We haven’t seen anything like this since the capital region was the epicentre of a global boom in fibre-optic technology.
We haven’t seen anything like this since the capital region was the epicentre of a global boom in fibre-optic technology.
With Tuesday morning’s revelation by Kanata-based Rockport Networks that it has secured US$48 million in fresh equity, the region’s tech sector has accumulated nearly US$500 million in venture capital just since October.
Adjusted for inflation, that’s just shy of the US$540 million landed by Ottawa’s tech firms during the blowout fourth quarter of 2000.
No quarter before that or since had come close. Until now.
The contrast between then and now is stunning. Two decades ago, the emphasis was on Internet hardware and wavelengths of light. Now, investments are targeted at e-commerce, software and the many uses to which the latter can be put.
That’s true even of Rockport, whose co-founder Doug Carwardine spent the early part of his career steeped in communications hardware at Newbridge Networks, the legendary Kanata startup that was snapped up by Alcatel for US$7 billion in 2000.
After he helped to launch Rockport in 2012, Carwardine pushed the development of clever software for reducing congestion on communications networks. By making do without hardwired switches, Rockport’s products can move data more quickly, while consuming less energy.
Certainly, these were the attributes that convinced Northern Private Capital of Toronto to lead Tuesday’s investment.
Carwardine and his colleagues are patient builders. So, too, were British immigrants John Roberts and Girvan Patterson, the co-founders of Kanata-based GaN Systems, which last month finalized a US$150 million venture investment. Pioneers in Ottawa’s tech scene, Roberts and Patterson spent a decade developing semiconductors built with gallium nitride rather than the traditional silicon and selling these to automakers and consumer electronics firms, among others. Gallium nitride chips are lighter and consume less energy, making them ideal for many green applications.
By the time Roberts and Patterson retired in 2016, they had sold the technology to more than 500 customers and established the firm as the globe’s number one supplier of gallium nitride chips. GaN Systems continues its expansion under CEO Jim Witham who announced the recent venture financing deal aimed at accelerating the momentum.
The biggest local investment in the fourth quarter to date — US$250 million — was hauled down by Fullscript, which physicians and other wellness practitioners use to personalize nutrition regimes for more than half a million patients.
Fullscript, too, has been many years in the making but has grown at great speed. Co-founders Kyle Braatz and Brad Dyment launched their venture in 2011 and quickly developed an enthusiastic following — helped along by a merger with an Arizona wholesaler of nutritional supplements. The company’s base of practitioners tops 30,000. Revenues this year are expected to reach US$300 million.
Rounding out the venture capital recipients is a pair of relatively young software companies with the missions of making life easier for online corporations. Knak and Fellow.app raised US$25 million and US$24 million respectively in the current quarter.
Knak, run by Pierce Ujjainwalla, has developed products for measuring the effectiveness of corporations’ global marketing campaigns.
Fellow.app, led by Aydin Mirzaee, has developed a software assistant to help managers focus their relations with employees throughout the year, and never lose sight of commitments. His all-important first customer? Local e-commerce giant Shopify.
With any luck, this blowout quarter for venture financing will turn out much differently than the last one.
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Stay-at-home market darling Netflix slumped on Friday, joining a broad decline in shares of other pandemic favourites this week as investors priced in expectations for a return to normal life with more countries gradually relaxing COVID restrictions.
The selloff, which began after Netflix and Peloton posted disappointing quarterly earnings, spread to the wider stay-at-home sector as analysts judged the new Omicron coronavirus variant will not deliver the same economic headwinds seen in the first phase of the pandemic in 2020.
“This a confirmation that the economy is gradually moving towards some sort of normalisation,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.
France will ease work-from-home rules from early February and allow nightclubs to reopen two weeks later, while Britain’s business minister said people should get back to the office to benefit from in-person collaboration.
“With a return to the office and travel lanes opening, darlings of the WFH (work from home) thematic are reflecting the growing reality that the world is moving slowly but with certainty towards a new normalcy,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore.
Netflix tumbled nearly 25% after it forecast new subscriber growth in the first quarter would be less than half of analysts’ predictions.
The stock, a component of the elite FAANG group, was on track for its worst day in nearly nine-and-a-half years following rare rating downgrades from Wall Street analysts.
“It is hard to have confidence that Netflix will return to the historical +26.5 million net subscriber add run rate post the 2022 slowdown,” MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson said.
“The decay rate on streaming content is incredibly rapid. ‘Squid Game?’ That’s so last quarter. ‘The Witcher?’ Done on New Year’s Eve!”
Exercise bike maker Peloton lost nearly a quarter of its value on Thursday, leading at least nine brokerages to cut their price target on the stock.
The selloff erased nearly $2.5 billion from its market value after its CEO said the company was reviewing the size of its workforce and “resetting” production levels, though it denied the company was temporarily halting production.
Peloton’s shares were up nearly 5% on Friday morning, bouncing back somewhat from a 23.9% drop on Thursday, its biggest one-day percentage decline since Nov. 5.
Both companies were part of a group, along with others such as Zoom and Docusign whose shares soared in 2020, and in some cases 2021 as well, as people around the world were forced to stay at home in the face of the coronavirus.
However, thanks to vaccine rollouts and the spread of the less severe Omicron strain of COVID-19, life is returning to normal in many countries, leaving companies like Netflix and Peloton struggling to sustain high sales figures.
According to data from S3 Partners, short-sellers doubled their profits by betting against Peloton in 2021, the third best returning U.S. short.
Direxion’s Work from Home ETF has fallen more than 9% in first three weeks of the year, compared to a 6% drop in the fall of the broader U.S. stock market. Blackrock‘s virtual work and life multisector ETF has weakened more than 8% this year.
In Europe, lockdown winners are also going through a rough patch as rising bond yields pressurise growth and tech stocks.
Online British supermarket group Ocado, Germany’s meal-kit delivery firm HelloFresh and food delivery company Delivery Hero which emerged as European stay-at-home champions in the early days of the pandemic have underperformed the pan-European STOXX 600 so far in 2022.
(Reporting by Alun John and Julien Ponthus; Additional reporting by Nivedita Balu, Anisha Sircar and Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee, Alison Williams and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
Bitcoin dropped 9.28% to $36,955.03 at 22:02 GMT on Friday, losing $3,781.02 from its previous close.
Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, is up 2.4% from the year’s low of $36,146.42.
Ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, dropped 12.27% to $2,631.35 on Friday, losing $368.18 from its previous close.
(Reporting by Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
It’s positive news for an industry that has now essentially recovered to its pre-pandemic levels, after a disastrous 2020 that saw oil prices collapse due to the impact of Covid-19 on global demand.
But CAPP president Tim McMillan pointed out that in spite of the fact that oil prices are at seven-year highs and companies are recording record cash flows, capital investment remains well below what it was during the industry’s boom years. In 2014, for example, capital investment in the Canadian oilpatch hit an all-time record high of $81 billion, capturing 10% per cent of total global upstream natural gas and oil investment.
“Today we’re at $32 billion, and we’re only capturing about six% of global investment,” McMillan said. “We’ve lost ground to other oil and gas producers, which I think is problematic for a lot of reasons . . . and it leaves billions of dollars of investment that is going somewhere else, and not to Canada.”
Investment in conventional oil and natural gas is forecast at $21.2 billion in 2022, according to CAPP, while growth in oilsands investment is expected to increase 33% to $11.6 billion this year.
Alberta is expected to lead all provinces in overall oil and gas capital spending, with upstream investment expected to increase 24% to $24.5 billion in 2022. Over 80% of the industry’s new capital spending this year will be focused in Alberta, representing an additional $4.8 billion of investment into the province compared with 2021, according to CAPP.
While the 2022 forecast numbers are good news for the Canadian economy, McMillan said, it’s a problem that companies aren’t willing to invest in this country’s industry at the level they once did.
He said investors have been put off by Canada’s record of cancelled pipeline projects, regulatory hurdles and negative government policy signals, and many now see Canada as a “difficult place to invest.”
However, Rory Johnston, managing director and market economist at Toronto-based Price Street Inc., said laying the decline in the industry’s capital spending at the feet of the federal government is overly simplistic.
He added while current “rip-roaring, amazing” cash flows and a period of sustained high oil prices will certainly give some producers the appetite to invest this year, Johnston said, it will likely be on a project-by-project basis and certainly on a smaller scale than the major oilsands expansions of a decade ago.
“You have global macro trends across the entire industry that have begun to favour smaller, fast-cycle investment projects – and most oilsands projects are literally the polar opposite of that,” he said.
One reason capital spending isn’t likely to return to boom time levels is because companies have become much more cost-efficient after surviving a string of lean years. And that’s not a bad thing, Johnston said.
“The decade of capex boom out west was tremendously beneficial for Canada and Albertans, but it also caused tremendous cost inflation,” he said.
“While what we’re seeing right now is not as construction-heavy and not as employment-heavy – and those are two very, very large downsides – the upside is that you’re much more competitive in a much more competitive oil market,” Johnston said.
In a report released this week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) hiked its oil demand growth forecast for the coming year by 200,000 barrels a day, to 3.3 million barrels a day.
According to the IEA, global oil demand will exceed pre-pandemic levels this year due to growing Covid-19 immunization rates and the fact that the new Omicron variant hasn’t proved severe enough to force a return to strict lockdown measures.
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