S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Struggling BBTV to go private while BlackBerry spinout eyes June IPO

Plus: What Allen Lau learned from Wattpad's $754-million acquisition.

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Struggling, TSX-listed BBTV announces plan to become a private company (BETAKIT)

Vancouver media tech firm BBTV Holdings, which currently trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), announced on Oct. 17 that it has entered into an agreement to go private.

Since 2021, BBTV’s revenue has fallen, its losses have grown, the company has cut staff, brought on a new CFO, and contended with a messy public dispute with one of its higher-profile clients.

BlackBerry aiming for June IPO for Internet of Things business: CEO (TORONTO STAR)

As his fate is to decided by the BlackBerry board "soon," CEO John Chen says he's hoping for a June timing on the initial public offering the company has planned for its Internet of Things business.

The forthcoming IPO will carve BlackBerry into two business units, dividing its cybersecurity operations from its internet of things offerings.

“Cooler financing environment” leads StellarAlgo to restructure and make layoffs (BETAKIT)

Calgary-based StellarAlgo has laid off 21 employees as part of a restructuring designed to help the company serve customers more efficiently through its sports fan engagement platform.

StellarAlgo co-founder and CEO Vincent Ircandia shared the news in an Oct. 17 LinkedIn post, noting that the startup is also re-organizing into four new business units, but did not specify the focus of these units.

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From zero to Employment Hero: HR unicorn raises $167M to be Australia's 'biggest export since Atlassian' (TECHCRUNCH)

Employment Hero, an Australia-based recruitment, HR and payroll platform, today announced it has secured AUD$263 million ($167 million) in a Series F round of funding.

This makes the Sydney scaleup a fully signed-up member of the (U.S. dollar) unicorn club, with the nine-year-old company hitting a valuation of AUD$2.13 billion ($1.37 billion).

Workplace investigation platform Case IQ acquires hotline service Whistleblower Security (BETAKIT)

Ottawa-based workplace investigation software company Case IQ has acquired Vancouver-based Whistleblower Security (WBS), which offers a whistleblowing hotline and case reporting platform. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, Case IQ said by combining the two solutions—WBS’ is targeted to incident reporters while Case IQ’s is targeted to investigators—the company can better help organizations improve their internal investigations from end to end.

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn lays off nearly 700 employees — read the memo here (CNBC)

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn announced Monday that it cut almost 700 employees, with most coming from the engineering organization. Cuts also came in the company’s finance and human resources groups.

The reductions come as the business-oriented social network has seen year-over-year revenue growth slow for eight consecutive quarters.

Restaurant software startup Snappy secures $7-million Series A round (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based restaurant management software startup Snappy has raised $7 million CAD in Series A financing as the startup looks to beef up its North American presence.

Founded in 2016, Snappy offers restaurant management technology for customer touchpoints including point-of-sale, online orders, loyalty programs, reservations, waitlists, and custom-branded mobile apps and websites.

Sandvine Scraps Plan to Market Tool in US That Tracks Encrypted Messages (BNN BLOOMBERG)

Canadian-founded Sandvine has scrapped an effort to sell US law enforcement agencies a controversial internet surveillance technology that tracks encrypted messages and laid off most of the employees involved in the initiative.

Sandvine had pitched the new product, called “Digital Witness,” to governments and law enforcement agencies in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. It was marketed as a tool to covertly monitor people’s internet use and encrypted messages.

What Allen Lau learned from Wattpad's $754-million acquisition (BETAKIT)

Allen Lau, co-founder and former CEO of Wattpad, has had first-hand M&A experience leading his company to its $754-million CAD acquisition deal with Naver in 2021.

Now, Lau wants to share the lessons he learned with Canadian founders currently pursuing M&A in an ever-changing economy. Ahead of his TechExit appearance on October 25, Lau spoke to the current state of M&A, the value of mentorship, and what role VCs can play.

Singapore regulator raises concern on Grab plan to buy Trans-cab (REUTERS)

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on Monday raised competition concerns about a plan by Southeast Asian ride-hailing company Grab to acquire Singapore's third-largest taxi operator, Trans-cab.

The commission said in a statement that it was unable to conclude at the end of its first phase of review of the proposed acquisition that the deal did not give rise to any competition concerns.

Canada losing its appeal to Indian tech workers following diplomatic tensions, affordability challenges (BETAKIT)

Nearly half of the 32,000 tech workers who moved to Canada between April of 2022 and March of 2023—15,097 in total—originated from India.

Not only has the geopolitical situation made it harder for Canadian employers to attract tech workers from India, but it’s also made life more difficult for those already here. The sudden suspension of visa services means Canadian citizens who don’t currently have a valid visa are unable to travel between the two countries.

Patreon acquires livestream platform Moment (AXIOS)

Patreon, which connects creators with paying fans, has acquired Moment, a livestream platform for events and ticketed experiences, Patreon CEO Jack Conte tells Axios.

The deal is part of a broader push by Patreon to provide services that strengthen creators' connections with their communities, in addition to facilitating payments between them.

Ripple Ventures plants flag in Vancouver as firm envisions “coast-to-coast” Fund III (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based early-stage venture firm Ripple Ventures is setting up shop in Vancouver as it eyes the final close of its third venture fund later this year.

The move out west is a strategic one for Ripple Ventures. The firm is raising its third venture fund, which recently received a $7.5-million investment from the federal government’s renewed Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI). 

Ripple Ventures is looking to take a more coast-to-coast approach with Fund III, which presumably starts with building out a physical presence in Western Canada.

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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