Leftovers

Canada's national housing agency is standing by earlier predictions that housing prices will fall between 9% and 18% from their peak, even as prices still reach reach record highs.

Oatly, the vegan oat milk brand, is planning an IPO in the first half of 2021. The company just raised $200m at a valuation of $2bn.

Amazon is investing $10bn to launch a network of low-orbit satellites that can provide broadband internet. SpaceX has already launched 500 satellites and plans to launch a total of 12,000 for its Starlink internet service.

Microsoft is purchasing a popular video games maker for $7.5bn. The company, Zenimax Media, owns Bethesda Softworks which produces Fallout, Doom, Quake, and other popular titles.
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The Rise & Fall of Nikola

A few months ago Nikola, a new electric truck manufacturer, was one of the hottest stocks on the market, popular with a new pool of amateur day traders that cropped up during quarantine.

Now its share prices is down 50% from and its founder Trevor Milton has resigned from his position as executive chairman of the company.

Why did Milton go: A short-seller report from Hindenburg Research claimed to show that Nikola was "an intricate fraud". They alleged that Nikola had purchased their tech from another company, faked product demos, and misled investors.

What's next: General Motors purchased an 11% stake in Nikola for $2bn just two weeks ago. G.M. has said they plan to stick with the deal and Stephen Girsky, a former G.M. vice chairman, will take over Nikola.

Lessons learned: The Nikola saga is a good reminder that stocks which quadruple in a matter of weeks have a nasty habit of crashing back to Earth just as quickly. Buyer beware!
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Quibi, We Hardly Knew Ye

Maybe you've heard the name Quibi before, but odds are you've never used the app. And now you may never get the chance! The mobile video streaming company, which has raised $1.75bn, is exploring a potential sale after a rough five months of life.

What is Quibi: The service launched in April 2020 and provides short-form video streaming made to be watched on mobile devices. Each episode of Quibi's various shows clocks in at around 10 minutes.

What's on Quibi: The company raised a ton of cash to fund original programming from big names, including Steven Spielberg, Idris Elba, Jennifer Lopez, and the Kardashians. But they've yet to have a major popular hit.

What went wrong: Quibi was extremely hyped, but has apparently fallen well short of its subscriber targets. As of June it was reportedly on track to reach only 30% of its original goal for customers.

Takeaways: The video streaming space is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive with offerings from the major TV networks along with Amazon, Disney, HBO, and Netflix. Even though the space as a whole has grown during the pandemic, some clear winners and losers are beginning to emerge.
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Enough With The TikTok Already

Yesterday we thought we had a TikTok deal done and dusted. Oracle and Walmart would take a large share of a new U.S. based company that would operate TikTok in North American markets.

But wait — not so fast. This drama ain't over yet. The Editor in Chief of the Global Times, China's state-owned English media outlet, yesterday tweeted the following: "Based on what I know, Beijing won't approve current agreement between ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, and Oracle, Walmart, because the agreement would endanger China's national security, interests and dignity."

That suggests that Beijing is not on board with the deal.

But wait, there's more: President Trump told reporters that he would not in fact approve a deal that left ByteDance with majority ownership of the company. But a TikTok spokesperson said this is exactly what the deal on the table would mean, at least until a planned public offering on the U.S. stock market in a year's time.

Oracle disagrees: A spokesperson for Oracle disputed TikTok's characterization of the deal, saying that Americans will be majority owners of the new entity.

What the heck is going on: All this confusion underscores the fact that the deal is still extremely fluid and may never actually happen.

The big picture: When business and a geopolitical clash between superpowers run up against each other, things are bound to get messy. This will not be the last battle created by the U.S-China rift.
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Hot Stocks Wanted

If you had invested $10,000 in Snowflake at its IPO price last week, you'd have a cool $20,000 or so by now.

Two major IPOs of last week — Unity (a 3D game development software) and Snowflake (a data warehousing company) saw big price pops almost immediately. At one point Snowflake was trading at $245 per share, more than double its IPO price of $120.

What drove the run: People close to the IPOs say both price spikes have been driven mainly by retail traders. In other words, amateur traders with apps like RobinHood.

Not the first time: You may remember other companies that saw large (some might say irrational) spikes in share prices over the summer, including Hertz. The rental car company's stock price soared during quarantine, which was especially perplexing as it happened after it declared bankruptcy.

Zoom out: Clearly there is money to be made correctly anticipating what retail traders on apps like RobinHood are going to pile into next. These zero-fee brokerages appear to be creating feedback loops that send stock prices — at least temporarily — through the roof. As long as you aren't the last one holding the bag, you're golden.
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Become a Spreadsheet Master

You know Excel, but c’mon, do you really know Excel?

This 6-week data analytics course from Lighthouse Labs, Canada’s leading tech education company, will turn you into an Excel pro. Colleagues, bosses, future employers — all will bow down to your spreadsheet skills. Plus you’ll learn how to use Tableau to present your results to your team.

Teaching real tech skills that employers look for is what Lighthouse Labs specializes in. And you can learn online from the comfort of your home on a schedule that works for you.

Oh, and did we mention $750 scholarships are available?

How to get started: The next round of classes kick off September 26th. Take a look at all the programs Lighthouse Labs offers here.

* Sponsored by Lighthouse Labs
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The Battle for MEC

A fight is heating up over plans to sell Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), a large Canadian outdoor retailer, to U.S. private equity firm Kingswood Capital Management.

What's at stake: Last week MEC announced it had obtained court protection from creditors and planned to sell its business to the private equity firm.

Why is there a fight: MEC has a unique corporate structure in that it is a consumer co-operative, meaning that customers who shop there must be "members" of the corporation. First-time customers at MEC must pay a $5 fee to become members. This allows them to, in theory, have some influence over corporate policies through voting for Board members. But members were not consulted over the sale to the PE firm.

What the members want: MEC members opposed to the plan have raised a $50,000 legal fund and plan to fight the sale, calling for an emergency members' meeting to replace the Board of Directors.

What's next: MEC members are hoping to get representation in the court process and present alternative proposals that would maintain Canadian ownership of the business. Whether this happens will be determined by what's decided in court.
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CMHC's Makeover

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation CEO Evan Siddall is talking a big game when it comes to making over the organization he's been tasked with leading.

New Name: Siddall says the current name overemphasizes the financing of homes and doesn't do enough to highlight the agencies mandate of housing affordability. "Housing Canada" is being suggested as a replacement.

Big Goals: CMHC set the ambitious goal of providing all Canadians a home they can afford and that meets their needs by 2030.

Innovation: The agency has reduced turnaround times in funding new projects by 1/3, but more innovation is necessary to improve on this and other projects says the housing boss. He's floated the idea of an app to connect people without adequate housing with people who have excess capacity. Sounds like an egalitarian AirBnb.

Rapid Housing: Also suggested is a fund which would allow municipalities to buy up distressed assets when owners are forced to sell because of the pandemic, and turn them into housing.

Future Focus: Canada's housing agency has high aims, but first they'll need to help Canadians out of a hole, with $1 billion of mortgage payments having been deferred each month of the pandemic.
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Biggest Tech IPO Ever on TSX

Montreal payments startup Nuvei set records when it began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange last week, becoming the biggest tech IPO ever on Canada's major exchange. The listing minted CEO Philip Fayer as Canada's newest billionaire.

Nuvei is a leader in global payment processing, founded in 2003 it now has 765 employees.

By The Numbers:

  • Nuvei raised approximately $924.5 million CAD in the offering, selling 26.9 million shares.
  • The stock (TSX:NVEI), closed at $46.15 on Friday, with a market cap near $6 billion.
  • The company has 50,000 merchant customers, processing $35 billion of transactions in the 12 months ending June 30th.
  • In 2019, Nuvei generated revenue of US$245.8-million and posted a net loss of US$69.5-million.

Market Pop: Nuvei's success on the markets can in part be attributed to the momentum behind e-commerce, driven by Covid-19 stay at home orders. The company y-o-y growth spiked 28.4% in June compared to 15% growth early in the year.

The S&P/TSX information technology index is up 33% this year, propelling Shopify to be Canada's most valuable company.
 
Zoom Out...Nuvei is the fourth successful tech IPO on the TSX since March 2019, down south 2020 has been the best year for go-publics in six years, with a number of big names still slated for trading this year.
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Bless up TikTok

First we had a winner, now we have a blessing. President Trump told reporters Saturday that the deal between TikTok, Oracle and Walmart, has his "blessing," in that it satisfies the President's demands to not ban the popular app from the United States. TikTok confirmed this in a statement.

Deal Details:
The fine print is yet to be printed, the following is what's been reported to date:

  • A new U.S. company will be formed, TikTok Global, of which American firms Oracle and Walmart will own 20%.
  • Other American investors who own equity in TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, will transfer some of their equity to the new company, pushing US ownership of TikTok Global to 53%, satisfying Trump's demand TikTok being majority US owned.
  • About 11% of the new company will be held by European investors in ByteDance.
  • The remaining 36% will be Chinese owned, through ByteDance.
  • Oracle will act as TikTok Global's "trusted technology partner," storing all US user data to "ensure US national security requirements are fully satisfied."
  • Walmart is working with TikTok on a "commercial partnership."

Political Winners and Losers: The big winners of this deal are Oracle and Walmart. Top executives from both companies have been in direct contact with Trump throughout this process, with reports of multiple calls on Friday. Oracle is one of the biggest boosters of the Trump administration in corporate America. China hardliners from both parties appear to be unsatisfied with the deal, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called the arrangement "insufficient," while Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) warns it leaves American companies vulnerable to Chinese retaliation.

Path Ahead: The president's "blessing" isn't enough, the deal requires official approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which will review a finalized documented deal. On the other side of the divide, China's regulators could kibosh the arrangement citing their own national security concerns.

A $5 Billion Hole...Oh ya, if this deal wasn't confusing enough, there seems to be a miscommunication of about $5 billion in free money. President Trump told reporters the deal would involve "a $5 billion contribution toward education.” ByteDance told Chinese media they were unaware of this commitment.

On this topic: U.S. judge halts Commerce Department order to remove WeChat from app stores.
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