker in 2019 to have at least 100,000 electric delivery vans on the road by 2030. The majority of the electric delivery vans are in the U.S., split across 1,800 or so cities. https://tinyurl.com/yhxj2b57
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