S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Apple’s walled garden hit with $2 billion fine

Plus: Travel perks platform Plusgrade gets major NY investor.

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Apple hit with US$2 billion EU fine over app store rules

Apple Inc. was hit Monday with a €1.8 billion (US$2 billion) penalty from the European Union over an investigation into allegations it shut out music-streaming rivals, including Spotify Technology SA, on its platforms.

“For a decade, Apple abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps through the App Store,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said. “They did so by restricting developers from informing consumers about alternative, cheaper music services available outside of the Apple ecosystem.”

(BNN Bloomberg)


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General Atlantic becomes major investor in travel perks platform Plusgrade

Montréal-headquartered Plusgrade has reportedly changed hands as New York-based private equity firm General Atlantic made a significant investment in the ancillary travel revenue company.

General Atlantic said in a statement it intends to partner with Plusgrade to support the company’s continued growth, which includes a focus on new business segments, go-to-market efforts, and merger and acquisition opportunities.


Turnitin laid off staff earlier this year, after CEO forecast AI would allow it to cut headcount

Turnitin, a plagiarism detection company whose CEO Chris Caren last year warned that, in 18 months, his company would be able to reduce 20% of its headcount thanks to AI, is today confirming a small set of layoffs.

TechCrunch learned that Turnitin laid off around 15 people earlier this year, as part of broader organizational changes. While that’s nowhere near the 20% reduction Caren had forecast — Turnitin has more than 900 employees, per LinkedIn and PitchBook data — it’s a set of layoffs we’re particularly interested in, given Caren’s earlier comments.


Three Canadian startups earn spots in Google’s latest Women Founders accelerator cohort

Three Canadian, women-led tech startups have been tapped to join the 2024 cohort of Google’s Women Founders accelerator program.

Surrey, British Columbia-based SkyAcres is an agtech startup joining the cohort.

It offers indoor farming software and a marketplace for fruit and vegetable growers and commercial buyers. The platform is aimed to allow years of underutilized residential and commercial space to grow and sell produce.


Mews, the hotel SaaS startup, books $110M at a $1.2B valuation

Mews, one of the startups building tools to help hotels manage IT better, is announcing a growth round of $110 million to capture more business.

The funding — led by Kinnevik — is coming in at a $1.2 billion valuation post-money.

The company’s SaaS tools cover both tools for hoteliers themselves such as front-desk check-in, payments, reservations and housekeeping management, as well as for guests such as room and service booking.


Canadian businesses are optimistic about growth in 2024. Here’s why

Higher interest rates, rampant inflation, looming recession fears, and geopolitical turmoil are all contributing to a seemingly bleak outlook for the year ahead.

However, Zoho Canada has revealed a wave of optimism among Canadian SMBs. Zoho surveyed thousands of small business owners in Canada across a variety of industries over the last year, and nearly 75 percent expect to grow by one to 20 percent in the next year.


Ontraccr secures $1.2 million for construction management software

Vancouver-based Ontraccr Technologies has closed $1.2 million CAD in seed funding for its construction management software.

Ontraccr’s platform is meant to be an all-in-one, no-code solution for construction companies. It provides tools for project management, billing, time tracking, operations, analytics, and more.

The funding will be used to improve Ontraccr’s platform and expand into more industry segments and the United States (US).


Remofirst raises $25M to take on Deel and Rippling in the global HR tech space

In the world of HR tech startups, there are the Davids and the Goliaths. Deel and Rippling are the Goliaths, both having raised millions of dollars in venture capital. But Remofirst, which just secured $25 million in Series A funding, is proving to be a very worthy David.

Remofirst, an HR tech startup, touts that it hires its clients’ employees and contractors in more than 180 countries on their behalf without those companies having to set up local entities.


Passwords are showing their age. Here’s the tech set to replace them

Despite leaning on passwords, small businesses aren’t confident about their cybersecurity.

“With Canadians increasingly targets of fraud, cyber preparedness can’t be an afterthought. It needs to be a priority for both consumers and businesses,” Aviva Klein, Vice President of Digital Payments & Cybersecurity Solutions at Mastercard noted.

Klein recently shared with BetaKit two key technologies aiding in the fight against these challenges, and how Mastercard is using them to improve the cybersecurity posture of both consumers and businesses.


Meta says Facebook, Instagram issues resolved after outage hits hundreds of thousands of users

Meta Platforms said it resolved issues with Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday afternoon following a global outage that hit the sister social media platforms, affecting hundreds of thousands of users.

“We have recovered from an earlier outage impacting Facebook Login, and services have now been restored,” the update read. “We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”


Contractor management platform PayShepherd closes $7 million CAD as product, market expansion continues

Calgary-based billing software startup PayShepherd has secured $7 million CAD in its second seed financing aimed at expanding the company’s presence in its target markets across North America, namely in the forestry, mining, manufacturing, and energy sectors.

PayShepherd’s software helps heavy industrial and manufacturing facilities manage contractor billing and eliminate overspending by centralizing contractor billing submissions.


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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