Welcome to our weekly Canadian start-up news segment where we bring you the most critical events in the world of Canadian start-ups. We cover all major cities in Canada, mainly Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver and other emerging start-up scenes.
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SERVICENOW ACQUIRES MONTREAL’S ELEMENT AI FOR $230 MILLION USD
ServiceNow a software company based in California, has acquired Element AI for “approximately” $230 million USD.
Element AI has been as a global leader in AI, but faced difficulty getting its products to market.
Under this deal, ServiceNow has acquired all issued equity interests of Element AI, which was founded in 2016 by CEO Jean-Francois Gagné, a number of AI researchers and the “godfather” of machine learning Yoshua Bengio.
The purchase price represents a significant departure compared to Element AI’s estimated $600 million to $700 million valuation back in September 2019, after it’s Series B funding round.
Element AI positioned itself as a global leader in the field of AI, promoting ethical AI internationally, but faced difficulty getting its products to market. Back in 2019, the company faced high operational costs, minimal revenue, and setbacks on the development of two of its flagship products, causing it to have to lay off staff and reduce operations.
The acquisition also led to the termination of a funding agreement between the Canadian Government and Element AI that had been made earlier this year.
ServiceNow has announced new plans to open an AI innovation hub in Canada to “accelerate customer-focused AI innovation” on the company’s Now platform.
AFTERPAY EXPANDS BUY NOW PAY LATER SERVICE INTO QUEBEC
Afterpay, the Australia based startup will now offer its services in French language in a move to bring to Quebec the buy now, pay later (BNPL) business model.
The Buy Now Pay Later company, which offers customers the opportunity to get products immediately and pay for their purchases in multiple installments, expanded into Canada this summer. Shoppers in Quebec can now use Afterpay at partnering Canadian and international retailers, choosing either English or French as their preferred language.
“Our expansion into Quebec, as well as our cross-border capabilities, is giving Canadian merchants more ways to connect.”
As of September 2020, Afterpay claims its platform was offered at nearly 64,000 worldwide retailers, and over 11 million customers have transacted using Afterpay in the past 12 months.
In November 2020, the company began offering cross border shopping, which opened Canadian storefronts to international customers.
Another Canadian startup that has benefited from Affirm’s success is E-Commerce giant Shopify, which signed a three-year exclusivity agreement with Affirm to offer its instalment financing plan to Shopify’s merchants.
“Our expansion into Quebec, as well as our cross-border capabilities, is giving Canadian merchants more ways to connect with our network of young and engaged shoppers who deliver higher order values, increased conversion, and higher sales,”said Melissa Davis, head of North America for Afterpay.
For more information visit: https://betakit.com/australia-based-afterpay-expands-offering-into-quebec-as-buy-now-pay-later-space-heats-up/
SHOPIFY RECIEVES TO MARCHENT PATENTS BY THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
This week, Shopify was awarded two merchant patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
This patent approvals come as part of a broader shift in the e-commerce company’s intellectual property strategy, which saw Shopify begin to prioritize protecting its intellectual assets in 2019 as it ramped up competition with giants like Amazon.
“Only in the last few years has Shopify begun to patent their innovation.”
In the past few years, the toronto based E-Commerce startup has worked to strengthen its intellectual property (IP) activity. According to Espacenet, a patent database, Shopify currently has 45 patents that are either approved or are still pending approval. These range from email address verification to package delivery processing.
The deal was a signal of Shopify’s intention to aggressively expand into fulfillment, a strategy it first introduced at its Shopify Unite conference in 2019. This move created an unexpected threat to e-commerce behemoth Amazon, which operates more than 175 fulfilment centres around the world.
“Only in the last few years has Shopify begun to patent their innovation,”
“Hopefully, they can catch up, but they will probably need to increase their patenting rate 10-fold.”Natalie Raffoul, a Canadian IP lawyer
Raffoul noted that Shopify’s 45 patents and applications is a very small amount in comparison to the over 11,000 global patent assets owned by Amazon.
IP generation has been a sticking point for many startups and technology companies in Canada. Provinces across the entire country have been looking to promote and ramp up patent activity, particularly in 2020.
Stay tuned for round-the-clock updates and up-to-the-minute news from the world of Canadian start-ups.
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