Tag: Venture Capital

03
Feb

Sensibill welcomes Tom Shen as chair of the board

TORONTO, Feb. 03, 2020 — Sensibill announced today that digital banking veteran Tom Shen has been appointed chair of the board. Shen is joined on the board by Corey Gross, co-founder and CEO of Sensibill, David Unsworth, general partner at Information Venture Partners, and Benji Sucher, general partner at Radical Ventures.

Shen’s addition to the board is part of a series of executive appointments designed to help the company fulfill its mission of powering financial institutions with innovative solutions that drive customer value and engagement, while expanding the data streams financial institutions need to forge deeper relationships. Sensibill secured $31.5 million USD in Series B funding in 2019 to further support this initiative. The round was led by Radical Ventures, with participation from the National Bank of Canada and others. Radical Ventures is focused on applying data and AI on a global scale; their involvement adds a deeper layer of data expertise that is complemented by Shen’s digital banking experience.

Shen is a proven expert at scaling digital banking services for financial institutions. He was the founder and CEO of digital banking solutions provider Malauzai, which he sold to Finastra in 2018. Finastra attributed the company’s market leadership and open approach as part of its purchasing decision. In 2005, Shen joined the executive team at Digital Insight, an internet banking and payments provider ultimately acquired by NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR). The first company he founded was Software Dynamics, Incorporated (SDI), a provider of teller and platform automation software that grew to work with more than 1,200 financial institutions before it was sold to S1 Corporation in 2001. The business was later acquired by ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW).

“Sensibill is at the precipice of a major breakthrough,” commented Shen. “The company has joined forces with some of the world’s leading financial institutions, and they are highly proficient in a market that is ripe for change. Customers have become accustomed to personal and on-demand service from their experiences with big tech; Sensibill’s use of purchase data and AI expertise makes these user experiences readily available to financial institutions.”

Gross added, “There are only a handful of digital banking innovators of the caliber of Tom Shen. His success building and delivering game-changing digital solutions for financial institutions has been proven time and again. We’re excited to have him join Sensibill as we endeavor to make banking more personal.”

Sensibill has raised a total of $46.5 million USD and has partnered with the largest financial institutions and digital banking providers in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.

21
Jan

Leading tech firm Q4 announces expansion plans into Hamilton, along with over 140 new tech jobs

Q4 Inc.’s new Hamilton Office

January 21, 2020 (HAMILTON, ON) – Adding to the momentum behind Hamilton as one of Canada’s fastest-growing tech cities, Q4 Inc. has announced it will be expanding into the up-and-coming hub this year, creating 140 new jobs in the city. Hamilton has been gaining traction as a rising tech centre and an ideal location for innovative companies to establish operations.

Attracted by Hamilton’s tech talent pool, affordability and quality of life, Q4’s new office will be located in the heart of downtown Hamilton.

“We’ve been watching Hamilton’s tech growth closely, and we believe it’s well on its way to becoming one of the largest tech hubs in Ontario. Our goal is to become the leading tech employer in this city,” says Darrell Heaps, CEO of Q4. “Hamilton offers all the right elements for our employees. It’s affordable, has fantastic restaurants, vibrant nightlife, a great arts scene, and offers active green space nearby. It’s also within close proximity to our headquarters in Toronto, providing easy knowledge-sharing across both offices.”

Q4 will occupy the entire 9,500 sq. ft. second floor of a new four-storey brick-and-beam office at 59 King St. E, scheduled to open in March. By the end of 2020, Q4 plans to expand to the fourth floor of the same building, occupying an additional 7,500 sq. ft.

The new space is part of downtown Hamilton’s heritage revitalization and offers a flexible, open concept and adaptable workspace that encourages collaboration. Amenities within the office reflect the company’s culture of employee wellness and creativity. The space features an auditorium-style space for meetings, wellness room, games room, space for bike racks and on-site shower facilities, as well as an outdoor patio during the summer months.

 Hamilton is the fastest-growing mid-sized city in Canada for tech talent, with its tech sector growing nearly 53 per cent over the last five years. This booming industry is helping spur Hamilton’s downtown renewal.

“As our tech sector continues to grow, we’ve been working hard to cultivate and retain creative and skilled workers in our city. Q4’s expansion into Hamilton is a testament to our city’s incredible quality of life, strong tech ecosystem, and unique, affordable office space not found elsewhere,” says Judy Lam, Manager of Commercial Districts and Small Business at the City of Hamilton.

Headquartered in the trendy downtown Toronto neighbourhood of King West with offices in New York, Copenhagen and London, Q4 currently employs 250 people worldwide. Specializing in investor relations solutions, Q4 has experienced tremendous growth within the past few years, announcing major recent partnerships with S&P Global Market Intelligence, and Business Wire and doubling its client base to 2,200 within the past few months alone.

As part of its aggressive growth strategy, Q4 plans to hire over 140 people over the next 12-18 months with approximately half of those hires happening over the next three months. Q4 aims to fill a wide range of positions including web developers, quality assurance specialists, implementation managers and data entry coordinators.

Q4 is planning to partner with local post-secondary schools, including McMaster University and Mohawk College, to help further develop the talent pipeline locally. The company will host a career fair on February 7 for both professional hires and recent graduates. The career fair will be held from 5-7pm at 12 James St. North on the second floor.

11
Dec

ScribbleLive acquired by Brazil based Rock Content

Brazilian content marketing startup Rock Content has announced the purchase of US sector player ScribbleLive, creating one of the largest companies in the segment in the Americas.

The buyout, announced exclusively to Forbes, is the continuation of the company’s international expansion, which began in 2017 with the launch of operations in Mexico. With the addition of ScribbleLive (SL), which has offices in Boca Ratón and Toronto, the enlarged Rock organization will boost its 400-strong workforce with about 100 employees. The two companies combined have a freelancer base of about 80,000 professionals.

The new company also brings a client portfolio that includes names like Red Bull, Cisco, FedEx, Dell, Reuters, Deloitte and American Express. Some of the organizations in this consolidated portfolio of over 2,000 customers that were existing clients, such as Oracle, will be catered for with services in Portuguese, Spanish and English, as well as other content-related products offered by the group.

“Being able to help our customers consolidate their content marketing efforts across multiple geographies and languages is the most exciting piece this acquisition brings,” said Rock co-founder Diego Gomes. “Our network of creative professionals is a unique feature that no other content platform can offer.”

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but, according to Gomes, the price tag is in the “tens of millions of dollars” and involved the exit of about a dozen SL investors, such as Summerhill Venture Partners, First Ascent Ventures and Fidelity Growth. The buyout was supported by a small funding round from Rock’s current investor base, which includes e.bricks Ventures, Provence Capital and Unbox Capital.

04
Jul

Digital receipt player Sensibill raises $31.5m

Sensibill, a Toronto-based AI-powered digital receipt startup targeting freelancers and small business owners, has raised US$31.5 million in a Series B funding round joined by National Bank of Canada.

The round, led by AI-focused venture fund Radical Ventures, and joined by Information Venture Partners and First Ascent Ventures, brings Sensibill’s total financing to $46.5 million.

Founded in 2013, Sensibill works with banks such as TD and Scotiabank to incorporate its digital receipt technology into their apps, enabling personal and business customers to manage line item receipts from their phones.

The platform uses machine learning to structure receipt data and give both banks and their customers rich insights such as product information, return policy tracking and auto-categorisation.

Since its 2017 Series A round, the firm has doubled its headcount, opened a London office and has now won more than 30 bank deals in Canada, the US and UK, many with Tier 1 players such as RBS.

Corey Gross, CEO, Sensibill, says: “What we’re trying to do at Sensibill is bridge the gap between what banks are good at today, and where they need to be in five or ten years to protect their relationships from disruption. Tools beyond core banking, an incredible customer experience, and meaningful customer insights for banks–that’s what we bring to the table.”

03
Jun

BusinessWire partners with IR provider Q4

deleo

SAN FRANCISCO: Business Wire has partnered with investor relations cloud platform Q4.

The exclusive partnership is combining Business Wire’s distribution and newswire services with Q4’s communications and intelligence platforms, according to a statement from the companies.

“Business Wire and Q4 have known each other for a long time,” said Richard DeLeo, COO at Business Wire. “We’re both preferred providers to the New York Stock Exchange IPO program. The opportunity to give [Q4] access to distribution and Business Wire clients access to their best-in-class IR services was attractive to us.”

DeLeo added that this is only “phase one” of their partnership.

“We’re going to put our heads together about how we can integrate further and create more products,” he added.

Business Wire has not used the acquisition-heavy strategy of its competitors, such as Meltwater and Cision, who have been trying to drive innovation through consolidation.

“We are always looking at ways that we can enhance the news-distribution process as well as deliver ROI and metrics to our client base,” DeLeo said.

Q4 services DeLeo highlighted include web-hosting capabilities, as well as analytics and intelligence in IR. Pooling Q4 and Business Wire’s resources will “help simplify complex workflows, drive valuation, reduce volatility and deepen stakeholder engagement,” according to a statement from the companies.

The deal “makes sense as a partnership,” according to Burton-Taylor International Consulting associate Christopher Porter.

“We were also struck by the mention of webcasting as an area of cooperation. Webcasting is an area of particular focus for West [Corporation], who since 2018 are the owners of GlobeNewswire, which Burton-Taylor considers to be the next-largest press-release-distribution business in the world after Business Wire,” Porter added.

Business Wire was identified as the fourth-largest player in the comms tech industry in a report by Burton-Taylor.

In February, Business Wire expanded its Paris office adding staff and pursuing growth in France and southern Europe.

Business Wire once partnered with TrendKite, the digital PR platform that was acquired by Cision this year. Trendkite provided its analytics to Business Wire, packaged in its NewsTrak reports. That partnership has ended.

Berkshire Hathaway acquired Business Wire in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.

18
Mar

Venture capital funding flat in 2018, but industry players say investment ecosystem is strong

A total of $3.7 billion in venture capital was dispersed to Canadian companies in 2018, according to a report by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.

While the number marked a two per cent decline from 2017, Kim Furlong, CEO of the CVCA was still calling it a win.

2017 was just like a home run, so 2018 is a continuation of that growth trajectory

Kim Furlong, CEO of the CVCA

“This report signals that there’s maturity in the system. We saw an amazing year in 2017 — the best year we’d had to date in growth, in seven consecutive years,” she said. “2017 was just like a home run, so 2018 is a continuation of that growth trajectory.”

The numbers in the CVCA report offer a glimpse into the shape of startup funding across Canada, especially in the information and communication technology sector which accounted for more than two thirds of VC dollars and deals.

Toronto tops deals, followed by Montreal and Vancouver

Toronto is far and away the centre of gravity, with 197 venture capital deals happening in the city, and more than $1.5 billion invested in 2018. Montreal was the second busiest spot in Canada for startup investment, with 119 deals totalling $901 million, and Vancouver was third, with 71 deals totalling $400 million.

Governments are a big part of venture capital funding in Canada

The CVCA report also makes it clear that governments are a big part of venture capital funding in Canada. Scanning down the list of the top 10 most active venture capital firms, the federal Business Development Corporation appears twice on the list — both as an overall funder, and separately as an investor through several sector-specific funds — and government entities like the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and the MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund appear on the list.

The venture capital sector has also received help from government through programs like the federal Venture Capital Action Plan and the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative — each worth $400 million.

Rick Nathan, who leads the venture capital program at Kensington Capital Partners — one of the recipients of VCCI investment — said the government money has leveraged a lot more private capital.

“They’re important from a stimulative impact on the market as a whole,” he said.

“Every government in the world where there is a technology industry has a very active role — including the United States which has more government support for its venture capital industry than any other country in the world. But if you look at Israel, if you look at Europe, if you look across Asia, it is an important feature of any market where there is a budding tech sector.”

70% of venture capital deals in 2018 were valued at less than $5 million

The biggest publicly disclosed venture capital deal of the year was $161 million in late-stage funding which went to Assent Compliance Inc, a supply chain data management company based in Ottawa.

Quebec-based Hopper Inc. and Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc. also scored late-stage investment rounds valued at more than $100 million.

But according to the CVCA data, 70 per cent of venture capital deals in 2018 were much smaller, valued at less than $5 million.

In aggregate, Nathan said the numbers reflect investor confidence in Canada’s startup sector. He pointed to the initial public offering by Montreal-based Lightspeed POS as the latest example of a successful startup exit.

“We had the Lightspeed IPO a week ago, which is a great story. It’s a fabulous company. But it’s just kind of the next one on the list,” Nathan said.

“We probably have about 20 companies across the country that are in the half a billion to one billion valuation range.”

The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association Names New Chief Executive Officer

Canadian tech venture capital funding hits eight-quarter high thanks to AI

12
Sep

Q4 Inc. Raises $38 Million in Series C Funding Round Led by Napier Park Financial Partners

Toronto and New York – September 12, 2018 – Q4 Inc., a leading global provider of cloud-based investor relations and capital market solutions, announced today the closing of a USD$38 million Series C financing round.

This round was led by Napier Park Financial Partners (Napier Park) with participation from existing investors including OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund (OTEAF), Information Venture Partners and Espresso Capital. The new funds will be used to support the continued development of the Company’s next generation, purpose-built investor relations CRM and analytics platform, expand global sales and marketing efforts, and pursue strategic acquisitions.

“Q4’s mission is to make our clients leaders in investor relations by delivering a superior product experience, best-in-class technology and first-rate customer support,” said Darrell Heaps, CEO of Q4. “We are excited to partner with the Napier Park team during this incredible period of growth for Q4. This capital will enable us to accelerate our product roadmap, pursue acquisitions, drive our global sales and marketing efforts, and continue executing on our vision of becoming a preeminent global capital markets platform.”

Since 2013, Q4 has been steadily expanding its capital markets platform and capabilities, building-out the industry’s premier IR CRM. This sophisticated analytics and workflow solution integrates quantitative and real-time shareholder analytics, AI targeting, pipeline management, and roadshow planning tools, as well as advanced website and event analytics. With the recent release of Studio, Q4’s next generation investor website platform, the Company has yet again raised-the-bar with the industry’s most capable, flexible and design-driven product.

“At Napier Park, we invest in and partner with the best and brightest in financial technology and are thrilled to be leading this round,” said Dan Kittredge, Partner at Napier Park. “We are excited to be partnering with Darrell and team — their technology-first approach to solving IR pain points, end-to-end solution set, and track record of exceptional customer service afford them a unique position to capitalize on secular, regulatory and competitive tailwinds. We are committed to supporting Q4’s growth strategy as they continue to bring innovative products to the market and execute on their long-term vision.”

Q4 is the industry’s only full-suite provider of IR solutions with a complete range of analytics, CRM, website, webcasting and professional services. With MiFID II disrupting how the sell-side provides services to corporates and the buy-side, Q4 is well positioned to provide its large and rapidly growing IR client base with the tools and advice to succeed in the post-MiFID world. With over 1,200 of the world’s top global brands leveraging Q4’s suite of IR solutions, Q4 remains the fastest growing and most exciting investor relations and capital markets provider in the industry.

“Having led Q4’s Series B round, we have witnessed the tremendous growth of the company, and the evolution of Darrell and his team in the execution of their strategy,” said Tony van Marken, General Partner at OTEAF and Chairman of Q4. “Q4 has continued to expand its customer base with some of the world’s largest public companies and now provides IR solutions to 25% of the S&P 500. With the macro trends benefiting the market and material shifts in their competitive landscape, we are excited to participate alongside Napier Park in this round and to continue to support Q4 in executing against their vision of growing into a dominant global capital markets platform.”

As part of this transaction, Dan Kittredge and Ned May from Napier Park will join the Q4 Board of Directors.

RBC Capital Markets acted as the Lead Placement Agent and Exclusive Financial Advisor to Q4 in connection with this transaction. Oslers provided legal services to Q4.

Media inquiries
Taryn Shulman, Q4 Inc.
VP, Marketing
416-540-9832
taryns@q4inc.com

About Q4 Inc.

Q4 is a leading global provider of cloud-based investor relations and capital market solutions. Q4 empowers customers to be leaders in IR through innovative technology and exceptional customer service. Our comprehensive portfolio of IR solutions, including quantitative and real-time shareholder analytics, IR desktop, websites, and webcasting arm industry professionals with the tools and insights required to run award-winning IR programs, make effective business decisions, and better engage with the street. Q4 has offices in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Copenhagen, and London. To learn more, visit: www.q4inc.com.

About Napier Park Financial Partners

Napier Park Financial Partners is the private equity group of Napier Park Global Capital, an alternative asset management platform with approximately $11 billion in assets under management. Napier Park focuses on investing in innovative, high growth companies at the intersection of financial services and technology-enabled products and services. Napier Park targets investments of $5 million to $30 million, with current and prior portfolio companies spanning the following industry subsectors – Payments, Banking and Lending, Insurance and Benefits, Asset and Wealth Management, and Business Services and Outsourcing. For more information, visit www.napierparkglobal.com/private-equity .

20
Mar

ThinkData closes investment from OTEAF to fuel global expansion

TORONTO, ON – ThinkData Works, Inc. (ThinkData) has announced an investment from the OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund (OTEAF). The funds will be used to support ThinkData’s global expansion. The transaction will also see Tony van Marken, General Partner at OTEAF, join ThinkData’s Board of Directors.

ThinkData’s platform allows organizations to access data from hundreds of public sources and helps enterprises transform proprietary data sets into a standardized format. Organizations can use these rich data pools to build predictive models and derive insights.

“Our investment in ThinkData reflects our belief that data is the most valuable asset for enterprise today. The ThinkData platform allows its customers to unlock the potential of their own data, and layer in new sources to generate actionable insights,” says Tony van Marken. “The company has already won Tier 1 enterprise customers, reinforcing our conviction in the value of the platform to some of the most sophisticated institutions in the world.”

ThinkData’s customers include Royal Bank of Canada, the Government of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, TD Bank, and The Altus Group among others.

“If you’re only looking at your own internal and siloed data environment to drive your business forward, you’re missing 90% of the information you need to start leveraging in order to remain competitive in tomorrow’s business landscape. This is true for every company in every sector,” says Bryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of ThinkData.

Using ThinkData’s platform, Namara, organizations are capable of taking endless amounts of public and private data sourced from anywhere in the world and layering it upon existing practices or integrating it into new business intelligence solutions.

“We are unlocking the ability to link and layer data sets that, although related, have traditionally remained siloed,” says Mr. Smith. “By boiling down every dataset to its raw features, we can rebuild it into master data records that adhere to a common standard – and we can do so at scale. This clean data works like rocket fuel and launches our clients’ analytics capabilities to new heights.”

OTEAF joins Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) and MaRS IAF, ThinkData’s initial seed investors, who backed the company in its early stages. “In the last decade, the world’s most important companies have become experts in data – its capture, its analytics, and its use. ThinkData’s platform unlocks this capability for all the companies out there that need to play catch up,” said Ray Sharma, Managing Partner of EVP. “We bet early on ThinkData because they had a sobering idea; data needs to be as accessible as tap water. Companies need to be able to turn on the faucet and watch the data flow.”

Media Inquiries:
Lewis Wynne-Jones, ThinkData Works, Inc.
Head of Data Acquisition and Partnerships
lewis@thinkdataworks.com

About ThinkData Works
Founded in 2014, ThinkData Works focuses on the aggregation and modification of large data sets, enabling businesses to create new products and insights. The platform is designed to access high value data in standard usable formats.
For more information visit: thinkdataworks.com

About Extreme Venture Partners
EVP is an early stage investment fund, startup development lab (Extreme Innovation) and global-to-Canada accelerator (Extreme Accelerator) that invites diversity as the spark of brilliance and innovation, quietly launching some of the Canada’s most interesting startups. EVP has developed a comprehensive startup ecosystem, as well as a not-for-profit organization (Hackergals) dedicated to addressing the gender imbalance in coding. Learn more about EVP’s “firsts”.
For more information visit: evp.vc

07
Feb

Rubikloud Expands AI Presence in Toronto With 60 New Jobs

One of the biggest AI companies in Canada is expanding their reach and bringing more talent in. Rubikloud has unveiled that they will be adding 60 new jobs in Toronto following their $37 million Series B round of funding in early January.

The new roles will span several fields and industries such as data science, engineering, sales, operations, finance and marketing, and come in both junior and senior levels.

“The state of the enterprise AI market is nascent, with few companies deploying AI solutions to businesses,” said Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud. “Rubikloud’s product and platform are ahead of the market, offering tech talent practical AI careers where they can actually build AI applications. We’ve seen a recruiting upticks as analysts and shareholders actively ask companies how they are using AI / ML to improve their bottom lines. Our clients are not funding research projects. They are funding automated production systems.”

As a leading machine learning platform designed for retailers, Rubikloud uses AI to deliver customized and intelligent decision automation for multi-billion dollar businesses. The Toronto company automates and builds on mass promotional planning and loyalty-driven marketing with a built-in-house and cloud-native platform. Many studies have shown that companies will be forced to integrate some form of AI in order to stay competitive in the retail world, and Rubikloud is helping them stay on course.

“Rubikloud is one of the few AI companies building and deploying practical solutions across the Fortune 500 and moving machine learning from the predictive to prescriptive,” said Karamdeep Nijjar, partner at iNovia Capital. iNovia were investors in Rubikloud’s recent funding round. “We invested in Rubikloud because we believe they could become a publicly traded billion-dollar company in the next five years and we’re excited to see them hiring aggressively,” added Nijjar. Rubikloud currently has just over 75 employees, so these new additions will almost double the existing team. The company has earned a total of $45 million in financing so far.

Rubikloud is also nominated for Startup of the Year in the Canadian Innovation Awards. For more info on the event, head here, otherwise tune in to see if they will take home the prize on February 22 in Toronto.

22
Jan

Q4 releases iris™, a new artificial intelligence engine for investor relations

NEW YORK, NY, January 17, 2018 – Q4 Inc., a global leader in cloud based investor relations announced today the release of iris™, the company’s new AI engine designed to revolutionize the IR services space. By integrating machine learning, big data analytics and NLP to analyze and process high volumes of fragmented market data, iris is empowering public companies across the United States to drive improved investor engagement and shareholder quality, leading to lower volatility and higher multiples.

Phase one of this ground breaking technology is being applied to Q4’s stock surveillance business, where iris has been achieving accuracy levels of real-time ownership that are unheard of in the investor relations intelligence market.

“Today’s introduction of iris into the market signifies a huge milestone for Q4 and our stock surveillance program,” said Adam Frederick, SVP, Intelligence. “In the past, traditional surveillance firms have been unable to achieve high levels of accuracy in providing real-time shareholder analytics due to the depth and breadth of analysis required. iris is capable of analyzing vast amounts of data at a level impossible for any human to achieve. Backed by this powerful AI-engine, Q4 is consistently able to achieve 80 percent plus accuracy in real-time ownership predictions – a true breakthrough for the industry.”

Q4 also announced today a commitment to proactively report accuracy results to their clients, along with a money back guarantee on maintaining accuracy above 80 percent. The guarantee is structured as a service level agreement on accuracy and provides a structure for quarterly reporting and rebates on fees paid should accuracy levels drop below 80 percent.

“Seeing the results of iris and its impact on our accuracy has given us the confidence to stand behind our data with a money back guarantee, which sets a new standard in the IR market,” said Darrell Heaps, CEO, Q4. “The unmatched proficiency of iris, coupled with the top tier advice and consulting provided by Q4’s experienced analyst team, has created a far superior product to anything else available today. Our clients rely on surveillance intelligence to drive critical decision-making with their C-suite and board, which is why Q4 is holding itself accountable.”

Q4 plans to release a number of new iris analytics and workflow products over the course of 2018, each with a core purpose of enabling investor relations teams through actionable analytics and improved efficiency through automation.

iris is available today and is in operation across Q4’s US-based intelligence business.

For more information contact sales@q4inc.com.