S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Following reports of grooming, WattPad turns off DMs

Plus: An active week of SaaS acquisitions.

The SaaS Weekly is a weekly newsletter covering major SaaS news from Canada and around the globe.

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Wattpad has a community problem, so it’s killing DMs

Community publishing platform Wattpad is removing the ability for users to send each other direct messages, claiming that the feature has “only been relevant to a small percentage” of its global user base.

Claiming that DMs don’t align with “the community aspect” of Wattpad also indicates the company likely had more serious motivations to shut down the feature beyond it having an insufficient number of users. A Forbes report in 2022 described the platform as a “sandbox for sexual predators,” finding that minors were frequently being groomed via Wattpad’s messaging feature. Scams, bullying, and other harassment are also known issues facilitated by DMs.

(The Verge)

Across-the-pond acquisitions: Descartes acquires ASD, HR Path acquires GroupeX

Two Canadian software companies were involved in two different transatlantic acquisitions this week.

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.-based Descartes Systems Group has acquired Dublin, Ireland’s Aerospace Software Developments, while Toronto-based HR management tool provider GroupeX Solutions has been acquired by Paris, France-based HR Path.

The deals marked a continuation of Descartes’s acquisition spree while GroupeX joined HR Path’s growing Canadian portfolio.


Activist investor targets Dye & Durham’s ‘underperformance and strategic missteps’ in letter to shareholders

Hedge fund Engine Capital LP has stepped up its activist shareholder campaign against Dye & Durham, laying out its case for the first time publicly Thursday after saying its behind-the-scenes efforts to “work constructively with the board fizzled out.”

Engine, which owns 6.6 percent of the Toronto company’s stock, released a letter to other shareholders Thursday signed by managing partner Arnaud Ajdler in which he said he was “compelled to publicly raise our concerns about Dye & Durham’s underperformance and strategic missteps.”

(The Globe and Mail)

Versaterm continues acquisition spree with purchase of Integrated Computer Systems

Ottawa-based public safety tech firm Versaterm is acquiring Integrated Computer Systems (ICS), a software firm based in McKinney, Tex.

This deal is the latest in a spree of acquisitions Versaterm has made in the last four years. According to a report from the Ottawa Business Journal, the ICS acquisition marks Versaterm’s tenth such deal since 2020. The purchase price and terms of the acquisition was not disclosed.


Informatica says it’s not for sale, following Salesforce’s reported interest in $10 billion deal

Enterprise data management company Informatica is not currently in talks to be acquired, the company said Monday, after earlier reports suggested that Salesforce was interested in a roughly $10 billion deal.

Informatica shares slumped more than 7% on the news, while Salesforce shares rose around 1%. The acquisition would have been Salesforce’s largest since the 2021 deal to purchase Slack.

The negotiations broke down after the two sides could not agree on terms, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.


Zafin founder and CEO joins latest slew of #CDNtech executive turnover

Joining a growing list of executive turnover in Canadian tech is Ottawa-based software monitoring provider Martello, which took the interim label from CEO Jim Clark’s job title at the end of March. Around the same time, Vancouver-based R&D tax credit software company Boast replaced outgoing CEO Alok Tyagi with Imad Jebara, while Toronto-based marketing strategy platform Illumin tapped Simon Cairns to take over the CEO role from co-founder Tal Hayek on April 15.


BetaKit launches new program for Innovation Leaders

We are pleased to announce BetaKit Innovation Leaders, a new program designed to provide Canada’s top innovation organizations with exclusive programming and insights.

BetaKit Innovation Leaders will benefit from exclusive programming streams, tailored insights, and increased visibility of their work across the ecosystem through our partner offerings. Most importantly, their investment will help expand our coverage of Canadian tech and innovation, benefitting our readers and the sector at large.


Campus, a community college startup, receives $23M Series A extension led by Founders Fund

Although many students in the United States enter community colleges intending to transfer to four-year universities, only 16% of those students receive bachelor’s degrees within six years. But Campus, an online alternative to traditional community colleges, has an approach that aims to change that.

Many adjunct professors at the nation’s top universities, including UCLA, Princeton and NYU, earn such low salaries that a quarter of them qualify for some form of government assistance. At the same time, the cost of education has been skyrocketing.

“I got obsessed with the idea of giving everybody access to these amazing professors” at a price that most students can afford, said Campus founder Tade Oyerinde.

Investors seem to be obsessed, too: The company announced Tuesday that it raised a $23 million Series A extension round, led by Founders Fund, with 8VC participating.


Changemakers: Did the SEC just help Manifest Climate scale?

Greenhouse gas levels are at an all-time high, more than a million species face extinction, and we currently use more of the earth’s resources than we can renew.

If that’s not enough to keep you up at night, the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US just made climate reporting mandatory for public companies, following repeated commitments from Ottawa to introduce mandatory climate-related reporting requirements for Canadian companies as well.

To regulators, these changes present an opportunity to advance global climate goals and mitigate investor risk.


Exclusive: ByteDance prefers TikTok shutdown in US if legal options fail, sources say

TikTok owner ByteDance would prefer to shut down its loss-making app rather than sell it if the Chinese company exhausts all legal options to fight legislation to ban the platform from app stores in the U.S., four sources said.

The algorithms TikTok relies on for its operations are deemed core to ByteDance’s overall operations, which would make a sale of the app with algorithms highly unlikely, said the sources close to the parent.


Boom and goConfirm launch new products from experienced #CDNtech leaders

Two new offerings have come out of companies led by former leaders within Canadian tech giants.

Founded by Shopify alumni Robleh Jama, CEO, and Krishna Satya, CTO, Boom is looking to inject energy into remote work meetings with camera personalization tools.

Meanwhile, goConfirm, a Toronto-based identity-verification platform founded by former Wave CEO Kirk Simpson and early Wave investor Peter Carrescia, has released a new tool that can vet suspicious emails and texts.


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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