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Weekly Cache

Weekly Investment News and Analysis

Please see what we’ve been reading in technology and ESG related investing this week. Please feel free to send us what you’ve found interesting.

Latest Invesment News

February 05, 2023: Major Indices Could Be Due For A Breather After Strong Run

Last week, the Dow Jones dipped 0.2%, S&P 500 rose 1.6%, and Nasdaq composite was up 3.3%. The small-cap Russell 2000 sprinted 3.9% higher. According to the WSJ, The Nasdaq has been a star performer, gaining 15% over the past five weeks in its best such stretch since May 2020. Sophic Client Clear Blue Technologies hosted a Corporate Update Webinar. Shopify made an investment into United States-based Triple Whale’s Series B round as the e-commerce giant continues to fund companies that support the Shopify merchant system. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes a U-turn on metaverse spending as Reality Labs is hit with a new ‘efficiency’ mantra, sending the stock up 23% for the week. Google invests US$300 million in OpenAI rival Anthropic. ChatGPT may be the fastest-growing consumer app in internet history, reaching 100 million users in just over 2 months, UBS report says. China’s Baidu to launch ChatGPT-style bot in March. Berkshire Hathaway has cashed in at least US$300 million in Tesla rival BYD stock in the past month. Crypto-linked stocks are on a tear, with Coinbase, MicroStrategy, Marathon Digital and Riot Platforms up more than 100% in a month as risk appetite returns. Amazon sees AWS slowdown lasting for several quarters. Apple and Google face mounting pressure to remove TikTok from app stores. The European Union is weighing a proposal to make technology companies that use the most bandwidth, like Netflix Inc. and Alphabet Inc., to help pay for the next generation of internet infrastructure, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. A plan by China to restrict exports of key solar manufacturing technology could delay attempts to build up a domestic solar supply chain in the U.S., industry experts say. China currently accounts for nearly all of solar ingot and wafer production globally, as well as much of the equipment used in the manufacturing process—especially for the large-scale solar panels that increasingly dominate the market.

Invesment News in the Past Weeks

January 29, 2023: Deal Flow Likely Coming Soon

January 29, 2023: Deal Flow Likely Coming Soon

Markets and investors are feeling a bit optimistic, with the Dow Jones up 1.8% last week, S&P 500 up 2.5%, and Nasdaq composite up 4.3%, while indices may be due for some consolidation here, deal-flow is likely not far behind after a very muted 2022. Sophic Clients, Clear Blue Technologies closed the final tranche of an oversubscribed $2.5 million private placement and Jasper Commerce announced a $500K unit financing. Sophic Clients Legend Power Systems, OneSoft Solutions and Real Luck Group announced a positive end to 2022, which bodes well for 2023. Shopify shares surged more than 12% on Wednesday after the e-commerce software provider raised prices for its subscription plans. Victoria-based holding company WeCommerce is set to consolidate with its parent company, Tiny Capital. Stripe reportedly approached investors about raising more capital — at least US$2 billion — at a valuation of US$55 billion to US$60 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Stripe would not use the money toward operating expenses but rather to cover a large annual tax bill associated with employee stock units. It is not clear if any discussions are ongoing. Activist investor Elliott Management has reportedly snapped up a multibillion-dollar stake in Salesforce. Buzzfeed soars 200% on plans to use OpenAI to help write stories. Shares of Intel dropped nearly 10% in after-hours trading after the chip giant reported weak earnings, sales forecast. Amazon launches RxPass, a US$5/month Prime add-on for all-you-need generic drugs covering 80 conditions. Japan and the Netherlands are poised to join the US in limiting China’s access to advanced semiconductor machinery. The Netherlands will expand restrictions on ASML Holding NV. After years of bumbling along, investment in the energy transition appears to be taking off. Businesses, financial institutions, governments and end users around the world sunk US$1.11 trillion into low-carbon technologies, according to a new report from BloombergNEF.

January 15, 2023: Another Welcome Week, After Brutal 2022

January 15, 2023: Another Welcome Week, After Brutal 2022

Last week, major indexes closed near session highs: Dow Jones was up 2%, S&P 500 rose 2.7%, and Nasdaq composite gained 4.8%. Canadian tech M&A will likely remain a theme, as we pointed out last week, as Nuvei entered a $1.7 billion deal to acquire US payments tech firm Paya. TMX Group has taken a 21% stake in data analytics company VettaFi for US$175 million as it looks to expand its information services unit. BMO Global Asset Management has teamed up with Georgian to launch a fund that allows Canadian accredited investors to invest in a US$1 billion fund Georgian is in the process of raising. Sophic Client Kraken Robotics expects to report $40 million in 2022 revenue, up 56% year-over-year. Sophic Client UGE International announced Q4 2022 project backlog (stages 3.1-5) increased over 13% quarter-over-quarter and now totals 260MW, surpassing the Company’s 2022 backlog goal of 250MW. Sophic Client LuckBox CEO Thomas Rosander provides corporate update, as the company went from a virtual ‘standing start’ in Q3 2022 to over $3 million in Global Betting Handle by the end of Q4, as over two million bets were accepted and placed on the platform. In the USA, Microsoft is reportedly in talks to pump in US$10 billion into OpenAI — the owner of ChatGPT — valuing the company at US$29 billion. Stripe’s internal valuation gets cut to US$63 billion, down 40% from its peak. Vista Equity Partners to acquire insurance software company Duck Creek for US$2.6 billion. Coinbase lays off a fifth of staff as crypto downturn continues. Tesla drops prices as much as 20% in US and Europe. China’s government takes stake in Alibaba’s domestic unit. China to allow Didi apps back online, in latest sign of regulatory thaw. the US needs to quadruple its charging infrastructure by 2025, and grow it more than eight times by 2030, given the influx of electric cars.

January 07, 2023: Not A Bad First Week Of 2023, 51 More To Go!

January 07, 2023: Not A Bad First Week Of 2023, 51 More To Go!

After a tumultuous 2022 in the markets, we hope you had a refreshing break with family and friends. While the first trading week of 2023 started off somewhat shakily, major indices closed up for the week after a strong Friday — Dow Jones closed the week up 1.5% around the same as the S&P 500, Nasdaq closed up 1%. Some market participants expect M&A to pick up in 2023, and Sophic Client Smart Employee Benefits (SEB-TSXV, SEBFF-OTCQB) is being at a 75%+ cash premium. Unsurprisingly, Canadian VC investments in 2022 are projected to lag behind 2021 figures, but will still likely top 2020 funding. Similarly, annual global venture funding fell 35% in 2022. Startups raised US$445 billion in 2022, down 35% from a record US$681 billion in 2021, according to new data from Crunchbase. OpenAI, the research lab behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot, is in talks to sell existing shares in a tender offer that would value the company at around US$29 billion, making it one of the most valuable U.S. startups on paper despite generating little revenue. In related news, Microsoft, OpenAI prep ChatGPT-powered Bing to challenge Google. SpaceX raising US$750 million at US$137 billion valuation, investors include Andreessen-Horowitz. Amazon to cut 18,000 jobs as tech layoffs continue. Data from layoff-tracking website Layoffs.fyi suggests that tech companies cut more than 150,000 positions in 2022. Apple’s AR/VR headset development is reportedly behind schedule, expect late fall release. Meta fined more than US$400 million in EU for serving ads based on online activity. Coinbase to pay US$100 million settlement for violating anti-money-laundering laws. Silvergate raced to cover US$8.1 billion in withdrawals during crypto meltdown. Mercedes-Benz and ChargePoint are going to install thousands of EV fast chargers in the US.

December 10, 2022: Looking Forward To Annus Mirabilis After Annus Horribilis

December 10, 2022: Looking Forward To Annus Mirabilis After Annus Horribilis

As 2022 fast draws to a close, and we write our final column for the year, the Dow Jones fell 2.8% last week, S&P 500 fell 3.4%, Nasdaq fell 4%. Market indices continue their now familiar trend of fading back bear market rallies. In light of this market volatility, it’s no surprise last week saw a few more terminated public listings – Stablecoin issuer Circle terminated a US$9 billion SPAC deal, India’s Snapdeal shelved a US$152 million IPO. “There is no appetite for tech stocks right now,” said a source close to the plans. That said many companies continue to execute, which we expect will be rewarded by the market. For example, Sophic Client Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC) was just awarded a $50+ million Navy contract by the Royal Canadian Navy. Kraken’s revenue for 2019, 2020, and 2021 was $15.1 million, $12.3 million, and $25.6 million respectively. Kraken’s current market cap is ~$108 million; these recent orders cumulatively represent nearly 2.5x Kraken’s high watermark 2021 revenue and over 60% of its market capitalization. Kraken also plays into the recent trend of defence tech, as Anduril raised a massive US$1.5 billion round at US$8.5 billion valuation (almost 2x its 2021 valuation). Anduril works with the U.S. and its allies to create drones, underwater vehicles and different operating and control systems. Sophic Clients Legend Power, UGE and OneSoft presented at the Planet MicroCap Showcase conference, replays can be found on our website. The FTC is suing to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. Coinbase revenue will plunge at least 50% in 2022, CEO Armstrong says. Apple accelerates plans to move production out of China amid protests. Apple’s long-awaited AR/VR headset might be facing another round of software delays, as is its speculated self driving car launch. ChatGPT should worry Google and Alphabet, according to industry experts. Meta cannot run ads based on personal data, EU privacy watchdog rules. Amazon announces TikTok-like social feed of shoppable videos, photos.

December 04, 2022: Market Indices At Key Levels

December 04, 2022: Market Indices At Key Levels

The recent stock market rally could be at a turning point, following a strong week. While indexes’ gains were modest, they did find support, and broke key resistance. The Dow Jones was up 0.2%, S&P 500 gained 1.1%, and the Nasdaq was 2.1%. NYSE president says IPO proceeds fall more than 90%. “Our pipeline is tremendous — the reason companies aren’t coming to market is because all the volatility in the market,” said President Lynn Martin. Tech selloff catches up with private startups. People involved in the trades say they are seeing discounts from around 30% to 40% to as much as 80% off valuations from earlier fundraisings. Marvell stock falls after disappointing earnings and outlook, as CEO cites ‘inventory reductions’ by some customers. Shares of DraftKings Inc. jumped 2.3% in premarket trading Tuesday, after the online sports betting and fantasy sports company and Churchill Downs Inc. announced a multi-year agreement that will bring betting on horse racing to DraftKings. iPhone City lockdown ended; reportedly cost Apple US$1 billion/week. TSMC plans to make more advanced chips in US at urging of Apple. Airbnb wants to help renters list their apartments for short stays. Palantir Technologies Inc.’s raison d’etre is identifying patterns hidden within mountains of data. Yet somehow it didn’t spot the risks in its own investment strategy or the danger that startups might not be able to pay their bills. Google hit with multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit over online ad dominance in the U.K. Cyber Monday online sales hit a record US$11.3 billion, driven by demand, not just inflation, says Adobe. Sophic Client UGE International announces closing of $7.379 million private placement of Green Bonds. Sophic Client LuckBox (LUCK-TSXV, LUKEF-OTC) signs LOI to acquire leading Asian-focused iGaming platform.

November 27, 2022: Unsurprising, Yet Rough Q3 For Canadian VC Funding

November 27, 2022: Unsurprising, Yet Rough Q3 For Canadian VC Funding

In the US holiday shortened week, the Dow Jones Industrial was up 1.7%, S&P 500 index climbed 1.5%, and the Nasdaq was up 0.8%. In the third quarter, Canada saw $896 million invested across 144 VC deals, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s latest report. On both fronts, these numbers represent a steep year-over-year decline compared to what was an especially hot Q3 2021 and Q3 2019 for Canadian VC funding. WorkJam closed a US$50 million round. Shopify saw bigger Black Friday orders, and more in-store sales versus last year. Converge Technology announces commencement of strategic review process to maximize shareholder value. Coupa Software shares surged on a report of interest from Vista. Activision stock falls after report says watchdog will block Microsoft deal. Berkshire has cut it BYD stake by 22%, made US$1.2 billion profit. DraftKings stock falls after report cites cases of unauthorized account withdrawals. More than 20,000 employees at Apple Inc supplier Foxconn’s huge Chinese plant, mostly new hires not yet working on production lines, have left, a Foxconn source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday. Google has a secret new project that is teaching artificial intelligence to write and fix code. Amazon plans to invest US$1 billion a year in movies for theaters. Bob Iger is returning to head Disney as Bob Chapek steps down. Thanksgiving 2022 online sales pip past forecasts at US$5.3 billion, up 2.8% on last year, mobile accounted for 55% of all purchases. Domino’s is rolling out over 800 Chevy Bolt pizza delivery EVs.

November 20, 2022: Taking A Bit Of A Breather

November 20, 2022: Taking A Bit Of A Breather

After the previous week’s gain, the Dow Jones was up very modestly last week, S&P fell 0.7%, and the Nasdaq was down 0.7%. Global venture funding plateaued in October, with valuations likely to blame. Masayoshi Son owes US$4.7 billion to SoftBank following tech rout. Ant’s consumer-lending unit to raise US$1.5 billion in scaled-down capital plan. BYD Co Ltd said on Tuesday it had scrapped plans to list its semiconductor unit in China, saying a move to increase investments in wafer production would significantly affect the unit’s asset structure. Shares of Alibaba inched about 1% higher in premarket action Thursday after the company topped adjusted earnings expectations for the latest quarter and said it was upsizing its buyback program. Taiwan Semi stock surges toward best day since 2008 after Buffett’s Berkshire reveals stake. Micron stock falls as chip maker cuts supply forecast, citing market conditions. Shares of Coinbase slipped 6% Thursday as the fallout from FTX’s collapse continues to hit the broader cryptocurrency market. Microsoft and Nvidia announced plans to work together to build a cloud-based supercomputer capable of training large-scale language models like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, which translates text to images, and GPT-3, which can generate realistic-sounding news articles. Apple plans a 3D world and video service for its mixed-reality headset. Nike Inc. is opening an online store and trading platform for virtual sneakers as management pumps investment into the metaverse. Twitter may be in big trouble when it comes to generating advertising revenue: GroupM, part of WPP, the world’s biggest ad company — and Twitter’s biggest spender — is reportedly telling its clients that buying ads on the platform is “high-risk”. Epic says more than half of all announced next-gen games are made on Unreal Engine. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray told lawmakers during a hearing that the FBI has national security concerns about TikTok, the popular video app owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance. Democratic senators urge FTC to investigate Twitter.

November 13, 2022: Around $350 Million In Canadian VC Funding, As NASDAQ Has Its Best Day Since March

November 13, 2022: Around $350 Million In Canadian VC Funding, As NASDAQ Has Its Best Day Since March

Last week, the Dow Jones gained 4.15%, S&P 500 was up 5.9%, and the Nasdaq rose 8.1%, in its best weekly gain since March, aided by a cooler-than-expected inflation report. The rest of week was defined by seemingly never ending FTX and Twitter headlines. Crypto exchange FTX has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. and founder Sam Bankman-Fried has resigned as CEO on Friday. Alameda Research, the trading company founded by Bankman-Fried, has also filed for bankruptcy. Crypto lender BlockFi freezes withdrawals, cites ‘Lack of Clarity’ on FTX. Elon Musk sells at least US$3.95 billion worth of Tesla shares after Twitter deal. Some laid off Twitter employees say they’re being asked to come back to Twitter after mass layoffs. Twitter pauses Twitter Blue as trolls overtake platform. Boosted by Twitter drama, Mastodon reaches 1 million active monthly users. Disney warns on economic impact on Disney+ profit target, and is likely to announce layoffs. TikTok slashes global revenue targets by at least US$2 billion. Netflix is interested in carrying live sports. Meta to lay off more than 11,000 employees, or 13% of staff. Apple warns iPhone 14 Pro availability is limited as COVID-19 restrictions close supply chain factories in China. Roblox stock drops on widening losses in Q3, but other growth metrics remain strong. The U.S.-listed shares of ASML shot up 12.8% toward the biggest one-day gain in 20 years in midday trading Thursday, after the Netherlands-based semiconductor equipment maker set a new 12 billion euro (US$12.2 billion) stock buyback program. MicroStrategy stock tumbles, as bitcoin prices fall well below ‘low watermark’ for carrying value in Q3. In Canada, Xanadu closed US$100 million Series C as the quantum computing firm becomes Canada’s latest unicorn. Hopper closed a US$96 million round from Capital One at more than US$5 billion valuation.

November 06, 2022: Tech Wreck!

November 06, 2022: Tech Wreck!

Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial fell 1.4%, S&P 500 was down 3.3%. Nasdaq fell 5.7%, its worst loss since the week ended Jan. 21. Numerous tech companies announced hiring freezes and/or reductions in force; Amazon has paused corporate hiring for ‘next few months’, Lyft will lay off 13% or 683 employees from its workforce, Stripe will lay off 14% or ~1k people from workforce, Chime will lay off 12% of its workforce, Opendoor laid off ~550 employees or 18% of its workforce. In Canada, Dapper Labs lays off 22% of its staff. Snowflake opens a Toronto HQ, engineering hub to expand investment in Canada. A Financial Times piece pointed out investors are questioning Big Tech’s capex plans as their businesses now raise serious questions about whether the returns from the latest spending binge will be as predictable as those of the past. Venture capital investments in China are falling sharply this year, making it one of the worst-performing countries globally. Gartner pointed out that worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow 20.7% in 2023, to US$591.8 billion. Stocks of Twilio, Atlassian, Roku, DraftKings had big moves down following earnings report. Robinhood reported a steep drop in users.Qualcomm is predicting a ‘double-digit’ drop in phone sales. Banks prepare to hold US$12.7 billion Twitter debt on books until early 2023. The Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) should take action to ban TikTok, Brendan Carr, one of five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, told Axios in an interview. Uber app may get worse as company experiments with push notification ads. Disney+ subscribers now have early access to Disney merchandise, including Marvel and Star Wars products. Fidelity Investments is gearing up to launch crypto trading for small investors, announcing on Thursday that it had opened up a waitlist for customers.

October 30, 2022: Another Up Week Despite Rough Mega Tech Earnings

October 30, 2022: Another Up Week Despite Rough Mega Tech Earnings

Last week, the Dow Jones was up 5.7%, its fourth straight weekly gain, S&P 500 was up almost 4%, the Nasdaq was up 2.2%, including a 2.9% Friday move. Mega tech had a rough earnings season, and the five mega-caps were down an average of 12% post earnings. Apple, was exception and rose 5.75% last week, including a 7.6% move on Friday. Mobileye pops more than 37% in IPO after spinning out of Intel. Alphabet posts 6% revenue growth as ad downturn worsens. Microsoft’s 11% revenue growth is slowest in five years. Amazon’s stock tanks on grim holiday forecast. Meta shares drop 19% on weak fourth-quarter forecast and earnings miss and a big tech investor writes to Zuckerberg: Meta’s ‘lost confidence of investors’. Twitter shares to be delisted following Musk takeover. Tesla faces U.S. criminal probe over self-driving claims. Alibaba falls to 6-year low as Chinese President Xi secures 3rd term. VC-funded China-based companies with recent US IPOs down over 90%. Microsoft says more than 20 million people have used Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Xbox Game Pass is profitable as it sees subscription growth slow. TikTok gaming push will be an “enormous” one; post Nov 2 launch. GM is delaying its plan to build 400,000 EVs in North America. Tesla cuts China prices by up to 9% as analysts warn of ‘price war. Shopify shares surged as revenue growth ticks higher. Telus will acquire product development shop WillowTree for US$1.2 billion. Toronto venture funding plunged to a two-year low in third quarter of 2022. While total investment in Toronto during Q3 2022 looked very different from 2021 levels, it was in line with the pre-bull market levels of 2020 (investment totalled roughly between $200 million and $300 million in each quarter of that year). Several local investors have noted this recent venture funding decline is a reversion to the mean and more reflective of a normalized capital deployment cycle than a catastrophic crash.

October 23, 2022: A Rare Up Week, Mixed Q3 Earnings So Far

October 23, 2022: A Rare Up Week, Mixed Q3 Earnings So Far

Last week, the Dow Jones closed up 4.9%, the S&P 500 was up 4.75%, and the Nasdaq composite closed up 5.2%. Google is reportedly in talks to invest US$200 million into Toronto AI startup, Cohere. Grocery delivery app Instacart has decided to push its highly anticipated IPO into 2023, believing the current stock market is too volatile, as first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by Axios. Only 65 companies have gone public on U.S. exchanges this year, which represents an 80.7% decline from last year, per Renaissance Capital. U.S. IPO proceeds are down a whopping 94.1%. Intel eyes a significantly lower valuation in the IPO of its Mobileye unit. Activist investor Starboard reveals stake in Salesforce. Meta says it will sell off Giphy following order from UK competition watchdog. US weighs security reviews for Elon Musk deals, including Twitter buy, and Elon Musk’s Twitter deal could tank the leveraged buyout market, according to the WSJ. Netflix stock jumped 16% on Q3 earnings beat, return to subscriber growth. Snap’s shares were down 27% after third-quarter sales missed expectations. Roblox stock popped 19% on September user growth. Strong EV sales in China boosted profit for BYD. iPhone 14 Plus production halted, Apple to reassess demand, iPhone 15 Plus still planned. Netflix to expand into cloud gaming, opens new studio in Southern California. Microsoft is building an Xbox mobile gaming store to take on Apple and Google. Uber rolls out ad business to reach more riders. Mastercard will help banks offer cryptocurrency trading. Redditors have created millions of crypto wallets to buy NFT avatars. Biden administration approves US$2.8 billion for EV battery production in the US. Sophic Client, Kraken Robotics (PNG-TSXV, KRKNF-OTC): Recent geopolitical events have accelerated Unmanned Underwater Vehicles’ adoption by several navies, and several companies such as Kraken continue to evolve their products and services to meet growing demand.

October 16, 2022: Higher Cost Of Capital May Slow M&A Despite Falling Valuations

October 16, 2022: Higher Cost Of Capital May Slow M&A Despite Falling Valuations

Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2%, the S&P 500 fell 1.5% and the Nasdaq composite tumbled 3.1%. Major indexes reversed after a higher open on Friday giving up most of Thursday’s surprise upside. Instacart cut its internal valuation a third time, to US$13 billion. Patreon’s internal valuation fell 70% over the past year, according to a memo sent to staff in September. Vista Equity Partners has struck a deal to purchase cybersecurity provider KnowBe4 for US$4.6 billion in an increasingly rare leveraged buyout as financing for such deals has become harder to secure. ForgeRock Inc., a maker of identity-verification software, said it will be acquired by Thoma Bravo in an all-cash deal valued at about US$2.3 billion. Volkswagen will take a 60% stake in US$2 billion tech JV with China’s Horizon Robotics. Renault and Nissan said Monday they were discussing ways to reinforce their partnership, including the possibility of an investment by Nissan in Renault’s new electric-vehicle unit. Nutanix stock rockets toward a 5-month high after WSJ report of buyout interest. TSMC earnings topped estimates as chip industry braces for slowdown, and Asia’s top chip stocks tumbled Tuesday, ensnared in an escalating US-China tech race that has erased more than US$240 billion from the sector’s global market value. Apple’s new mixed reality headset is expected to include an iris scanning feature that allows people wearing it to login to the device and make payments from it. Sophic Client Jasper Commerce Inc. (JPIM-CA) will acquire Cartika, expanding into managed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for mid-market businesses. This accretive and shareholder friendly acquisition should nearly double Jasper’s Fiscal 2023 (Jul 2023) revenue to $3.5-4 million, YoY from the Company’s ~$1.7 million F2022 guidance and accelerate EBTIDA break-even by nearly a quarter. The transaction is to be funded with Jasper’s existing balance sheet. Sophic Client Edge Total Intelligence (CTRL-TSXV, UNFYF-OTCQB, Q5I-FRA) announced its U.S. listing on the OTCQB under symbol “UNFYF”.