A|I: The AI Times – Zuckerberg flexes Meta’s power on the AI market

Plus: Cohere investor Thomvest Ventures closes $250M fund.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s new goal is creating artificial general intelligence

Fueling the generative AI craze is a belief that the tech industry is on a path to achieving superhuman, god-like intelligence.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is entering the race, he told The Verge in an exclusive interview.

While one of the scarcest resources in the AI field is the computing power needed to train and run large models, Zuckerberg is ready to flex. He told The Verge that, by the end of this year, Meta will own more than 340,000 of Nvidia’s H100 GPUs — the industry’s chip of choice for building generative AI.

OpenAI preaches the safety benefits of a closed approach to AI development, but Zuckerberg sees it as a business tactic.

“The biggest companies that started off with the biggest leads are also, in a lot of cases, the ones calling the most for saying you need to put in place all these guardrails on how everyone else builds AI,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m sure some of them are legitimately concerned about safety, but it’s a hell of a thing how much it lines up with the strategy.” 

(The Verge)


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Miovision acquires one of its customers, traffic data collection firm CJ Hensch

Kitchener-Waterloo-based Miovision has scooped up one of its customers, acquiring Texas traffic data collection company CJ Hensch & Associates.

The acquisition will see CJ Hensch operate as a standalone business unit of Miovision. CJ Hensch offers traffic data collection services to governmental agencies, engineering firms, and developers in Texas and Miovision said the deal allows it to gain a deeper understanding of the problem set and pain points faced by its customers.


Databricks Preps Employee Share Sale

Databricks, one of the most valuable of the private tech companies, told employees last week it is planning to allow early staffers to cash out some of their shares in the coming months by lining up investors to buy their stock, people familiar with the matter said.

Databricks is following in the footsteps of other private tech companies that have run large tender offerings in recent months to allow employees to sell shares, including design software firm Canva, payments giant Stripe, and Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX. 

In doing so, these companies put off the need to go public anytime soon. 

(The Information)

#CDNtech CEO shakeups continue

There has been a growing tidal wave of leadership changes at Canadian tech companies and organizations that began at the end of 2023.

Some CEO replacements were expected as part of a substitution process following the retirement of previous leaders, such as with MaRS Discovery District in December and MindBridge this week, while others opted to retire or were forced out.

Just this past week, ActiveState, AnalytixInsight, Acuity Insights, Volaris Group, and Flashfood have all experienced transitions at the CEO level.


Here’s how OpenAI plans to address election misinformation on ChatGPT and Dall-E

In a blog post shared this week, OpenAI outlined the ways it intends to protect the integrity of elections and handle election interference, including “misleading ‘deepfakes’, scaled influence operations, or chatbots impersonating candidates’ on its platforms.

The post said DALL-E has the ability to decline “requests that ask for image generation of real people, including candidates,” though the blog post doesn’t specify if or when DALL-E makes that decision. When it comes to ChatGPT, OpenAI doesn’t offer anything new, rather pointing to its existing usage policies. 


Thomvest Ventures closes $250M fund to invest across fintech, cybersecurity, AI

Thomvest Ventures announced it closed a new $250 million fund and promoted Umesh Padval and Nima Wedlake to the role of managing directors. Started 25 years ago by Peter Thomson, whose family is the majority owner of Thomson Reuters, Thomvest is a backer of Canadian AI startup Cohere.

Thomvest Ventures deploys its capital in the areas of financial and real estate technology, cybersecurity, cloud, and AI/data infrastructure.

The fund expects to invest in between 25 and 30 companies with check sizes ranging $5 million to $15 million for early-stage and $7 million to $25 million in the later stage.


Bot management software startup Wysdom acquired by US-based Calabrio

Toronto-based Wysdom, which provides software and services to improve artificial intelligence-powered virtual agents, has been acquired by Minneapolis, Minn.-based Calabrio.

Both companies operate in a similar space. Wysdom aims to help chatbot operators improve the performance of their virtual agents, while Calabrio provides a suite of solutions for customer support centres. 


Vistara Growth bets on two US-based supply chain software companies

Vancouver-based Vistara Growth is increasing its US portfolio with investments in two companies offering artificial intelligence (AI)-based supply chain solutions for the retail and consumer packaged goods sectors.

Vistara invested $20 million USD into Michigan-based Algo and participated in a $40-million USD growth financing round for Maryland-based Impact Analytics. According to Vistara partner Noah Shipman, Algo is the first of three deals it has already closed from its fifth private credit fund, for which it recently closed $200 million.


Investors raise billions to buy discounted stakes in start-ups

Investment firms are raising billions of dollars to buy stakes in venture capital-backed technology start-ups, as a long drought in acquisitions and initial public offerings forces early investors to offload their stock at discounts.

Secondary market specialist Lexington Partners last week announced a new $23-billion fund to buy up stakes from “large-scale investors”. Lexington had originally aimed to raise $15 billion, but upped its target on the back of high demand, and said it was “in the early stages of a generational secondary buying opportunity” that could last years.

“We are seeing crazy amounts of [limited partner investors] that are distressed and need to lighten their venture load,” said the head of a $2-billion venture capital firm.

(Financial Times)

Springdel closes $5 million as it looks to bring automation to mobile device management

Toronto-based mobile device management startup Springdel has secured $5 million in Series A financing to drive product development, specifically around artificial intelligence and declarative device management.

Springdel developed Springmatic, a platform that allows enterprises to control, secure, and enforce policies on various mobile devices to ensure they are used safely, efficiently, and in compliance with company policies. 


Feature image by Mariia Shalabaieva on Unsplash.

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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