The market had another rough week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.1%, the S&P 500 index fell 4.8%, and the Nasdaq composite fell 5.5%. Billionaire investor, Stanley Druckenmiller warned there’s a high probability of the stock market being flat for a decade. SoftBank considers launching a third vision fund, despite massive losses. TikTok parent ByteDance to buy back US$3 billion worth of shares; the buyback would value ByteDance at about US$300 billion, Reuters reported. Adobe’s US$20 billion deal for Figma is more than 50 times the startup’s revenue and is the biggest acquisition of a private technology company ever. Intel cuts expectations for Mobileye, aiming for US$30 billion IPO. Tencent Music Entertainment Group is pressing ahead with its Hong Kong listing plans with a goal to start trading in the Asian financial hub as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter. Twilio lays off 11% of its staff as it aims for profitability in 2023. Wix’s stock rose after activist investor Starboard disclosed a 9% stake. Deere invests billions in self-driving tractors, smart crop sprayers. Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company owned by General Motors, will launch a robotaxi service in Phoenix, Arizona, and Austin, Texas, before the end of 2022. Netflix estimates ad-supported tier will reach 40 million viewers by late 2023. Roblox announces new ad revenue stream. Uber investigates hack. California files Antitrust complaint against Amazon. Google loses appeal over illegal Android app bundling, EU reduces fine to €4.1 billion. Citadel Securities, Fidelity and Charles Schwab to launch new crypto exchange.
In Canada, CubicFarm Systems announced a $6.25 million senior secured term loan. Converge Technology Solutions acquires Newcomp Analytics. Stack Capital increases its exposure to Prove Identity via a share swap. WELL Health announces inclusion in the 2022 TSX30. Sophic Client, Swarmio Media announced an initial strategic investment of a US$1 million convertible note from Apelby Communications at a US$30 million market capitalization. Sophic Client, LuckBox announced triple digit growth in key operational metrics. Sophic also published three reports on Sophic Client Reklaim (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC): Governments stemming what’s collected about you., Data Privacy transcends international borders. and Big Tech backtracking on personal data collection.
Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News
Sophic Client Swarmio Media (SWRM-CSE, SWMIF-OTC) announces an initial strategic investment of US$1 million convertible note from Apelby Communications at a cap price of US$30 million market capitalization.
In return for the funds advanced and to be advanced, Swarmio will issue an unsecured convertible note having a 1-year term from the date of issue and bearing interest at 10% per annum (the “Convertible Note”). US$500,000 of this amount has been advanced to the Company and the remainder will be advanced at the beginning of 2023, provided that no qualifying financing or sale transaction has occurred first. In the event Swarmio completes an equity financing with gross proceeds of at least USD $5,000,000 during the term of each Convertible Note, the principal and interest outstanding will convert to common shares of Swarmio at the lower of (i) a 20% discount to the price being paid by the investors in such equity financing; or (ii) a price reflecting a US$30,000,000 market capitalization for Swarmio. If Swarmio is party to a sale transaction during the term of the Convertible Notes, the holder of the Convertible Note shall have the option of converting the principal and interest into common shares of Swarmio at a price reflecting a US$30,000,000 market capitalization of Swarmio. https://bit.ly/3Sdrn8a
Sophic Client LuckBox (LUCK-TSXV, LUKEF-OTC) announces triple digit growth in key operational metrics.
Net Gaming Revenue (“NGR” i.e. gross sales minus player winnings and promotions) grew 144% during August and total player deposits grew by 197%. These first data-points mark a successful transition of the Company to its next growth phase, as communicated at the Company’s Annual General Meeting on August 11, 2022. The Company’s early operational data and strong balance sheet supports management’s guidance for profitability exiting H1 2023. https://bit.ly/3LtGU1K
CubicFarm Systems Corp. (CUB-TSX) announces $6.25 million senior secured term loan.
The Term Sheet commits to a total of 6.25 million, with an option to increase the commitment to 8.0 million. The Term Loan will have a term of two years, subject to prepayment obligations upon the Company achieving certain milestones or disposing of assets outside of the ordinary course of business and will bear and pay interest at a rate of 10.0% per annum. The Term Loan is provided by a group of lenders (the “Lender”) that includes one non-independent director of the Company whose loan amount is less than 20% of the total facility size. The Term Loan will be supported by security in favour of the Lender, evidenced by a general security agreement over all of the assets of the Company and its subsidiaries. The Term Loan will be subject to an upfront fee equal to 1.0% of the commitment amount. The closing of the Term Loan will be subject to execution of a term loan agreement and satisfaction of certain conditions precedent by the Company, including the subordination of an existing loan from a senior lender. For each Term Loan draw, the Lender will receive share purchase warrants (the “Warrants”) in HydroGreen, Inc. (“HGI”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, at a number and price determined by the amount of a Term Loan draw divided by a price per HGI share calculated using a formula at the time of such Term Loan draw. Such exercise price for the Warrants shall initially be at a pre-money valuation of HGI that is the lesser of USD20.0 million and the market capitalization of the Company at the time of the draw. The Warrants will have a term of five (5) years. https://bit.ly/3eRBeCh
Converge Technology Solutions Corp. (CTS-TSX) acquires Newcomp Analytics.
Newcomp Analytics generated gross revenue of approximately C$36.4 million with an adjusted EBITDA of C$3.4 million for the trailing twelve-month period ended July 31,2022. Consideration for the purchase will consist of C$20.3 million in cash paid at closing. Positive net working capital will also be paid out at closing. The purchase multiple would be approximately 6 times adjusted EBITDA for the trailing twelve-month period ended July 31,2022. The acquisition is expected upon closing to be immediately accretive to Converge, resulting in increased revenue and adjusted EBITDA. https://bit.ly/3BomWkf
Stack Capital (STCK-TSX) increases its exposure to Prove Identity via share swap.
The Company announced that it has acquired additional shares of Prove Identity, Inc. (“Prove”), in consideration for cash and 139,440 Stack Capital common shares, increasing its exposure to the business by roughly 28%, which now represents 9% of Stack Capital’s Book Value. Prove is a leading provider of digital consumer identity verification and authentication solutions and its technology, which uses the mobile phone at its core, modernizes the way consumers transact with greater ease, accuracy, privacy, and security. The transaction allowed Stack Capital to utilize its common shares as currency to increase exposure to an attractive/existing portfolio company, capitalizing on current market conditions. The Prove seller, on the other hand, successfully converted its single holding into a diversified portfolio of innovative private companies and, in the process, also managed to maintain exposure to Prove on a go-forward basis, at a reduced level, through the ownership of Stack Capital common shares. https://bit.ly/3RTT9XB
WELL Health (WELL-TSX) announces inclusion in the 2022 TSX30.
Founded in 2019, the TSX30 is an annual program that recognizes companies with exceptional shareholder returns over the last 3 years by driving growth in their industries, for their investors, and for the Canadian economy. https://bit.ly/3qOzNr7
Idealist Capital secures $250 million initial close for new climate impact fund.
New climate impact fund Idealist Capital has secured a first close of $250 million. Idealist wants to invest in tech companies focused on the decarbonization of power systems, industries and the circular economy, as well as electric vehicles. The fund’s overall target is to raise $500 million. Current limited partners in the fund include Desjardins, Investissement Québec, Fondaction, TD Bank, and National Bank of Canada. Idealist noted that a group of “prominent” family offices and accredited investors also took part. Idealist is calling itself a private equity growth fund with a focus on investments that can “generate positive climate impact.” According to The Globe and Mail, Idealist is targeting early commercial-stage companies that are looking for capital to help scale their operations. The fund is set to make up to 10 investments with cheques between $25 million to $75 million. The firm has a bench of advisors spanning the energy sector as well as renewables. Advisors include Lion Electric CEO Marc Bedard; David MacMillan of Power’s infrastructure fund; Hervé Touati, formerly general manager of Shell New Energies; and Tim Tokarsky, the chairman of Taiga Motors. https://bit.ly/3BFS8gj
Protein Industries Canada secures $30 million from Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, launches AI-focused co-investment program.
Federal innovation cluster Protein Industries Canada (PIC) has received a $30 million commitment from the Government of Canada through the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, to launch a new co-investment program. Launched in 2018 as one of Canada’s five innovation clusters, PIC supports collaborative product or process research, technology development, and export market development projects related to expanding Canada’s plant-based protein sector. Along with funding from industry members, PIC claims that it has committed more than $485 million to the Canadian plant-protein sector. When the cluster initiative was launched in 2018, the Canadian government promised an investment of up to $153 million into PIC. Since then, the cluster initative has been topped up and, most recently, the Government of Canada invested an additional $750 million over six years and rebranded the initiative to ‘Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters.’ The federal government also allocated $443 million for the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2021 for its second phase, which focuses on the commercialization and standardization of AI. https://bit.ly/3QNBwHR
Ideon Technologies raises $21 million Series A to fuel transition to low-impact mining and EVs.
Richmond, British Columbia based mining tech startup Ideon Technologies has raised $21 million (US$16 million) in Series A financing to help address the world’s looming critical mineral supply shortage. Ideon’s all-equity, all-primary Series A round, which closed in August, was led by Palo Alto, California’s Playground Global, with support from undisclosed existing investors and Ideon employees. Ideon’s other investors include the University of British Columbia’s Seed Fund, which participated in the company’s $1.3 million July 2020 seed round. Ideon’s solution scans beneath the Earth’s surface to identify new mineral and metal deposits before drilling. The World Bank Group has estimated that the production of critical minerals must increase by nearly 500 percent—or three billion tons—by 2050 in order to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies. To date, Ideon has raised approximately US$18.5 million in total venture capital and secured $10 million in non-dilutive funding through government and industry initiatives. https://bit.ly/3S1FGNg
With $20 million, Goldsky aims to make blockchain data easy to use.
Goldsky is living up to its lux name, announcing a US$20 million seed round less than a year after the startup’s founding in 2021. Goldsky hopes its technology will enable it to capitalize on reading and processing crypto data quickly and efficiently, something the startup claims is currently an issue for companies. Previously, Goldsky raised US$1.4 million in initial funding. Investing in web3 infrastructure tools that make blockchain easier is becoming increasingly popular. In Canada an increasing number of Canadian startups are jumping into the sector. Montréal-based StreamingFast secured a $73.5 million Cgrant last year to support a blockchain infrastructure project called The Graph. Additionally, the Vybe Network raised $13.1 million in early June to provide software and infrastructure that allows users to access and use both real-time and historical data from the Solana blockchain. https://bit.ly/3RZkMhB
Insurtech ProNavigator secures $10 million to power US expansion.
The round was co-led by Graphite Ventures and existing ProNavigator investor Luge Capital. Luge first invested in the Kitchener-Waterloo startup in 2020, leading ProNavigator’s $5.6 million Series A round. Graphite is the seed-stage investment firm that was created earlier this year by a partnership between MaRS IAF and the Province of Ontario. With a target of $100 million, Graphite had already reached $77 million in a first close as of January. While the Graphite fund is a first-time investor in ProNavigator, MaRS IAF has been invested in the startup since its seed round. Other investors in the recent round include Export Development Canada (EDC) and Tactico, the latter of which has a history of investing in financial and insurance-focused companies and has invested alongside Luge before. Longtime, undisclosed angel investors also took part in this round. CIBC Innovation Banking is also a return investor in ProNavigator as part of this round, having provided $2 million in debt financing as part of the $5.6 million Series A round. ProNavigator declined to disclose the breakdown of equity to debt of this latest round, though noted that it did not include any secondary capital. https://bit.ly/3eVTRVS
Composer secures US$6 million to help retail investors adopt sophisticated trading strategies.
Toronto-based Composer, which offers an automated trading platform for retail investors, has raised a US$6 million seed extension led by New York’s Left Lane Capital. The all-equity round, which closed in August, was supported by a slew of existing, United States-based investors in First Round Capital, Alumni Ventures Group (AVG) Basecamp, Draft Ventures, and Packy McCormick’s Not Boring Capital. The fresh capital brings Composer’s total venture funding to date to over $11 million, from a group that also includes Toronto-based Golden Ventures. While other stock trading apps like Robinhood have seen their active users drop during the market downturn, Composer claims to have experienced increased customer demand. https://bit.ly/3BOpklK
The Rounds closes $5.1 million Series A from US VC firm Panoramic Ventures.
Halifax-based healthtech startup The Rounds has raised a $5.1 million Series A round from Atlanta venture capital firm Panoramic Ventures. The Rounds announced the investment this week, and noted that it brings its total funding to $7.8 million since its inception. As part of The Rounds’ latest funding round, the startup said it intends to make several strategic hires across its marketing, sales, and engineering teams. Previously, The Rounds secured $499,500 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency last year, building on the ACOA’s $500,000 investment into The Rounds in 2016. Additionally, The Rounds raised $1 million in seed financing in 2014. https://bit.ly/3BL9Ajg
GrowerIQ closes $3 million seed round to help cannabis producers stay compliant.
GrowerIQ has seen its business grow since its 2020 launch, as Canadian cannabis sales rose during COVID-19 and other jurisdictions have begun to loosen restrictions on marijuana use. After bootstrapping for the past four years, GrowerIQ has raised $3 million in seed funding to expand the reach of its cannabis industry-specific ERP software. GrowerIQ’s $3 million convertible note round, which closed this summer, was co-led by Houston-based Golden Section and Toronto’s MaRS IAF, with participation from LAGO, Delbridge, GTM Fund, and Gaingels. Fellow Toronto-based startup Ample Organics set out to tackle the same problem as GrowerIQ in a similar fashion years earlier. Founded in 2014—pre-legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada—Ample has operated what it calls a “seed-to-sale” platform that offers tracking, reporting, and compliance tools to cannabis producers, sellers, and clinics. In 2020, Ample was acquired by Akerna in a $46 million deal. https://bit.ly/3Dy0eZs
Bright secures $1.45 million from Atlantic Canadian investors to bolster its “wellness-at-work” platform.
Halifax-based software startup Bright (formerly Cribcut) has secured $1.45 million in seed funding in August from a group of Atlantic Canadian investors. Bright’s platform includes classes about fitness, meditation, and mindfulness, along with workshops focused on nutrition and self-care. The investment was led by Tidal Venture Partners, which focuses on pre-seed and seed startups, and manages a fund that is just over $4 million. Bright’s raise also had participation from Concrete Ventures and Innovacorp—the latter of which is being consolidated with Nova Scotia Business Inc. to form Invest Nova Scotia. https://bit.ly/3xx3BMv
Air Canada Orders 30-Seater Electric Plane From Heart Aerospace, ES-30.
The Montréal-based airline announced Thursday that it had ordered 30 of Heart Aerospace’s ES-30 electric aircraft. Air Canada has also gained a $5 million equity stake in the Swedish manufacturer. Scheduled to enter service in 2028, the plane is set to seat 30 passengers in a two-by-one configuration and fly up to 124 miles, or 200 kilometers, when in all-electric mode. The range can extend to 249 miles when the battery is supplemented by generators and 497 miles when the capacity is limited to 25 people, according to Air Canada. The move complements Air Canada’s decarbonization effort. According to Rousseau, the airline is developing sustainable aviation fuel and a carbon-capture system to reduce its CO2 emissions. The Swedish manufacturer has garnered firm orders from United Airlines and Mesa Airlines. Delta Air Lines is the only major US airline to not invest in an electric aircraft. https://bit.ly/3BL9PLc
Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A
SoftBank considers launching a third vision fund.
Despite massive losses, Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son has tried to chart a new path for the tech investment giant. SoftBank’s longtime strategy of dumping mountains of cash on promising young companies to create big winners failed dramatically at WeWork and is inviting scrutiny into the fund’s other investments. Global tech investor SoftBank Group Corp. is considering the launch of a new giant startup fund after ill-timed bets and massive losses weighed down two earlier attempts to dominate startup investing, according to people familiar with discussions at the company. The Tokyo-based tech conglomerate, by far the world’s largest startup investor in recent years, would likely use its own cash for what would be the third SoftBank Vision Fund if it moves ahead with the plan, some of the people said. https://on.wsj.com/3Lfn5Lr
TikTok parent ByteDance to buy back US$3 billion worth of shares.
China-based ByteDance, the privately held parent of social media app TikTok, is looking to repurchase US$3 billion of its shares, to help improve liquidity positions of some of its shareholders, according to a Reuters report. The buyback would value ByteDance at about US$300 billion, Reuters reported, citing a memo to investors seen on Friday. ByteDance will propose the repurchases to its shareholders at the end of September, and plans to execute the repurchases in the next two to three months, Reuters reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. https://on.mktw.net/3BLENTDn
Tencent Music plans Hong Kong debut as soon as next week.
Tencent Music Entertainment Group is pressing ahead with its Hong Kong listing plans with a goal to start trading in the Asian financial hub as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The Shenzhen-based company, whose shares already trade in New York, is working with advisers on the preparations for its second listing, the people said. Marketing activities could start as early as in the coming days, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Tencent Music in March said it plans to pursue a secondary listing in Hong Kong, joining a flurry of Chinese firms seeking alternative listing as escalating Sino-US tensions fuel delisting risks. The listing in the Asian financial hub would be by way of introduction, meaning it won’t sell new shares or raise money. Tencent Music raised about US$1.07 billion in a US initial public offering in 2018. Shares of Tencent Music have tumbled by about 31% this year, giving it a market value of about US$8 billion. https://bloom.bg/3QRsdGN
Intel cuts expectations for Mobileye, aiming for US$30 billion IPO.
Intel Corp. is scaling back expectations for its Mobileye initial public offering in the face of a broader stock slump and could delay the share sale until next year if conditions don’t improve, people familiar with the process said. The company expects the IPO to value the self-driving technology business at as much as US$30 billion — less than originally hoped — according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The original plan was to offer the stock around the middle of 2022, and Reuters and others reported potential valuations of more than US$50 billion. https://bloom.bg/3BFFzBu
Twilio lays off 11% of its staff as it aims for profitability in 2023.
Twilio announced that it will lay off 11% of its workforce — between 800 and 900 people across its staff of over 7,800 — as the customer engagement platform looks to rein in costs during the broader economic downturn. Paperwork filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the headcount reduction will cost between US$70 million to US$90 million, by Twilio’s estimates, with the bulk of costs being incurred during the company’s third and fourth fiscal quarters 2022. The company nearly doubled headcount during the pandemic as the appetite for its cloud services climbed. In 2021, Twilio acquired data security platform Ionic Security and toll-free messaging services provider Zipwhip — the latter for US$850 million. Twilio’s Q2 2022 sales growth was 41%, the lowest since the December quarter in 2017, as the company faced a cyberattack that compromised the data of more than 100 customers. In its most recent fiscal quarter (Q2), Twilio reported a loss of $322.8 million on US$943.4 million in revenue. Shares were up about 1% on news of the layoffs; Twilio’s stock has fallen about 73% this year. https://tcrn.ch/3DtFCSd
Patreon lays off 17% of staff.
Patreon laid off about 17% of staff, or 80 people, CEO Jack Conte announced on Tuesday. The job cuts included staffers from operations, finance, go-to-market and HR teams. Conte said the pandemic “introduced volatility” to the creator economy, first with “rapid acceleration” during Covid-19 lockdowns. “In response, we built an operating plan to support this outsized growth, but as the world began recovering from the pandemic and enduring a broader economic slowdown, that plan is no longer the right path forward for Patreon,” Conte wrote. The nine-year-old startup, which offers a membership service for creators and fans, raised $155 million in Series F funding at a $4 billion valuation led by Tiger Global Management in April 2021. Patreon said it could continue increasing its investments in product, engineeirng and design teams, but will restructure its marketing efforts under a smaller team, as well as its creator partnerships unit. It’s also scaling back the size of its operations and recruiting teams. Patreon will also close its offices in Dublin and Berlin. The nine engineers in Dublin will be offered a relocation package to join teams in the U.S. In July, The Information reported that layoffs at creator economy startups were nearing 800 people. Startups including MasterClass, photo-editing app Picsart and Cameo have cut staff this year. https://bit.ly/3dqgq4E
Sea Ltd shuts operations in some Latin American countries, cuts Free Fire staff in Shanghai.
Singapore-based Sea Ltd’s e-commerce arm Shopee will exit Argentina and shut local operations in Chile, Colombia and Mexico while its Garena gaming unit will lay off hundreds of staff in Shanghai, people close to the matter said. Shopee Chief Executive Chris Feng said in an internal email seen by Reuters that “in light of the current elevated macro uncertainty,” Sea needed to “focus resources on core operations”. New York-listed Sea has been cutting jobs across its units in recent months after reporting a nearly US$1 billion quarterly loss in the April-June quarter. Sea will quit Argentina entirely, according to the email and three sources with direct knowledge of the matter. It will maintain cross-border operations in Chile, Colombia and Mexico but lay off dozens of local employees, the people said. Three separate sources told Reuters that the company was laying off people in Shanghai, which is a major development centre for Garena. Sea saw its market value soar to more than US$200 billion last October as its gaming and e-commerce units surged in popularity during the pandemic, but its shares have tumbled since then and are now worth just US$27 billion. Sea withdrew its e-commerce forecast for the year. https://reut.rs/3BcBeEy
Adobe’s US$20 billion deal for Figma is more than 50 times the startup’s revenue.
It’s the biggest acquisition of a private technology company ever announced, according to Qatalyst Partners, which represented Figma. Facebook’s acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp, initially struck at a cash-and-stock deal worth US$19 billion, closed with a final price tag of US$22 billion. It appears to be one of the three biggest purchases of a subscription software firm in history, surpassed only by Salesforce’s US$27.7 billion deal for messaging app Slack and Microsoft’s US$26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. Adobe is paying one of the highest prices ever for another subscription software firm, in terms of a multiple on forward revenue. Adobe said Figma by the end of the year would be generating US$400 million in annual recurring revenue, a measure of customer commitments to pay for the software over the next 12 months. While it’s not uncommon for venture capitalists to pay a multiple of 50 times revenue for shares in a young private software company, that multiple is rare when it comes to acquisitions or initial public offerings of firms worth more than several billion dollars. https://bit.ly/3SaVahP
Wix stock rises after activist investor Starboard discloses 9% stake.
Wix.com Ltd. shares rose in the extended session Friday following a report that activist investor Starboard Value had built a 9% stake in the company, which was later confirmed. Shares rose 5% after hours, following a 3.5% decline to finish the regular session at $73.69. At first, shares rose following a Reuters report that was later confirmed by a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Starboard said the purpose of the transaction was because it considered shares to be “undervalued and represented an attractive investment opportunity,” and planned to make “suggestions for improving” Wix’s financial and operation performance. Wix shares are down 53% year to date, compared with an 18% decline in the S&P 500 index. https://on.mktw.net/3DxHM3b
AppLovin abandons bid for Unity.
AppLovin abandoned an effort to combine with Unity Software, a move which could have created a powerhouse in the business of selling ad space for mobile apps, particularly in games. AppLovin’s decision reflected the reality that Unity was proceeding with its previously announced plan to merge with IronSource, a competitor to AppLovin in the mobile app ad market. Unity had rebuffed the AppLovin proposal last month and on Friday ended any hopes of changing its mind when it scheduled a meeting of its shareholders on Oct. 7 to vote on the IronSource deal. Unity’s US$4.4 billion all-stock deal for IronSource was announced in mid-July. In early August, AppLovin tried to upset the agreement by making a proposal for Unity. But Unity decided within a few days that the AppLovin proposal would not be superior to the IronSource combination. https://bit.ly/3Uf6FGW
NCR stock plunges after company says it will break in two rather than sell itself.
Shares of NCR Corp. were tumbling 17% in premarket trading Friday after the company said it plans to split into two publicly traded businesses, with one focusing on digital commerce and the other oriented around ATMs. The late Thursday announcement signaled that management wasn’t able to proceed with a sale of the company. “Throughout the strategic review process, we received material interest in a whole company sale of NCR, as well as interest in various individual segments of our business,” Executive Chairman Frank Martire said in a release. “In recent days, it has become increasingly clear to the board that, given the state of current financing markets, we cannot deliver a whole company transaction that reflects an appropriate and acceptable value for NCR to our shareholders.” https://on.mktw.net/3eSNLW7
VMware charged by SEC with misleading investors with sales practices.
VMware Inc. was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday for misleading investors about its sales practices. The SEC said “beginning in fiscal year 2019, VMware began delaying the delivery of license keys on some sales orders until just after quarter-end so that it could recognize revenue from the corresponding license sales in the following quarter.” With this practice, “VMware shifted tens of millions of dollars in revenue into future quarters, building a buffer in those periods and obscuring the company’s financial performance as its business slowed relative to projections in fiscal year 2020,” the SEC said. VMware did not admit nor deny the charges and consented to an US$8 million fine. In comparison, in late August, VMware reported US$3.34 billion in revenue for the July-ending quarter, and net income of US$347 million. Also, VMware is in the process of being acquired by Broadcom Inc. for US$61 billion in cash in stock. https://on.mktw.net/3S1Loi8
Deere invests billions in self-driving tractors, smart crop sprayers.
Deere, which helped make satellite-guided tractors ubiquitous in the U.S. Farm Belt over the past 20 years, is investing billions of dollars to develop smarter machines that the company said will make farming faster and more efficient. Deere’s equipment rivals, CNH Industrial NV and Agco agribusinesses such as Bayer and Corteva and venture-capital investors have collectively invested billions of dollars to buy and build systems for predicting crop performance and lowering farmers’ costs with more precise operations. By 2026, Deere wants to connect 1.5 million machines in service and a half billion acres in use to its cloud-based John Deere Operations Center. Deere last year acquired California-based startup Bear Flag Robotics for US$250 million to provide software for turning older tractors into autonomous-capable vehicles. A 2021 report from Bernstein analysts estimated the average gross margin for farming software at 85%, compared with 25% for equipment sales. Deere’s new generation of smart farm equipment grew from its 2017 acquisition of Blue River Technology Inc. https://on.wsj.com/3RI9ApT
Cruise will launch robotaxi services in Phoenix and Austin by the end of the year.
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company owned by General Motors, will launch a robotaxi service in Phoenix, Arizona, and Austin, Texas, before the end of 2022, the company’s CEO said. The company currently operates a ride-hailing service in only one city, San Francisco, where it received permission to begin charging customers for rides earlier this year. That service took years to scale up; Cruise now says it can do the same in two new cities in 90 days. The company has done autonomous testing in Phoenix through a delivery partnership with Walmart. But it has yet to deploy any vehicles in Austin, which Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said was unprecedented. Currently, only a handful of AV operators have actually deployed fully driverless vehicles, also known as Level 4 autonomous vehicles, on public roads. Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, Yandex, the Russian tech giant, and Chinese tech firm Baidu. Vogt predicted that Cruise would generate up to $1 billion in annual revenue by 2025 — a bold statement given how slow AVs have been out of the gate. https://bit.ly/3QHp24r
Fast charging over 10,000 cycles: For future electric vehicles, Harvard engineers’ solid-state battery technology points to a leap in performance and reliability.
Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has granted an exclusive technology license to Adden Energy, Inc., a startup developing innovative solid-state battery systems for use in future electric vehicles (EVs) that would fully charge in minutes. Adden Energy has closed a seed round with US$5.15 million in funding led by Primavera Capital Group, with participation by Rhapsody Venture Partners and MassVentures. The license and the venture funding will enable the startup to scale Harvard’s laboratory prototype toward commercial deployment of a solid-state lithium-metal battery that may provide reliable and fast charging for future EVs to help bring them into the mass market. The lab-scale coin-cell prototype has achieved battery charge rates as fast as three minutes with over 10,000 cycles in a lifetime, with results published in Nature and other journals. It also boasts high energy density and a level of material stability that overcomes the safety challenges posed by some other lithium batteries. The startup aims to scale the battery up to a palm-sized pouch cell, and then upward toward a full-scale vehicle battery in the next three to five years. “If you want to electrify vehicles, a solid-state battery is the way to go,” said Li, who is a scientific advisor to Adden Energy. “We set out to commercialize this technology because we do see our technology as unique compared to other solid-state batteries. We have achieved in the lab 5,000 to 10,000 charge cycles in a battery’s lifetime, compared with 2,000 to 3,000 charging cycles for even the best in class now, and we don’t see any fundamental limit to scaling up our battery technology. That could be a game changer.” Fitzhugh, CEO of Adden Energy, noted that in 2019, 29% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions were produced by transportation. “Complete electrification of the vehicle fleet is one of the most meaningful steps we can take to fight climate change,” he said. “However, broad adoption of electric vehicles requires batteries that can meet a diverse set of consumer needs. For example, 37% of Americans don’t have garages at home, so at-home overnight charging is not possible. In order to electrify this segment, EVs need to recharge at comparable times to internal combustion vehicles, essentially in the time you’d currently spend at the gas pump.” https://bit.ly/3Sf01hV
ByteDance’s Pico will unveil new VR headset Sept. 22.
The company didn’t share anything else about the upcoming device, but a number of additional details have leaked over the past few weeks. The device, which may be branded either Pico 4 or Pico Phoenix, will come in two configurations, with a Pro version offering face- and eye-tracking functionality. It will run Android Q and is being powered by a Qualcomm processor, according to an FCC filing first reported by Protocol. Pico’s headset will also be equipped with an inside-out RGB camera that will be used for color video pass-through for mixed reality experiences. That’s similar to Meta’s upcoming Project Cambria headset, which will be officially unveiled in October. The new Pico headset will be smaller than the company’s current Neo 3 device, and will feature a higher-resolution display and clearer optics. It will also have automatic hardware IPD adjustment to adapt to a person’s pupillary distance for a “more accurate and comfortable vision experience,” according to a submission to the Bluetooth SIG that was first reported by Protocol. https://bit.ly/3dnc3Hq
China plans three missions to the Moon after discovering a new lunar mineral that may be a future energy source.
The space race between China and the US is accelerating after Beijing’s National Space Administration got the go-ahead to launch three orbiters to the moon over the next 10 years, it announced on Saturday. The news was first reported by Bloomberg. It comes a day after China became the third country to discover a new lunar mineral, which it called Changesite-(Y), according to Chinese state-controlled newspaper the Global Times. China’s Chang’e-5 mission retrieved samples from the moon in 2020 and it has been described by Global Times as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” found in lunar rock particles. The mineral contains helium-3, which could be a future source of energy. Moon mining could be the next source of tension between the countries as NASA is also probing the moon’s south pole where China plans to build a research station in conjunction with Russia. China has accelerated its efforts in space exploration of late by building a space station, launching a number of missions to collect moon samples and putting a rover called Zhurong on Mars earlier this year to rival NASA. https://bit.ly/3BoUzCD
Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting
Netflix estimates ad-supported tier will reach 40 million viewers by late 2023.
In preliminary projections, Netflix told ad executives it expects to have 4.4 million unique viewers worldwide at the end of the year, with 1.1 million coming from the U.S. The company estimated that would grow to over 40 million unique viewers by the third quarter of 2023, with 13.3 million from the U.S., Netflix, with 220 million subscribers, is betting that a lower-cost, ad-supported plan could bring in new users and boost revenue, as the company confronts stepped-up competition and a maturing U.S. market. The streaming giant lost nearly one million subscribers in the June quarter. It is joining rivals such as HBO Max and Disney+ that have or are planning to launch ad-supported services. Netflix’s foray into advertising is a major reversal for a company that long said it would remain ad-free. https://on.wsj.com/3BHkh6G
Ninja and Pokimane skip Twitch deals to stream on YouTube, TikTok.
Not so long ago, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was nigh-inescapable on Twitch. A breakout 2018 saw him stream with Drake and become inextricably tied to “Fortnite’s” meteoric rise, alongside other burgeoning big-timers like Imane “Pokimane” Anys. Fast forward four years, and both believe their futures lie beyond Twitch’s purple walls platforms” — specifically Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. This follows a similar announcement from Anys last week in which she said she plans to sharply reduce the amount of time she streams video games on Twitch in favor of a more diverse spread of videos and shorts about subjects like fashion and travel across YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. While neither plans to abandon Twitch entirely, they no longer see the benefit of Twitch exclusivity in an era where Twitch is offering less money (when it offers exclusivity contracts at all) and creators are pushing back against individual platforms’ unpredictability by putting their eggs in multiple baskets. https://wapo.st/3QFTax3
FaZe Clan to create virtual world, sell real estate on ‘The Sandbox’.
FaZe Clan, the esports and creator organization that went public this summer, has selected gaming platform The Sandbox to develop and host a virtual world that will be the gaming company’s home in the metaverse. Known as “FaZe World,” the virtual world is expected to launch next year and will feature a variety of digital goods and experiences to connect FaZe Clan creators with fans. As part of the partnership with The Sandbox, FaZe is also planning on selling the digital real estate surrounding FaZe World — a 12×12 plot of digital land in The Sandbox — to allow fans to become virtual neighbors to one of the largest and most well-known esports brands. https://bit.ly/3dl9kyi
Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory
Instagram stumbles in push to mimic TikTok, internal documents show.
Instagram users cumulatively are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels, less than one-tenth of the 197.8 million hours TikTok users spend each day on that platform, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that summarizes internal Meta research. One reason is that Instagram has struggled to recruit people to make content. Roughly 11 million creators are on the platform in the U.S., but only about 2.3 million of them, or 20.7%, post on that platform each month, the document said. The shift to Reels has taken on urgency following a tough year for the social-media company. In July, Meta reported its first ever decline in revenue, in part because changes made by Apple Inc. to the iPhone’s operating system put a major dent in Meta’s ability to deliver personalized ads. The company also has had trouble retaining teenage users attracted to competitors such as TikTok. As of Friday, Meta’s market value had declined by more than US$620 billion since peaking more than a year ago. Meta has said that Reels, which was launched in the U.S. in August 2020, accounts for a fifth of the time people spend on Instagram, and that the time users spent engaging with Reels on Instagram and Facebook had risen more than 30% during the second quarter. https://on.wsj.com/3dhOlwl
Roblox announces new ad revenue stream.
At its developer conference held on Friday and Saturday, Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki announced two new sources of revenue for the gaming company, which is popular with young users under 18. It will begin testing immersive ads that advertisers can display inside games, like on a virtual billboard. These ads will only be shown to players 13 and up. The gaming company is also opening up a secondary market for the sale of virtual digital assets, like the clothes and accessories that players’ avatars wear, and it will limit the number of such assets. Making these items limited should increase the passive income generated from a cut of each sale. Roblox makes money by selling its virtual currency, Robux, which players then use to buy these digital assets. Roblox also announced other updates, including age guidelines on content, which will allow creators to flag for which age groups a particular game or collection is suitable. Players over the age of 13 are now able to speak with other avatars close to them on Roblox. It will allow users to import their contacts and find friends within the game. Players will also be able to use new video capture technology to capture emotions for their avatars. Using Roblox’s new animation studio, creators can upload a video and convert it into a 3D animation clip automatically. https://bit.ly/3RSwon0
App Tracking Transparency helps increase in-app purchase prices.
A report shows the average price of in-app purchase has increased 40% on iOS since last year, and one of the main reasons is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency function that it’s making it more expensive to reach the right users. For once, inflation is happy to not be at fault for a change. According to the Apptopia report, the in-app purchase price increase on iOS comes much before inflation hit hard in 2022. For the Google Play Store, for example, that’s exactly why the costs increased 9% year over year in July. The report said that this rise could be “publishers reacting to increased effective cost per install (eCPI) due to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policies making it more expensive to acquire users.” In another report, covered by 9to5Mac in April, this was long foreseen, as big tech platforms’ revenue could drop by almost $16 billion due to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. https://bit.ly/3QBW1qM
Uber investigates hack.
Uber said it was investigating a breach of its systems after a hacker compromised a worker’s Slack account and sent screenshots of his access to cybersecurity researchers and The New York Times. Uber took internal communications and engineering systems offline while it investigated the extent of the attack, the report said. Uber told the New York Times it was investigating the attack and had contacted law enforcement officials. A cybersecurity expert contacted by the hacker said it appeared the person had full access to Uber systems. The hacker described himself to The New York Times as an 18 year old who had worked on his skills for several years and attacked Uber because it had weak security. In 2016, hackers stole the data from millions of driver and user accounts and demand US$100,000 to delete the data. Uber paid the amount but kept the hack secret for a year. https://bit.ly/3LlzlKe
California files Antitrust complaint against Amazon.
California State Attorney General Rob Bonta on Wednesday filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon of preventing retailers that sell wares through its website to offer the same products at a lower price on other sites. The case is a near-copycat of a Washington DC’s antitrust lawsuit against the company, which a judge tossed out earlier this year. The California case could face similar challenges. Antitrust lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission also are readying a case against Amazon after years of investigating how it treats retailers that sell through its app, including whether it used data about their sales to develop copycat products and promote those over the originals. Defenders of the company have said its practices are no different from brick-and-mortar retailers that develop generic versions of branded products sold in their stores. FTC lawyers also have looked at a variety of other practices at the company. https://bit.ly/3Lo6rcz
Google loses appeal over illegal Android app bundling, EU reduces fine to €4.1 billion.
The EU has upheld a 2018 antitrust charge against Google, confirming that the company imposed “unlawful restrictions” on Android phone manufacturers in order to promote its search engine on mobile devices. Google has been attempting to appeal the charge, which was announced in 2018. It included a record-breaking €4.3 billion fine, which the EU’s General Court this morning reduced to €4.1 billion after announcing that it “largely confirms” the ruling. This confirmation is a serious blow for Google and strengthens the position of the EU’s antitrust advocates, who, led by Margrethe Vestager, have targeted the abuses of Big Tech. The ruling by the General Court today upheld the vast majority of the Commission’s original charges. However, the Court did find that Google’s revenue-sharing schemes with manufacturers did not constitute an abuse of Google’s market power, and so reduced the fine accordingly by roughly five percent to €4.1 billion. https://bit.ly/3Bhg34j
Uber pays US$100 million fine to New Jersey related to driver classification.
New Jersey’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development said Tuesday that Uber Technologies Inc. and a subsidiary submitted a US$100 million payment to the agency’s Unemployment Trust Fund after an audit determined that the companies wrongfully classified nearly 300,000 drivers as independent contractors. In doing so, Uber and the Rasier LLC subsidiary “[deprived] them of crucial safety-net benefits such as unemployment, temporary disability and family leave insurance, and failed to make required contributions toward unemployment, temporary disability and workforce development.” Uber shares are down 5.5% Tuesday amid a broader market rout. The stock has gained 42% over the past three months as the S&P 500 has increased 6.2%. https://on.mktw.net/3S610Rx
S.Korea fines Google, Meta billions of won for privacy violations.
Korea levied tens of millions of dollars in fines on Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms for privacy law violations, authorities said on Wednesday. In a statement, the Personal Information Protection Commission said it fined Google 69.2 billion won (US$50 million) and Meta 30.8 billion won (US$22 million). The privacy panel said the firms did not clearly inform service users and obtain their prior consent when collecting and analysing behavioural information to infer their interests or use them for customised advertisements. Also on Wednesday, Google suffered its second setback in Europe in less than a year as the top court agreed with EU antitrust regulators that it had abused its dominance. Google lost its challenge to a €2.42 billion (US$2.42 billion) fine last year, the first of a trio of cases, though the EU Court of Justice did trim it slightly. https://reut.rs/3SmeskH
Walmart unveils virtual fitting room to push shoppers to buy more clothes.
As some shoppers reduce their spending on clothes, Walmart is rolling out a new tool that it hopes will nudge them toward clicking the “buy” button. Starting this week, customers can use a virtual try-on tool to see how a shirt or another clothing item would look on their own bodies. It is the latest feature the company has added to its website because of the acquisition of Zeekit, a virtual fitting room startup. Shoppers can use it to virtually try on more than 270,000 items across Walmart’s private brands, select items from national brands, such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes and some sold on its third-party marketplace. Customers can choose either option, using their own image or a model who is similar. The big-box retailer joined a growing list of companies, including Target and Best Buy, which slashed their full-year profit outlook as people buy less discretionary merchandise. Walmart now expects adjusted earnings per share to decline between 9% and 11% for the full year. https://cnb.cx/3qIp7dw
Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
CFPB signals that regulation is coming for BNPL.
In a shot across the bow to the buy now, pay later (BNPL) industry, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a report suggesting that companies like Klarna and Afterpay, which allow customers to pay for products and services in installments, must be subjected to stricter oversight. The CFPB — in a step toward regulation — plans to issue guidance to oversee BNPL vendors and have them complete “supervisory” exams in line with credit card company reporting requirement. In the course of its investigation, the CFPB said that it found BNPL vendors are approving more customers for loans — 73% in 2021 compared with 69% in 2020 — and that delinquencies on these services are rising sharply. Meanwhile, the BNPL industry’s charge-off rate, or the rate of uncollectible loans, was 2.39% in 2021 — up from 1.83% in 2020. Late fees are also climbing. The CFPB found that 10.5% of customers were charged at least one BNPL late fee in 2021 versus 7.8% in 2020. A DebtHammer poll showed that 32% of customers skip out on paying rent, utilities or child support to make their BNPL payments, and BNPL services can also lead to bigger purchases. https://tcrn.ch/3BsJ4tY
Citadel Securities, Fidelity and Charles Schwab to launch new crypto exchange.
Citadel Securities, Fidelity Digital Assets and Charles Schwab are backing a crypto exchange called EDX Markets, the new company announced Tuesday. Bloomberg first reported the creation of the exchange, which has yet to launch. The new exchange will be targeted to both retail and institutional investors and announced that Jamil Nazarali, the former global head of business development at Citadel Securities, will serve as CEO. EDX said in the announcement the new exchange will “remove significant conflicts of interest” that exist at crypto currency exchanges by operating separately from the firms that trade on it. The exchange is also backed by Paradigm, Sequoia Capital and Virtu Financial. It’s unclear when the new exchange plans to launch. https://bit.ly/3DFU0H0
Ethereum migrates to proof of stake, completing highly anticipated merge.
The Ethereum blockchain completed its long-awaited “merge” on Thursday morning, migrating the process it uses to confirm the authenticity of transactions on the network from proof of work to proof of stake. Ethereum is the largest blockchain on which developers build other applications. Its market capitalization, roughly $181 billion according to CoinGecko, is second only to bitcoin. The Ethereum foundation, which runs the blockchain, has said the upgrade will make the blockchain more environmentally friendly because it will cut the energy use dramatically. Crypto markets remained relatively stable on Thursday. Bitcoin was down 1.2% Thursday afternoon and ether was down 5.8%, compared to 24 hours prior, per CoinGecko. Those moves are tame in the context of typical crypto market price fluctuations. Earlier this week, bitcoin and ether fell around 11% and 9%, respectively, on Tuesday on higher-than-expected U.S. inflation figures. Many crypto traders had been bracing for significant volatility around the merge, especially if there were any glitches in the process. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no indication of any major hiccups. https://bit.ly/3QMufaZ
Ether’s new ‘Staking’ model could draw SEC attention.
Ethereum’s big software update on Thursday may have turned the second-largest cryptocurrency into a security in the eyes of a top U.S. regulator. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said Thursday that cryptocurrencies and intermediaries that allow holders to “stake” their coins might pass a key test used by courts to determine whether an asset is a security. Known as the Howey test, it examines whether investors expect to earn a return from the work of third parties. https://on.wsj.com/3eSML4j
Apple to use TSMC’s next 3-nm chip tech in iPhones, Macs next year.
Apple aims to be the first company to use an updated version of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s latest chipmaking technology next year, with plans to adopt it for some of its iPhones and Mac computers, sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia. The A17 mobile processor currently under development will be mass-produced using TSMC’s N3E chipmaking tech, expected to be available in the second half of next year. The A17 will be used in the premium entry in the iPhone lineup slated for release in 2023, they said. N3E is an upgraded version of TSMC’s current 3-nanometer production tech, which is only starting to go into use this year. The next generation of Apple’s M3 chip for its Mac offerings is also set to use the upgraded 3-nm tech. As TSMC’s largest customer and the biggest driver for new semiconductor technologies, Apple is still its most loyal partner when it comes to adopting the latest chip technology. https://s.nikkei.com/3xoKNis
Biden to hit China with broader curbs on U.S. chip and tool exports.
The Biden administration plans next month to broaden curbs on U.S shipments to China of semiconductors used for artificial intelligence and chipmaking tools, several people familiar with the matter said. The Commerce Department intends to publish new regulations based on restrictions communicated in letters earlier this year to three U.S. companies — KLA Corp (KLAC.O), Lam Research Corp (LRCX.O) and Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O), the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The plan for new rules has not been previously reported. The letters, which the companies publicly acknowledged, forbade them from exporting chipmaking equipment to Chinese factories that produce advanced semiconductors with sub-14 nanometer processes unless the sellers obtain Commerce Department licenses. The rules would also codify restrictions in Commerce Department letters sent to Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD.O) last month instructing them to halt shipments of several artificial intelligence computing chips to China unless they obtain licenses. https://reut.rs/3LqtH9J
Samsung Elec to invest over US$5 billion as it targets net zero emissions by 2050.
Samsung Electronics will invest over 7 trillion won (US$5.02 billion) by 2030 as part of sweeping environmental initiatives aimed at making the company carbon neutral by 2050, the world’s largest chip and mobile maker said on Thursday. The tech giant will spend the money on research and development for technology aimed at filtering out greenhouse gases and capturing carbon dioxide generated during chip production and is seeking to make its devices business carbon neutral earlier, by 2030, said Kim Soo-jin, Samsung’s head of ESG strategy group. It also plans to boost the recycling of resources such as lithium and plastic. South Korea also aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 but this is challenging for a country with significant heavy industry. The chips and components business accounted for 15.6 million or 90% of the 17.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases Samsung Electronics emitted in 2021, the company said, while its devices businesses, including mobile, accounted for 10%. Moreover, Samsung’s chip and components business used 144 million tonnes of water in 2021, 88% of the 164 million tonnes the company used. Samsung is aiming to keep water withdrawn from sources at the 2021 level while chip production expands. https://reut.rs/3eNp2m1
Sophic Capital Client Insights
Sophic Client Reklaim (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC): Governments stemming what’s collected about you.
Any time we use our laptops, tablets, and smartphones, tech companies track what we view, communicate, and where we are. These companies assemble these digital breadcrumbs into our digital profiles and sell them. U.S. politicians understand that 56% of Americans believe more regulations should be in place to curb the economic power and influence of major technology companies. In this first of 4 reports, Sophic details current and upcoming U.S. data privacy laws. https://bit.ly/3Sa0bHv
Sophic Client Reklaim (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC): Data Privacy transcends international borders.
In this follow-on report (the second of a 4-part series), Sophic looks at data privacy regulations that extend well beyond American borders. The flow of data will only continue to increase as more countries undergo digital transformation. Legal frameworks are being put in place around the globe to protect data privacy, requiring consent for the collection, storage, usage, sharing, and disclosure of personal data. As datasets become more complex, legislation will continue to evolve, giving power back to the people. Nothing keeps a company focused like the threat of losing customers. https://bit.ly/3Lz2vG9
Sophic Client Reklaim (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC): Big Tech backtracking on personal data collection.
This third (of 4) report investigates what Big Tech has done to safeguard consumer data and some outcomes for tech firms that ran afoul of data privacy regulations. Governments, consumers, market forces, and security risks are converging, pulling back the digital curtain. Governments are introducing legislation to give consumers more control, forcing private companies to comply with stricter rules. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Meta are feeling the pressure from consumers who have become increasingly aware of lax data regulations. Add a long history of ransomware, hacks, and data breaches and you have the perfect storm. All these changes reducing in data supply, making access to compliant, zero-party data an increasingly hot commodity. Once a freely harvested resource, personal data is now being treated as an asset and, if not acquired with consent, a liability. https://bit.ly/3QSzW7k
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