A few stocks we track at Sophic, have performed well recently, in addition, E Automotive, an online vehicle auction marketplace, is planning to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Montreal based Sharethrough, announced the pricing of its TSX IPO, as the company is looking to raise approximately $75 million in gross proceeds. Investor relations software provider Q4 Inc. reportedly cut the size and pricing of its planned IPO on the TSX. Galaxy Digital (GLXY-TSX) announced that its affiliate, Galaxy Interactive, raised a fund with $325 million of committed capital, with participation from over 70 new LPs, including institutional investors, endowments, strategic investors, and family offices. WonderFi (WNDR-NEO) upsized its previously announced bought deal private placement. Rolling Stone Magazine gave a shoutout to Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE), while we published a note on potential benefits for GameSquare and milestones that investors can look forward to . We also highlighted that Sophic Client HempFusion (CBD.U-TSXV) continues to grow its direct-to-consumer, business-to-business, online, and white label channels and has expanded its number of retail doors. In the USA, a top ByteDance investor weighed a US$500 million stake sale, WeWork shares rose in their trading debut after its SPAC merger, and crypto exchange Bakkt slid in its debut after SPAC deal and Intel blamed chip shortages for its Q3 sales miss, sending its stock down 9% on the news.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Online vehicle auction marketplace E Automotive revs up IPO plans.

E Automotive, an online vehicle auction marketplace, is planning to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company has not announced a date or set a price for the offering. The offering is being made through a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuity Corp., CIBC Capital Markets and National Bank Financial Inc. as lead underwriters, and Scotiabank, Eight Capital, ATB Capital Markets Inc. and Laurentian Bank Securities Inc. https://bit.ly/2XDhmL6 

Sharethrough prices TSX IPO, aims to secure $75 million.

Montreal-headquartered Sharethrough announced on October 21 the pricing of its initial public offerings it looks to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). The programmatic advertising tech company is looking to pull in approximately $75 million in gross proceeds. Sharethrough is offering between 3,947,369 and 5,000,000 treasury common shares at a price between $15 and $19 per share. If the over-allotment option is exercised in full, Sharethrough could raise $86.25 million. Sharethrough first filed to go public on the TSX on October 4. The offering is being underwritten by RBC Capital Markets, National Bank Financial, and Scotiabank as joint-book runners. https://bit.ly/2Zlm2G3 

Q4 Inc. reduces TSX IPO target following weaker than expected investor demand.

Investor relations software provider Q4 Inc. has cut the size and pricing of its planned initial public offering (IPO) on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) after seeing lower than anticipated demand from investors. A source familiar with the matter told BetaKit Q4 is now looking to raise $100 million at a price of $12 per share. In a new filing, outlining plans to sell approximately 8.3 million common shares. As first reported by The Globe and Mail, this revised total represents a significant drop compared to the $150 million target Q4 set on October 7, when the company announced plans to price its shares between $14 and $17.50. Q4 is expected to begin trading on the TSX under the symbol ‘QFOR’ on Monday. https://bit.ly/3E96nbU

Galaxy Interactive (GLXY-TSX) raises an additional $325 million for its second interactive content and technology venture fund.

Galaxy Digital announced that its affiliate, Galaxy Interactive (or “the Company”), already the largest franchise dedicated to the interactive sector, has raised a fund with $325 million of committed capital, with participation from over 70 new LPs, including institutional investors, endowments, strategic investors, and family offices. Galaxy Interactive is the second fund in a growing product suite of multi-LP fund offerings within Galaxy Digital Asset Management (“GDAM”), the asset management arm of Galaxy Digital. Galaxy Digital has $2.2 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2021. Led by General Partners Sam Englebardt and Richard Kim, Galaxy Interactive was established by Galaxy Digital in 2018 to fill a gap in funding available to companies in the “interactive” sector, which the Company defines as the intersection of content, finance, and technology. Of the $325 million raised, nearly $150 million has already been invested and/or earmarked for new portfolio companies. These new companies will join Galaxy Interactive’s existing portfolio of over 60 interactive companies, including Mythical Games, Genvid, Immutable, GreenPark, Current, StockX, and Bad Robot Games, among others. https://bit.ly/3E6xIva

WonderFi (WNDR-NEO) upsizes previously announced bought deal private placement.

WonderFi agreed to increase the size of its previously announced bought deal private placement led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. (the “Lead Underwriter”). The Lead Underwriter has agreed, on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters (collectively, the “Underwriters”), to purchase on a bought deal private placement basis an aggregate of 13,520,001 units of the Company (the “Units”) at a price of C$1.95 per Unit (the “Issue Price”) for aggregate gross proceeds to the Company of C$26,364,001.95 (the “Offering”). In addition, the Company has granted the Underwriters an option (the “Over-Allotment Option”), to purchase up to an additional 2,565,000 Units at a price of C$1.95 per Unit, for a period of 7 days after and including the Closing Date (as herein defined). https://bit.ly/3nlkbsU & https://bit.ly/3vG0SOY

Axis Auto Finance (AXIS-TSXV) lands $15 million to roll out digital loan product.

Axis Auto Finance Inc., a Mississauga-based lender that describes itself as a FinTech servicing the alternative auto finance market, is set to raise $15 million from NowLake Technology. The TSXV-listed Axis is receiving the capital through a private placement offering where NowLake will purchase 30,000,000 common shares at $0.50 per share. Through the deal, NowLake will own approximately 23 percent of Axis’ issued and outstanding common shares post-closing. https://bit.ly/2XB3vVy

Hoot Reading secures investment from new $100 million Spin Master venture fund.

Winnipeg-based EdTech startup Hoot Reading has raised $3 million in seed financing to fuel the expansion of its online tutoring platform, which focuses on advancing children’s reading skills. The startup’s round, which closed in September, was led by Spin Master Ventures (SMV), and supported by all of Hoot Reading’s initial angel investors, including Greg and Jeff Fettes of 24/7 InTouch and Neil Jaffe of BookNook. It brings Hoot Reading’s total funding to date to $3.9 million. SMV is the newly established venture arm of Toronto toymaker Spin Master, which has allocated an initial $100 million USD towards the corporate fund. Spin Master, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is the global children’s entertainment company behind brands like Paw Patrol, Air Hogs, and Rubik’s Cube. https://bit.ly/3m2Ytui 

Skyhive secures $49.3 million Series B raise for automated job skills tech.

SaaS startup SkyHive has raised $49.3 million in a Series B round. Eldrige led the round with participation from Allegis Cyber, Accenture Ventures, Workday Ventures, and the Partnerships Fund For New York City. This new capital will support SkyHive’s global expansion of client services and partnerships. It will also augment ongoing research and development, and grow the company’s sales and marketing teams. SkyHive has raised more than $73.9 million to date. The company uses artificial intelligence to objectively extrapolate the skills of workers, the skills required by jobs, the skills gained from training, then applies deep learning to match workers with jobs and training. https://bit.ly/3E6AnoJ 

Fraction raises $20 million to bring home equity solution to US market.

Vancouver-based FinTech startup Fraction Technologies has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by QED Investors. The financing also saw participation from returning investors like Impression Ventures, Primetime Partners, Panache Ventures, and Global Founders Capital. Fraction offers a digital platform to provide socially conscious financial solutions for homeowners. The Fraction Appreciation Mortgage, which is their flagship product, allows its users to convert up to 40% of their home equity into tax-free cash. Clients can then use the equity in their homes to increase their monthly income, buy a second home, trade an existing mortgage for one without monthly payments, and more. https://bit.ly/3jnYZRS

Rolling Stone Magazine shoutout to Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE)- Why Esports just reached a cultural tipping point.

While, technically, esports dates back to the 1970s, competitive gaming as we know it dates back nearly 20 years. Over time, it’s become a billion-dollar global business, and, for Gen Z gamers, it’s a passion that garners 77 percent more watch time than traditional broadcast sports. The announcement that Roc Nation Sports is partnering with Gaming Community Network (GCN), a part of the GameSquare Esports, to create global gaming solutions for traditional athletes has implications for gamers across the world. Not only does it prove the cultural impact that both hip-hop and esports have on society as a whole, but it uniquely positions athletes to be able to participate in their own legacy while reaching new audiences. https://bit.ly/30Cj1Bx

Spotter and BBTV (BBTV-TSX) partner to dedicate up to US$125 million to BBTV creators.

Vancouver-based leading creator monetization company Spotter announced a commercial partnership to dedicate up to US$125 million to BBTV creators to further scale creator growth and monetization opportunities for the company’s existing library of creator content. The commercial partnership will help BBTV creators grow and make money from their existing content. “BBTV has cemented itself as an industry-leader in 12 languages and 30 countries with a resilient and recurring revenue model spanning thousands of creators and tens of millions of videos.” said CEO and Chairperson of BBTV, Shahrzad Rafati. https://bit.ly/3lXhwGm

Lightspeed’s (LSPD-TSX, LSPD-NYSE) Dax Dasilva launches environmental nonprofit, pledges $40 million for conservation, restoration projects.

Dax Dasilva, the founder and CEO of Montreal-based tech company Lightspeed Commerce, has launched a non profit environmental alliance called Age of Union, with a $40 million pledge and five initial projects across five countries. The move comes two years after Dasilva released a book where he wrote about leadership, culture, spirituality, and nature that advocates for giving back and dives into some topics you don’t usually hear from tech leaders. Dasilva says the world is in “a crucial decade” in terms of climate change, and, as a society, we need to do everything we can to turn things around in the next 10 years. In the tech sector, he believes there is consensus on this. “Where most leaders in tech agree is that the planet is an urgent concern,” said Dasilva, who aims to play his part to conserve and restore various parts of the environment through the Age of Union nonprofit. https://bit.ly/3AWkTld

Smartphones: The Royal Mint to extract gold from old phones.

The Royal Mint plans to introduce a world-first technology to the UK to recycle gold from electronic waste. Less than one fifth of electronic waste ends up being recycled, estimates show. The mint’s chief executive Anne Jessopp said the technology would help to “make a genuine impact on one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges.” The Royal Mint has signed an agreement with Canadian start-up Excir to recover 99% and more of gold from devices’ circuit boards. It said the chemistry selectively targets and extracts precious metals from circuit boards in seconds.  https://bbc.in/30WfWwB

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Top ByteDance investor to weigh US$500 million stake sale.

Susquehanna International Group, one of ByteDance Ltd.’s earliest and largest backers, is looking to sell about $US 500 million of its shares in the TikTok owner, seeking to diversify its portfolio during China’s recent tech crackdowns. The U.S. investment firm sought to sell the stake at a price that valued ByteDance north of US$400 billion, but it was unsuccessful and has since lowered that offer. A hit factory for apps like TikTok, ByteDance has emerged as the world’s most valuable startup. While its potential initial public offering has set off fervent speculation for at least a year, the company reportedly said it’s not ready for such debut. https://bloom.bg/2XBOUsZ

WeWork shares rise in trading debut after SPAC merger closes.

WeWork Inc. moved into positive territory on Thursday, as shares climbed 7.9% to US$11.20 in their first day of public trading. The company has completed its previously announced merger with the special purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition Corp. SoftBank, which has taken an US$8.2 billion write-down for its investment in the company, currently holds a 56% equity stake in WeWork. As announced in March, the merger between BowX and WeWork values the company at roughly $9 billion. https://on.mktw.net/3m3ua6G

Crypto exchange Bakkt slides in debut after SPAC deal.

Building enthusiasm for the first U.S. Bitcoin exchange-traded product isn’t doing one exchange much of a favor. Bakkt Holdings Inc., a digital assets platform majority owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), started trading for the first time on Monday after completing its SPAC merger. And shares promptly slid, even though its business stands to benefit from more Bitcoin-linked financial products — the U.S. Bitcoin ETF is focused on futures — coming to market this week. https://bloom.bg/3DXvQ7X

GlobalFoundries sets IPO terms, and could be valued at over US$25 billion.

GlobalFoundries Inc. has set terms for its initial public offering, as the New York-based silicon wafer foundry looks to raise up to US$1.55 billion. The company said it is offering 33.0 million shares and shareholder Mubadala Investment Co. PJSC is offering 22.0 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$42 and US$47 a share. After the IPO, Mubadala will beneficially own 89.4% of the shares outstanding. With 534.69 million shares expected to be outstanding after the IPO, the pricing would value the company at up to US$25.13 billion. The stock is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “GFS.” Morgan Stanley, BofA Securities and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters. The company is looking to go public at a time that the Renaissance IPO ETF has rallied 11.3%, the PHLX Semiconductor Index has gained 6.1% and the S&P 500 has advanced 5.4%. https://on.mktw.net/3lWfkyP

Informatica sets terms for it IPO, to raise up to US$928 million.

Informatica Inc. has set IPO terms for its initial public offering, as the California-based data management software company looks to raise up to US$928.0 million. The company is offering 29.0 million shares in the IPO, which is expected to price between US$29 and $32 a share. With 229.6 million Class A shares and 44.1 million Class B-1 shares expected to be outstanding after the IPO, the pricing could value the company at up to US$8.76 billion. The stock is expected to list on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “INFA.” Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters. The company recorded a net loss of US$36.3 million on revenue of US$675.5 million during the six months ended June 30, after a loss of US$102.8 million on revenue of US$619.3 million in the same period a year ago. The company is looking to go public at a time that the Renaissance IPO ETF has rallied 10.4% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has gained 3.3%. https://on.mktw.net/3DQ3dJO

Korea’s Kakao Pay raises US$1.3 billion in Seoul IPO, sources say.

Kakao Pay Corp., South Korea’s largest online payment service, raised US$1.3 billion in its initial public offering after pricing shares at the top of the marketed range. The company sold shares at 90,000 won apiece, according to a filing on Friday. Kakao Pay had marketed 17 million shares for 60,000 won to 90,000 won each, a lowered range that initially went as high as 96,000 won. https://bloom.bg/3aZMGqv

Challenger bank N26 raises US$900 million at US$9 billion valuation.

Fintech startup N26 has raised a US$900 million Series E round at a US$9 billion valuation. That represents a big jump from the company’s Series D valuation of US$3.5 billion. The Berlin-based startup operates a digital bank with 7 million clients across 25 countries. Third Point Ventures and Coatue Management are leading today’s round. Dragoneer Investment Group and some of N26’s existing investors are also participating. https://tcrn.ch/3lSxr8T

Pinterest stock rockets after report says company has held merger talks with PayPal.

Shares of Pinterest Inc. are up 11% in midday trading Wednesday after Bloomberg News reported that PayPal Holdings Inc. has approached the company about a potential deal. PayPal shares are off about 3% in Wednesday trading. The Bloomberg story, which cited multiple unnamed sources, said that the companies have discussed a takeout price of roughly US$70 a share for Pinterest. The stock recently changed hands at $61.76. Pinterest shares were briefly halted for volatility but have resumed trading. Representatives from PayPal and Pinterest didn’t immediately provide comment to MarketWatch. https://on.mktw.net/3C53pV0

CDW to pay US$2.5 billion in cash to buy Sirius Computer Solutions from CD&R.

CDW Corp. announced Monday an agreement to buy Sirius Computer Solutions Inc. for US$2.5 billion in cash from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Sirius Computer is an information technology solution integrator, which recorded 2020 sales of US$2.04 billion. CDW’s stock is will inactive in premarket trading. “As customers require increasingly complex and critical digital transformation initiatives, Sirius’ broad portfolio of world-class technology-based solutions and services-led approach will immediately add to our capabilities to meet this demand,” said CDW Chief Executive Christine Leahy. The deal is expected to close in December 2021. CDW’s stock has rallied 34.9% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 19.0%. https://on.mktw.net/3n9TZl1 

Aristocrat to buy Playtech in US$3.7 billion gaming deal.

Australian slot-machine maker Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. has agreed to buy British gambling software developer Playtech Plc for A$5 billion (US$3.7 billion). The offer values London-listed Playtech at 680 pence (US$9.35) per share, a premium of about 58% to the company’s last closing price on Oct. 15, Aristocrat said in a statement Monday. Shares in Playtech rose as much as 57% on Monday to 675 pence. https://bloom.bg/3ndK6Tv

Energous stock rockets on heavy volume after FCC approves ‘over-the-air’ wireless charging product at any distance.

Shares of Energous Corp. rocketed 30% on massive volume in premarket trading Tuesday, after the over-the-air wireless charging company said the U.S. Federal Communications Commission granted equipment authorization for wireless power transfer at any distance. Trading volume ballooned to 16.5 million shares, enough make the stock the most actively traded ahead of the open, and compares with the full-day average of about 720,300 shares. Energous said the FCC approval adds to the approval in Europe for unlimited distance wireless charging. “The 1W Active Energy Harvesting transmitter can charge multiple devices at once, enabling at-any-distance over-the-air charging for the growing ecosystem of Internet of Things devices such as retail sensors, electronic shelf labels, industrial devices and more,” the company said. The stock has gained 11.1% year to date through Monday, while the S&P 500 has advanced 19.5%. https://on.mktw.net/3AVrEDW

Emerging Technologies

Azure edges closer to the telco model.

The ambitions of Microsoft Azure and the other two main hyperscalers to become telco enablers in a 5G and increasingly cloud-native world has made many in the telecoms industry slightly nervous. But now acceptance may be breaking out. In their increasing reliance on cloud-native virtualization for 5G, telcos have essentially handed their technical future over to cloud technologists in general and the hyperscalers in particular, and may be fast coming to terms with that fact. https://bit.ly/2YWZGKB

Path to Metaverse expected to go through videogames.

Tech companies aiming to build the new virtual communities known as metaverse will first have to master all aspects of videogaming and potentially pursue acquisitions, according to Michael Wolf, co-founder and chief executive of consulting firm Activate Inc. https://on.wsj.com/3C4OyKf

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Former U.S. president Donald Trump launches ‘TRUTH’ social media platform.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump will launch his own social media app, TRUTH Social, that he said would “stand up to Big Tech” companies such as Twitter and Facebook that have barred him from their platforms. https://reut.rs/30BKvXZ

YouTube has surpassed US$3 billion in consumer spend on iOS — giving the world access to tailored quality content.

Demand for content has grown steadily over the last decade, and accelerated during the pandemic as consumers turned to apps for watching and streaming content. In the most recent months, YouTube ranked #3 among all non-gaming apps by global lifetime consumer spend as of October 2021 — just from their iOS revenue. As the world saw a shift in day-to-day routines, consumers spent an increased amount of time video and music streaming. It is notable that YouTube is also not only the #3 application overall by global app store consumer spend of all time, but also #1 live streaming app by spend (combined on iOS and Google Play as of October 10, 2021). https://bit.ly/2Z3ZZmS

Apple has considered launching a ‘cloud gaming service’ alongside Apple Arcade.

In his latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says Apple has considered launching a “cloud gaming service” of some sort alongside Apple Arcade, but has dropped these plans as of right now. One of Gurman’s readers asked him whether Apple was planning a cloud-based gaming service based on Apple Arcade, that he replies by saying that the company’s current gaming service is somewhat “unique, relying on games that run on its device natively rather than from the cloud.” Then, he gives a bit of context regarding other companies that focus on this new “Netflix for games”-like experience. https://bit.ly/2XnV93l

Netflix will support Twitch co-streaming for the first episode of Arcane.

Arcane, Riot’s upcoming League of Legends-adapted fantasy series debuting on Netflix next month, will become Netflix’s first show to premiere with co-streaming on Twitch. Arcane will premiere on Netflix globally on Saturday, November 6th. The partnership with Twitch will allow communities to stream Arcane’s first episode with community members and allow Twitch streamers to share their reactions in real-time. A spokesperson for Riot tells The Verge that anyone can stream the first episode of Arcane on Twitch — no pre-approval required. The series premiere will coincide with a Global Premiere Event at Riot’s Los Angeles headquarters. The company says in a press release that the event will be streamed by influencers representing over 30 countries. https://bit.ly/3G5uVUG

It’s not just Facebook – China’s big tech firms like Alibaba and Tencent are also piling into the metaverse.

Social media giant Facebook has thrust the metaverse into the limelight, reportedly going as far as planning to change its name to reflect its focus on the concept. The tech buzzword refers to shared virtual spaces that people can access via the internet using VR and AR devices, and it has captured the attention of other tech giants like Microsoft. But it’s not just North American tech giants working on this futuristic concept, Chinese companies are also beginning to get in on the action. Gaming company Tencent is set to sharpen focus on the metaverse space with a new gaming studio under subsidiary TIMI Studios, reported the South China Morning Post on Thursday. It’s a race to the forefront of the space, which Bloomberg Intelligence estimates could be worth $US800 billion by 2024. https://bit.ly/3nmCf5Q

Sports gamblers bet over US$1 billion in New Jersey this September.

Sports gamblers in New Jersey placed over US$1 billion in bets last month, setting a new national record. Since the beginning of this year, bettors have waged a total of US$7.1 billion in the state, according to records from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Over 90% of September sports bets in New Jersey were placed online, with a little under US$92 million worth of bets placed in person. The state’s digital sportsbooks capitalize on nearby gamblers from New York City, where online sports betting is not yet legal. Completely online sports betting that doesn’t require in-person registration is only legal in 17 US states, according to US Bets. Idaho, Wisconsin, and Utah are some of the only states not pursuing mobile betting options. https://bit.ly/3AXASiN

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Payment systems of Google, Apple, and other tech companies probed by financial watchdog.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sent requests for information to Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Square and Paypal on Thursday, as the regulator sought answers about how the companies use consumer financial information and whether they restrict competition. The broad investigation goes beyond the traditional remit for the consumer financial watchdog, which has not historically examined competition issues. The agency however is led by Rohit Chopra, who stepped down as commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month. The information requests ask how the companies use their size to force consumers and rivals to use their services. The CFPB for example is asking whether access to certain financial products is contingent on the use of unrelated products and services. A statement by Chopra mentions the companies’ impact on competition five times. In more typical questions for the CFPB, it is also asking how the companies will use consumer financial information, including whether the data is used for targeted advertising. And the agency wants to know about the fraud, privacy and discrimination protections the companies have in place. The CFPB will also study Chinese payment services WeChat Pay and Alipay, the agency said. While the FTC and Justice Department are the two U.S. agencies overseeing antitrust enforcement, President Joe Biden earlier this year issued an executive order directing the entirety of the federal government to ensure US markets are competitive. And with Chopra having just left the FTC, the new CFPB probe looks to be one of the clearest signs of the executive order in action. https://bit.ly/3B99crl

DC AG adds Zuckerberg as defendant in lawsuit against Facebook.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on Wednesday said he has added embattled Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg as defendant in a 2018 lawsuit related to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s failure to protect user data. Racine is the first regulator to attempt to hold the company’s co-founder personally responsible. “Allowing third-party apps like Cambridge Analytica to access user data was Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild,” Racine tweeted. “Adding him to our lawsuit is unquestionably warranted and should send a message that corporate leaders will be held accountable for their actions.” Facebook shares are flat in trading Wednesday. For the year, they are up 25%. The broader S&P 500 index is up 21% in 2021. https://on.mktw.net/2ZfT8Y2

Apple could face new pressure to store more customer data in China.

Apple could be one of multiple US tech companies that are being pressured into storing more user data in China, according to a report from the information. The report explains that companies including Tesla and LinkedIn have so far faced this pressure, and legal experts believe that Chinese authorities are likely to pressure Apple to store more of its data there as well. The report also stated that if Apple caves to this pressure, it is likely that they will face criticism from US lawmakers. On the other hand, if they don’t comply, Chinese authorities could punish them and make it difficult for the company to operate in the country. https://bit.ly/3joB70j

SEC says brokers enticed by payment for order flow are making trading into a game to lure investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said online brokerages, enticed to increase revenue through the controversial industry practice of payment for order flow, are turning stock-trading into a game in order to encourage activity from retail investors. Wall Street’s main regulator on Monday released its highly anticipated report on the GameStop mania earlier this year. The 44-page report detailed how the trading frenzy went down and raised red flags on a number of issues, including the back-end payments that brokerages receive, gamification of trading, as well as disclosures on short sales. But it stopped short of laying blame on a single cause or entity. Payment for order flow is one of the largest revenue sources at Robinhood, the millennial-favored stock trading app that raked in a record number of new customers over the past year and went public in August. https://cnb.cx/3jkSS0D


I went to Amazon’s high-tech hair salon and virtually dyed my hair pink — then got the best haircut I’ve ever had.

I went along to Amazon’s first hair salon in London to see what the hype was about. When it opened in April, only Amazon employees could go. It opened to the public at the end of May.  https://bit.ly/3aUoTbn

Amazon launches in-store pickup option for items from local businesses.

Amazon is launching a new shipping option for shoppers who don’t want to wait for their package to arrive by mail. The company rolled out Local Selling on Thursday, a suite of services that allow small-and medium-sized businesses who sell products on Amazon to offer in-store pickup and fast delivery to shoppers who live near their physical stores. This feature could help Amazon keep shoppers on its site instead of going elsewhere, like retailers’ own online stores or competitors’ marketplaces. For local deliveries, sellers will use their own trucks and vans to transport the items to shoppers’ doorsteps. Sellers can choose to bundle other services on top of delivery, like product assembly or installation. With the fast local delivery option, Amazon is seeking to take advantage of its vast network of third-party sellers’ physical footprint to speed up the process of getting packages to customers’ doorsteps. https://cnb.cx/3m6IPy2

Alibaba launches fashion e-commerce site for western consumers.

After the worldwide success of upstart Chinese online fast fashion retailer Shein, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has just launched a copycat business. Alibaba’s new fashion e-commerce site, allyLikes, targets North American and European markets, according to the Alibaba-owned newspaper South China Morning Post. But Alibaba’s new venture will face an uphill battle against huge Western competitors like Amazon as well as a growing number of export-oriented Chinese online fashion retailers. Alibaba’s past attempts to attract American consumers have failed. In 2014, the same year when Alibaba went public in New York, the company launched a U.S. online shopping site called 11 Main. But the site never gained traction and Alibaba sold the business in 2015. https://bit.ly/3b4fuxT

Alibaba faces new threat: an evolving Chinese shopper.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA 0.35%, challenged by Beijing’s yearlong clampdown on private enterprise, is facing another problem: growing competition. For more than 15 years, Alibaba was China’s unassailable e-commerce champion. The company founded by Jack Ma rose to become one of the world’s biggest and most valuable businesses, using hard-knuckle tactics to muscle out challengers. As China’s e-commerce industry has matured, consumers have started to embrace new ways of shopping that favour browsing and interaction over targeted product searches. That trend has left Alibaba playing catch-up in some areas, and competitors have used the shift to gain a foothold in the world’s largest online retail market. https://on.wsj.com/3BU1LFz

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Plaid pushes into payments business after scuttled Visa deal.

Financial technology startup Plaid Inc. is making a move into the payments business, less than a year after that allows banks and other fintech companies to plug into their users’ financial accounts, with their permission, and access their financial data to look up account balances and financial details. Plaid won’t be directly involved in moving money as part of the new endeavour. For that, they have signed dozens of payment processors and tech companies including Square Inc., Stripe Inc., and Silicon Valley Bank and SoFi Technologies Inc. The payments push is one of Plaid’s biggest bets since its $US5.3 billion sale to Visa was called off in January. The Justice Department intervened to prevent the acquisition from moving ahead. https://on.wsj.com/2Zdngmi

Russia aims to replace US dollar reserves with digital assets in long term.

As Russia continues pushing de-dollarization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA Russia) is reportedly considering replacing the United States dollar with not only traditional fiat currencies but also digital currencies. https://bit.ly/3vELz9f

Stablecoins could pose a risk to the short-term corporate debt market that could spread to other asset classes, FitchRatings says.

Stablecoins that grow enough in size could play an important role in short-term debt markets, which in turn could bring new risks to those markets, according to FitchRatings. If the cryptocurrencies do run into trouble, any shock could spread to those other asset classes, the US credit rating agency said Monday. Stablecoins – which are cryptocurrencies pegged to a real-world asset – must hold reserves to back up each coin that is issued. https://bit.ly/3b0vSj8

Investors now hold a record US$72 billion in crypto assets, as fund managers piled into bitcoin ahead of the launch of the first futures ETF.

Institutional investors now hold a record amount of crypto assets under management, after a fifth straight week of inflows into bitcoin-backed products ahead of the launch of the world’s first futures ETF. In the week of October 15, total assets under management reached a record US$72.32 billion, driven mostly by an inflow of $69.6 million into bitcoin. ETF provider proshares’ Bitcoin Strategy ETF is due to start trading on Tuesday under the ticker “BITO”. https://bit.ly/3AUI2UX

Facebook selects Coinbase as custody partner for its Novi cryptocurrency wallet.

The custody arm of Coinbase will support Novi by keeping funds secure when users sign up for the pilot program, which is now available in the US and Guatemala. Through Novi, users will be able to transfer money abroad instantly and with no fees. https://bit.ly/2Z9WZG1

Robinhood’s crypto wallet waitlist has well over 1 million people, CEO Vlad Tenev says.

Robinhood’s long-awaited cryptocurrency wallet, which launches early next year, already counts more than one million customers on its waitlist, CEO Vlad Tenev told CNBC on Thursday. “We’re very proud of our cryptocurrency platform and giving people more utility with the coins they have,” he said at CNBC’s Disruptor 50 summit. “We rolled out our wallets waitlist. A lot of people have been asking for the ability to send and receive cryptocurrencies, transfer them to hardware wallets, transfer them onto the platform to consolidate and the crypto wallet’s waitlist is well over a million people now.” Robinhood unveiled its crypto wallet service last month, saying it would first test the product based on user feedback in October before it goes to market. This feature would allow users to manage their crypto holdings within the app. For now, the investing app offers seven types of digital assets, including bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin. https://bit.ly/3Ep55d1

Coinbase inks sponsorship deal with the NBA as crypto continues its push into pro sports.

Coinbase Global has inked a multiyear partnership with the National Basketball Association, the latest push by digital asset companies to break into the competitive world of professional sports. The largest US crypto exchange agreed to be the exclusive cryptocurrency platform partner of the NBA, which also includes the Women’s National Basketball Association, NBA G League, NBA 2K League, and USA Basketball, according to an announcement Tuesday.Coinbase joins the growing number of crypto firms looking to tap into the sports industry. For example, FTX earlier this year signed a US$135 million deal for the naming rights on the Miami Heat’s stadium. https://bit.ly/3jkLfYg 

Why the ‘Big Short’ guys think Bitcoin is a bubble.

Hedge-fund mogul John Paulson, who was behind the “the greatest trade ever” — in 2007, he personally made US$4 billion on his short of subprime mortgages — thinks cryptocurrencies are a bubble that will prove to be “worthless.” Michael Burry, the quirky hedge-fund manager made famous in The Big Short movie (played by Christian Bale), complains that no one is paying attention to crypto’s leverage. https://bit.ly/2Z78iyS


Alibaba unveils one of China’s most advanced chips.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unveiled a new server chip that’s based on advanced 5-nanometer technology, marking a milestone in China’s pursuit of semiconductor self-sufficiency. The Chinese tech giant’s newest chip is based on micro-architecture provided by the SoftBank Group Corp.-owned Arm Ltd., according to a statement Tuesday. Alibaba, which is holding its annual cloud summit in Hangzhou, said the silicon will be put to use in its own data centres in the “near future” and will not be sold commercially, at least for now. https://bloom.bg/3G3jsFh

Intel blames chip shortage for Q3 sales miss.

Intel’s revenue rose 5% to US$19.2 billion in the three months to Sept. 30, but that fell slightly short of its earlier forecast, causing shares to drop 9% in after-hours trading. The results included a 2% annualized decline in PC chip sales, Intel’s largest business. On an earnings call, CEO Pat Gelsinger attributed the issues to the ongoing global chip shortage. While Intel expects the situation to start improving next year, Gelsinger predicted that the chip shortage will persist until 2023. Chip supply issues had less of an effect on other Intel businesses, such as data center server processors, which saw sales increase 10% to $6.5 billion during the quarter compared to last year. Other strong performers were MobileEye autonomous vehicle unit and internet-connected devices, which grew 39% and 54% respectively. Intel’s gross margin during the quarter was 56% and the company is forecasting a full-year figure of 55%. These metrics are closely watched by investors, as Intel is in the process of spending $20 billion to build two new chip fabrication plants in Arizona. https://bit.ly/3npVrzG

Micron to spend US$150 billion in 10 years on building out memory manufacturing, stock falls.

Shares of Micron Technology Inc. fell 1.3% in premarket trading Wednesday, after the memory and semiconductor company said it will invest $150 billion over the next decade in memory manufacturing and research and development. The investment, which could include U.S. fab expansion, is aimed at addressing demand for memory, as memory and storage currently represent about 30% of the semiconductor market. “Memory is at the leading edge of semiconductor manufacturing and fuels everything from feature-rich 5G smartphones to the AI-enabled cloud,” said Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra. “Micron’s leadership in both DRAM and NAND technologies and the strength of our roadmap enable us to invest more than $150 billion with confidence to extend our industry-leading memory innovation into the next decade, and deliver differentiated products to our customers.” Micron’s stock has dropped 10.1% year to date while the PHLX Semiconductor Index has climbed 21.0% and the S&P 500 has advanced 20.3%. https://on.mktw.net/3GgcjRZ


Toyota earmarks US$3.4 billion to boost EV battery production in the US through 2030.

Toyota Motors is joining other major automakers in putting its money behind electrification, saying on Monday that they plan to invest US$3.4 billion in battery development and production in the United States through the end of the decade. The investment includes plans for a new US$1.3 billion electric vehicle battery plant. The plant is anticipated to enter production in 2025 and expand through 2031, by which time it will employ around 1750 people. These new plans are a part of Toyota’s larger aim to invest US$13.5 billion globally to keep up with other automakers who have already pledged to earmark massive sums to boost battery development and electrify their respective portfolios. https://tcrn.ch/3vqJNbv

Stellantis, LG Energy to build battery factory in new joint venture.

Stellantis, the automaker formed through a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA, has reached a preliminary deal with LG Energy Solution to produce battery cells and modules in North America. The deal, which still must be approved by regulators, is part of Stellantis’ plan to invest 30 billion euros (US$34.8 billion) in electrification and software through 2025 in a bid to offer EV options for every model it produces in the U.S. and to reach specific sales goals for the region. The company has said it wants EVs to make up more than 40% of its U.S. sales by 2030. The facility will help Stellantis achieve a total minimum of 260 gigawatt hours of capacity by 2030, according to CEO Carlos Tavares. https://tcrn.ch/3lQF1kr

Foxconn unveils three new EV prototypes.

At its HHTD21 event, Foxconn unveiled three electric vehicle prototypes including two sedans and an electric bus, according to a Nikkei report and YouTube video. The company said it is “no longer the new kid in town” when it comes to EVs, and aims to develop a business worth up to NT$1 trillion, or around US$36 billion per year. Foxconn developed the EV prototypes under the Foxtron brand in collaboration with Taiwan’s Yulon Motor. The latter has its own brand (Luxgen) and manufactures Nissan and Mitsubishi vehicles for the local market. The prototypes include a luxury sedan, SUV and transit bus, labeled the Model E, Model C and Model T, respectively. The vehicles are based on Foxconn’s open software and hardware platform, MIH Consortium. https://tcrn.ch/3DNI6rq

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Sophic Client HempFusion (CBD.U-TSXV): HempFusion Wellness is a leading health and wellness company offering premium probiotic supplements.

Management continues to grow the Company’s direct-to-consumer, business-to-business, online, and white label channels and has expanded its number of retail doors via its Apothecanna and Sagely Naturals acquisitions. Two hemp-CBD Bills in Congress could open those doors to HempFusion’s hemp CBD products. https://bit.ly/3B1WaMn

Sophic Client GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, Sophic Client): It’s been a month since TimTheTatman, one of gaming and esports’ biggest personalities, joined Complexity Gaming and GameSquare Esports, bringing his 18 million fans with him. Discover some potential benefits for GameSquare and milestones that investors can look forward to. https://bit.ly/3m16Lmr



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