A|I: The AI Times – Critics skewer Fed’s AI consultations, Cohere co-founder wants to keep it simple

Startup founded by ex-Google Search team nears $2 billion valuation.

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Durable raises $18 million CAD as it looks to help service-based businesses run on autopilot

One month after soft-launching its artificial intelligence-powered website builder in the fall of 2022, Durable had already created 26,000 websites.

Today, Durable revealed it has raised $18 million CAD ($14 million USD) in Series A financing, and is now looking to become a full-stack “business in a box” platform for service-based entrepreneurs.

The website builder allows users to input information about their business, and in less than 30 seconds, Durable generates a website complete with a banner, list of services, elevator pitch, and more.


Federal consultations on AI regulations heavily skewed toward businesses, industry groups, say critics

Critics of the federal government’s bill to regulate artificial intelligence and mitigate its potential harms say Ottawa’s consultations have been heavily skewed toward businesses and industry groups, even as AI applications could negatively affect wide swaths of society.

The federal government introduced AIDA as part of Bill C-27 in June, 2022. Some academics and critics have faulted the government for not conducting adequate consultations before introducing AIDA and contend the act lacks crucial details.


Vistara Growth secures $200-million CAD initial close for fifth private credit fund

Vancouver-based Vistara Growth has raised over $200 million CAD for its latest technology-focused private credit fund.

Vistara, which targets enterprise software companies with between $10 million and $100 million in annual recurring revenue, creates tailored investment structures comprised of debt, equity, or some combination of the two to help tech companies finance organic growth, mergers and acquisitions, or shareholder liquidity initiatives.


Startup Founded by Ex-Google Search Team Nears $2 Billion Valuation

Glean, a startup founded by former Google search engineers that uses OpenAI’s large language models to help workers search through their companies’ internal data, is in talks with investors to raise at least $200 million at a $2 billion pre-money valuation, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

Glean CEO Arvind Jain, a former Google engineer and co-founder of Rubrik, started the company nearly five years ago with the aiming of making the data within companies more easily accessible and searchable.


Six Canadian tech founders share their wins and learnings from 2023

It’s no secret that 2023 has been a tumultuous year for tech. But in some ways, for founders, it was a year like any other: navigating challenges and uncertainty to find opportunity and success.

We asked a group of Canadian tech founders to reflect back on an unpredictable year. They shared their views on adopting new technologies, celebrated their biggest wins, and shared what learnings they’ll bring into 2024.


Cruise slashes 24% of self-driving car workforce in sweeping layoffs

Cruise, the embattled GM self-driving car subsidiary, is laying off 900 employees, or about 24% of its workforce, TechCrunch learned. The layoffs are part of a plan to slash costs and attempt to revamp the company following an October 2 incident that left a pedestrian stuck under and then dragged by one of its robotaxis.


How John Raeder would use his $600 million growth fund to scale your startup

After successfully operating businesses through both the dot-com bust and the 2008 Financial Crisis, John Raeder has developed a “paranoia of operational frailty,” always planning for a doomsday scenario.

In a recent #CIBCInnovationBanking podcast episode, Raeder shared how he thinks about growing businesses—and what founders should be doing to set the stage for growth.


Don’t get lost in the ‘distant sci-fi’: Cohere prefers to focus on AI’s simpler side

“The mundane use cases are the ones that I’m like, ‘Hell yeah,'” said Cohere co-founder Nick Frosst. “That’s real value. We’ve solved the problem for somebody.”

These days, the buzz around AI has moved leaps and bounds ahead of the kinds of commonplace tasks Frosst is excited about. Though much of AI’s future is uncertain, Cohere is likely to be one of the companies at the centre of it — and Frosst doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.


How Xero overhauled its customer support function using gen AI

New Zealand-headquartered and Canada-connected Xero recently launched a gen AI solution for its Xero Central self-service helpdesk, built in partnership with Québec-based AI software platform Coveo.

Speaking with BetaKit, Nigel Piper, executive general manager at Xero, explained how the project came to be and what it took to build and implement a solution.


Microsoft’s Partnership With OpenAI Facing UK Scrutiny

Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI is facing the potential of a full-blown UK antitrust investigation three weeks after a mutiny at the ChatGPT creator laid bare deep ties between the two companies.

The CMA said it will look at whether the balance of power between the two firms has fundamentally shifted to give one side more control or influence over the other.


Notman House is in trouble. What’s next for the home of Montréal tech?

Notman House, the Montréal startup hub run within a 187-year-old heritage building, will likely be put up for sale as government creditors claim years of unpaid debt.

Many are now concerned about what Notman’s uncertain future means for Montréal tech.

A new initiative with a similar mission called Ax-C, which is set to open on the former trading floor of the Montréal Exchange by the end of next year, has garnered $48 million in government support. Meanwhile the OSMO Foundation, which owns and operates Notman House, owes $323,000 in unpaid mortgage fees to the Business Development Bank of Canada and Investissement Québec.


AI-based drug developer Insilico starts seriously staffing up in Montreal

Insilico Medicine’s Alex Zhavoronkov says he refuses to engage in geopolitics, but the AI-based drug company is staffing up in Montreal because of tectonic political and economic forces.

Insilico’s Eastern European data scientists mostly moved to the Persian Gulf in 2022, where they’re overseen by a Concordia PhD and see some of the results of their work tested in wet labs in China for a company with headquarters in Hong Kong and New York.


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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