Google has a glue problem

Plus: Xanadu wants another $200 million.

Nearly 75 percent of businesses have not yet considered adopting generative AI, according to a new report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, but the pressure to do so is mounting. For one, countries like China and the US are investing heavily in AI. To remain globally competitive, the Chamber claims Canadian firms will have to adopt the tech, and forecasts a tipping point: 50 percent of Canadian businesses will be using AI sometime between 2027 and 2030. The race to adopt AI is on.

With Big Tech, the race is to drive AI adoption: Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI have all rolled out major product updates this month. From the outside, Google seems to be feeling the most pressure to adapt, or as Satya Nadella might put it, “dance.” 

Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” With the launch of its new AI Overviews feature, that usefulness is called into question. The search giant wants to keep users in its walled garden, where “Google does the googling for you” but early results have not lived up to that promise. In response to a question about preventing cheese from sliding off pizza, AI Overviews generated an answer that recommended adding “about ⅛ of a cup of non-toxic glue” to your sauce. While Google struggles to remodel its core product, ads are already planned for AI Overviews.

Yes, the company can tweak the algorithms, but by deprecating a fundamental component of the internet—the link—Casey Newton notes “the web as we know it is entering a kind of managed decline.”

The Chamber’s report portrays AI as a “generational opportunity” to boost Canada’s productivity. I’m wondering if Canadian businesses will acquiesce to the pressure of remaining ‘globally competitive’ the way Big Tech has. Dear readers, what are you thinking and feeling? Do you have misgivings about the rapid adoption of AI? Or are you excited? Your comments (anonymous if you wish) could be included in a future newsletter. My inbox is open.

Thanks for reading on and ‘til next week, 

Bianca Bharti

Newsletter editor


Conexus Venture Capital launches its second $30-million fund to back Saskatchewan tech startups

Saskatchewan’s Conexus Venture Capital has launched its second $30-million CAD venture capital fund with a $15-million first close from its founder, Conexus Credit Union.

With Fund II and new leadership, the Regina-based VC firm aims to build on the groundwork laid by its first fund and Conexus-founded incubator Cultivator. Through its latest fund, CVC plans to invest in more early-stage Saskatchewan-based technology startups.

“We’ve proved out the thesis that world-class companies can be built anywhere, and we’ve got some amazing founders, talent, and scalable businesses right here in Saskatchewan,” CVC managing director Jordan McFarlen told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.

(Read more)

US court overturns $40-million USD patent infringement verdict against Shopify

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify has convinced a Delaware, US court to overturn a 2022 patent-infringement decision.

In August 2022, a US federal jury awarded California-based plaintiff Express Mobile $40 million USD in damages after finding that Shopify’s website-building tools infringed upon some of the American company’s patents.

At the time, Shopify told BetaKit that it planned to contest this verdict.

(Read more)

DIGITAL invests $10.5 million across four AI projects from healthtech startups

Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for digital technologies (DIGITAL) is investing $10.5 million across four projects from Canadian startups working on integrating artificial intelligence into healthcare.

The projects aim to use AI to speed up clinical trials, improve connecting patients to doctors, improve file management for home care workers, and improve wound treatment. Private sector partner investments alongside DIGITAL’s contribution bring the value of the projects up to approximately $26 million.

(Read more)

Pesa is banking on Canadians’ sense of duty

Tolu Osho knows first-hand the sense of responsibility that many newcomers to Canada feel when it comes to sending money back home.

In 2020, Osho needed to send money from Canada to Nigeria, to help pay for his sister’s school fees. He decided to transfer the funds through a cross-border payment provider, but quickly discovered he would have to send multiple transfers, each with a hefty fee. Traditional wire transfers took days to complete, while newer digital options lacked security verification features.

“I started thinking about solving this problem on how to ensure that people can transfer or send money back home at a reasonable cost,” said Osho.

(Read more)

Daniel Vranesic of TXIO is on a mission to improve personal finance

You would think that Daniel Vranesic, CEO of Toronto-based TXIO, would be difficult to surprise with numbers.

For years, TXIO has licensed its banking, payments and brokerage platform to a range of global clients. But when the company developed Neontra, an app for managing and planning personal finance, Vranesic decided to test the product’s “non-essential spending” category on himself.

“I knew I made too many non-essential purchases, especially sports-related gear for my kids,” he said. “But when our AI-generated insights told me how my non-essential spending compared to the average Canadian, I was shocked.”

(Read more)

Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs

VAN – Teal – $11M CAD
VAN – Blossom Social – $2.1M CAD
EDM – Amii – $3M CAD
REG – Conexus Venture Capital launches $30M fund
SAS – Co.Labs – $2.5M
TOR – Beacon – $5.25M CAD
TOR – acquired SeaMonster
MTL – Busbud acquired Ratality
QUE – Province launches $415M Aero Space innovation zone
STJ – CoLab Software – $28.6M CAD

The BetaKit Podcast

Xanadu’s Christian Weedbrook is raising another $200 million to build a quantum data centre

“We’ve been offered or at least suggested, ‘Why don’t you move your headquarters to the US?’ The only way we’ll move our headquarters outside of Toronto or Canada is if I get fired.”

Christian Weedbrook, CEO and founder of Xanadu, joins to discuss his optimism in building a quantum unicorn in Canada, his hope of raising an all-Canadian round, and how it will help him get one step closer to a quantum data centre.

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Feature image courtesy Kelvin T via Unsplash.

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti is the newsletter editor at BetaKit, where she spearheads coverage and analysis of tech news in related products. Before BetaKit, Bianca covered the nexus of markets, industries and policy in a variety of formats as a reporter for the Financial Post. There, she won silver in SABEW's 2021 Best in Business Journalism Awards in the personal finance category for one of her pieces. In her free time, she enjoys swapping her reporter hat for a baseball cap to hit up some hiking trails with her dog. She also weirdly loves debating monetary policy.

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