S|W: The SaaS Weekly – How investment banks are helping Canva and Figma stay private

Plus: Ottawa’s Kinaxis to make staff cuts as profits rise.

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How Investment Banks Are Helping Canva, Stripe, Figma Stay Private

Canva is exactly the kind of company Goldman would look to take public one day—profitable and growing fast. But Solomon’s investment banking giant wasn’t waiting for an initial public offering to do business with the firm. Goldman Sachs’ asset management arm was the largest investor in Canva’s $1.5-billion secondary share sale, which was completed last month, investors briefed on the deal said.

By offering early investors a route to sell their stock, these deals are an important advance for private tech companies who don’t feel a need to quickly go public—or who don’t want to road-test a bumpy market.

At least one other significant deal is likely coming soon, also with Goldman’s involvement. Ten-year-old Figma, which makes design and prototyping software and that saw a deal to sell itself to Adobe for $20 billion fall apart last year, is trying to line up investors to buy hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of employee and early-investor shares at a price that would value the company at about $12 billion.

(The Information)

#CDNtech companies Nuvei, WonderFi, Thinkific saw revenue growth in Q1 2024

It’s that time of year—a number of publicly listed Canadian tech companies have announced their quarterly earnings for the first quarter of 2024.

Vancouver-based software company Thinkific Labs recorded double-digit growth and positive cash flow in Q1 2024. The company, which sells software to help entrepreneurs and businesses build and sell digital learning products, says it has been focused on sustainable, profitable growth in recent years.

NowVertical also reported its earnings for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023. Since the end of last year, the Toronto-based data company has undergone a few significant changes, including the board replacing Sasha Grujicic with Sandeep Mendiratta as CEO of the company.


Kinaxis to cut headcount by 6% as revenues, profits rise in Q1

Kinaxis’s shares rose Thursday as the company reported higher profits in its latest quarter and announced it was laying off six percent of its workforce in a restructuring aimed at funnelling more money into R&D, marketing and other areas.

(Ottawa Business Journal)

AppDirect acquires low-code B2B marketplace builder Builtfirst

Canadian-founded AppDirect is acquiring fellow San Francisco-based marketplace-building platform Builtfirst for an undisclosed amount.

AppDirect said that adding the Builtfirst platform to its product suite makes AppDirect a single-source destination for businesses looking to build marketplaces. Similar to AppDirect’s offering, Builtfirst is a self-service, low-code online B2B marketplace builder that allows companies to white-label and provide perks, integrations, and services from Builtfirst’s established partners or showcase their own.


DocuSign acquires AI-powered contract management firm Lexion

As DocuSign reportedly explores a sale to private equity, it’s acquiring a company itself.

On Monday, DocuSign announced that it’s buying Lexion, a contract workflow automation startup, for $165 million. The purchase comes as DocuSign makes increasing investments in the contract management space, most recently launching DocuSign IAM, a service aimed at connecting different components of the corporate agreement creation and negotiation process.


The End of Social Media: An Interview With Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey on his exit from Bluesky, how Twitter lost its way, new background on the Elon saga, and the death of social media as we know it.

(Pirate Wires)

Shopify CEO says Canada must overcome “go-for-bronze” culture at BetaKit Town Hall

The BetaKit Town Hall at the University of Toronto’s Myhal Centre on Tuesday brought together all corners of the tech ecosystem to discuss the state of innovation in Canada, and what should be done to support it.

Addressing the 500 attendees—which included ecosystem leaders, major VCs, and fledgling founders—during his fireside chat with BetaKit board chair Staish Kanwar, Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke leaned into the theme of “tough love,” saying the country suffers from a “go-for-bronze” culture that is often lacking in courage and ambition.

The event also platformed the vantage points of entrepreneurs in different stages of their careers to dig into what challenges and opportunities they currently face in the ecosystem and what they think needs to change. Watch the discussion between early-stage founder Joella Almeida (MedEssist), scaling founder Ivan Zhang (Cohere), repeat founder Ali Asaria (Tulip), and ecosystem newcomer Jocelyne Murphy (Socratica) here.

Their ideas ignited discussions in-person and online, offering a pulse check on the state of Canadian tech. Many expressed optimism as multiple generations of the ecosystem galvanized around the debated issues for the first time in a while, but others were eager for more action.


Hard Knocks: The lawyer behind some of Canada’s biggest (and quietest) deals

Not many people have behind-the-scenes access to Canada’s biggest tech exits and funding deals. Chad Bayne does.

As a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s emerging and high growth companies practice, he gets a front row seat to how these deals are really done. One of his top takeaways? That the loudest startup in the room isn’t always the one making the most progress.


TikTok lawsuit sets stage for prolonged legal fight over U.S. ban

China-based ByteDance Ltd. made clear it won’t comply with a new U.S. law requiring it to sell its popular TikTok video-sharing app, setting up what likely will be a prolonged court battle pitting free-speech rights against national-security interests that could end up at the Supreme Court.

The company on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the measure signed by President Joe Biden last month that will ban the app in the U.S. if ByteDance hasn’t divested from TikTok by Jan. 19 — an ultimatum meant to address national security concerns that the Chinese government could access user data or influence what’s seen on the platform.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Why every business leader in Canada needs a Tech MBA

A new world of business calls for a new kind of business degree.

That was the thinking behind the launch last fall of the MBA in Technology Leadership—better known as the Tech MBA—by York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“We live in a completely different world, one that’s driven and constantly disrupted by technology,” said Detlev Zwick, Dean of the Schulich School of Business, one of Canada’s top-rated business schools.


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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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