S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Is Salesforce reviving the M&A market?

Plus: What you need to know in #Budget2024.

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If Salesforce is a Buyer Again, the M&A Market Must Be (Almost) Back

A year ago, the board of Salesforce, one of the most acquisitive companies in tech, disbanded its mergers and acquisitions committee as it faced pressure from activist shareholders to reduce spending.

But in recent days there’s been signs that the deal market is beginning to turn. News last week that Salesforce was in talks to buy data management software firm Informatica, valued at $10 billion, was perhaps the best example that corporate buyers are hungry again.

Anton Levy, managing director at the growth equity giant General Atlantic, said at The Information’s Private Capital Conference last week that the change in economic sentiment meant that more tech executives would seek to make large deals.

Now, he said, CEOs “have a sense of resilience. That creates an environment where you’re going to see M&A pick up.”

(The Information)

Vidyard rolls out AI avatars after securing funding from EDC and existing backers

To fuel its product and artificial intelligence development efforts, last summer, Kitchener-Waterloo-based Vidyard secured about $21 million CAD in financing led by Export Development Canada.

Vidyard provides video messaging, hosting, prospecting, and engagement software to sales professionals and go-to-market teams. Now, Vidyard has announced its entry into the AI avatar market, introducing an AI Avatars feature to its Messages platform.


Maverix, Telus back US$30-million financing for property technology platform maker KODE

Maverix Private Equity and Telus Corp.’s venture capital arm have invested in KODE Labs, Inc., a rapidly growing property software startup whose online platform is used by more than 100 commercial landlords to manage the myriad systems inside their buildings and cut their carbon emissions.

Toronto-based Maverix led the US$30-million financing, announced Monday, into Detroit-based KODE. The startup was founded seven years ago by brothers Edi and Etrit Demaj, two refugees from Kosovo, and their long-time friend, Gentrit Gojani, the chief technology officer.

(The Globe and Mail)

What’s in #Budget2024 for Canadian tech?

The federal government published its 2024 budget this past week and the reaction from Canadian tech was immediate and loud.

Ottawa unveiled new measures on open banking, including an updated timeline on real-time payment rails and new funding allocations to FCAC and the Department of Finance, but FinTech leaders say “the devil is in the details.”

Following calls from Canadian business leaders, Budget 2024 also announced the government’s plan to establish a working group led by former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz aimed at encouraging Canada’s pension funds to make more investments in Canada.

But the biggest reaction came in response to proposed changes to the capital gains tax, which would lift the inclusion rate businesses pay on capital gains from 50 percent to 66.7 percent. Hundreds of Canadian tech leaders signed an open letter calling on Ottawa to claw back the changes, while others said they believe the reaction is a distraction and “hysteria.”

Still haven’t taken a look at #Budget2024?

BetaKit’s roundup has everything you need to know.

HR startup Rippling is in discussions to raise at a $13.4B valuation, up from $11.25B

Late-stage HR tech startup Rippling is raising new capital. The company’s new round, which has not yet closed, would inject $200 million into Rippling with another $670 million worth of shares being sold by existing stockholders, according to two people familiar with the deal.

This will be Rippling’s Series F and could raise its valuation to as high as $13.4 billion on a post-money basis, up from the $11.25 billion valuation it reached when it last raised capital in a $500 million Series E just a year ago. Rippling had raised $1.2 billion total previous to this round.


DMZ receives $500,000 grant to expand Basecamp program for student entrepreneurs

DMZ has received $500,000 CAD from the Embark Student Foundation’s Major Grant Program to expand its student-focused entrepreneurship programming.

The Toronto-based incubator specifically plans to expand Basecamp, its hybrid summer entrepreneurship program that helps students turn their ideas into tech solutions for social or economic challenges.


‘A suspension of disbelief’: Beeper, Pebble founder breaks down formula for entrepreneurial success

Eric Migicovsky believes successful entrepreneurship derives from a suspension of disbelief.

The Canadian-born founder of Beeper, an open-source chat app that consolidates multiple messaging services, has witnessed the benefits of this principle in the arena of Silicon Valley.

In a multi-million-dollar deal, the 37-year-old entrepreneur recently sold Beeper to Automattic Inc., an open-source software company most notable for WordPress.com.

Migicovsky noted that one of his favourite driving forces for entrepreneurs is “building something that you want yourself.”

“It’s much easier to build a product if you are the first user of that product,” he said.

(BNN Bloomberg)

As tech talent crunch persists, Indeed’s Iain Hamilton on how companies can fill seats faster

Recent data from Indeed found that as of the end of January, 27 percent of tech jobs in Canada remained open for 60 days or more.

To Indeed’s VP of software engineering Iain Hamilton, it’s an intriguing time in the tech industry.

Despite a less favourable economy, the thirst for tech talent hasn’t waned. In fact, Hamilton said the economic landscape has resulted in fewer individuals actively seeking new opportunities, leading to a tight talent pool, and challenges for businesses looking to fill roles.


Google fires 28 employees who protested its cloud contract with Israeli government

Google said on Thursday it has terminated 28 employees after some staff participated in protests against the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government.

The Alphabet unit said a small number of protesting employees entered and disrupted work at a few unspecified office locations.

The company separately announced on Wednesday that it would lay off an unspecified number of employees, following a slew of job cuts across Google and the tech and media industry this year.


What Alberta Innovates learned from sending 50 local startups to SXSW

Last month, Alberta Innovates sent a delegation of 50 local tech startups to the conference. This wasn’t the delegation’s inaugural trip; an initial foray in 2023 catalyzed millions of dollars in deals for the startups involved.

According to Tim Murphy, vice president of Alberta Innovates’ health division, the crown corporation had a clear objective going into this year’s conference.

Murphy, who joined the Alberta delegation this year, sat down with BetaKit to talk about Alberta Innovates’ strategy for the 2024 SXSW delegation, how the experience went, and the impact it’s hoped to create for the province’s tech sector.


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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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