R|T: The Retail Times – Shopify has payments power over Amazon and a new $260M cheque into Flexport

Plus: GoDaddy launches payment processing and terminal in Canada.

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Why Shopify has payments power over Amazon

For Amazon, providing customer checkout and delivery services to merchants that don’t sell on its site offers a tantalizing growth opportunity. But to take full advantage of it, Amazon has to figure out how to work with its archrival, Shopify. Now Amazon has agreed to let Shopify handle payments Amazon has traditionally arranged itself.

(The Information)

Struggling Logistics Firm Flexport Raises $260 Million from Shopify

Hours after The Information broke the news, Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen announced Friday on X that he raised $260 million from Shopify, one of its biggest shareholders. Shopify will get notes that are convertible into Flexport equity in exchange for the money.

The logistics startup, which was valued at a peak of $8 billion in early 2022, has seen a sharp drop in revenue after freight rates tumbled from pandemic-era peaks. It also comes on top of a $40 million cash infusion into Flexport from Shopify last June, which hasn’t been previously reported.

(The Information)

Plooto, GoDaddy bring new payment, commerce offerings to Canadian businesses

This week, Toronto-based Plooto, which helps small to medium-sized businesses automate their accounts payable and accounts receivable operations, has launched a new, security-focused “Plooto Pro” subscription tier.

While lower tiers of Plooto’s service offers integrations with Xero and Quickbooks, the new pro tier offers an additional integration with business management software Oracle NetSuite. 

GoDaddy, known for website domains, hosting, and design services, also launched its commerce platform in Canada this week. The company said its payment offerings come with lower rates than competitors Square, Stripe, and Shopify. 


#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.


Scoop: Uber shutting down alcohol delivery service Drizly

Uber has decided to shutter Drizly, an alcohol delivery service it bought three years ago for $1.1 billion, to focus on making Uber Eats an all-in-one app.

Drizly’s biggest issue might have been cybersecurity. In 2020, Drizly confirmed a hack that exposed information on around 2.5 million customers. What it didn’t say, however, was that the company had been aware of the security flaw for two years without fixing it, which led to an FTC order that restricted the types of customer information that Drizly could collect and retain.


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.

“We believe their customers are in the process of upgrading their systems and will look to AI to improve their operations and these companies are leading players in adjacent but distinct parts of the supply chain,” Shipman told BetaKit in an emailed statement.


Retailer Wayfair jumps on job cut plans, upbeat 2024 core profit forecast

Wayfair said on Friday it would lay off 1,650 employees, or about 13 percent of its workforce, and forecast annual core profit above estimates. The Canadian Press also reported that 50 Ontario workers were included in the layoffs.

Boston-based Wayfair announced rounds of layoffs in 2022 and 2023 as well. In last year’s cuts, it eliminated 1,750 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce.

Since 2021, the company has seen its net revenue drop for nearly two years as after the pandemic customers spent more on travel and entertainment. 


Leaked email: Stitch Fix is building out a transformation office under new CEO Matt Baer

Online styling service Stitch Fix is hoping that a new transformation team will help reinvigorate, as its new CEO Matt Baer looks to shake up the business.

In an email sent internally last week, after announcing that Stitch Fix was eliminating full-time positions for stylists, Baer said that Stitch Fix was in the process of building out a transformation office, whose mandate is “to identify and drive a clear set of key initiatives focused on both foundational and long-term growth opportunities.”

Stitch Fix’s recent string of revenue declines and losses has been worrisome to some Wall Street analysts who wonder how much value the company’s styling model still holds in today’s retail environment.

(Modern Retail)

AGF Private Capital acquires majority stake in Kensington Capital Partners for $45 million

Toronto-based firms AGF Private Capital and Kensington Capital Partners have signed a definitive agreement that will see AGF acquire a majority interest in Kensington for $45 million.

Kensington has controlled a large amount of capital flowing through the Canadian tech ecosystem. Following AGF’s investment, Kensington will now benefit from AGF’s $42.8 billion in assets under management, as well as its distribution reach and operating infrastructure, the firms said in a statement.


Gildan says former CEO Chamandy sent ‘no more than a handful of e-mails a day’ in new defence of dismissal

The drama surrounding the ousting of Gildan CEO Glenn Chamandy continues, as the company’s board responded to a call to reinstate Chamandy from a Gildan investor this week. Gildan said it uncovered new information suggesting Chamandy was even less engaged in his job than previously thought and had an undisclosed relationship with the investor now demanding he be rehired.

The board says the investigation shows that Chamandy failed to disclose that he had invested in funds managed by an unnamed Gildan shareholder now calling for his reinstatement as CEO.

A senior executive of that shareholder also bought a multimillion-dollar property at Apes Hill, the private golf course in Barbados owned by Chamandy, they said. 

(The Globe and Mail)

OCI is bringing back innovation conference DiscoveryX

After a four-year absence, the Ontario Centre of Innovation is bringing back its innovation conference this April.

The DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show, now in its 15th year, will be held from April 17 to 18 in Toronto’s Enercare Centre. The event will host entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, as well as government and tech industry stakeholders.

Early bird attendee and student passes are currently available until March 1.


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)

Bell, Best Buy team up to rebrand and revamp The Source stores

Consumer electronics retailer The Source is getting a new name – again.

Bell Canada and Best Buy have struck a partnership that will rebrand 165 out of approximately 300 The Source stores – once known as RadioShack – as Best Buy Express. 

The stores not rebranding will be closed in 2024, according to a Bell spokesperson. 

(The Globe and Mail)

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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