Sunday Briefing | #125
“I don’t see why we can’t get to a place where this business is grossing $1 billion alone.” - Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou
Happy Family Day weekend and welcome to our new subscribers. This week, I’m excited to showcase the Vancouver company pioneering the trading card market of the future; a conversation with a CEO who’s learning to be a father throughout the pandemic; and many other compelling stories spanning biotech, telecommunications and venture capital.
Today’s Sunday Briefing is about 2,000 words, a 6 1/2-minute read. Enjoy.
🏀 NBA Top Shot, developed by Vancouver’s Dapper Labs, is a blockchain-based marketplace for people to purchase, trade and own digital NBA highlights—and it facilitated $50 million in sales over the last 30 days.
Think of NBA Top Shop as the future of the trading card market. Virtual packs can be purchased and either 'showcased' or re-sold on a virtual marketplace. Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou explained it to Yahoo! Finance like this:
at the simplest level, it's like trading cards, you know, people open packs, trade with their friends in the marketplace, complete sets to get new content. And what we did was take the greatest moments in NBA history, the video highlights, and we turned those into the limited edition digital collectibles.
Packs of the digital collectibles are then sold on the official NBA Top Shot website for prices ranging from $9 to $230. You might ask: If the top range of packs is only $230 (and they’re currently sold out), how has the marketplace achieved $50 million in sales already?
People are reselling the biggest moments for absolutely insane amounts of money. Case in point: A LeBron James highlight recently sold for over $71,000.
Zoom out: How big can this get? “The trading card business is worth $5-$6 billion annually,” Gharegozlou told The Action Network. “I don’t see why we can’t get to a place where this business is grossing $1 billion alone.”
👨🍼 “I think mental health has never been put to the test more than it has in this pandemic,” says the chief executive of Vancouver’s Keela, a CRM for non-profit organizations.
In a year when the world was upended and his entire customer base was on the brink of disaster, Nejeed Kassam's company has thrived and he started a family. Vancouver Tech Journal recently spoke to the CEO about raising a son, the ways COVID-19 changed his company, and how leaders cope during uncertain times. Read the interview, the first in our new series, Management Memo, where we talk to executives about leading high-performance organizations in a rapidly changing world.
⏩ Quick Takes
A report by British Columbia's auditor general says thousands of medical devices used to diagnose and treat people lack effective cybersecurity protections.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO and chief content officer, announced the company will open a Canadian office (in Vancouver or Toronto) and hire a dedicated content executive to work directly with the Canadian creative community.
iQmetrix launched a contactless payment solution called Pay Anywhere, which allows retailers to accept payments anywhere by enabling customers to pay for a purchase on their mobile phones, using credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Experts say B.C.’s corporate tax rate of 2 percent on the first half-million dollars of income, which jumps to 12 percent above that level, and the provincial employer health tax, which kicks in when an enterprise reaches an annual payroll of $500,000, might be a disincentive to B.C. company growth.
“Telus… has adopted the swagger of a technology company. Thanks to a combination of foresight and luck, Telus is now better positioned to take advantage of forces that will reshape the global economy than its bulkier rivals,” argues Kevin Carmichael in the Financial Post.
📈 Pulse check: The health and biotech news keeping hearts racing.
Notch Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing a platform to produce immune cells on an industrial scale for treating diseases such as cancer, has raised US$85-million in funding. Over the next two years, the company plans to expand its workforce to more than 100, from 35.
Dr. Danny Goel, an orthopedic surgeon in Vancouver, developed PrecisionOS, a virtual-reality surgical simulator. Unveiled in 2018, as the pandemic has closed ORs or restricted surgeries, the technology has now been adopted by 22 medical schools and health systems across North America.
The Digital Technology Supercluster is investing $2.5 million into a new $3.1 million initiative called Telewound Care Canada aimed to help wound patients access care virtually. The project will use an AI-powered app created by Toronto’s Swift Medical to capture and share high-precision wound images from home.
💰Money talks: Financial news to know.
Fraction Technologies apparently raised $289 million CAD in a mix of equity and debt financing. The company operates at the intersection of fintech and proptech with a product called the Fraction Appreciation Mortgage, which allows customers to convert up to 40 percent of their home equity into tax-free cash.
Burnaby’s Advanced Intelligent Systems (AIS) was one of 20 cleantech firms to split a $55.1 million federal investment into clean tech companies. AIS received $400,000 for their Outdoor Cart Puller and Post Harvesting Robots from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
MindCure Health, a psychedelics-focused firm, has closed $23 million, with half of the funds going towards fundamental research using psilocybin, ketamine, and ibogaine to treat pain from head trauma. The remaining funds will be used “towards the build-out of its digital therapeutics platform, which houses the ‘largest data repository of known psychedelics experience.’”
Mogo Inc. has agreed to acquire 19.99% ownership of Coinsquare Ltd. Launched in 2014, Coinsquare is a leading digital asset trading platform in Canada, with trading volume in excess of $525 million in January 2021.
Well Health Technologies has agreed to buy CRH Medical for US$292.7 million. Well Health will pay US$4 per share for the other Vancouver-based company, as part of a plan to consolidate and modernize clinical and digital assets in the healthcare space and expand into the US market.
Leaf Mobile Inc. debuted on the TSX on February 10 after having completed the $159-million acquisition of Vancouver’s East Side Games Inc. the preceding Friday. Completion of the acquisition was contingent on the TSX allowing the gaming company to list on the senior market.
Shorting stocks (See: GameStop) is less common on Canadian exchanges, says INK Research CEO Ted Dixon. That being said, Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc. is an example of a Vancouver company that has a large number of shares sold short—nearly 14% of its shares outstanding on January 15.
📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.
Nathan Caddell, an editor with BCBusiness, writes about The 5 Canadian millennials you'll meet in stock market subreddits. “You first noticed it when your carpenter friend said something about Dollarama’s market cap,” he notes.
Charlie Grinnell, the CEO of RightMetric, shares One Of The Best Strategies That Marketers Overlook. “Marketing intelligence counts for more than marketing creativity,” he writes.
JAR Audio’s director of outreach, Paul Stewart, shares 5 Things 2020 Taught Us About Podcast Storytelling. “More than ever, podcast producers and brands need to ask themselves: What does our audience need? Why should they spend their valuable time listening to this podcast? How can we help them?” he writes.
Ali Ardakani, an associate at Creative Destruction Labs, argues that B.C. is experiencing a second major renaissance in life sciences. But that lack of investment from local investors has limited the local upside from exits. “So, how do we ensure this time that we position B.C as a global life sciences hub and not miss another opportunity?” he asks.
💼 Need tech news briefings delivered daily?
The Vancouver Tech Journal is testing a Morning Report. It includes everything in the Sunday Briefing and more—delivered to your inbox daily at 6:00am from Tuesday to Friday. For anyone who relies on the most up to date tech news to fuel their workday, deal flow and decision making, the Morning Report is for you. Join the waitlist to be considered for our ongoing beta test.
💚 Cleantech: Good news for the planet.
Lyft partnered with Toyota to bring hydrogen-powered rides to Vancouver. Through the Kinto Share App, Lyft drivers will be able to rent the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell EV, for $198/week.
SFU is partnering with Foresight Cleantech Accelerator to advance the cleantech industry in B.C. The partnership will involve creating a new research program under the leadership of professor Mark Jaccard and Elicia Maine.
BC hydrogen fuel cell maker Loop Energy is planning to go public on the TSX and raise $100 million. The company makes fuel cell stacks and range extenders, which can be used in EVs to improve their ranges without having to recharge.
From the City of Vancouver and ZEBx: The Women4Climate program aims to advance bold, local climate action in alignment with Vancouver's Climate Emergency Action Plan. Each year, mentees are matched with talented local political and business sector leaders, as well as exceptional leaders from international and community organizations. Over the 10-month mentorship period, mentors share their knowledge, experiences, and support the mentees to develop their leadership skills while advancing their climate initiatives. Get involved.
😎 Pretty cool: What else is new and novel.
Tevano Systems, which was developing a kiosk-based payment system, pivoted to create Health Shield, a temperature screening device being deployed in assisted-living facilities. The device runs on cloud software, so users can monitor entrants remotely—whether or not they have elevated temperature or mask—and be notified if necessary.
Fraser Health Authority is expanding the digital tools its workers have for dealing with their own substance use amid the pandemic. The health authority had previously been offering a substance-use management platform known as the Alavida Trail to 5,500 health care workers at three sites and is now making the platform available to all 32,000 health workers employed at Fraser Health.
Operating outside Famous Foods grocery store, Vancouver startup Soapstand creates zero-waste vending machine refill stations for soaps and detergents. All you have to do is bring a reusable container with you and fill it up.
👩🏻💼 Personnel issues:
TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator, appointed Dr. Nigel Smith as its new director, succeeding Dr. Jonathan Bagger.
Abcellera promoted Ester Falconer to the role of chief technology officer. A UBC grad, Dr. Falconer led the development of AbCellera’s Pandemic Preparedness Platform (P3) program and its deployment to combat COVID-19.
Steve Davis, the recently appointed CEO of Operto Guest Technologies, was named to the Most Influential People in Vacation Rental Technology list.
📅 Mark your calendar to match ours.
Join us on Clubhouse every Tuesday at 10am to discuss the most important B.C. tech stories and issues of the week.
Deloitte Global TMT Predictions 2021: VEF and Deloitte invite you to join them on February 23, 2021 at 3:45pm PST, with Deloitte’s Duncan Stewart, co-author of the Deloitte Global TMT Predictions annual report, as he provides an in-depth look at the trends set to affect and disrupt your business.
Business Reinvention Awards: The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Scale-up Centre for SMEs (SCS) announced its inaugural Business Reinvention Awards to take place on February 26, 2021.
‼️ Double take: In case you missed these stories.
⌛ That’s it. Until next week…
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