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

Good afternoon and welcome to the hundreds of new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this Sunday. If this is your first Sunday Briefing, welcome. Make sure to stay engaged all week by connecting with us on TwitterLinkedIn and the Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse iOS app. If you’re not already on Clubhouse but want to be, please get in touch for an invitation.

The upcoming week is a busy one for events, so I’m highlighting them first today.

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!

-William (@notionport)


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.


💰 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:


🏒 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.

  • Read: Light AI trial a culmination of many passions for Peter Whitehead


⏩ Quick Takes


📈 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.

Go deeper: Cheatsheet: Significant digits inside Thinkific’s preliminary prospectus for IPO

  • 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.


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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 companiesannounced 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.


Community Member Message

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😎 Pretty cool: Everything else new and novel.


🔥 Past stories, still trending.


⌛ That’s it. Until next week…

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