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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

July 03, 2022: A Brutal First Half Of 2022

H1 2022 was a brutal start to the year — the Nasdaq was down almost 30%, for its worst first half on record, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 15%, for its worst first-half performance since 1962, and the S&P 500 closed down over 20%, for its worst first half since 1970. US markets climbed a bit on Friday, but the major indices were still down for last week, after having posted weekly losses in four out of the last five weeks. At a time when U.S. venture dollars are slowing down, CIBC Innovation Banking is announcing $1.5 billion in growth capital commitments, dubbed “Unicorn Fuel,” to focus on later-stage companies across software, life sciences, healthcare and clean tech industries. Sophic Client UGE (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC) secured $25 million to deploy six community solar projects in Maine. Sophic Client Clear Blue Technologies (CBLU-TSXV, CBUTF-OTC, 0YA-FRA) announced a $4-million non-dilutive Government of Canada financing. Draftkings was fined $100,000 in Ontario for advertising violations. EToro seems likely to abandon its deal to go public via SPAC merger. Short video app Triller confidentially filed for a U.S. IPO. Klarna will raise cash at a US$6.5 billion valuation, in dramatic 85% down round. Nio shares slid Wednesday after a short seller accused the Chinese electric vehicle maker of artificially inflating its financial figures. Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto will raise US$2 billion from U.S. investors in a new stock offering. Tesla lays off nearly 200 Autopilot workers, and shutters its San Mateo office. Facebook warns of engineer job cuts, and a sharp downturn ahead. The FCC Commissioner writes to Apple and Google about removing TikTok. FTX says it is not in active talks to buy Robinhood. Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital plunges into liquidation. Crypto broker Voyager Digital (VOYG-TSX) suspends withdrawals.

Invesment News in the Past Weeks

April 03, 2022; Another Week, A New Canadian Tech Unicorn

April 03, 2022; Another Week, A New Canadian Tech Unicorn

Vancouver blockchain tech startup, LayerZero Labs is the latest Canadian company to join the country’s growing group of unicorns, as it raised $135 million that values LayerZero at $1 billion. LayerZero’s financing was tri-led by notable venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and FTX Ventures, which is the fund launched by crypto exchange FTX. As Canadian VC seems more active in tumultuous public markets, Mogo (MOGO-TSX, MOGO-NASDAQ) announced the formation of Mogo Ventures to manage its $124 million investment portfolio. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has told the company’s top executives to slow down investments, as the Japanese investment giant tries to raise cash amid a global stock market turmoil, the Financial Times reported. OnlyFans, the subscription-based social platform, has spoken with several blank check companies known as SPACs about a merger to take it public, Axios reported. The SEC is taking aim at SPACs with proposed rules to make disclosures more like those in a traditional IPO. Apple is planning to cut production of some of its most popular products due to macroeconomic factors such as the war in Ukraine and rising inflation, which are impacting demand, Nikkei Asia reported. Huawei’s 2021 revenue was down 29% as U.S. sanctions hurt smartphone sales. A bug that exposed Facebook users to a swell of posts containing misinformation persisted for six months on the platform before it was fixed, The Verge reports. The DOJ backs a bill targeting business practices of Amazon, Apple and Google. The Justice Department threw its support behind bipartisan legislation forbidding large internet companies from favoring their own products and services over those from competitors, according to the Wall Street Journal. Singapore’s giant Sea said on Monday it is shutting down its e-commerce business, Shopee, in India, months after the firm began recruiting sellers in the country.

March 27, 2022: Toronto – Now North America’s Third Largest Tech Hub

March 27, 2022: Toronto – Now North America’s Third Largest Tech Hub

The New York Times published an interesting piece about Toronto’s booming tech sector last week. Toronto is now the third-largest tech hub in North America. It is home to more tech workers than Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., trailing only New York and Silicon Valley, according to CBRE, a real estate company that tracks tech hiring. Interestingly, last week, we counted ~$150 million of activity in the Canadian VC ecosystem, against a backdrop of high public market volatility. SoftBank seeking US$60 billion valuation for Arm, which would imply a far higher multiple of Arm’s revenue and profits than is common in the chip sector. GoTo Group, an Indonesian startup giant, raised about US$1.1 billion in one of the world’s largest initial public offerings announced since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LP has struck a deal to buy Anaplan Inc. for $10.7 billion, the latest in a recent string of big leveraged buyouts. Instacart Inc., a pandemic darling that’s now facing decelerating growth, is slashing its valuation by almost 40% to about US$24 billion, a move it says will help the company attract talent and adapt to market conditions. Uber stock gains after company strikes partnership with NYC taxis. Nikola stock price soars after it begins production on electric truck. Adobe slumps 11% as the software maker says halting sales in Russia will reduce yearly revenue. Shares of Okta dropped more than 7% Tuesday following reports of a data breach. Famed short-seller Jim Chanos revealed he’s betting against crypto exchange Coinbase. “Coinbase is what we would call a bubble stock,” he told CNBC’s Scott Waper on Friday. Late Thursday night in Brussels European lawmakers reached a tentative agreement after nearly two years of negotiations on rules restricting certain business practices of Google, Apple, Meta Platforms, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies. Nvidia is exploring using Intel’s manufacturing services.

March 20, 2022: More Trouble With SoftBank Backed Companies?

March 20, 2022: More Trouble With SoftBank Backed Companies?

With US$150 million in fresh funding, Montréal’s Talent.com is ready to take on Indeed worldwide. Calgary based, Oil and gas tech startup, Validere closes $55 million funding with BlackRock backing. Sophic Client, Edge Total Intelligence’s (CTRL-TSXV) CEO Jim Barrett, recently presented at the Investor Summit Q1 2022. Indonesian startup GoTo will raise up to US$1.1 billion in its IPO. SoftBank-backed Indian hotel startup Oyo is mulling a smaller IPO. GM is buying out Softbank’s stake in autonomous vehicle unit Cruise. SoftBank’s Arm will lay off up to 15% as it prepares for an IPO after Nvidia deal collapse. ConsenSys, the New York company operating a suite of blockchain products including popular crypto wallet MetaMask, raised US$450 million in a Series D funding round, that valued the company at more than US$7 billion, which included the new investment. Shenzhen iPhone production was forced to shutdown at two Foxconn facilities due to a new COVID-19 outbreak – but has now partially restarted. China is forcing Alibaba and Tencent to cut over 50,000 jobs. Tencent could be fined for anti-money laundering violations. Mark Zuckerberg said NFTs are coming to Instagram soon. US Lawmakers introduce bill that would let Nvidia, Qualcomm share in U.S. chip subsidies. Intel is building a new €17 billion semiconductor manufacturing hub in Germany.

March 13, 2022: Relatively Inactive Public Markets; Look Out Below For VC Valuations

March 13, 2022: Relatively Inactive Public Markets; Look Out Below For VC Valuations

In light of ongoing market volatility, last week was unsurprisingly quiet in Canadian public markets. That said, Portage Ventures closed $788.5 million for its third FinTech fund, which could now be one of the largest early-stage FinTech-focused venture funds in the world. A recent Washington Post piece called out some unsavory behavior by esports organizations, however, public traded companies that are involved in esports, such as Enthusiast Gaming (EGLX-TSX) and GameSquare Esports (Sophic Client, GSQ-CSE), have long had policies that address and curtail these issues. Sophic Client, Clear Blue Technologies’ (CBLU-TSXV) CEO recently returned from overseas customer, prospect, and investor meetings where conversations increasingly focused on how Clear Blue’s renewable, solar power solutions can resolve these issues. Investors seeking exposure to this secular theme should consider Clear Blue Technologies. In the US, Fidelity, T. Rowe mark down their Instacart stake by up to 18%, in light of ongoing market turbulence, we would not be surprised to see additional mark downs in private VC backed companies’ valuations. Amazon announced a US$10 billion share buyback, 20-for-1 stock split, sending the stock up 6% after hours on the announcement. WeWork reports 7.8% increase in revenue for Q4, however some investors question if the company will need to raise capital in H2 2022. Intel’s Mobileye self-driving unit ‘confidentially’ files for IPO. Uber issued an upbeat outlook for the first quarter, declaring in a securities filing that its ride hailing business was “bouncing back from Omicron much faster than we expected.” Rivian stock fell by more than 14% after hours Thursday after the electric vehicle maker said supply chain snags would hinder production this year and indicated it still had a long way to go to deliver on a much-hyped partnership with Amazon. The ‘Jedi Blue’ ad deal between Google and Facebook sparked new Antitrust probes in EU and UK.

March 06, 2022: A Large Canadian Buyback, Interesting EV Developments

March 06, 2022: A Large Canadian Buyback, Interesting EV Developments

CGI (GIB’A-TSX, GIB-NYSE) announced its intent to repurchase 3.97 million of its shares held by CDPQ for $100/sh, from our sell side analyst days, CGI has previously purchased back stock from BCE, and has typically bought back stock on the open market as well. Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX) platforms acquirer WeCommerce (WE-TSXV) is purchasing KnoCommerce for $2.6 million. Disco closed a $15 million Series A round from investors behind MasterClass, Coursera to scale its live learning platform. Alibaba-backed beauty tech firm Perfect Corporation will merge with US blank-cheque company in a deal worth US$1 billion. Shares of ride-hailing and food delivery app Grab, one of Southeast Asia’s largest internet companies, plunged 37% Thursday in New York after the firm reported worse-than-expected quarterly results. Sea Ltd., once the hottest stock in the world, has lost more than US$130 billion in market value from its peak last year after a disappointing earnings report that added to its woes. Disney confirms plans to launch ad-supported tier of Disney+. The federal judge presiding over the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit to force Facebook to sell of Instagram and WhatsApp likely won’t rule until 2025, some four years after the case was filed, six years after the investigation first kicked off, and 15 years after Facebook bought the popular photo sharing app. Shopify rival BigCommerce said its revenue growth will slow dramatically this year, in another sign that the pandemic-driven boost for e-commerce players is fading. Ford increased its electrification spend to US$50 billion in attempt to catch up to Tesla, and will split its EV and combustion units in major restructuring. Sony and Honda reveal plans to jointly make and sell electric vehicles. Panasonic aims to start mass production of a higher-capacity battery for Tesla by March 2024. Volvo is testing wireless EV charging tech in Sweden.

February 27, 2022: Macro Volatility; a New Canadian Unicorn

February 27, 2022: Macro Volatility; a New Canadian Unicorn

Public markets remain extremely volatile, as demonstrated by the 7%+ intra-day swing in the NASDAQ Composite on Thursday, February 24th. Against, this backdrop, Waterloo based eSentire will be valued at US$1.1 billion following $325 million deal. In addition, we counted ~$100 million of additional VC backed deals in Canada last week. Traction Guest, which was one of the first four companies to receive an investment from Salesforce’s $100 million Canadian-focused fund, will be acquired by Salesforce. Terms were not disclosed. Twitter Inc. said Wednesday it is offering US$1 billion of high-yield 8-year bonds in a private placement. Carvana, the online used car marketplace, has agreed to buy Kar Global’s Adesa U.S. auction subsidiary for $2.2 billion in cash. SoFi Technologies Inc. is buying banking-software maker Technisys SA for about US$1.1 billion, the latest in a string of deals designed to transform the lender into a one-stop financial shop. The SEC is investigating whether Tesla stock trades made by Elon Musk and his brother violated insider-trading rules, WSJ report says. Apple reportedly completed production tests for its AR/VR headset. Meta Platforms has broken up a group of more than 300 employees working on operating systems for its virtual and augmented reality devices, according to three people with knowledge of the situation. Meta Platforms is testing ad-revenue sharing on Facebook Reels with all creators in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It will expand the test to more countries in the coming weeks. Alibaba reported its slowest-ever revenue growth for the quarter through December, as its core commerce business in China grew only 7% amid an economic slowdown.

February 20, 2022: Another Strong Week Of Canadian VC Announcements

February 20, 2022: Another Strong Week Of Canadian VC Announcements

Even as public markets remain choppy, we counted Canadian VC funding totaling almost $600 million in the past week. Public markets remain unforgiving, as evidenced by Shopify’s steep share price decline this past week. With fintech stocks down 40%, Chime delays its IPO. SoftBank is reportedly seeking a US$8 billion margin loan as part of Arm IPO. Banks are planning to pitch IPO valuations for Arm of upward of US$50 billion. Arm is likely worth US$25 billion to US$35 billion based on the industry’s valuation metrics and analysts’ early projections; Bloomberg reported this month. Crypto company Circle doubled its valuation to US$9 billion under new SPAC terms. Sequoia Capital is raising up to US$600 million for a new fund focused on cryptocurrency start-ups. The announcement marks the firm’s first-ever sector-focused investment fund, a sign of its long-term commitment to the exploding crypto sector. Epic says there are now more than 500 million Epic games accounts. Sea Ltd. lost more than US$16 billion of value in its biggest daily market drop after India abruptly banned its most popular mobile gaming title. Super Bowl ads boosted crypto app downloads by 279%, led by Coinbase, which had to briefly throttle traffic after its website crashed. Google is creating new privacy rules for its Android smartphone operating system to curb how users are tracked for advertising purposes, the company said Wednesday, following the path Apple forged with its App Tracking Transparency rules. Construction of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s first advanced chip plant in the U.S. is three to six months behind schedule, sources told Nikkei Asia, a sign that the world’s biggest contract chipmaker is finding it more challenging to expand overseas than at home.

February 13, 2022: Record 2021 For Canadian Venture Capital

February 13, 2022: Record 2021 For Canadian Venture Capital

Vancouver quantum computing startup D-Wave is going public on the New York Stock Exchange via a SPAC, which is anticipated to raise $431 million in gross proceeds. Meanwhile, Venture investment in Canada’s tech sector exploded in 2021, according to a new Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) report. Canadian tech startups saw over $16 billion in VC investment last year. This figure crushes the $6 billion the ecosystem saw in 2020, when venture funding sputtered due to the pandemic, and is more than double the country’s previous high of just under $8 billion in 2019. TerraZero Technologies announced a strategic ~$10 million investment from BIGG Digital Assets (BIGG-CSE). EMERGE (ECOM-TSXV) reported strong preliminary Q4 2021 results — Revenue is expected to be between $14.2 million and $14.8 million in Q4 2021, an increase of over 491%, compared to $2.4 million Q4 2020. Almost a decade after the term “unicorn” was coined to describe a rare breed of private company, about two new companies are joining the herd daily, as there now over 1,000 unicorns. Public markets continued to remain choppy with added geopolitical tensions going into the weekend, while there appears to be increased M&A chatter; not unsurprising in light of public markets dislocations. Affirm tumbled 10% after the Buy-Now-Pay-Later fintech’s Twitter blunder revealed details of it’s earnings early. Tesla logged a US$101 million impairment loss from Bitcoin in 2021 as the cryptocurrency’s value fluctuated. Nvidia expects to book US$1.36 billion charge in Q1 Fiscal 2023 due to termination of Arm deal with Softbank. Cisco made US$20 billion-plus takeover offer for Splunk. Binance, led by the world’s richest crypto billionaire, is taking a US$200 million stake in Forbes. OpenSea, the most dominant marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), launched a venture capital arm on Friday, becoming the latest privately held crypto startup to create a division backing other emerging Web3 startups. The biggest assembler of iPhones said component shortages that have plagued electronics production for more than a year are showing signs of easing, a potentially encouraging signal for manufacturers across industries.

February 06, 2022: Very Tumultuous Earnings Week, Strong Canadian VC Funding Announcements

February 06, 2022: Very Tumultuous Earnings Week, Strong Canadian VC Funding Announcements

This past week witnessed one of the most volatile stock reactions for multiple stocks on earnings we recall seeing. Amazon repurchased ~US$1.3 billion of its stock in January, the first buyback in a decade. After getting smashed earlier this year, Peloton stock shot up more than 30% after market on Friday after reports of Amazon’s acquisition interest. Facebook was set to shed about US$200 billion in market value, following its earnings report, in what would be one of the biggest one-day market capitalization wipeouts for any company on record. PayPal stock sank to a 21-month low Wednesday after the payments platform trimmed its financial forecast, citing the impact of inflation. On the flip side, The startup behind Bored Ape Yacht Club is reportedly in talks with Andreessen Horowitz for funding at a US$5 billion valuation. FTX, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, raised US$400 million in a new funding round that valued the company at US$32 billion, the company announced Monday. Wag Labs Inc., the developer of dog-walking app Wag!, has agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check company. San Francisco-based Wag and CHW Acquisition Corp. will have a value of about US$350 million as a combined company, according to a Thursday announcement confirming a Bloomberg News report. In Canada, this week we counted nearly a billion dollars of VC funding announcements, including a US$6 million investment by Stack Capital Group (STCK-TSX) into Montreal based Canadian travel Unicorn, Hopper. While announcements can be made after a decent amount of time has elapsed since the funding – this level of VC activity is nonetheless impressive in light of public markets volatility.

January 30, 2022: A Few Mixed Signals; Market Finding a Footing?

January 30, 2022: A Few Mixed Signals; Market Finding a Footing?

Last week, at least four SPACs pulled their initial public offering plans, and Dutch file-sharing service WeTransfer abruptly canceled its IPO in Amsterdam, with its chief executive officer citing turbulent public markets. That said, Chinese fast fashion retailer Shein revived plans for IPO in the U.S. and delivery company Gopuff reportedly hired bankers for its IPO. Nvidia is reportedly preparing to abandon its US$40 billion takeover of Arm. UBS agreed to buy robo-adviser Wealthfront for US$1.4 billion. ESL, FACEIT acquired and merged by Saudi-owned Savvy Gaming Group for a reported US$1.5 billion, as esports gains global acceptance. Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman said his firm has purchased more than 3.1 million shares of Netflix, making it a top-20 holder. Activist investor Blackwells Capital wants the board of Peloton to fire CEO John Foley and pursue a sale of the company. Climate technology startups around the world raised close to US$40 billion in funding over more than 600 venture capital deals last year. In Canada, Exro announced an increase in its bought deal financing to $17.5 million. Eguana filed a final base shelf prospectus for an aggregate amount of up to $150 million during a 25-month period. HealthSpace Data Systems announced pricing of its overnight marketed financing. In mid-November, Gross Merchandise Sales (“GMS”) on EMERGE Commerce’s marketplaces exceeded $100 million. Founder and CEO, Ghassan Halazon, published a shareholder letter outlining progress and plans for EMERGE in 2022 and beyond. Over the years, investors gravitate towards, and anticipate annual shareholder letters, which offer unique/insightful commentary. We’re optimistic this could be the beginning of a similar series, offering insights on an interesting ecommerce capital allocation strategy from EMERGE. Unity’s recent Ziva acquisition, and Apple’s contactless payment announcement for iPhones (which sent Square stock down on Thursday), both leverage Canada’s technology ecosystem, which continues to go from strength to strength despite market turbulence.

January 23, 2022: Yet Another Rough Week For Public Markets Tech Investors

January 23, 2022: Yet Another Rough Week For Public Markets Tech Investors

This past week was yet another tough one for tech investors, as the NASDAQ continued to slide, and several high growth stocks in the USA and Canada fell lower. While timing the market is impossible, companies continue to execute, and we witnessed several high profile private funding rounds. Sophic Client, GameSquare Esports (GSQ-CSE, GMSQ-OTC) hosted a corporate update webcast, after pre-announcing Q4 2021 revenue was up 3x q/q and ahead of expectations. Shopify plunged by the most since March 2020 after a report that the company terminated contracts with several warehouse and fulfillment partners. 1Password, the password manager startup, has landed a $744.3 million Series C in a Hollywood star-studded round of financing. The company claims the funding round raises its valuation to $6.8 billion. The round is the largest a Canadian company has raised to date, the startup claimed. Canalyst, a leading provider of financial data and analytics, has raised $70 million in a Series C financing led by Dragoneer Investment Group. Sonder began trading on the Nasdaq, after completing its previously announced business combination with Gores Metropoulos II, a California-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Andreessen Horowitz is planning to raise US$4.5 billion for crypto investments as the digital asset frenzy continues. Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard in all-cash deal valued at US$68.7 billion to mark its biggest-ever deal. SoFi stock soared after clearing final regulatory hurdle to become a bank. Netflix reported lower than forecast subscriber growth. Robinhood started rolling out crypto wallets to 1,000 people on its 1.6 million-strong waitlist. Mastercard struck an NFT payments deal with Coinbase amid a wave of recent crypto partnerships. Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell non-fungible tokens as Facebook’s parent company seeks to join the rush of companies trying to capitalize on the digital collectible craze.

January 16, 2022: Markets Remain Uncooperative

January 16, 2022: Markets Remain Uncooperative

As markets remain uncooperative, with high multiple growth stocks well off their highs, a very subdued tax loss related January effect, and many market observers positioning for stock indices to roll over another 10-20% from here, WonderFi (WNDR-NEO) increased its previously announced bought deal public offering to $45 million from $35 million. Ayre Ventures completed a follow-on investment in Mijem (Sophic Client, MJEM-CSE). Well regarded VC, Bill Gurley highlighted Shopify’s Shop Pay as a big winner of Christmas 2021. The Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to force more transparency from big private companies, as regulators grow concerned about the lack of oversight of private fundraising. The most anticipated IPOs in 2022, include: eToro, Stripe, Discord, Databricks, InstaCart, Klarna, Impossible Foods, according to Business Insider. Sequoia Capital and Paradigm, a venture capital firm focussing on cryptocurrency investments, will invest US$1.15 billion in Citadel Securities, a Chicago trading firm founded in 2001. Citadel Securities trades equities, bonds, options, and other assets. The company says it handles 27% of the equities trading volume in the United States. Videogame giant Take-Two Interactive agreed to buy mobile game maker Zynga for US$12.7 billion in cash and stock, ending Zynga’s 10-year run as a public company. Apple may push back its mixed reality headset debut to 2023, Bloomberg reports. Apple reportedly planned to reveal the device at June’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) ahead of a retail launch later this year. TikTok’s advertising sales for 2021 stood at US$4 billion in 2021, and the video app is now aiming to generate US$12 billion in revenue this year, Chinese online media outlet LatePost reported.