Dax Dasilva on buying out investor Accel to deter Lightspeed acquisition


On the latest episode of BNN’s The Disruptors, Dax Dasilva, CEO of Lightspeed, discussed how the company grew to one of the fastest-growing startups in Montreal, its expansion plans, and the importance of its Canadian roots.

Lightspeed recently raised a $207 million Series D round led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Investissement Québec (IQ), iNovia Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank. At the time, the Globe and Mail reported that la Caisse bought a nine-figure stake in the company from Silicon Valley-based Accel Partners as a way to keep the company in Canadian hands until it can go public.

“We had a lot of interest and a lot of eyeballs on Lightspeed at the beginning of the year. Accel has been such a transformational early-stage investor in Lightspeed,” said Dasilva.

“Lightspeed may have needed to make a move to Silicon Valley to achieve scale, now we can stay headquartered here in Montreal.”

“They’ve helped us reach critical mass, but we’ve also brought in a lot of Canadian and Quebec-based investors…Accel invests for [a] certain period of time in a company’s growth, and I think with all this inbound interest, we were not on board with being acquired. There was so much more for the company to do, and to achieve a return for our early investors that have contributed so much, we wanted to provide a return and bring in long-term thinking investors.”

Asked if they were pressured to accept a bid from another company, Dasilva did not directly answer the question, instead calling it a collaborative win-win situation for all involved. “Everyone wants this company to continue being something very special, and we will always be part of the Accel family. There’s a lot of pride that we’ve been able to keep our word to early investors that sends a great signal to new investors.”

Dasilva said that the company plans to use the funding to develop its omnichannel strategy and continue its international expansion; he mentions that the company has gone from 25,000 to 50,000 customers, 40 percent of which are overseas.

“There’s a digital transformation happening in retail and hospitality that’s universal. These businesses have to transform, so the question is really: how does Lightspeed roll out our solutions region by region? We’re very strong in North America, but of our 600 people, 200 are in Europe,” said Dasilva. “We just opened an office in Australia, and a lot of our products are being marketed by our partners. We have a network of 200 partners that are also bringing the products to market in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.”

The company hopes to go public by the summer of 2019; until then, Dasilva and his team are working on several internal metrics. Dasilva acknowledges that things will change for Lightspeed after they take this big step, but he argues that the fact that all of its moves will be covered by analysts after going public should not prevent it from reaching its full potential as a public company.

For Dasilva, there’s a lot of Silicon Valley money coming into Canadian tech, but there are also great funding sources in Canada.

“The ecosystem has developed a lot in Canada; that’s something that we have seen in the last three years and it’s a great achievement. Several years ago, Lightspeed may have needed to make a move to Silicon Valley to achieve scale, now we can stay headquartered here in Montreal and build a global business,” he said.

Watch the full episode below:

Photo via Lightspeed

BetaKit is a production partner on The Disruptors. Tune in to BNN every Thursday night at 7 p.m. for full episodes!


Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.

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