S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Allen Lau’s curtain call

Plus: Certn raises $65.1 million CAD to scale background check tech beyond Canada.

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Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau to step down as CEO, become executive advisor (BETAKIT)

Just over a year after Wattpad was officially acquired by Naver, the company has announced that co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is transitioning to a new role, in a move Lau described as “the final curtain call.” Lau will become executive advisor for both Wattpad and Webtoon, while Wattpad President Jeanne Lam will take over leadership of Wattpad’s operations.


Rippling valued at over $11 bln after latest funding round (REUTERS)

The San Francisco-based company offers services to businesses to manage their human resource and information technology operations – such as employees’ onboarding and payroll management. It was co-founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Parker Conrad, who was formerly the chief executive at HR software firm Zenefits, a role he left in the same year Rippling was founded.


Georgian backs Vention again in $123.7 million CAD in Series C round (BETAKIT)

This round would represent Toronto-based venture capital firm Georgian Partners’ second time as lead investor in Vention’s capital raises, also leading Vention’s $38 million Series B round in June 2020. Fidelity Investment Canada ULC participated in the financing as a new investor, alongside existing investors White Star Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, and Bolt Ventures.


Grindr Dating App to Go Public Through Tiga SPAC at $2.1 Billion Valuation (BNN BLOOMBERG)

The predominantly male dating app is merging with Tiga Acquistion Corp., which debuted in November 2020. The special purpose acquisition company isn’t offering any private investment in public equity, or PIPE, deals. The business combination will provide Grindr with an estimated $384 million, which the company will use to pay down debt and strengthen its balance sheet.


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Certn raises $65.1 million CAD to scale background check tech beyond Canada (BETAKIT)

With a client base of staffing firms, property management companies, and the gig economy, Certn’s platform uses artificial intelligence to predict applicant behaviours and has the ability to return domestic and international criminal background checks, credit reports, reference checks, education verification, employment verification, motor vehicle records, and identity verification within minutes.


Colombian proptech Habi reaches unicorn status with $200M raise co-led by SoftBank and Homebrew (TECHCRUNCH)

The startup did not reveal its exact valuation, saying only it had reached unicorn status — meaning that it is now valued at more than $1 billion. The raise follows a year of strong growth, according to the company, which saw its revenue increase by “well over 20x” in 2021. With this latest raise, Habi says it has become the second unicorn in Colombia and the only LatAm unicorn with a female founder and CEO, according to Crunchbase.


White Star Capital, Coveo alum-led Lighthouse Labs closes $9.1 million CAD to build a search platform for the metaverse (BETAKIT)

Lighthouse has narrowed its focus: building a metaverse search engine that will enable users to search for places, events, friends, creators, assets, and experiences across and inside blockchain-based virtual worlds, most of which have been built on Ethereum. Through its platform, the company intends to help users locate trending activities, build communities, check where their NFTs are usable, and follow specific brands and creators.


Tengiva closes $5 million to tackle supply chain issues in the textile industry (BETAKIT)

In an interview with BetaKit, Tengiva co-founder and CEO Annie Cyr described the textile industry as “one of the oldest and biggest in the world.” But according to Cyr, the sector’s focus has always been on machinery and the technical processes used to make textiles. As a result, Cyr says the textile industry has neglected to address its “complex and outdated,” months-long, mostly offline approach to sourcing and distribution.


Thinkific sees revenue rise, net loss jump in Q1 2022, following recent layoffs (VENTUREBEAT)

Today, cloud-native email security platform Abnormal Security it has raised $210 million as part of a series C funding round, bringing the company’s valuation to $4 billion. Abnormal Security’s customer base has grown by 270% and includes companies such as Xerox, Hitachi Vantara, Urban Outfitters, Groupon, Royal Caribbean International and Auto Club Group-AAA.


Volley founder aims to leverage Andela experience to build similar model for sales talent (BETAKIT)

New York-based Andela, which Carnevale co-founded in 2014, connects tech talent in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa to job opportunities around the world. The SoftBank-backed startup, which has reportedly raised $381 million USD to date, has seen success helping tech companies build remote engineering teams by tapping into workers located in emerging markets.


This Startup Reached A $1.1 Billion Valuation By Taking The Sting Out Of Email Hacks (FORBES)

A growing wave of tech layoffs have given rise to remorseful CEOs’ lamentations that they hired too quickly during the pandemic. At startup Material Security, Ryan Noon says he faces no such problems; if anything, he says, he’s hired “probably a little slower” than he needed to. “I think the last couple years of Silicon Valley will be remembered as an especially wasteful age,” says Noon, who is cofounder and CEO. “You don’t need a lot of people to do a lot if you have the right people.”


Alida set to expand into Alberta with new Edmonton office, plans to hire over 100 (BETAKIT)

Alida said that it conducted an international search before finding a new home in Edmonton. The tech startup noted that the city has experienced significant growth in its tech sector within the past five years. “Edmonton is a fantastic city with a fast-growing population and an equally booming tech industry — perfect for establishing and growing longterm roots,” said Ross Wainwright, CEO at Alida.


Airbnb is reinventing itself — Brian Chesky tells us why (TECHCRUNCH)

Airbnb just redesigned its website to change the way users search for listings on the platform. Category search allows users to explore travel without having a specific destination in mind. Rather, they can look for A-frames or countryside homes or places near great golfing experiences.


Fobi AI inks deal to acquire Basket and bolster coupon aggregator offering (BETAKIT)

Vancouver-based startup Fobi AI is set to acquire grocery couponing app Basket. Meanwhile, Toronto-based parking spot marketplace WhereiPark has been acquired by Australia’s Spacer Technologies. Elsewhere in Canadian tech acquisition news, Toronto EdTech startup Habitat Learn has acquired Temmer to offer computerized note-taking for students.


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Michael Edgar

Michael Edgar

Michael is a multimedia journalist and Carleton Journalism alumni working out of Ottawa and Montreal. Follow him on twitter @mwedgar.

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