S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Newfoundland’s CoLab to go on hiring spree with Series B funding

Plus: Thinkific has too much cash. That’s a real problem.

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CoLab raises $28.6-million CAD Series B to grow its team and incorporate AI

Newfoundland’s CoLab Software has raised $28.6 million CAD ($21 million USD) in Series B funding as it looks to expand its team and incorporate artificial intelligence into its engineering design collaboration and communications platform.

While the company “didn’t need to raise the round,” according to co-founder and CEO Adam Keating, he added that CoLab decided to keep up with “aggressive market pull” over the last 12 months by expanding its engineering teams.

CoLab said it will add between 30 to 40 jobs to its St. John’s, N.L headquarters, including three executive hires in a vice-president of people, vice-president of customer success, and vice-president of sales, which has already been filled.


Thinkific looks to avoid ‘passive’ status in buyback that will eat 40 per cent of cash

Thinkific Labs is trying to get rid of a problem that has irked its U.S. investors: It has too much cash.

The Vancouver software company has so much cash and equivalents – US$87.3-million on March 31, or 90 per cent of its assets – that it is at risk of being branded as a passive foreign investment by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. That could be a headache for U.S. shareholders, who own 20 per cent of its 24.1 million subordinate voting shares.

Under U.S. tax law, foreign companies with 50 per cent of their assets held to produce passive income are deemed to be “passive foreign investment companies.” PFICs are subject to strict, complicated tax guidelines aimed at deterring U.S. individuals from sheltering offshore investments.

(The Globe and Mail)

Bench and Shopify alumni announce $11 million CAD to build “the Stripe for accounting” with Teal

Led by Bench co-founders Ian Crosby and Adam Saint, Vancouver-based Teal has announced approximately $11 million CAD ($8 million USD) in seed funding to provide bookkeeping infrastructure to vertical software-as-a-service businesses.

Teal provides out-of-the-box tools to help vertical SaaS companies launch their own accounting platforms in as little as four weeks, including fully functioning app code repositories and native integrations with external data sources.

The goal is to help those businesses offer their SMB end customers the ability to more easily draw insights into things like real-time cash flow, per-product profitability, and access tax filing and support from live bookkeepers.


DocuSign chief says company focused on growing as a public entity after reports of private equity interest

Contract management platform DocuSign is committed to growing as a public company and is working to convince investors of its artificial intelligence potential, CEO Allan Thygesen told CNBC, after reports suggested the firm had been the target of takeover interest from private equity suitors.

DocuSign, which offers a popular service that allows users to sign contracts digitally, was rumored to have been circled by suitors Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, according to reports from Reuters and Bloomberg earlier this year citing people familiar with the matter.

Thygesen added DocuSign wouldn’t rule out the prospect of an M&A transaction in the future, telling CNBC: “In the future if something comes up — of course, you can never close the door on any transaction.”


Blossom closes $2.1 million to grow its investing social network in the US

Vancouver-based FinTech startup Blossom Social has secured more than $2.1 million CAD in seed funding to fuel the growth of its investing social network south of the border.

While the startup’s original goal was to work with Canadian regulators to become the country’s first “social brokerage,” consisting of a social network app that also enabled Canadians to buy and sell stocks directly, Blossom abandoned this vision 10 months ago, eschewing the competition, complexity, costs, and geographic limitations associated with becoming a brokerage in favour of being a pure-play social platform.

“If you think of LinkedIn as the social network for everything jobs and career, we’re building the social network for everything money and finance,” CEO Maxwell Nicholson told BetaKit in an exclusive interview.


UK watchdog looking into Microsoft AI taking screenshots

The UK data watchdog says it is “making enquiries with Microsoft” over a new feature that can take screenshots of your laptop every few seconds.

Microsoft says Recall, which will store encrypted snapshots locally on your computer, is exclusive to its forthcoming Copilot+ PCs.

But the Information Commissioner’s Office says it is contacting Microsoft for more information on the safety of the product, which privacy campaigners have called a potential “privacy nightmare”.


Busbud acquires South African revenue management platform Ratality

Montréal-based ground travel booking platform Busbud has acquired Ratality, a South African software provider for ground travel operators, for an undisclosed amount.

Busbud said it is building upon an existing partnership between the companies by acquiring the revenue-management software maker, while also extending Busbud’s reach in Africa. Busbud will add Ratality’s demand forecasting, dynamic pricing, fleet and driver management, and other solutions to its B2B software suite through the acquisition.


Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding.

Founded out of London in 2017, Zen Educate replaces traditional third-party recruitment agencies that often use analog workflows and charge exorbitant fees. Zen Educate digitizes everything through a self-serve platform, removing pricey intermediaries from the equation in the process.


Pesa is banking on Canadians’ sense of duty

Tolu Osho knows first-hand the sense of responsibility that many newcomers to Canada feel when it comes to sending money back home.

“I started thinking about solving this problem on how to ensure that people can transfer or send money back home at a reasonable cost,” said Osho.

In 2021, Oshu worked with software engineers Yusuf Yakubu and Adewale Afolabi to launch Pesa, an app that aims to make sending and receiving funds across borders as hassle-free as transferring money locally.

“There’s a culture shock when it comes to the financial aspects of moving to a new country,” he said. “We want to be able to get people familiarized with this experience, even before you land or just when you land, so that it looks like you never missed a beat.”


Lumos helps companies manage their employees’ identities — and access

Andrej Safundzic, Alan Flores Lopez and Leo Mehr met in a class at Stanford focusing on ethics, public policy and technological change. Safundzic — speaking to TechCrunch — says that the class drove home the point that few people, particularly in the corporate sector, have control over their online identities.

With a total of over $65 million in the bank, Lumos is well-positioned to head off the many, many rivals in the access and identity management markets, Safundzic says.


Daniel Vranesic of TXIO is on a mission to improve personal finance

You would think that Daniel Vranesic, CEO of Toronto-based TXIO, would be difficult to surprise with numbers.

For years, TXIO has licensed its banking, payments and brokerage platform to a range of global clients. But when the company developed Neontra, an app for managing and planning personal finance, Vranesic decided to test the product’s “non-essential spending” category on himself.

“I knew I made too many non-essential purchases, especially sports-related gear for my kids,” he said. “But when our AI-generated insights told me how my non-essential spending compared to the average Canadian, I was shocked.”


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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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