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OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said on Tuesday that it had raised $300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to cash in on a rush to fund cryptocurrency start-ups.

The new round of funding, led by the investment firms Paradigm and Coatue Management, brings the start-up’s valuation to a staggering $13.3 billion just four years after it was founded. OpenSea previously raised more than $100 million from a host of investors, including the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and the actor Ashton Kutcher, according to data provided by the company.

Founded in 2017, OpenSea was created as a marketplace for people to buy and sell so-called NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, which are unique pieces of digital code backed by blockchain technology.

NFT items can vary, but the most popular tokens are pieces of digital art created by artists who list their pieces for auction on the OpenSea site, similar to listing on eBay. Winning bids can sometimes reach hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency and blockchain technology connected to most kinds of NFTs.

As crypto-focused start-ups have grown more popular in recent months, OpenSea has become the central place for enthusiasts to trade NFTs. That has attracted the attention of investors who are keen to place increasingly large bets on the busy cryptocurrency space.

More than $3 billion in private investment went into NFT companies in 2021, according to data compiled by PitchBook, a firm that tracks private investments. Overall, investors poured more than $28 billion into cryptocurrency and NFT start-ups around the world last year, PitchBook said.

“In 2021, the world woke up to the potential of NFTs to unlock utility and economic empowerment across a vast set of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, one of the founders and the chief executive of OpenSea. “Our vision is to be the destination for these new open digital economies to thrive.”

Still, many cryptocurrency critics think the frenzy around NFTs and blockchain technology is a fad, plagued by questionable activity. Last week, there was a brief controversy surrounding OpenSea after one of its patrons claimed that $2.2 million worth of NFTs had been stolen from him. (OpenSea later froze the stolen assets and prohibited the items from being traded on its site.)

Those worries have not stopped technologists. Start-ups focused on cryptocurrencies and NFTs are recruiting droves of employees from big tech companies like Meta, Google and Amazon, luring them with the promise of working on new — and potentially lucrative — technologies. Last year, Brian Roberts, the former chief financial officer at Lyft, left the ride-hailing company to join OpenSea as its first chief financial officer. The company also recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, a former vice president of commerce for Meta, as its vice president of product.

The company said it plans to use the new funding to add to its more than 90 employees, while doubling the size of its trust and safety team. The company also plans to invest heavily in product development to make its blockchain technology more accessible to mainstream consumers, and will soon launch a grant program to support creators and blockchain builders in the NFT space.

News that OpenSea was seeking funding was earlier reported by the tech newsletter Newcomer.

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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