R|T: The Retail Times – How Shopify goes after enterprise brands

Plus: eBay and Flexport plan more staff cuts.

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How Harley Finkelstein is trying to recruit more enterprise brands to Shopify

Leading the charge to get more enterprise brands on Shopify is Harley Finkelstein, the company’s president. Sometimes, that entails calling out brands on social media that aren’t on Shopify. Othertimes it means moderating panels at big industry conferences and promoting Shopify as a solution for bigger retailers.

At NRF’s Big Show in early January, Finkelstein moderated a panel with Béis founder Shay Mitchell and Glossier CEO Kyle Leahy. Even though the panel wasn’t exclusively about enterprise retail, the subtext was: Shopify is a place for brands to grow quickly, and get even bigger.

Finkelstein spoke with Modern Retail after his panel at NRF, to discuss how the Commerce Components roll out has been going, and what Shopify’s focus is for 2024. 

(Modern Retail)

Tiny to purchase WholesalePet from Emerge Commerce for $12.5 million CAD

Toronto-based Emerge Commerce has signed a definitive agreement that will see it sell B2B e-commerce marketplace WholesalePet.com to Victoria-based Tiny for $9.25 million USD ($12.5 million CAD) in cash.

The sale comes just over two years after Emerge Commerce purchased WholesalePet in a deal ultimately valued at $16 million USD ($21.5 million CAD), according to Emerge founder and CEO Ghassan Halazon.

Halazon told BetaKit in an email statement that, inclusive of the profit generated since acquiring WholesalePet, Emerge essentially broke even on the transaction on a cash basis.


EBay to eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or 9% of full-time workforce

EBay said Tuesday that it plans to lay off 9 percent of the company’s workforce, equal to about 1,000 full-time jobs, as the tech industry continues to downsize to start 2024.

Jamie Iannone, eBay’s CEO, told employees in a letter published on a corporate blog, that the company will also “scale back the number of contracts we have within our alternate workforce over the coming months.”

Iannone said the job cuts are necessary because eBay’s “overall headcount and expenses have outpaced the growth of our business.”


Fantuan acquires Chicago-based Chowbus’ delivery business to fuel US presence

Burnaby, British Columbia-based Fantuan has acquired the delivery business of Chicago-based Chowbus.

Like Fantuan, Chowbus offers an Asian food ordering and delivery platform. Following the deal, Chowbus plans to focus on developing and optimizing its restaurant business. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition comes on the heels of Fantuan’s $54.3-million CAD ($40-million USD) Series C funding round, which was co-led by GrubMarket and Celtic House Asia Partners.


Bilt Nabs $3.1 Billion Valuation, Ken Chenault Joins as Chairman

Bilt Rewards raised equity in a transaction that more than doubles the startup’s valuation to $3.1 billion as consumers continue to flock to its loyalty program, which converts rental payments to points that can be used for air miles and other rewards.

The New York-based startup plans to use some of the proceeds to expand its rewards network to include small restaurants, grocery stores, dry cleaners and other local merchants. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has also joined the company as an independent director.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Interest rates remain unchanged (for now). What does that mean for Canadian tech in 2024?

Though it maintained interest rates on January 24, the Bank of Canada signalled it is beginning to contemplate cuts.

Canada’s tech sector could be poised for a recovery if interest rates do drop, but the playbook is much different this year for founders and investors, cautioned several industry insiders speaking to BetaKit.

The fastest hiking cycle on record, the Bank of Canada’s rate increases over the last two years battered the white-hot tech sector as deal flows slowed and valuations dropped. With those rates unchanged (for now), here’s what Canadian tech should expect in 2024.


Nuvei to Equip Adobe Commerce Merchants with Fintech Tools

Montreal-based financial technology firm Nuvei announced this week a partnership with software giant Adobe.

The partnership between the Canadian fintech and Adobe aims to provide customers access to payments technology through integration with Adobe Commerce, a component of Adobe Experience Cloud that enables businesses to manage and scale commerce offerings.


Climate tech VC ArcTern Ventures closes $450-million CAD Fund III from large institutions

Toronto-based ArcTern Ventures has secured $450 million CAD ($335 million USD) in commitments in the final close of its third climate technology fund.

ArcTern’s third fund will focus on “early growth-stage” companies that are developing software, hardware, and marketplace solutions capable of reducing emissions in fields like renewable energy, clean mobility, the circular economy, sustainable food, and agriculture and industrial decarbonization.


Canadian Tire had a $3.4-billion growth strategy, but the slumping economy threw a wrench in the plan

In March, 2022, the company announced the launch of “Better Connected,” a $3.4-billion, four-year plan designed to increase sales across its banners, including Canadian Tire, Sport Chek and Mark’s.

Investments include thousands of new product launches under the stores’ owned brands, upgrades to physical stores and digital operations, construction of new warehouse space and expansion of the Triangle loyalty program, among other initiatives.

But now, nearly at the halfway mark of that plan, the company has pumped the brakes, signalling it will not meet the $3.4-billion target by the end of 2025, as it delays spending on low-priority investments and copes with severe economic headwinds.

(The Globe and Mail)

Vinod Khosla headlines CIX 2024 investment summit

Elevate, the nonprofit behind the Toronto tech festival of the same name, will host the first CIX investment summit this March after acquiring the brand.

Founded in 2008 as the Canadian Innovation Exchange, the annual conference aimed to showcase and award Canada’s most promising early-stage and scaling startups.

Elevate has also announced one of its keynote speakers for CIX 2024: Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and founder of Khosla Ventures, which has invested in over 1,000 startups, including Canadian tech companies Deep Genomics and Blockstream.


Delivery Startup Veho Cuts Staff Despite Revenue Jump

Many logistics startups were forced to make deep layoffs last year as their businesses slumped. Package-delivery startup Veho, in contrast, grew its revenue nearly 90% last year. Yet it’s also been cutting jobs.

Veho cut 19% of its corporate workers last week, a person close to the company said, layoffs that came just a few months after it outsourced many of its customer service roles to overseas contractors.

The layoffs, which affected at least 65 people, according to three people familiar with the cuts, are an effort to slash Veho’s losses. 

(The Information)

Jack Ma, Joe Tsai replace SoftBank as Alibaba’s largest shareholders by scooping up tech giant’s tumbling shares in Hong Kong, New York

Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, the co-founders of Alibaba Group Holding, have emerged as the two largest shareholders of the Chinese e-commerce giant by aggressively scooping up its tumbling shares in New York and Hong Kong.

Ma, who retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in 2019, bought about US$50 million of stock in the fourth quarter, raising his stake beyond the 4.3 per cent reported at the end of 2021, to become the largest single shareholder, according to sources familiar with the matter.

(South China Morning Post)

Feature image courtesy National Retail Federation on Facebook.

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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