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.

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🏀 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?

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

📈 Pulse check: The health and biotech news keeping hearts racing.

💰Money talks: Financial news to know.

📝 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.

😎 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:

📅 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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