A|I: The AI Times – Canadian AI chip manufacturer closes $100M from global backers

Tenstorrent and Samsung
Plus: Luge Capital's David Nault on making investment decisions through the AI hype cycle.

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Samsung, Hyundai, Kia back AI chip manufacturer Tenstorrent in $100-million USD round (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based Tenstorrent, which builds computers meant to train and run AI models, has closed a $100-million USD ($133.3 million CAD) funding round as it looks to advance product development in a time of accelerated AI adoption across a range of industries.

Tenstorrent raised $30 million from Hyundai and $20 million from Kia, with the remaining $50 million made up of contributions from the Samsung Catalyst Fund and others.

Big Tech Rebounds and Preps for Transformative A.I. Investments

A year ago, the tech industry’s prospects looked bleak.

Now the companies are hoping that artificial intelligence will be the answer to the problem and a way to refresh aging product lines that haven’t changed all that much in recent years. They have plans to invest billions in generative A.I. technology, which powers chatbots like ChatGPT.

Local Logic raises $17.5 million CAD to develop AI decision-making for location-based risks and opportunities in real estate (BETAKIT)

Montreal-based proptech startup Local Logic has raised $17.5 million CAD in Series B funding to continue its expansion in the United States while developing a series of new data products.

With more than 85 billion unique data points–the largest unique location dataset in the U.S. and Canada–the platform creates digital twins of cities. Local Logic claims it quantifies the built world and offers predictive, precise analytics to inform the present and future of over 250 million individual addresses.

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Israeli AI Startup Vesttoo Sparks a Global Insurance Scandal

Israeli startup Vesttoo, which promised to use artificial intelligence to spread the risk of insurance policies, is embroiled in scandal thanks to an old-fashioned problem: an alleged multibillion-dollar fraud involving faked letters of credit.

“This has shaken the confidence of investors,” said Marcos Alvarez, global head of insurance at credit-rating firm DBRS Morningstar. “You’re going to see increased scrutiny and tightening of controls on this section of the market,” he added.

National Bank acquires Silicon Valley Bank's Canadian commercial loan portfolio (BETAKIT)

The National Bank announced Aug. 1 an agreement to acquire the commercial loan portfolio of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) Canadian branch.

The portfolio is comprised of approximately $1 billion CAD in loan commitments, of which some $325 million CAD are outstanding. The assets will be integrated into National Bank’s Technology and Innovation Banking Group, under the leadership of Tuyen Vo, head of this group since 2019.

The AI rules that US policymakers are considering, explained (VOX)

AI is getting seriously good. And the US federal government is finally getting serious about AI.

Vox breaks down many of the regulatory ideas circulating AI, and their presumptive impacts, into one of four rough categories: Rules, institutions, money, people.

Luge Capital's David Nault on making investment decisions through the AI hype cycle (BETAKIT)

How can venture capitalists take an informed approach while investing in technologies that are in the middle of a hype cycle?

BetaKit sat down with Luge Capital’s co-founder and general partner David Nault at Startupfest this year, where he spoke about his personal investment thesis and how Luge Capital’s portfolio companies are incorporating AI into their strategies.

Meta prepares chatbots with personas to try to retain users (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Facebook owner Meta is preparing to launch a range of artificial intelligence-powered chatbots that exhibit different personalities as soon as next month, in an attempt to boost engagement with its social media platforms.

The company has explored launching one that emulates Abraham Lincoln and another that advises on travel options in the style of a surfer, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

Experienced developers share their career advice for young professionals (BETAKIT)

Growing as a developer is about more than finding new ways to ship code.

BetaKit spoke with two leaders–Ricardo Maldonado, a Development Lead at Calgary-based Suncor, and Betheena Elgincolin, Senior Technology Architect at TELUS–about their careers and what advice they would share with junior colleagues

Canadian venture status report: Q2 2023 (BETAKIT)

New data from briefed.in gives an optimistic outlook on the venture health of Canada's biggest tech ecosystems in Q2 2023.

Following a sluggish start to the year, Toronto and British Columbia's tech ecosystems saw a resurgence in venture funding in the quarter, mostly due to larger deals between fewer companies. 

Alberta tech is on pace to eclipse its 2022, with companies raising a lively $123.8M in Q2 2023. Québec follows suit, maintaining an upward trajectory in the quarter, growing 42 percent from Q1 2023 and 81 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, venture deal volume in the Waterloo Region reached a three-year low in the second quarter of 2023, but unreported deals could be shaping an unfair perception of the local tech sector.

SoftBank launches an OpenAI for Japan: SB Intuitions, building LLMs and generative AI in Japanese (TECHCRUNCH)

SoftBank has put in a bid for businesses and consumers in Japan with the launch of SB Intuitions, a new company that it says will “research and develop homegrown Large Language Models (LLM) specialized for the Japanese language.”

SoftBank will only use data housed in Japan-based data centers — but no detail so far on how it will source the data and under what agreements.

Canadian startup struggles continue as Silofit closes up shop, Top Hat and Fable cut staff (BETAKIT)

More Canadian technology startups have made the difficult decision to cut costs or close down amid a sector-wide downturn.

Just this week, Silofit officially closed its doors and Fable announced that it laid off employees. Top Hat has also reduced its headcount, BetaKit has learned. This trio is far from alone.

Convicted fraudster Martin Shkreli is touting a medical AI chatbot—much to experts’ concern (FAST COMPANY)

Martin Shkreli, the convicted fraudster best known for hiking the price of a lifesaving pharmaceutical, has been getting into the AI game—and he’s already making enemies on the internet.

Following his September 2022 prison release, Shkreli launched Dr. Gupta, a medical AI chatbot, in April 2023 and has been feuding with researchers this past week over the validity of his new AI product.

When reached for comment via email, Shkreli replied (asterisks added by Fast Company) “lick my b***s.”

Graphite Ventures closes $110-million Fund IV as firm builds its national presence (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based Graphite Ventures has reached $110 million CAD in the final close of its Fund IV as the firm continues to expand its reach beyond Ontario to startups Canada-wide.

While Graphite is industry agnostic, it concentrates investments in B2B SaaS, FinTech, digital health, and “capital-efficient hardware” with many companies using AI and machine learning.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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