S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Squarespace to go private in $6.9 billion deal after hefty IPO

Plus: Figma shareholders to sell at a discount in Adobe deal fallout.

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

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Permira is taking Squarespace private in a $6.9 billion deal

Website builder Squarespace is being taken private by U.K.-based private equity firm Permira in an all-cash deal that gives the company an enterprise valuation of $6.9 billion.

Founded in 2004 by CEO Anthony Casalena, Squarespace is best known for its no-code platform designed to help SMEs and freelancers build websites, blogs and online stores.

In a huge vote of confidence in Casalena, who steered the company from blog-hosting service while at university to a billion-dollar business, Permira is keeping him on as CEO and board chairman. He will also continue to be “one of the largest” Squarespace shareholders post-acquisition.


Diversio acquires CCDI Consulting to expand its workplace-inclusion services

Toronto-based Diversio, which aims to help companies eliminate barriers to diversity and inclusion, has acquired CCDI Consulting from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion for an undisclosed amount.

“CCDIC has a comprehensive set of trainings and service offerings for almost all of the pain points we’ve identified in our customer’s cultures,” McGee told BetaKit in an email statement. “We can now both recommend and execute specific interventions for almost any problem our clients encounter, from things like unconscious bias and harassment to areas like mentorship, feedback and development.”


Figma Shareholders to Sell Up to $900 Million of Stock at Deep Discount to Adobe Price

Figma employees and early shareholders collectively will be able to sell as much as $900 million of their shares after lining up commitments from nearly two dozen new and existing backers that valued the design collaboration startup at $12.5 billion.The price represents a nearly 38% decline from Adobe’s proposed plan to buy the company for $20 billion, but should soften the blow for staff who had hoped to cash out their shares before the deal collapsed six months ago.

(The Information)

Baseline closes $2.2 million CAD to help private lenders manage their businesses

Toronto-based FinTech startup Baseline began as a real estate private lending company with unmet needs. Over time, it replaced nearly all of its technology stack with proprietary software purpose-built to manage its operations more efficiently.

Whenever Baseline founder and CEO Shaye Wali would share this tech with peers in private lending, others asked if they could use it.

Now, the startup has secured approximately $2.2 million CAD ($1.6 million USD) in funding led by Toronto’s N49P Ventures to fuel the growth of its platform and capture more of the growing private lending market.


Ex-Kik CEO Ted Livingston is still trying to crack the code

Ted Livingston has moved to the country, where life is different. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

He has gone from running Kik—one of Canada’s highest-profile tech companies in the mid-2010s, it made a messaging app that boasted hundreds of millions of users until it lost a showdown with U.S. regulators—to running Code, an under-the-radar crypto startup with a fraction of Kik’s staff, and a fraction of Kik’s one-time US$1-billion valuation.

(The Logic)

Bōde secures new funding to streamline home sales with AI

Calgary-based Bōde has secured $4 million CAD in fresh funding to make the home sale process simpler (and cheaper) for most Canadians.

The company offers a platform for buying and selling property with claims of reduced friction and costs for all involved. Sellers can get their properties listed in a few clicks and can complete the sale through its platform with automatically populated provincial standard contracts and the help of its AI agent, Bōdie.


Sigma is building a suite of collaborative data analytics tools

Sigma’s product suite consists of tools that let users analyze data “in-place” in databases containing up to billions of records. Customers can tap the platform to build dashboards, reports, workflows and apps without data leaving its source.

Sigma’s revenue has grown 100% year-over-year for four straight years on the back of a ~1,000-company customer base. Those figures have investors pleased. On Thursday, Sigma closed a $200 million Series D funding round co-led by Avenir Growth Capital and Spark Capital that values the company at $1.5 billion, up 60% from its valuation in 2021 (when it raised $300 million).


Vantage Points: Hear from four founders on the state of Canadian tech

What happens when you bring old and new generations of tech into the same room?

BetaKit has compiled a series of Q&As from an early-stage founder, a scaling founder, a seasoned repeat founder, and a newcomer to the ecosystem who spoke at last week’s BetaKit Town Hall.

MedEssist’s Joella Almeida spoke on why being the ‘Shopify for Pharmacies’ is not enough.

Cohere co-founder Ivan Zhang expressed why Canadian tech is great at creating winners, but terrible at keeping them here.

Serial entrepreneur Ali Asaria warned tech about getting lost in its own “bubble” and how the ecosystem can beat the US.

Learn from 22-year-old Jocelyne Murphy, who spoke to the lack of meaningful mentorship for young entrepreneurs, frustrating hiring practices, and how the cost of living gets in the way of innovation.


Exclusive: Vercel completes $250 mln Series E round at $3.25 bln valuation

Vercel, a software startup that provides a platform for building cloud-based web applications, on Thursday said it has raised $250 million in a Series E funding round that values the company at $3.25 billion.

Vercel said it recently exceeded $100 million in annual revenue and that every month more than 1 million software developers use its Next.js technology, an open-source framework for building web applications.


Q1 Canadian VC funding posts mixed results as PE market rebounds, CVCA reports

The first quarter of 2024 saw mixed results in terms of venture capital funding and a significant pickup in private equity activity, according to a new report.

Nearly $1.3 billion CAD in total VC financing was deployed into Canadian technology startups across 128 deals during Q1, per data collected by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Both declined relative to Q4 2023.

In terms of total dollars invested, this represented an eight percent increase relative to the first quarter of 2023, fuelled by financings from artificial intelligence startups like Ideogram, Spellbook, and Borderless AI, healthtech companies including PocketHealth and Flosonics Medical, FinTech firm Helcim, and last-mile delivery provider UniUni.


Ottawa loses taxi class-action lawsuit over lack of enforcement against Uber

An Ontario Superior Court judge sided with taxi drivers in their class-action lawsuit against the City of Ottawa, finding that the municipality failed to prepare for the arrival of Uber or to stand up to the company as it operated illegally a decade ago.

Justice Marc Smith was scathing in his assessment of Uber’s tactics, which he described as scofflaw and predatory. But he blamed the city for not preventing the company’s intrusion.

“Uber bullied its way into the Ottawa market, and for two years, ignored regulations and operated freely and illegally, without any serious restrictions,” he wrote in a decision released Monday.

(The Globe and Mail)

The best place to aim AI? The mirror

Zoho Canada recently hosted a webinar on the topic of generative AI in business intelligence and how the tool can be deployed to make organizations more data-driven.

The discussion offered four key insights for startups thinking about applying generative AI within their operations, and featured Matt Aslett, director of research, data, and analytics at Information Services Group’s Ventana Research, and Zoho Canada’s Chandrashekar Lalapet Srinivas Prasanna.


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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