Why Pinterest is after Canada’s AI talent

Plus: What’s going on at CleanBC?

Pinterest CTO Jeremy King told BetaKit recently that the company’s Toronto office is going on a hiring spree, looking to fill 40 engineering positions by the end of this year. The social media platform is well known as the place hobbyists and fashion enthusiasts seek inspiration for their next project or outfit, but King said half of Pinterest’s users see the platform as a place to shop. 

“Our vision is to make everything people see on Pinterest shoppable,” King said. To make that a reality, the company wants to scoop up the high calibre of artificial intelligence and machine learning talent that Canadian universities pump out. 

As ad spending declined in the last two years because of macroeconomic headwinds, social media companies are using AI as a way to bolster their offerings to retailers and advertisers. Even social media manager Hootsuite is hoping AI can transform into an intelligence company for its clients.  

Much of the conversation around AI centres on the technology’s ability to stay innovative. Are we going to see more businesses use it to pivot into new markets or verticals? Drop me a line on how you think this will shake out.

Thanks for reading on and ‘til next week, 
Bianca Bharti
Newsletter Editor


CleanBC program investigation prompts fear of provincial startup fallout from cleantech and grant experts

Allegations of conflict of interest at British Columbia cleantech grant programs for electric vehicles have sparked a provincial investigation into MNP’s administration approach.

Multiple grant and cleantech experts BetaKit spoke with believe that a review is warranted but expressed worry that the outcome for BC tech firms will be similar to the fallout from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada scandal, albeit on a much smaller scale.

(Read more)

WordPress owner acquires Eric Migicovsky’s messaging app Beeper following spar with Apple

Beeper, the Canadian-founded universal messaging application whose recent dispute with Apple has become fuel for a United States antitrust lawsuit, has been acquired by fellow San Francisco Bay Area technology company Automattic, the firm behind WordPress, Tumblr, and WooCommerce.

Founded in 2020 by a pair of University of Waterloo graduates, CEO Eric Migicovsky and CTO Brad Murray, Beeper aims to simplify messaging through its app for Android, iOS, and desktop, which brings 14 different chat networks, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Android SMS, into a single inbox.

(Read more)

Gerri Sinclair steps down as BC’s innovation commissioner

Gerri Sinclair’s departure from the role was effective April 1, according to an email announcing the departure obtained by BetaKit. The email, sent by BC assistant deputy minister of the Sustainable Economy Division Tim Lesiuk on March 28, noted that Sinclair left to take the position of vice president of innovation and chief information officer at Vancouver International Airport

“Gerri has been a champion of BC tech and innovation for many years and has been instrumental in promoting innovation across all sectors in our province,” Lesiuk’s email reads.

(Read more)

Major Canadian retailers choose Rivercity Innovations to keep things fresh with cold chain monitoring solution

Saskatoon-based Internet of Things technology startup Rivercity Innovations believes it has found the key to cost-effectively monitor temperature-sensitive products at scale, and a handful of major Canadian retailers seem to agree.

The “cold chain” monitoring solution—designed to manage goods at specific temperatures—isn’t just aimed at reducing food spoilage. Its primary goal is to mitigate waste by preventing the disposal of large quantities of food or medication for grocers, restaurants, and pharmaceutical businesses following events like power outages or mechanical failures.

“Somebody left the door open, it didn’t seal tight, and now you’re going to throw away $10,000 to $20,000 of meat, or $100,000 worth of vaccines or medicines,” Jeff Shirley, founder and CEO of Rivercity Innovations, told BetaKit in a recent interview.

(Read more)

IPON invests $4.6 million to build IP capacity at post-secondary institutions

Ontario’s intellectual property agency is investing $4.6 million into post-secondary institutions to help them better commercialize ideas and products. Each awarded university is putting the new funding towards different activities.

“This funding will help institutions across the province more effectively translate research into commercializable innovations, while ensuring the IP at their foundation is appropriately developed and protected,” Dan Herman, CEO of IPON, said in a statement.

(Read more)

As crypto regains momentum, Coinbase Canada’s Lucas Matheson zeroes in on the next big goal: adoption

In a recent fireside discussion with BetaKit interim CEO Satish Kanwar, Matheson explored how Coinbase is looking to catalyze crypto adoption in Canada, the role that the government will play, and Canada’s wider innovation opportunity.

(Read more)

Intel says enterprises need choice to scale AI’s potential

Following Intel’s CEO keynote and announcement at the company’s Vision conference of more energy-efficient processing chips and an open AI app ecosystem, Asma Aziz, Canada Marketing Director at Intel, spoke with BetaKit about why the company believes the path to enterprise AI adoption is through open ecosystems rather than walled gardens.

(Read more)

Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs

VAN – Hootsuite to acquire Talkwalker
VAN – Clariti Cloud – $24.6M CAD
KEL – Summit – $3.5M CAD
TOR – Define Capital closes $20M CAD fund
MTL – SmartD Technologies – $14.2M
HFX – Appili Therapeutics to be acquired by Aditxt

The BetaKit Podcast

What made you first love tech?

“I think what we’re trying to do here is celebrate and acknowledge all pathways into tech. Whatever sparked the inspiration.”

Co-hosts Rob and Douglas peel back the curtain to reveal the gadgets, media, and moments that inspired their love of tech. Come, witness the retelling of their Immaculate Tech Conceptions while reliving your own on this full-blown nostalgia pod!

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Osler releases multi-year study of 450+ Canadian VC and growth equity financings

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP has released its third annual study of 486 anonymized venture capital and growth equity financings from 2020–2023, valued at approximately US$8 billion, providing data and insights for founders, entrepreneurs, investors and advisors contemplating transactions this year and beyond.

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Feature image by Dima Solomin on Unsplash.

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti is the newsletter editor at BetaKit, where she spearheads coverage and analysis of tech news in related products. Before BetaKit, Bianca covered the nexus of markets, industries and policy in a variety of formats as a reporter for the Financial Post. There, she won silver in SABEW's 2021 Best in Business Journalism Awards in the personal finance category for one of her pieces. In her free time, she enjoys swapping her reporter hat for a baseball cap to hit up some hiking trails with her dog. She also weirdly loves debating monetary policy.

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