Welcome to BetaKit’s startup stories of the week! Here, you will find the week’s most important news, features, and editorials published on BetaKit.
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Kensington Capital Partners made waves this week, announcing it sold a controlling 51-percent stake to AGF Management’s private markets business for $45 million. Alex Riehl covered the deal for BetaKit, noting that Kensington will benefit from the scale of AGF, which manages $42.8 billion in assets to the former’s $2.6 billion.
Isaac Souweine, a partner at Pender Ventures, told BetaKit the deal helps AGF, a primary player in the public markets, get access to Kensington’s VC connections while the latter can take advantage of AGF’s institutional relationships.
“It’s a way to fast-track it. It’s not that AGF isn’t in this line of business, but adding $2.6 billion of AUM is significant,” he said.
Multiple venture and growth equity investors BetaKit spoke with were less confident in AGF’s long-term interest in Kensington’s venture business, with one suggesting the purchase was a reflection of a “barbell” evolution in the market: featuring single-asset boutique firms and multi-asset class giants—those caught in the middle getting crushed.
AGF’s desire to not be so reliant on the public markets was something Maverix Private Equity founder John Ruffolo spoke to on the Tank Talks podcast. “Those that are in the public sphere, the fees going to them have continued to compress,” he said. “All you have to do is look at BlackRock, Blackstone, and Brookfield, see where they’re going, and it’s all in managing private companies, not the publics.”
As 2024 carries on, will we see more transactions like this? If you have any thoughts, don’t be shy about sending me an email.
‘Til next week,
One of the big tech questions for 2024 identified on last week’s episode of The BetaKit Podcast was whether Canadian tech would continue to see executive turnover. That question has been answered in the first two weeks of the year.
Just this week saw new leadership announced at MindBridge, ActiveState, AnalytixInsight, Acuity Insights, Volaris Group, and Flashfood.
These announcements add to a growing tidal wave of leadership changes that began at the end of 2023 with Ecobee, MaRS, and Tulip Retail.
While some of the departures were sudden, most have been cordial. Others, in the case of NowVertical, have devolved into a press release battle between old and new leadership.
Early-stage climate technology investor Blue Vision Capital has brought on another managing partner after former managing partner Siddartha Krishnan departed.
The Montreal-based firm tapped Vladimir Savic for the role and he brings 20 years of experience in food, AgTech, and the blue economy—areas where Blue Vision has been looking to shore up its expertise.
As the world contends with a litany of climate crises, the VC’s founder and managing partner Meir Rabkin told BetaKit it was both an “imperative” and a “strategic” addition.
“Uncovering the right deals in the space requires a domain expert,” he added, noting that Savic’s UK presence also opens up opportunities for Blue Vision in Europe, where the VC firm is hoping to expand.
Ontario tech hub ventureLAB has received a $4.5-million injection from the federal government to help more hardware and semiconductor-focused tech companies scale through its Hardware Catalyst Initiative.
By financing access to specialized tools and services, Ottawa intends to decrease the costs and time to market for Canadian-manufactured products.
The funding comes as the federal government hones its focus on the domestic microchip sector, a response to shortages caused by the pandemic, rising global trade tensions, and the disintegration of China-United States relations.
Some Canadian businesses are experiencing heightened anxiety after the federal government remained firm on its January 18 deadline of repaying Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to qualify for forgivable portions.
BetaKit covered how FinTech firms stepped in to help with CEBA refinancing options.
Since publication, Canadian Federation of Independent Business CEO Dan Kelly said in a statement, “I am very worried about what the next few months hold for Canadian small business owners as the reality of their increased debt level takes hold.”
He noted that Canadian businesses experienced deep losses due to government-mandated lockdowns during COVID and high inflation and interest rates battered companies further.
POWERED BY: FLOAT
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FUNDING, ACQUISITIONS, AND LAYOFFS
VAN – Vistara – $20M USD + $40M USD
SAS – 7shifts lays off 19%
KIT – Miovision acquired CJ Hensch & Associates
TOR – Springdale – $5M
TOR – PointClickCare acquired American HealthTech
TOR – Wysdom acquired by Calabrio
TOR – GrowerIQ acquired Ample Organics
MTL – Valsoft – $229 million CAD
The BetaKit Podcast
“How often are they going to increase prices before Canadians say ‘that’s enough?”
Did Rogers (now #1 in consumer complaints) finally cross a line with a price increase so shortly after its merger with Shaw? Will Canadians (and our elected representatives) finally be riled into action? MobileSyrup telecom reporter Nida Zafar joins to discuss.