Meet the Vancouver investor who bet on Coinbase—and scored a 25 times return | The Sunday Briefing
"Don't be fooled, it is still day 1 for both Coinbase and crypto in general." - Boris Wertz, founder and partner at Version One Ventures
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The upcoming week is a busy one for events, so I’m highlighting them first today.
Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee | Join us on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 9am PST for an exclusive conversation with Kobalt.io CEO Michael Argast.
The Future of Food | Join VEF to explore how to feed the world in 2050, innovation in agri-tech, sustainability and the creation of lab-grown meat.
Federal/BC Budget Impact on BC Innovation | Join tech sector leaders including Jill Tipping, Kari LaMotte, Dan Burgar, Ray Walia, and others, to debrief on the federal and provincial budgets and their impact on BC innovation.
How Vancouver’s VR/AR Ecosystem Became a Global Leader | Learn about the wins and struggles of the founders building Vancouver’s XR hub.
Join me and take part in what will surely be a series of engaging conversations.
By the way, today’s Briefing is 1,960 words, a 6 3/4-minute read. Enjoy!
₿ Vancouver’s Version One Ventures invested in crypto exchange Coinbase back when it was valued at $1.6 billion USD.
Last week, Coinbase went public in a direct listing and ended the day valued at more than $85 billion USD, a valuation increase of more than 5,200%.
Based on Version One’s investing thesis, they shouldn’t have even been on Coinbase’s cap table; but partner Boris Wertz felt compelled to make the investment and believed the startup had the potential to “pay back the whole fund.” He wasn’t wrong. The investment ended up being a multiple fund maker.
To read the factors that led Wertz to make the investment, read our story: Coinbase bet bears fruit for Vancouver investor Version One
👑 The provincial government gave its annual Throne Speech, outlining the NDP’s priorities for the next year.
With liberal use of words like innovation, technology and digital, innovators got their fair share of mentions.
But what was said exactly? We’ve taken a look, and carved out the key points to consider in advance of this Tuesday’s provincial budget. Instead of reading the nearly 5,000 words Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin said, read our 600-word Cheatsheat: 5 things in the Throne Speech about B.C. tech and innovation
💰 The Province announced a $45 million investment into programs that will provide 5,000 B.C. youth with access to skills training and job opportunities.
Among investments spanning five different ministries, the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation is putting up $22 million to fund a minimum of 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two programs, in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.
For details, read our report: Province invests $45 million into skills training programs
⚾ Leading physical trading card company, Topps, is entering the digital space where Vancouver's Dapper Labs is excelling.
Topps and Major League Baseball (MLB) anounced that they’re taking baseball cards to the blockchain—the WAX blockchain, to be specific.
Starting April 20th, fans will be able to purchase NFTs of Topps’ 2021 catalogue of trading cards, with 50,000 packs costing $5 and 24,090 packs at $100.
But Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou is not impressed:
For more details, read our story: Trading Card OG’s now challenging NBA Top Shot
🏒 Peter Whitehead’s first invention was a part for a day-timer that he sold to Casio for $50 bucks—money he then spent on hockey skates.
His passion for inventing and hockey recently collided, as his company Light AI began trials for a smartphone-based COVID-19 test with a host of Western Hockey League teams, including the Vancouver Giants. In a Vancouver Tech Journal feature, reporter James Matthews explores how the WHL is the latest organization to benefit from Whitehead’s curiosity and drive.
⏩ Quick Takes
Two weeks after raising $305 million USD at a valuation of $2.6 billion USD, Vancouver’s Dapper Labs is reportedly raising a new round at a $7.5 billion USD valuation.
Canadian venture capital (VC) funding hit an all-time high of US$2.49 billion in the first quarter, shattering the previous record of US$1.52 billion set in Q4 2019.
On Global News, Launch Academy CEO Ray Walia explains why BC’s tech industry continues to grow and how that growth can be sustained long term.
The Vancouver Regional Construction Association has launched an initiative to connect the best ideas in construction with the best ideas in technological innovation.
Q&A with Inna Bogdanova, the CEO of Vancouver-based Aplic, who is part of the latest Techstars Seattle cohort.
📈 Pulse check: The health and biotech news keeping hearts racing.
Vancouver’s adMare BioInnovations announced the launch of the adMare Community, what they’re calling Canada’s first and only online community to bring together people involved in the life sciences ecosystem.
“It’s heartbreaking that innovation that came out of research done here in Canada is not being delivered to Canadian patients,” says Abcellera CEO Carl Hansen, in response to the fact that his company’s Health Canada-approved COVID treatment is not actually being used here.
🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.
Vancouver edtech platform Thinkific is moving forward with a planned initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange, saying it plans to raise $160-million in an IPO that would value the company at more than $750-million. The nine-year-old company saw significant growth last year, earning US $21-million in revenue, more than double the US $9.8-million it earned in 2019.
Neptune Digital Assets announced a $40 million CAD private placement offering with institutional investors. The company plans to use the proceeds for the development of a 5MW clean tech Bitcoin mining facility and the purchase of ASIC Bitcoin mining machines, among other items.
Vancouver fintech Mogo has acquired a 19.99% ownership interest in Coinsquare (a Canadian version of Coinbase) with an option to increase ownership up to approximately 43%. Coinsquare’s preliminary Q1 2021 Revenue up over 500% year over year and assets on platform ended Q1 over $630 million
📊 BC Tech Association is conducting a 2SLGBTQ+ Insights project, in partnership with TransFocus, exploring the experiences and needs of 2SLGBTQ+ professionals in the BC tech industry.
Funded by Discovery Foundation, this project aims to gain insights from multiple perspectives related to specific issues, challenges, data collection efforts and employer initiatives that currently exist and what is needed to further build an 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive tech sector for the future.
They’re conducting two surveys with an April 20 deadline: one for HR specialists and one for 2SLGBTQ+ professionals. Links to the surveys can be found here.
📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.
ThoughtExchange CEO Dave McLeod says that Trying to Engage Your Remote Workforce is a Waste of Time (And What to do Instead). “Leaders need to lead by example as they embrace new and powerful ways to deploy strategy, accelerate individual performance and ensure their people collaborate on the most important objectives,” he writes.
Quark Ventures CEO and partner Karimah Es Sabar says We must harness digital technology for 21st-century health care. “We need to strengthen the link between public and private work, i.e., connect the huge benefits of our publicly funded system with the innovations of the private sector,” she writes.
Rob Peets, an investment director at TELUS Ventures, believes COVID-19 Makes It Clear That We Need A New Tech Approach To Buildings. “With applications that put people first and unlock value for tenants, property managers, developers, and owners, connected buildings could help make dense cities not just liveable, but warm and welcoming, and filled with culture and community,” he writes.
PwC’s Rajveer Hundal, Jill Tipping, and Laura Zubick of Unbounce, penned an article celebrating diversity in the technology sector and the BC Technology Impact Awards, which recognize companies making a difference. “It’s key to recognize the leaders in the sector who are holding themselves accountable, measuring their success and demonstrating their return on inclusion,” writes Hundal. “By putting their purpose at the centre of their D&I strategy, they’re positively impacting everyone their organization reaches.”
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👨💼 Personnel issues: People going places.
B.C. native and former Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) chief executive Ian McKay was named Ambassador to Japan. McKay was CEO of VEC for nearly five years and is a former National Director for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Scott Jackson, former president of Vancouver software firm Essential Designs, was appointed chief technology officer of Vinergy Capital Inc. At Vinergy, Jackson will evaluate investments in the crypto and blockchain space.
Council of Canadian Innovators, a group representing more than 130 of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies, announced a national expansion and the addition of Tessa Seager as B.C. practice lead. Seager is an IP lawyer and former lobbyist for Apple.
Nextech AR Solutions executive Vivian Chan was interviewed as part of a series called “Women Leading The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries.
ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. has appointed Kevin Pavlov as its new Chief Operating Officer. Pavlov has held various other senior leadership roles, most notably at Magna International.
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😎 Pretty cool: Everything else new and novel.
Canada’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights over a 5G network took place at UBC, showcasing some of the future potential applications of 5G-enabled autonomous flight.
B.C.’s biggest mass-timber office tower will be certified with the most advanced telecommunications on the planet, according to Hines, its Texas-based megadeveloper.
Mayone, a digital network and identity company, is working with the Peer Social Foundation and the Blockchain@UBC research cluster to assess the feasibility of decentralized social media and the privacy and security implications of self-ownership of social media data.
🔥 Past stories, still trending.
⌛ That’s it. Until next week…
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