Category: Canada

June 7, 2019 Off

Fintech platform Synapse raises $33M to build ‘the AWS of banking’

By Jill T Frey

Synapse, a San Francisco-based startup that operates a platform enabling banks and fintech companies to easily develop financial services, has closed a $33 million Series B to develop new products and go after international expansion.

The investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital . Synapse — which recently rebranded (slightly) from “SynapseFi” — announced a $17 million Series A back in September 2018, so this deal takes it to $50 million raised to date.

The startup was founded in 2014 by Bryan Keltner and India-born CEO Sankaet Pathak, who came to the U.S. to study but grew frustrated at the difficulty of opening a bank account without U.S. social security history. Inspired by his struggles, Synapse, which operated under the radar prior to that Series A deal, is focused on democratizing financial services.

Its approach to doing that is … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Tinder adds sexual orientation and gender identity to its profiles

By Jill T Frey

Tinder is adding to its profiles information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The company worked with the LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD on changes to its dating app to make it more inclusive.

Users who want to edit or add more information about their sexual orientation can now simply edit their profile. When a Tinder user taps on the “orientation” selection they can choose up to three terms that describe their sexual orientation. Those descriptions can either be private or public, but will likely be used to inform matches on the app.

Tinder also updated the onboarding experience for new users so they can include their sexual orientation as soon as they sign up for the dating app.

Tinder is also giving users more control over how they order matches. In the “Discovery Preferences” field Tinderers can choose to first see people of the same orientation.

The company said … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

The Slack origin story

By Jill T Frey

Let’s rewind a decade. It’s 2009. Vancouver, Canada.

Stewart Butterfield, known already for his part in building Flickr, a photo-sharing service acquired by Yahoo in 2005, decided to try his hand — again — at building a game. Flickr had been a failed attempt at a game called Game Neverending followed by a big pivot. This time, Butterfield would make it work.

To make his dreams a reality, he joined forces with Flickr’s original chief software architect Cal Henderson, as well as former Flickr employees Eric Costello and Serguei Mourachov, who like himself, had served some time at Yahoo after the acquisition. Together, they would build Tiny Speck, the company behind an artful, non-combat massively multiplayer online game.

Years later, Butterfield would pull off a pivot more massive than his last. Slack, born from the ashes of his fantastical game, would lead a shift toward online productivity tools that fundamentally … Read the rest

May 29, 2019 Off

Delane Parnell’s plan to conquer amateur esports

By Jill T Frey

Most of the buzz about esports focuses on high-profile professional teams and audiences watching live streams of those professionals.

What gets ignored is the entire base of amateurs wanting to compete in esports below the professional tier. This is like talking about the NBA and the value of its sponsorships and broadcast rights as if that is the entirety of the basketball market in the US.

Los Angeles-based PlayVS (pronounced “play versus”) wants to become the dominant platform for amateur esports, starting at the high school level. The company raised $46 million last year—its first year operating—with the vision that owning the infrastructure for competitions and expanding it to encompass other social elements of gaming can make it the largest gaming company in the world.

I recently sat down with Founder & CEO Delane Parnell to talk about his company’s formation and growth strategy. Below is the transcript of our … Read the rest

May 15, 2019 Off

White House refuses to endorse the ‘Christchurch Call’ to block extremist content online

By Jill T Frey

The United States will not join other nations in endorsing the “Christchurch Call” — a global statement that commits governments and private companies to actions that would curb the distribution of violent and extremist content online.

“While the United States is not currently in a position to join the endorsement, we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the Call. We will continue to engage governments, industry, and civil society to counter terrorist content on the Internet,” the statement from the White House reads.

The “Christchurch Call” is a non-binding statement drafted by foreign ministers from New Zealand and France meant to push internet platforms to take stronger measures against the distribution of violent and extremist content. The initiative originated as an attempt to respond to the March killings of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchruch and the subsequent spread of the video recording of the massacre and … Read the rest

April 29, 2019 Off

Daimler pulls the plug on electric smart car sales in US, Canada

By Jill T Frey

Daimler is ending sales of its diminutive all-electric smart fortwo cars in the U.S. and Canada, officially pulling the plug on a vehicle that has struggled to gain ground in North America as the German automaker prepares to bring the brand to China, TechCrunch has learned.

Smart won’t be sold in the U.S. and Canada after the 2019 model year, Daimler AG confirmed after two sources familiar with the decision shared the information with TechCrunch.

“After much careful consideration, smart will discontinue its battery-electric smart EQ fortwo model in the U.S. and Canadian markets at the conclusion of MY2019,” a Daimler AG spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. “A number of factors, including a declining micro-car market in the U.S. and Canada, combined with high homologation costs for a low volume model are central to this decision.”

MBUSA and Mercedes-Benz Canada will continue to provide owners of gasoline-powered and electric … Read the rest

April 25, 2019 Off

Facebook broke Canadian privacy law, joint probe finds

By Jill T Frey

The latest damning assessment of Facebook’s trampling of user privacy comes from the Canada and British Columbia privacy commissioners — which have just published the results of an investigation kicked off in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal last year.

They found the social network company committed serious contraventions of local laws and failed generally to take responsibility for protecting the personal information of Canadians.

Facebook has disputed the findings and refused to implement the watchdogs’ recommendations — including refusing to voluntarily submit to audits of its privacy policies and practices over the next five years.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said it therefore plans to take Facebook to Federal Court to seek an order to force it the company to correct its deficient privacy practices.

Both watchdogs have also called for local privacy laws to be beefed up so that regulators have stronger … Read the rest