We got additional colour last week around D2L and Hootsuite going public in the coming months — Canadian tech companies who’ve long been speculated to go public for a number of years. Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) secured a $75 million strategic investment from Alameda Research, and Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks said they’ll give US$100 in bitcoin to people who download the Voyager Digital app this week. Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) announced partnerships with Microsoft and Mailchimp. Sophic Client, Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC, 0YA-FRA), closed a convertible debenture financing for $1.5 million. We published our second CEO interview with Sophic Client, HempFusion (CBD.U-TSXV). Toronto tech startups once again broke venture funding records, raising over $1.6 billion through 53 deals in Q3 2021. Per Hockeystick and briefed.in data, Toronto tech funding has soared to a new record in every quarter of 2021 so far. Outside Canada, GlobalFoundries and major shareholder Mubadala Investment Co. raised almost US$2.6 billion in an initial public offering, pricing the chipmaker’s shares at the top of a marketed range. Paytm seeks US$20 billion valuation in India’s biggest IPO. FaZe Clan to go public through acquisition by SPAC, valuing company at US$1 billion. Mastercard will allow US banks and millions of merchants to integrate crypto into their products, via a partnership with Bakkt, a digital asset platform. Shares of Bakkt soared as much as 94% to US$17.71 before paring the rise to 78%. In the semiconductor space, while Apple lost US$6 billion to chip shortages and manufacturing delays in Q4, Samsung reported record quarterly revenue on strong chip demand.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

D2L cuts size, pricing of TSX IPO.

Kitchener-Waterloo based e-learning software company D2L has reduced the size and pricing of its planned initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. D2L is aiming to raise $150 million and price its share at $17 a piece, less than the initial $200 million and $19 to $21 target it set earlier this month. The edtech firm is set to begin trading on the TSX next week under the symbol ‘DTOL’. https://bit.ly/3mqQlE3

Hootsuite plans to IPO before Christmas, raise $200 million on TSX.

Hootsuite is finalizing its preparations to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange before the end of the year, BetaKit has learned. Sources with direct knowledge of the company’s plans, who asked to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed to BetaKit that the Vancouver-based startup hopes to IPO on the TSX by mid-December, with a target to raise $200 million. The social media marketing and management startup has been working with bankers for the last several months to build towards a public listing (TD and JP Morgan are jointly leading), following an acceleration in growth this year. Hootsuite currently sits north of US$200 million in ARR, and is growing revenue at a rate of 20 percent annually; that number sits well above the single-digit growth the company saw last year. https://bit.ly/3Gtq6oD

Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) secures $75 million strategic investment from Alameda Research.

Voyager Digital Ltd., one of the fastest-growing, publicly traded cryptocurrency platforms in the United States, today announced a US$75 million investment from Alameda Research. “While the immediate opportunity is on the order flow and asset management front, we are tremendously excited about potential future synergistic opportunities in the continuously evolving crypto industry. These opportunities include NFTs and crypto derivatives through Alameda, as well as the creation of thought leadership as we work with lawmakers on shaping regulation,” said Steve Ehrlich, CEO and Co-founder of Voyager. Alameda Research trades over $5 billion per day across thousands of products including all major coins and altcoins, as well as their derivatives. Alameda has a full-scale global operation with the ability to trade on all major exchanges and markets. Alameda’s market making abilities and sophisticated market neutral algorithms are a perfect fit to be a core lending partner of Voyager and will allow Voyager to further expand the breadth of its rewards program. https://bit.ly/2Zrc0TE

Tokens (COIN-NEO) announces increase in private placement to $12 million.

Tokens.com Corp., has announced that it has increased its previously announced private placement led by Stifel GMP. The company shall be offering units of the company at a price of $0.9 per unit for aggregate gross proceeds of $12 million. https://bit.ly/3vVWWJT & https://bit.ly/3GyLM2F

Sophic Client Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC, 0YA-FRA) closes convertible debenture financing.

The Company announce that it has completed a private placement offering of convertible unsecured subordinated debentures (the “Debentures ”) for gross proceeds of C$1,535,000 (the “ Offering ”). The Company may complete additional tranches of the Offering for cumulative gross proceeds of up to $4 million. The Debentures will bear interest from each applicable issuance date at 10% per annum, calculated and paid semi-annually on the last day of June and December of each year. The first interest payment will be made on June 30, 2022 and will consist of interest accrued from and including the closing of each tranche of the Offering (each, a ” Closing Date “) to June 30, 2022. Unless earlier converted, the Debentures will mature on the date (the ” Maturity Date “) that is the earlier of: (i) 48 months following the applicable Closing Date; and (ii) the date specified in any Debenture Acceleration Notice (as defined below). Beginning on the date that is twelve months following the initial Closing Date, but subject to receipt of any required approvals, the Company will have the right to accelerate the maturity of the Debentures to a date which is not less than 21 days after the date on which a written notice is provided to the holders of Debentures should the daily volume weighted average trading price of the Common Shares be greater than $1.20 (subject to adjustment in certain events) for any 10 consecutive trading days on the TSX Venture Exchange (the ” TSXV “).The principal amount of the Debentures will be convertible into units of the Company (the ” Units “) at the option of the holder at any time prior to the close of business on the last business day immediately preceding the Maturity Date, at a conversion price of $0.40 per Unit (the ” Conversion Price “), subject to adjustment in certain events. Holders converting their Debentures will receive accrued and unpaid interest thereon in cash for the period from and including the date of the latest interest payment date to, but excluding, the date of conversion. https://bit.ly/3nM62oX

ProStar Holdings (MAPS-TSXV) announces brokered private placement led by Echelon Wealth Partners.

The Company announced a brokered private placement for gross proceeds of up to C$4,000,000 (the “Brokered Offering”). Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. (the “Agent”) will act as Agent and sole bookrunner for the Offering. In addition, the Company will conduct a non-brokered private placement to raise gross proceeds of up to C$1,000,000 (the “Non-Brokered Offering” and together with the Brokered Offering, the “Offerings”). The Brokered Offering will consist up to 10,000,000 units of the Company (each, a “Unit”, and collectively the “Units”) at a price of C$0.40 per Unit (the “Offering Price”). Each Unit consists of one Common Share (each, a “Common Share”, and collectively the “Common Shares”) and one-half of one Common Share purchase warrant (each whole warrant, a “Warrant” and collectively the “Warrants”). Each Warrant entitles the holder thereof to acquire one Common Share at a price of C$0.56 per Common Share for a period of 24 months from the closing date of the Offering. The non-Brokered Offering will consist of up to 2,500,000 Units on the same terms as the Units offered in the Brokered Offering. https://bit.ly/3CusA3L

BrainBox AI raises US$24 million in first close of its Series A funding round to fuel continued global expansion and innovation.

BrainBox AI, a leader in autonomous building technology announced a $24 million raise to further deploy its AI technology in the built environment and develop its next phase of innovation. The first close of its Series A round includes a new lead investor ABB. BrainBox offers predictive and self-adaptive AI to optimize buildings’ energy usage, carbon footprint, and operational efficiency. The company’s next phase of innovation harnesses the power of BrainBox AI’s core technology to tackle the energy transition by creating energy demand flexibility within building clusters. https://bit.ly/3pULyNz 

Bridgit secures $24 million in funding; announces new C-suite hires.

Bridgit, a Toronto-based SaaS startup, has raised $24 million in its Series B financing round co-led by Camber Creek and Storm Ventures. Other participating investors include Nine Four Ventures, along with existing investors BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, StandUp Ventures, Sands Capital, and Vanedge Capital. The fresh funding brings Bridgit’s total funding to approximately $45 million in equity financing. The company is the brainchild of Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake, holding the titles of chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively. Brodie and Lake founded the company after the two met in the 2013 Next 36 young-entrepreneur program in Toronto. Both have been named on the 2019 Forbes Manufacturing and Industry 30 under 30. https://bit.ly/3bm629s

Optina raises $24 million to bolster AI-powered early Alzheimer detection device.

Montréal-based healthtech startup Optina Diagnostics has raised $24 million in its Series A funding round. The financing was led by DigitalDx Ventures, a woman-owned venture capital fund in Silicon Valley focused on investing in companies that diagnose illness “earlier, less invasively, more accurately, and less expensively enabled by artificial intelligence and data.”  Other participants in the financing include Desjardins Capital, Hike Ventures, Advisors Fund, MedTeq, and Biomed Propulsion. https://bit.ly/3GCl7BR

Breather co-founder secures $12.4 million for new coaching software startup.

Coaching business software startup Practice, which was launched by Breather co-founder Julien Smith, has raised $12.4 million in seed financing to fuel its product development efforts. The company’s all-equity round, which closed in recent months, was led by Andrew Chen of a16z, and saw investment from Andrew Wilkinson of Tiny Capital, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and over 40 other investors. The funding represents the startup’s first venture capital to date. https://bit.ly/2ZI33pu

aDolus raises $3 million to bolster supply chain security solution amid growing demand.

SaaS startup aDolus Technology raised $3 million (US$2.5 million) in what the company classified as an oversubscribed funding round. The investors that participated in this round have not been disclosed. Launched in 2017, the Victoria-based company offers an AI-powered software that automates the processes involved in vetting third-party software. In August 2020, the company raised $600,000 in seed funding from investors Ray Muzyka, Kurt Whipp, Colin Harris, Amit Mital, and the Creative Destruction Lab. Ron Brash, who has served Deloitte as its manager in risk advisory and cybersecurity, was also appointed as aDolus’ vice president of technical research and integrations. https://bit.ly/2ZnEQ7x

ink Investment Management revs up to take on insurance, banking incumbents with $2.5 million.

FinTech startup Link Investment Management has received a $2.5 million Series A strategic investment from the Canaccord Genuity Group, as the startup prepares for growth and sets itself up to compete against legacy insurance companies and banks. Before the Series A round, Link raised $9 million CAD in pre-seed and seed rounds. Link, with its 20 employees, is competing against behemoths. The incumbents in the space include such massive companies as Canada Life, Sun Life Financial, Manulife, alongside banks such as RBC. https://bit.ly/3vL4HCi

Crewdle raises $2.15 million to make video conferencing environmentally friendly.

Video communication tech startup Crewdle has raised $2.15 million in a funding round that saw the participation of Anges Québec’s investor members, two independent angel investors, and Crewdle’s co-founders. The brainchild of Montréal entrepreneurs Vincent Lamanna and Pierre Campeau in 2020, Crewdle aims to redefine virtual communications by allowing users to host entirely encrypted virtual meetings and conferences without the use of servers. “Our research addresses the high and rising electricity consumption of information and communication technologies (ICT), which consume as much as 7% of global electricity,” the report reads. “Given that globally about 79% of electricity comes from fossil fuels, this means that ICT is responsible for 3.3 percent to 3.8 percent of global greenhouse gases.” https://bit.ly/3mlAE0U

In Q3, Toronto startups broke venture funding records… again.

Toronto tech startups once again broke venture funding records, raising over $1.6 billion through 53 deals in Q3 2021. Per Hockeystick and briefed.in data, Toronto tech funding has soared to a new record in every quarter of 2021 so far. The $1.64 billion raised in Q3 2021 represents a 12 percent increase from the previous quarter, and a 431 percent increase year-over-year. The strong Q3 performance also preserved Toronto’s first-place lead in Canadian tech in terms of dollars raised. Matt Cohen, the founder and managing partner of Ripple Ventures, believes Toronto’s record-busting Q3 is a sign that investor interest in the city’s startups has turned a corner. As of the end of Q3, Toronto startups have raised a cumulative $4.1 billion this year, surpassing the total investment raised in 2020 by 281 percent. https://bit.ly/3mg1pnG

Microsoft partners with Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) to bring merchant listings to Bing, Edge and Microsoft Start.

Earlier this year, Google unveiled a partnership with Shopify that gave the e-commerce platform’s more than 1.7 million merchants the ability to reach consumers through Google Search and other services. Now, Microsoft is announcing a similar deal. The company recently said it’s teaming up with Shopify to expand product selection across its own search engine, Microsoft Bing, as well as within the Shopping tab on its Microsoft Edge browser and on its newly launched news service, Microsoft Start. Like Google, Microsoft’s advertising revenues may be impacted by Amazon’s growing ads business over time. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been seeing its search advertising revenue grow in recent quarters as the overall advertising market rebounded. But Amazon has been rapidly increasing its market share. In the first half of 2021, Amazon reported US$14.82 billion in ad sales, up 82% from the same period a year ago, The WSJ noted in a report on Google’s e-commerce makeover. https://tcrn.ch/3CkHGIO

Mailchimp and Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) are reconciling after a messy break-up.

Mailchimp is launching an integration for Shopify more than two years after a public bust-up between the two companies. The new software allows merchants on Shopify to combine their purchasing and email marketing information to target customers. Since the two parted ways in 2019 over a customer data dispute, merchants that rely on Shopify to sell online have been forced to use third-party software to access Mailchimp’s services. Today, Mailchimp is announcing that it has acquired one of those integrations, ShopSync, to power its new app. It did not disclose the financial details of the deal. As a result, the ShopSync app is being retired effective immediately. This comes just weeks after financial services company Intuit agreed to acquire Mailchimp for approximately $12 billion. The company said the deal would help it to “become the center of small business growth.” https://bit.ly/3Csoj0s

Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks say they’ll give US$100 in bitcoin to people who download the Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) app this week.

Until October 30, every person who downloads the Voyager Digital app, enters a promo code, deposits $US100, and makes a trade will get $US100 worth of bitcoin, the NBA’s digital; content manager tweeted. The cryptocurrency platform announced a five-year partnership with the basketball team on Wednesday. The deal includes the right to name the Mavs Gaming Hub, the official gaming and event venue for the Mavs’ NBA 2K League team. Voyager Digital, founded in 2018, allows its over 2 million verified users to trade over 60 currencies. The platform joins the growing number of crypto firms looking to tap into the sports industry. https://bit.ly/3BoYwVH

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

GlobalFoundries, Mubadala raise US$2.6 billion in U.S. IPO.

GlobalFoundries Inc. and major shareholder Mubadala Investment Co. raised almost US$2.6 billion in an initial public offering, pricing the chipmaker’s shares at the top of a marketed range. The company and Mubadala sold 55 million shares Wednesday for US$47 each after marketing them for US$42 to $47, according to a statement confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg News. https://bloom.bg/2ZxBTRS

Paytm seeks US$20 billion valuation in India’s biggest IPO.

Paytm, one of India’s most valuable startups, is seeking to raise as much as US$2.4 billion in what is shaping up to be the biggest initial public offering in the country at a valuation of US$20 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter and internal documents seen by TechCrunch. The startup is moving to price its share in the range of 2,080 to 2,150 Indian rupees (US$27.70 to $28.60), a person familiar with the matter said, adding that the subscription will be available from November 8 to 10, and the trading will begin on November 18 — or thereabout. Paytm, which is backed by Alibaba, Berkshire Hathaway and SoftBank among others, launched in 2009 to help users easily make digital payments from their phones and top up credit. https://tcrn.ch/3pIcK1T

FaZe Clan to go public through acquisition by SPAC B. Riley Principal 150 Merger, valuing company at US$1 billion.

Gaming, lifestyle and media company FaZe Clan is on course to go public after announcing a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company B. Riley Principal Merger Corp. in a deal valuing the combined company at US$1 billion. The companies estimate proceeds from the deal US$291 million, which will be used to fund FaZe Clan’s growth. After the deal closes, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2022, the company’s name will become FaZe Holdings Inc. and the stock will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “FAZE.” The SPAC is sponsored by an affiliate of B. Riley Financial Inc. . “We are thrilled to announce this important milestone of FaZe Clan’s plans to enter the public market,” said FaZe Chief Executive Lee Trink. “In our short history, we have evolved from a disruptive content generator to one of the world’s most decorated and successful esports franchises, and now into one of the younger generations’ most recognized and followed brands globally.” The SPAC’s stock, which started trading in April, has slipped 0.1% over the past three months while the S&P 500 has gained 3.0%. https://on.mktw.net/3nqtMyJ

Allbirds seeking to raise up to US$269 million in IPO.

Direct-to-consumer footwear company Allbirds is seeking to go public at a price per share of between US$12 and US$14, translating to a market capitalization of between US$1.7 billion and US$2 billion. That is only marginally above its last private valuation of US$1.7 billion from last year. While that valuation looks conservative, Allbirds would still be overvalued compared to other footwear companies like Nike. The company’s IPO performance will be a test of whether investors will back a company that has struggled with growth. Allbirds hopes to raise between US$230 million and US$269 million in the IPO, according to its latest filing with the SEC. The footwear company is one of several high-profile e-commerce companies with plans to go public this fall. Warby Parker, a direct-to-consumer eyewear business that went public via a direct listing late last month, was valued at US$6 billion after its first day of trading. And Rent the Runway, which rents out designer clothing, is expected to start publicly trading this week. https://bit.ly/3BopMUo

Andreessen Horowitz to raise another US$6.5 billion for core venture funds.

Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm behind Facebook, Twitter and Coinbase, is planning to raise another US$6.5 billion across two new funds, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The firm, which raised a record US$2.2 billion for crytocurrency investments just four months ago, is expected to divide the capital across a late-stage fund and a fund focused on younger startups, per the report. Last November, Andreessen Horowitz raised US$4.5 billion for a US$1.3 billion early-stage and late-stage fund that totaled US$3.2 billion. The firm appears to be adopting a faster fundraising timeline to fuel its quicker investment pace. The firm has participated in 196 VC deals so far this year, according to financial data firm PitchBook, a notable increase from its previous record of 126 deals set in 2013. https://bit.ly/3Es7gMP

Satellite manufacturer Terran Orbital to go public in US$1.58 billion SPAC merger.

Terran Orbital, a leading manufacturer of small satellites, is going public in a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Tailwind Two Acquisition Corp. The deal has a post-transaction enterprise value of US$1.58 billion and will furnish the company with around US$470 million. Of these funds, US$345 million will come from Tailwind Two’s contribution, plus US$50 million PIPE provided by AE Industrial partners, Beach Point Capital, Daniel Staton, Lockhead Martin, and Fuel Venture Capital. Terran’s announcement is a reflection that space startups are still looking to SPAC mergers as a way to raise cash and go public. Terram Orbital is a contract manufacturer, designer, building and engineering satellites primarily for the U.S. government. https://tcrn.ch/3EugIzb

Robinhood tumbles 12% after Q3 revenue misses analyst estimates and crypto trading plummets.

Robinhood’s stock tumbled as much as 12% on Wednesday after its third quarter results missed analyst estimates on revenue. The trading app’s total quarterly net revenue came in at US$365 million, lower than a Refinitiv estimate of US$431.5 million. Revenue rose 35% on an annual basis, but was much below the second-quarter figure of US$565 million. Robinhood posted a net loss of US$1.02 billion, or US$2.06 per share. That is below the Refinitiv estimate of a loss of US$1.37 per share. Transaction-based revenue came in at US$267 million, with revenue from crypto trading falling 78% from the prior quarter to US$51 million. Robinhood said its second-quarter revenue from crypto transactions, of which dogecoin made up 62%, was much higher at US$233 million. The company didn’t specify which crypto asset was the most popular in Q3. https://bit.ly/3GyHBUk

PayPal says it’s not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest.

PayPal issued a statement saying it “is not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest at this time,” apparently ending its consideration of the acquisition. Last week several media outlets had reported that PayPal was exploring a deal that would have cost somewhere north of $40 billion. Pinterest stock immediately jumped 13% but PayPal stock slid 11% over several days, a sign that investors did not like the concept. As a digital payments firm, the benefits of a combination with an advertising-driven company are uncertain, even though Pinterest and PayPal are both centered around shopping. PayPal shares jumped 3.7% on the announcement, while Pinterest stock dropped 12% on Monday. https://bit.ly/3jNr459

Software services firm Zendesk to buy SurveyMonkey parent for nearly $4 billion.

Software services company Zendesk Inc said on Thursday that it will buy Momentive Global Inc, owner of popular SurveyMonkey platform for nearly $US4 billion in an all-stock deal. Momentive shareholders will receive 0.225 shares of Zendesk’s stock for each share of Momentive stock they own, which implied a value of about $US28 per share at the time of the announcement. Zendesk’s stock plummeted 16% in aftermarket trading, who;e momentive also dropped nearly 9% to $US22.7 per share. https://reut.rs/3BvD0P4

Metaverse investment to reduce profits by “approximately US$10 billion” this year.

Facebook will be pouring resources into its Reality Labs project — which is working on the social media giant’s metaverse ambitions — to the tune of at least US$10 billion. “We expect our investment in Facebook Reality Labs to reduce our overall operating profit in 2021 by approximately $10 billion,” said David Wehner, Facebook’s said in the company’s earnings release on Monday. The social media giant will also start publishing the financial results of Facebook Reality Labs as a separate unit. The developments come as Facebook warns of “significant uncertainty” in the next quarter “in light of continued headwinds from Apple’s iOS 14 changes, and macroeconomic and COVID-related factors,” it said in the earnings release. Facebook’s total revenue rose to $29.01 billion in the third quarter from $21.47 billion a year ago, missing analysts’ expectations of $29.57 billion in revenue. https://bit.ly/3Cn3tj9

Emerging Technologies

Tesla vehicles to boost Uber electric fleet with Hertz deal.

Uber plans to roll out up to 50,000 Tesla vehicles as part of its push for an all-electric fleet. According to an agreement between the ride-hailing firm and Hertz, Uber drivers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Washington, DC, will be able to rent Tesla vehicles starting from November 1. Hertz announced Monday that it had ordered 100,000 vehicles from Tesla, thought to be the largest single order the carmaker has received to date. The announcement sent shares of Tesla skyrocketing Monday. The agreement aims to have all 50,000 vehicles available for hire by 2023. https://bit.ly/3vR8EoY 

Meta working on new smartwatch with built-in camera to compete with Apple Watch.

Facebook announced that it is changing their name to Meta, which reflects on what the company calls “Metaverse” – a strategy for a mixed reality platform that will combine all of the company’s apps in one place. Meanwhile, an image of Meta’s new smartwatch has leaked on the web – and it reveals a device with a built-in camera. Based on the leaked image, Meta’s smartwatch will have a square shaped display with rounded corners and thin edges. What’s really interesting about the product is the addition of a camera built into the bottom of the screen. Hardware details are unknown at this point, but Bloomberg says the watch will have detachable wristbands and a button on the top of the case. https://bit.ly/3CugF5N 

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Russian SVR hacked at least 14 IT supply chain firms since May.

Microsoft says the Russian-backed Nobelium threat group behind last year’s SolarWinds hack is still targeting the global IT supply chain, with 140 managed service providers (MSPs) and cloud service providers attacked and at least 14 breached since May 2021. This campaign shares all the signs of Nobelium’s approach to compromising a significant list of targets by breaching their service provider.Just as in previous attacks, the Russian state hackers used a diverse and ever-changing toolkit, including a long list of tools and tactics ranging from malware, password sprays, and token theft to API abuse and spear phishing. The main targets of these new attacks are resellers and technology service providers that deploy and manage cloud services and similar tech for their customers. https://bit.ly/2XLfcsG

Apple ‘very likely’ to face Justice Department antitrust suit.

Apple Inc. is in the cross-hairs of a potential antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice, according to a report in the Information on Monday. A “flurry” of activity on the case since the summer, including subpoenas sent to Apple’s business partners and questioning by Justice Department lawyers of Apple and its rivals, point to the “very likely” possibility of a lawsuit, the Information said. The Justice Department took jurisdiction over Apple antitrust action in the summer of 2019. Apple was not immediately available for comment. https://on.mktw.net/3bcwCl2


Consumables dominate Jumia’s sales as buyer habits change.

NYSE listed e-commerce platform Jumia experienced a shift in shopping habits across its markets in Africa last year, as more shoppers bought everyday products as opposed to electronics. Shopping for essentials such as foodstuff, fashion and beauty products, saw Jumia’s total sales value of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods grow by 13 percentage points last year from 44% in 2019, according to the newly released Jumia Africa E-commerce Index 2021 report. The Jumia report attributed the shift to stay-at-home restrictions that fueled the need for online shopping as well as the youthful population and the increasing smartphone and internet penetration across the continent.  Smartphones contributed 75% of the traffic to the e-commerce site. Jumia said that more sellers signed up to Jumia Mall – a platform for official brands within the main site – increasing the shopping options and providing a wide variety of products. Jumia is currently the biggest e-commerce platform in Africa, leading hundreds others including Chinese-owned Kilimall, Nigeria’s Marketplace Africa and South Africa’s Bidorbuy. https://tcrn.ch/3CkSc2H

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Mastercard will allow US banks and millions of merchants to integrate crypto into their products.

Mastercard will let US merchants, banks and fintech operators offer cryptocurrency services and products on its network, the payment services company said Monday. Allowing such integration will enable consumers to buy, sell and hold digital assets through custodial wallets through Mastercard’s partnership with Bakkt, a digital asset platform. Shares of Bakkt soared as much as 94% to US$17.71 before paring the rise to 78%. Mastercard shares were up 0.5% at US$360.60 during the session. 48% of 2,000 respondents to Bakkt’s US Consumer Crypto Survey said they had bought crypto in the first half of 2021, and 32% who hadn’t are either very or somewhat interested in doing so before the end of the year. The adoption of bitcoin-based products has helped drive that cryptocurrency to a market valuation of US $1.2 trillion this year. Bitcoin’s price last week hit an all-time high of US$66,930.39, according to CoinMarketCap, a day after the first bitcoin-futures ETF launched. https://bit.ly/3nvpHt2

Justice Department probes Visa’s relationships with fintech firms.

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Visa Inc.’s relationships with large financial-technology companies as part of its antitrust investigation of the card giant, according to people familiar with the matter. Antitrust investigators are looking into the financial incentives that Visa gave Square Inc., Stripe Inc. and PayPa Holdings Inc., the people said. Investigators want to know if those deals kept the payments firms from using other card networks or money-movement technologies, the people said. The probe is part of an existing antitrust investigation that The Wall Street Journal previously reported. There is no indication that the department has reached any conclusions or is nearing the end of its probe. https://on.wsj.com/3mmttpa

Global regulators back tougher rules to prevent criminals from using crypto.

Cryptocurrency firms could be forced to take greater steps to combat money laundering under new guidelines released on Thursday by the Financial Action task Force, an international body that coordinates government policy on illicit finance. The task force called on governments to broaden regulatory oversight of crypto firms and force more of them to take measures such as checking the identities of their customers and reporting suspicious transactions to regulators. Representatives of the crypto industry criticized the guidelines, saying they would undermine privacy, stifle innovation or simply not work in the context of blockchain and digital-asset technology. https://on.wsj.com/2ZACF09

The SEC is likely to get the green light to target stablecoins this week, report says.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has won a debate among US agencies to propose legislation and oversee the US$131 billion stablecoin market, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The Wall Street watchdog’s “significant authority” over tokens like tether will be spelt out in a report expected to be published this week, Bloomberg said, citing sources familiar with the matter. Agencies including the Treasury will ask Congress to pass legislation stating coins should be regulated like bank deposits, one source said. The report is expected to highlight the SEC’s powers, as Chairman Gary Gensler has been pushing for oversight and the ability to pursue enforcement action. It will clarify how the Biden administration will regulate the sector, with several agencies including the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission likely to have a role. https://bit.ly/3EmMrCb

A CryptoPunks NFT sells for an eye-popping US$532 million – but the purchase isn’t all it seems.

A CryptoPunks NFT avatar sold for over $US532 million worth of ether this week, causing people to wonder why the value was so high, even for the world of crypto art. There was speculation on social media about whether the sale was some kind of scam or security exploit. The past record for an NFT was a US$69 million piece by Beeple. CryptoLabs creator Larva Labs said, “This transaction is not a bug or an exploit, they are being done with flash loans.”. Flash loans have become popular in decentralized finance, as collateral free, peer-to-peer ways to borrow via the ethereum network. https://bit.ly/3pOml7f

Photoshop will get a ‘prepare as NFT’ option soon.

Adobe is launching a system built into Photoshop that can, among other things, help prove that the person selling an NFT is the person who made it. It’s called Content Credentials, and NFT sellers will be able to link the Adobe ID with their crypto wallet, allowing compatible NFT marketplaces to show a sort of verified certificate proving the art’s source is authentic. According to a Decoder interview with Adobe’s chief product officer Scott Belsky, this functionality will be built into Photoshop with a “prepare as NFT” option, launching in preview by the end of this month. Belsky says attribution data created by the Content Credentials will live on an IPFS system. IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) is a decentralized way to host files where a network of people are responsible for keeping data safe and available, rather than a single company (somewhat similar to how torrent systems work). Adobe says that NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, KnownOrigin, and SuperRare will be able to integrate with Content Credentials to show Adobe’s attribution information. https://bit.ly/2ZnKZ3B

Creatd surges 68% after announcing a line of Trump NFTs, including an infamous picture of the former president signing a model.

Shares of Creatd, a tech and digital content company, soared 68% Monday after announcing it would sell NFTs of former president Donald Trump. The NFT, or non-fungible token, features “three candid images of a young Donald Trump, captured as he signs the breast of a model, surrounded by a crowd at a large formal gala,” according to a Monday press release from the company. The going price for the NFT is 240 ether, the release said. The photos come from Creatd’s OG Collection, a library of thousands of photographs, illustrations, and videos from the archives of Bob Guccione, who once owned publications like Penthouse and Viva. https://bit.ly/3jHEvDI

A new cryptocurrency called worldcoin wants to scan 1 billion people’s iris by 2023 to speed up digital currency adoption.

The team behind a new cryptocurrency is aiming to fast-track mass digital-asset adoption – and to achieve this, they want to scan people’s iris. One billion by 2023 to be exact. Worldcoin, which came out of stealth this past week, will give its cryptocurrency to each person who signs up. So far, it has scanned more than 100,000 people from around the world through a new device called the Orb. The coin will go live in the first quarter of 2022. The spherical, silver hardware – about the size of a basketball – captures an image of a person’s eyes to determine whether the person is real and whether that person has already signed up in the past. The new digital asset – founded by the former head of Y Combinator Sam Altman, along with Alex Blania and Max Novendstern – has raised US$25 million to date and is currently valued at US$1 billion. https://bit.ly/3Gpg3AL


Apple lost US$6 billion to chip shortage and manufacturing delays in Q4, Tim Cook says.

Apple posted strong earnings for its fourth fiscal 2021 quarter, reporting all-time highs for its services and Mac division. The company says it took in revenue of US$83.4 billion, a year-over-year increase of 29%, and earnings per share of US$1.24. This earnings number comes well below Wall Street expectations of US$84.45 billion. CEO Tim Cook said that supply chain constraints had a clear impact on financial results this quarter. Cook stated that supply chain constraints were estimated to be worth up to US$6 billion, with the worldwide chip shortages being the main issue.https://bit.ly/2Y0rlu4

Samsung reports record quarterly revenue on strong chip demand.

Samsung Electronics reported a record quarterly revenue and a 31% increase in net profit for the three months through September, helped by strong demand for its chips and display panels. But the South Korean tech giant also warned that component shortages at some customers may affect demand for its chips in the fourth quarter. Samsung, which makes everything from smartphones and home appliances to chips and other electronic parts, said revenue in the third quarter rose 10.5% from a year earlier to 74 trillion won (US$63 billion). Its net profit rose to 12.3 trillion won from 9.36 trillion won. Samsung’s solid results come amid a global shortage of some key chips. The company said it will expand its supply of chips using advanced manufacturing processes in order to meet strong demand for chips used in mobile phones and servers. https://bit.ly/3GDLrMf


Hertz orders 100,000 Teslas, largest EV purchase ever.

Hertz has placed an order for 100,000 for Teslas, Bloomberg News reported Monday. It is the largest ever single purchase of electric vehicles ever, Bloomberg News said. The cars will be delivered over the next 14 months, with Tesla Model 3 sedans set to be available for rental in the US and Europe, the outlet said. https://bit.ly/3vHHlNO

General Motors to install up to 40,000 level 2 electric vehicle chargers across US and Canada.

General Motors has announced a new effort to install as many as 40,000 Level 2 electric vehicle chargers across the US and Canada starting in 2022. The car manufacturing giant said the project would be pushed through dealerships, which will spearhead the move in local communities, particularly in “underserved, rural and urban areas where EV charging access is often limited.” The “Dealer Community Charging Program” will see General Motors install Ultium charging stations at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, sports and entertainment venues, college and universities and more. The chargers will be available to all electric vehicles — including those not sold by General Motors. The electric vehicle charging plan is part of a US$750 million commitment to expand its Ultium Charge 360 ecosystem and strengthen “home, workplace and public charging infrastructure.” General Motors added that it plans to release a new line of three Ultium-branded Level 2 smart charging stations. https://zd.net/3EhjgR9 

Sophic Capital Client Insights

Sophic Client HempFusion (CBD.U-TSXV): HempFusion Wellness CEO Interview Part 2: A fast-growing health and wellness company. we explored the company’s M&A strategy, recent acquisition and how the business is being positioned to take advantage of potential regulatory changes in the future. As well, we explore the company’s most underappreciated asset: Probulin Probiotics. https://bit.ly/3GBfIev


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