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
Invesment News in the Past Weeks
As we’ve been pointing out in this column for a while, Canadian tech VC and public markets activity has been witnessing a major increase in activity – unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed in our over a decade on the sell-side. The Globe & Mail recently pointed out that Canadian VC funding records for the second consecutive quarter in Q2, puts the sector on track to surpass the all-time high for a single year, set during the dot-com bubble a generation ago. Public markets are likely not far behind either, and we have witnessed very strong IPO in activity in Canada in the recent past. The Senate passed Bill C-218, legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada – we expect busy capital market on the back of this bill, and have already witnessed the first signs, with Fansunite’s (FANS-CSE) equity offering announced just hours after the bill was passed. In the USA, Robhinhood’s much anticipated public markets debut appears a bit delayed, likely owing to its crypto business drawing questions from the US SEC. Aside from this delay, last week was very busy for US tech IPOs, even as there appear to be new privacy, and big tech related regulatory questions nearly every day in the USA and Europe.
June 20, 2021 : Relatively fewer innovation sector public markets transactions, but plenty of activity
While last week saw relatively fewer innovation sector public markets transactions in Canada, we saw employee wellness software firm LifeSpeak file for a TSX IPO, VerticalScope upsized its IPO to $125 million, and Shopify reportedly invested in Stripe, bringing its total stake to over $350 million. In the USA, and Europe there appears to be increasing focus on regulations and consumer privacy, including the appointment of tech critic Lina Khan as FTC Chair, a Senate proposal for a new US agency to protect Americans’ data, Google’s adtech business reportedly set to face a formal EU probe by year-end, and U.K. regulators looking to examine if Google and Apple run a smartphone duopoly. Sophic client, Killi (MYID-TSXV, MYIDF-OTC) could be a way for investors to gain exposure to this theme. We’re awaiting public markets debuts by PUBG maker, Krafton in South Korea, Grocery courier Boxed via a SPAC deal, and fintech provider Wise via a London direct listing.
Last week was exceptionally busy in Canadian capital markets with regards to both public and private markets funding. We witnessed very robust activity with M&A and associated funding, IPO activity, a couple US listing and a few more iconic VC funding rounds – the Canadian tech funding ecosystem seems to evolving very nicely. In the small cap space, we saw a successful marketed offering by Sophic Client AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTC). In addition, privately held crypto custodian Brane Capital, saw a strategic investment by DMG Blockchain Solutions — we’ve been tracking the company for a year, and they appear to be making good progress. In the US, Goldman Sachs’ global head of internet banking, recently remarked that a “listings supercycle” for tech companies was only just beginning. We’re excited! Even though, Grab pushed back its US$40 billion SPAC target date, we’re keeping an eye out for this one. Robinhood could be public next month, and Didi Chuxing’s IPO filing warrants deeper attention.
This past week was relatively quiet in terms of new public markets funding, in fact, in the United States, Barrons observed — DLocal is the only IPO this week due to the Memorial Day holiday. Next week, several companies are scheduled to go public, including TaskUs, LifeStance Health Group, and monday.com. We hosted an investor presentation for Sophic Client. In Canada, Dye & Durham (DND-TSX), following an indication of interest from a shareholder group led by management to acquire the Company, its board of directors has commenced a process to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives focused on maximizing shareholder value. The indication of interest would result in Dye & Durham being taken private at an approximate 23% premium to the current market value, being a per share value of $50.50 — recall the company raised $200 million in equity at $50.50/sh (in addition to convertible debt), a few months ago.
The holiday shortened last week in Canada, saw very healthy levels of capital markets activity, in public markets, including IPOs, equity financings and some convertible debt as well. VC financing had positive newsflow as well. In addition, many companies, including multiple Sophic clients reported their quarterly financial results. In the USA, we’re paying attention to Acorns’ potential SPAC deal, Vimeo’s public market debut, additional stock awards at WeWork, and Amazon’s MGM acquisition, which we mentioned when the potential acquisition first surfaced a week ago. Outside North America, we’re watching Gojek and Tokopedia’s holding group GoTo’s IPO and fundraising later this year, and Paytm’s potential IPO in India.
This past week saw more activity in VC funding relative public markets in Canadian tech and clean tech sectors. In the US, we are eagerly awaiting Robinhood’s S-1 filing, which is expected next week. Interestingly, Robinhood, SoFi and Public plan to give retail investors IPO allocation access, a great move, in our view. In the Fintech space, German trading app, Trade Republic saw a ~9x increase in its Series C financing to ~US$5.5 billion, and Fidelity plans to offer no-fee investment services for teenagers who want to trade stocks and ETFs. For investors, looking for exposure to a similar theme in Canada, Sophic client, AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTC), should benefit from its deepening relationship with Intesa Sanpaolo, a major European bank. Outside North America, the Gojek-Tokopedia merger and IPO is anticipated by investors, as another potential super-app. Snap announced its next iteration of AR glasses. In the gaming sector, Saudi Arabia’s US$400 billion wealth fund doubled down on its stakes in US video-game makers and dumped a major oil position in Q1, at the same time, Netflix is looking to hire an executive to oversee an expansion into videogames.
May 16, 2021:Relatively more acquisitions than financings in public markets, positive Canadian tech ecosystem developments
Last week was very volatile for growth stocks, more capital markets activity was skewed towards acquisitions rather than public market financings. Aside from the public market volatility, we are very encouraged by a recent techcrunch piece highlighting Shopify’s former employees taking on founder and investor roles, which in our view is very positive for the Canadian tech ecosystem, as are Google’s plans to build a $735 million data centre in Québec. As the energy consumption of Bitcoin has gained a lot of attention in the past week, Canadian bitcoin ETF issuer Ninepoint Partners announced Monday that it is planning to “fully offset” its carbon footprint, as it seeks to reassure investors concerned about the negative environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining. In the USA, we are anticipating the Bird’s SPAC, as well as Better’s public markets debut, and a potential IPO by Flipkart in India.
After a few quiet weeks, last week was once again very strong from a Canadian capital markets perspective. Nearly a billion dollars of Canadian VC funding was announced, with a lot of attention on Wealthsimple’s $750 million financing. Canadian innovation public markets have also been very robust, with recent IPOs by Thinkific, Magnet Forensics and listings by Taiga Motors, and InterCure. In the USA, the Apple – Epic lawsuit continues to reveal very interesting data points, while the global chip shortage continues to persist. Lastly, Bitcoin is expected to become available to customers of hundreds of banks in the US this year, as crypto custody firm NYDIG has teamed up with fintech company Fidelity National Information Services, in a move which could be very interesting for the cryptocurrency.
May 02, 2021:Busy earnings week, robust Canadian VC activity, and increasing scrutiny of Chinese tech giants
Last week, was full of corporate earnings, with plenty of high-profile companies reporting their quarterly results. Our favourite stock from our sell side equity research days, Shopify (SHOP-NYSE, SHOP-TSX), reported a monster quarter, in what is typically a seasonally soft period. We recently had a conversation with the Morning Brew on Shopify’s evolution and success during the COVID pandemic, as the company appears to be at a crossroads. Canadian VC backed firms, had an extraordinarily strong week with regards to fund raising, with news by Sonder, Vena, and Clio. Multiple Chinese tech giants seem to be coming under increasing government scrutiny, while Apple’s much anticipated iOS 14.5 was made available, which could cause some dislocation in the ad-tech ecosystem.
This past week was perhaps the most subdued in the past few months in Canadian tech and clean tech capital markets activity. After a few months of intense activity, we’re not too surprised. Within Sophic clients, AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTC), made a very significant announcement of a product launch by its 49% owned unit, MarketWall, with Intesa Sanpaolo, a major European bank. As well, Sophic spoke with Ayre Group Ventures about Sophic Client, Mijem (private) and Bitcoin SV. New listings in the USA, were relatively quiet as well. Coinbase, according to some is being classified as a “broken IPO”, disregarding the reference price. We are intrigued by Discord, and Microsoft no longer being in M&A discussions, likely suggesting Discord go public.
Our Canadian capital markets and buy-side contacts are excited about upcoming Thinkific and Magnet Forensics IPOs. At the same time, investors remain somewhat cautious with regards to deploying capital towards smaller cap deals, as many strongly performing small cap stocks are down ~40-60% from highs set in mid-late February. Investor response to some highly anticipated US new listings, such as Coinbase and TuSimple was tepid as well. That said, shares of newly listed Esports Technologies Inc. have performed very well as investors continued to cheer the public debut of the Las Vegas-based online gambling company. The company provides esports wagering products and technology. Investors can also play this theme via Sophic Client LuckBox (LUCK-TSXV, LUKEF-OTC) and the adjacent esports community theme via soon to be publicly listed Sophic Client Swarmio.
After a few weeks of relatively muted capital markets activity, this past week witnessed a bit of on uptick in innovation sector related public market financings. That said, private markets activity was very robust as well, exceeding public market financings. We’re encouraged with the level of support Kneat (KSI-TSXV) has received from investors; a stock we covered for a few years as sell side equity analysts. Sophic Client, AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV), could benefit from anticipation of its MarketWall unit’s business-to-consumer user growth at Intesa Sanpaolo alone. We published a research piece highlighting our conservative estimate of what every 100,000 MarketWall users could add to AnalytixInsight’s share price. We also investigate how the stock could benefit when analyzing potential revenues generated by users. Another Sophic client, Mijem (private) announced an investment by noted technology entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, founder of venture capital firm Ayre Group Ventures and blockchain conglomerate CoinGeek. In the USA, Coinbase released monster Q1/21 metrics ahead of a highly anticipated direct listing this coming week. Following suit, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, could go public as well. We are also looking forward to the public markets debut by Topps, Grab, and Didi.