Google Fi turns 6 and gets a new unlimited plan

Google Fi, Google’s cell network, is turning six today and to celebrate, the team is launching a new pricing plan, dubbed ‘Simply Unlimited’ starting at $60 per month for a single line (down to $30 per line for 3 lines or more). The new plan features unlimited calls and texts in the U.S., plus unlimited data and texting in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Image Credits: Google

You may recall that Fi’s original promise was a single, affordable pay-as-you-go plan where you would pay a fixed price per month for the basic call and texting service and then pay an extra $10 per GB of data you used per billing cycle, capped at $80 per month. In 2019, Google then turned this into what is essentially an unlimited plan, dubbed Fi Unlimited, starting at $70 per month for a single line, with discounts for additional lines.

The new ‘Simply Unlimited’ plan is a pared-down version of the original Unlimited plan, which is now called the Unlimited Plus plan (yeah, that’s a lot of names). Now, that plan has still a lot of extra features that power users aren’t likely willing to give up for a slightly lower price. In addition to everything in the new Simply Unlimited plan, this plan still features free international calls to more than 50 countries and international data in more than 200 destinations, plus full-speed hotspot tethering and 100GB of Google One cloud storage.

The Flexible plan is also still an option, with its base fee of $20 per month for texting and calling for a single line (down to $17 per month for three lines) and $10 per GB of data, no matter whether you use if abroad or at home — or for hotspot tethering. Google says that’s the plan to choose if you’re mostly on WiFi — as most of us are right now.

Basically, if you’re not planning to use your phone outside of North America, the new Simply Unlimited plan looks like a good deal that, depending on your use case, compares favorably with similarly priced plans from other carriers — especially if international data is important to you.

Image Credits: Google

#canada, #free, #google, #google-fi, #mexico, #mobile, #north-america, #telecommunications, #tethering, #text-messaging, #united-states, #wireless

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Canadian Lawmaker Apologizes for Taking Nude Photo of Colleague

It was not immediately clear what sanctions, if any, Sébastien Lemire would face after he acknowledged taking a nude photo of William Amos during a Zoom call.

#bloc-quebecois, #canada, #computers-and-the-internet, #conservative-party-canada, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #quebec-province-canada, #social-media, #videophones-and-videoconferencing

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Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind.

Canada is the only G7 nation whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris agreement. The main reason: its oil sands.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #canada, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #group-of-seven, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #trudeau-justin

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Tyltgo’s same-day delivery platform lets small businesses compete with Amazon

Tyltgo wants to make it easier for restaurants and small businesses to compete with same-day delivery services offered by the likes of Amazon and HelloFresh. The Canadian company, which recently raised CAD $2.3 million (USD $1.8 million) in a seed round, is akin to a white label Uber Eats, providing businesses an on-demand delivery platform under their own branding that connects them to gig economy couriers.

“I think about us as a post-purchase experience company,” co-founder and CEO Jaden Pereira told TechCrunch. “The recipient goes directly onto the merchant’s platform and places orders through them, so it feels like they’re interacting with the brand they purchased from throughout the entire experience. Our messages, notifications, tracking pages and delivery are all customized under the merchant’s brand name, but it’s powered by Tyltgo.”

The necessity of having products delivered during the pandemic’s shelter-in-place orders combined with the massive reach of e-commerce giants like Amazon has created a society that expects same-day deliveries. Tyltgo recognized the exclusionary nature of that reality on smaller businesses with less time and fewer resources, and contrived to remedy the situation with some innovative tech and gig economy couriers.

In July 2018, Pereira, 22, co-founded the company with fellow student and developer Aaron Paul while studying at the University of Waterloo. Pereira originally did deliveries himself as a side hustle, while building up a consumer-facing service on Shopify. In October 2019, Pereira and Paul shifted focus to B2B, identifying the real problem as merchants struggling to offer quality same-day delivery at an affordable price.

From December 2019 to December 2020, Tyltgo’s revenue grew 2000%, says Pereira. The company started 2020 with two staff members and ended with nine, including former head of Uber Eats Canada’s marketplace operations, Joe Rhew, and former director of engineering at Goldman Sachs-acquired fintech company Financeit, Adnan Ali.

Aided by funding from VC firm TI Platform Management, Y Combinator and angel investor Charles Songhurst, Tyltgo projects another 1500% revenue growth for 2021. The company’s goal is to expand its team, develop an API and app-based platform, and add 100 more merchants across Ontario.

Pereira said Tyltgo originally focused on florists, and occasionally pharmacies, but demand from the restaurant industry led to the company’s new target — meal kit deliveries.

Meal kit services that provide the culinarily challenged with perfectly portioned ingredients and cooking instructions were already gaining popularity in the before times. When the pandemic hit, services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron saw even more growth. As restaurants struggled to keep their businesses open, many started to get in on the action, delivering restaurant-quality meals with instructions for heating and serving.

The global meal kit delivery services market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2027, with heat-and-eat options taking a large share of that market. Tyltgo is counting on the success of this industry. It has already secured partnerships with restaurants like General Assembly Pizza and Crafty Ramen, as well as with more traditional meal kit delivery services from grocery stores and organic farms.

Pereira said working in the “quasi-perishable space” of flowers and meal kits is both a challenge and a differentiator for the company. Depending on the contents of the delivery, Tyltgo will determine its perishability window and make sure to match that window with a driver. It’s also got an advanced fleet management platform that assigns a number of deliveries to suit the size of a courier’s vehicle.

“In the earlier days, the hardest part was being able to match those perishability windows without causing damage to the products,” said Pereira. “We all know that in logistics, you have to account for traffic, weather conditions, all these other things, but you have an eight hour delivery window to get out 35 deliveries.”

Another challenge is ensuring the top quality service Tyltgo advertises while working in the gig economy. Selecting for reliable couriers has slowed the company down at points, but Tyltgo aims to grow capacity only if it can simultaneously maintain a low error threshold.

“We won’t bring on a merchant if we don’t think we have the capacity to handle their deliveries and meet those expectations,” said Pereira.

Whether or not Tyltgo’s meal kit focus will end up driving scalability in the long run, the platform itself has legs. Pereira’s goal is to see Tyltgo become a part of every post-purchase customer experience for all retail trade categories, and that includes expanding into customer service, branding and transactions on top of delivery.

“The main reason why we’re doing this is because a lot of these smaller, brick-and-mortar retailers don’t have the time and resources to be able to compete with the Amazons of the world,” said Pereira. “We want to be able to put that power in their hands.”

#amazon, #blue-apron, #canada, #companies, #courier, #gig-economy, #hellofresh, #meal-kit, #mobility, #online-food-ordering, #shopify, #tc, #uber, #uber-eats, #university-of-waterloo, #y-combinator

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After Canada’s Marijuana ‘Green Rush,’ Pot Suppliers Struggle

Most marijuana producers in Canada are still reporting staggering losses two and a half years after legalization.

#canada, #canopy-growth-corp, #greenhouses, #marijuana, #shopping-and-retail, #tilray-lafitte-ventures-ltd, #toronto-stock-exchange

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Weddings: Believe It. They Met in Person.

Kaitlin Ruby Brinkerhoff met Ian McCann, a Canadian, on a mountain biking trip in her Utah hometown. They then maintained a challenging cross-border relationship through the pandemic.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #british-columbia-canada, #canada, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #quarantines, #st-george-utah, #weddings-and-engagements

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Who Leaked a Nude Image of a Canadian Lawmaker? His Colleagues Want to Know.

After a photo of William Amos, a legislator from Quebec, circulated on social media, some lawmakers called for an investigation into what they described as a “potentially criminal act.”

#canada, #computers-and-the-internet, #house-of-representatives, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #politics-and-government, #privacy, #social-media, #twitter, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #zoom-video-communications

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Cloud kitchen startup JustKitchen to go public on the TSX Venture Exchange

JustKitchen, a cloud kitchen startup, will start trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) Venture Exchange on Thursday morning. It is doing a direct listing of its common shares, having already raised $8 million at a $30 million valuation.

The company says this makes it one of the first—if not the first—cloud kitchen company to go public in North America. While JustKitchen launched operations last year in Taiwan, it is incorporated in Canada, with plans to expand into Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and the United States. TSX Venture is a board on the Toronto Stock Exchange for emerging companies, including startups, that can move to the main board once they reach certain thresholds depending on industry.

“It’s a really convenient way to get into the market and with the ghost kitchen industry in particular, it’s early stage and there’s a lot of runway,” co-founder and chief executive officer Jason Chen told TechCrunch. “We felt there really was a need to get going as quickly as we could and really get out into the market.”

Participants in JustKitchen’s IPO rounds included returning investor SparkLabs Taipei (JustKitchen took part in its accelerator program last year), investment institutions and retail clients from Toronto. More than half of JustKitchen’s issued and outstanding shares are owned by its executives, board directors and employees, Chen said.

One of the reasons JustKitchen decided to list on TSX Venture Exchange is Chen’s close ties to the Canadian capital markets, where he worked as an investment banker before moving to Taiwan to launch the startup. A couple of JustKitchen’s board members are also active in the Canadian capital markets, including Darren Devine, a member of TSX Venture Exchange’s Local Advisory Committee.

These factors made listing on the board a natural choice for JustKitchen, Chen told TechCrunch. Other reasons included ability to automatically graduate to the main TSX board once companies pass certain thresholds, including market cap and net profitability, and the ease of doing dual listings in other countries. Just Kitchen is also preparing to list its common shares on the OTCQB exchange in the U.S. and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany.

#asia, #canada, #cloud-kitchens, #food, #fundings-exits, #ghost-kitchens, #justkitchen, #on-demand, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #tsx-venture-exchange

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A Hole in One Pushes Corey Conners Up the Masters Leaderboard

The shot by the Canadian golfer was the sixth hole in one on No. 6 in tournament history.

#augusta-ga, #augusta-national-golf-club, #canada, #conners-corey-1992, #golf, #masters-golf-tournament, #morikawa-collin-1997

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Turn the Lights Out. Here Come the Birds.

Buildings, landmarks and monuments are turning off lights to prevent fatal impacts as birds set off on spring migration.

#academy-of-natural-sciences, #animal-behavior, #animal-migration, #audubon-society-national, #birds, #canada, #conservation-of-resources, #cornell-lab-of-ornithology, #dallas-tex, #florida, #fort-worth-tex, #lighting, #new-york-city, #windows

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Vaccine Passports Could Unlock World Travel and Cries of Discrimination

Vaccine rollouts in some countries have a long-locked-down world dreaming of travels abroad again. But they have also set off a fraught debate about the fairness of a two-tier system for haves and have-nots.

#aruba, #canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #great-britain, #israel, #japan, #politics-and-government, #quarantines, #saudi-arabia, #singapore, #travel-and-vacations, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #vaccination-proof-and-immunization-records

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Robert A. Mundell, a Father of the Euro and Reaganomics, Dies at 88

His insights on global finance earned him a Nobel, while his more iconoclastic theories fostered the adoption of a single European currency and supply-side economics.

#canada, #colleges-and-universities, #currency, #deaths-obituaries, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #europe, #international-trade-and-world-market, #mundell-robert, #nobel-prizes, #united-states-economy

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The ‘Joy and Envy’ of Vaccine FOMO

As some people start to shake off coronavirus precautions, those who are waiting their turn for a vaccine say the FOMO is real. “It’s like when every friend is getting engaged before you.”

#age-chronological, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #brazil, #canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #european-union, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #mexico, #politics-and-government, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #states-us, #vaccination-and-immunization

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Google starts trialing its FLoC cookie alternative in Chrome

Google today announced that it is rolling out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a crucial part of its Privacy Sandbox project for Chrome, as a developer origin trial.

FLoC is meant to be an alternative to the kind of cookies that advertising technology companies use today to track you across the web. Instead of a personally identifiable cookie, FLoC runs locally and analyzes your browsing behavior to group you into a cohort of like-minded people with similar interests (and doesn’t share your browsing history with Google). That cohort is specific enough to allow advertisers to do their thing and show you relevant ads, but without being so specific as to allow marketers to identify you personally.

This “interest-based advertising,” as Google likes to call it, allows you to hide within the crowd of users with similar interests. All the browser displays is a cohort ID and all your browsing history and other data stay locally.

Image Credits: Google / Getty Images

The trial will start in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines. Over time, Google plans to scale it globally. As we learned earlier this month, Google is not running any tests in Europe because of concerns around GDPR and other privacy regulations (in part, because it’s unclear whether FLoC IDs should be considered personal data under these regulations).

Users will be able to opt out from this origin trial, just like they will be able to do so with all other Privacy Sandbox trials.

Unsurprisingly, given how FLoC upends many of the existing online advertising systems in place, not everybody loves this idea. Advertisers obviously love the idea of being able to target individual users, though Google’s preliminary data shows that using these cohorts leads to similar results for them and that advertisers can expect to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.”

Google notes that its own advertising products will get the same access to FLoC IDs as its competitors in the ads ecosystem.

But it’s not just the advertising industry that is eyeing this project skeptically. Privacy advocates aren’t fully sold on the idea either. The EFF, for example, argues that FLoC will make it easier for marketing companies that want to fingerprint users based on the various FLoC IDs they expose, for example. That’s something Google is addressing with its Privacy Budget proposal, but how well that will work remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, users would probably prefer to just browse the web without seeing ads (no matter what the advertising industry may want us to believe) and without having to worry about their privacy. But online publishers continue to rely on advertising income to fund their sites.

With all of these divergent interests, it was always clear that Google’s initiatives weren’t going to please everyone. That friction was always built into the process. And while other browser vendors can outright block ads and third-party cookies, Google’s role in the advertising ecosystem makes this a bit more complicated.

“When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were excited about the direction, but worried about the immediate impact,” Marshall Vale, Google’s product manager for Privacy Sandbox, writes in today’s announcement. “Excited because we absolutely need a more private web, and we know third-party cookies aren’t the long-term answer. Worried because today many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we had seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy-invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies outright without viable alternatives for the ecosystem was irresponsible, and even harmful, to the free and open web we all enjoy.”

It’s worth noting that FLoC, as well as Google’s other privacy sandbox initiatives, are still under development. The company says the idea here is to learn from these initial trials and evolve the project accordingly.

#advertising-tech, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #computing, #google, #google-search, #india, #indonesia, #japan, #mexico, #new-zealand, #online-advertising, #philippines, #software, #tracking, #united-states, #web-browsers

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A Supreme Court ruling affirming Canada’s carbon tax opens the door for a startup explosion

Last week the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the national government’s plan to tax carbon emissions was legal in a decision that could have significant implications for the nation’s climate-focused startup companies.

The ruling put an end to roughly two years of legal challenges and could set the stage for a boom in funding and commercial support for Canadian startup companies developing technologies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to investors and entrepreneurs representing some of the world’s largest utilities and petrochemical companies.

“The high price on carbon has the potential to make Canada a powerhouse for scaling up breakthrough decarbonization technologies and for deploying solutions like carbon capture, industrial electrification, and hydrogen electrolysis,” said one investor who works with a fund that backs startups on behalf of large energy businesses.

This 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pricing Act is the cornerstone of the Canadian climate policy pushed through by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It establishes minimum pricing standards that all provinces have to meet but gives the provinces the ability to set higher prices. So far, seven of the nation’s 13 provinces are currently paying the “backstop” rate set by the national government.

That price is C$30 per tonne of carbon dioxide released, but is set to rise to C$170 per tonne by 2030. That figure is just a bit higher than the current prices that Californians are charged under the state’s carbon pricing plan and roughly four times the price on carbon set by the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Under the plan, much of the money raised through the tax levied by the Canadian government would be used to support projects and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or create more sustainable approaches to industry.

“Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote, on behalf of the majority, in the Supreme Court ruling.

Three provinces — Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan challenged the legality of the greenhouse gas policy, and Alberta’s challenge was allowed to proceed to the high court — holding up the national implementation of the pricing scheme.

With the roadblocks removed, entrepreneurs and investors around the world expect the carbon scheme to quickly boost the prospects of Canadian startups.

“This represents underlying government support and a huge pot of money. If you wanted macro support for an underlying shift in sectoral developments that could substantiate and support tech companies working on climate change mitigation what better then when the government has told you that we care about this and money is free?” said BeZero Carbon founder, Tommy Ricketts. “There couldn’t be a better condition for startups in Canada.”

Companies that stand to directly benefit from a carbon tax in Canada include businesses like Kanin Energy, which develops decarbonization projects, including waste heat to power; CERT, which is currently competing in the carbon Xprize and is working on a way to convert carbon dioxide to ethylene; and SeeO2, a company also working on carbon dioxide conversion technologies.

Geothermal technologies like Quaise and Eavor could also see a boost as will companies that focus on the electrification of the transportation industry in Canada.

Farther afield are the companies like Planetary Hydrogen, which combines hydrogen production and carbon capture in a way that also contributes to ocean de-acidification.

“Think about the gas at the pump. That is going to get charged extra,” said one investor who works for the venture arm of one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, who was not authorized to speak to the press.  “For cleaner energy the price will definitely be reduced. And think about where this tax is going. Most of the tax is going to go to government funding into cleantech or climate-tech companies. So you have a double boost for startups in the carbon footprint reduction area.”

#articles, #canada, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #justin-trudeau, #oil-and-gas, #supreme-court, #tc

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Winnipeg’s New Showcase and Meeting Place for Inuit Art and Artists

A new museum for the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s leading collection of Inuit art opens on Saturday in a project shaped by Inuit.

#art, #canada, #indigenous-people, #museums, #winnipeg-manitoba

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Canada’s Artistic Swimming Coach on Leave Amid Allegations

The coach of Canada’s most elite team — slated for the Olympics — will step aside as he awaits the outcome of a disciplinary hearing about allegations of emotional abuse.

#canada, #canada-artistic-swimming, #coaches-and-managers, #fina, #swimming, #synchronized-swimming

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Eat Just (the alt-protein company formerly known as Hampton Creek) has raised another $200 million

Eat Just, the purveyor of eggless eggs and mayonnaise and the first government-approved vendor of lab-grown chicken, has raised $200 million in a new round of funding, the company said.

The funding was led by the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the state of Qatar, with additional participation from Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

Since its launch in 2011 as Hampton Creek, the company has raised more than $650 million all to build out capacity for its egg replacement products and its new line of lab-grown meat.

“We are very excited to work with our investors to build a healthier, safer and more sustainable food system. Their knowledge and experience partnering with companies that are transforming numerous industries were fundamental in our decision to partner with them,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, in a statement.

Eat Just’s evolution hasn’t been without controversy. In 2017, the company and its chief executive withstood a failed coup, which forced the firing of several executives. The company also saw its entire board resign in the aftermath of those firings, only to replace them with a new slate of directors months later.

In the aftermath, Hampton Creek rebranded and refocused. These days the company’s products fall into two somewhat related categories. There’re the plant-based egg replacement products and eggless mayonnaise and the lab grown chicken products that are meant to replace poultry farmed chicken meat.

Since the egg side of Eat Just’s chicken and egg business definitely came first, it’s worth noting that the company’s products are sold in more than 20,000 retail outlets and 1,000 foodservice locations. since it began selling the product, the company has moved more than 100 million eggs to roughly one million U.S. households.

The company’s eggs are also on offer in Dicos, a fast food chain in China, and it’s got a deal to put out a sous vide egg replacement product with Cuisine Solutions. The eggs are also available in Peet’s Coffee locations around the country and Eat Just has expanded its eggless distribution platform into Canada.

Then there’s the company’s GOOD Meat product. That was available for a short time in Singapore. The company expects to slash production costs and expand its commercial operations while working on other kinds of meats as well, according to a statement.

It’s a long way from where the Eat Just started, when it raised its first millions from Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund.

#articles, #canada, #cellular-agriculture, #china, #co-founder, #cultured-meat, #eat-just, #egg, #food-and-drink, #hampton-creek, #josh-tetrick, #meat, #microsoft, #qatar, #qatar-investment-authority, #singapore, #tc, #united-states, #vulcan-capital

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Mother of Killed Indigenous Man Told to ‘Get It Together’ by Canadian Police

A scathing report found that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police mistreated and discriminated against the family of Colten Boushie in 2016 and mishandled parts of the investigation into his death.

#boushie-colten, #canada, #discrimination, #indigenous-people, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #royal-canadian-mounted-police, #saskatchewan-canada

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Michael Kovrig, Canadian Accused of Spying, Is Tried in China

Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, was tried after Michael Spavor appeared in a Chinese court on Friday, Canadian officials said.

#canada, #china, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #international-relations, #kovrig-michael, #political-prisoners, #united-states-international-relations

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Canadian Snowbirds Find Refuge in Their Mythical Miami

In this retirement community celebrating all things Florida, Quebec snowbirds hunkered down this winter to ride out the pandemic.

#canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #florida, #miami-fla, #montreal-quebec, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #retirement-communities-and-assisted-living, #travel-and-vacations

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A Top Woman in Canada’s Military Issues a Stinging Rebuke of Its Culture

In a letter, one of the Canadian military’s most prominent women resigned, saying she’s “sickened” by sexual misconduct allegations.

#canada, #canadian-armed-forces, #defense-and-military-forces, #mcdonald-art-1967, #sex-crimes, #sexual-harassment, #vance-jonathan-1964

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Michael Spavor, Canadian Accused of Spying, Stands Trial in China

The trial of Michael Spavor escalates China’s punitive campaign against Canada over the arrest of a top executive of Huawei.

#canada, #china, #huawei-technologies-co-ltd, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #international-relations, #kovrig-michael, #political-prisoners, #spavor-michael, #united-states-international-relations

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Canadians Kovrig and Spavor to Stand Trial in China: What We Know

Secrecy and politics will likely hang over the cases involving two Canadian men, who have been held largely in isolation for more than two years.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #canada, #china, #communist-party-of-china, #huawei-technologies-co-ltd, #international-relations, #kovrig-michael, #meng-wanzhou, #political-prisoners, #ren-zhengfei, #spavor-michael, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations

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Nigeria’s Plentywaka gets backing from Techstars, plans expansion to Canada

Plentywaka, a Nigerian bus-booking platform, today announced that it has been accepted into the Techstars Toronto accelerator program.

It will join nine other startups in the class of 2021 and secure funding from the accelerator as it sets its sights on global expansion.

The Lagos-based company, founded by Onyeka Akumah, Johnny Ena, John Shaibu and Afolabi Oluseyi, operates an ‘Uber-for-buses’ model connecting commuters with buses via an app.

Plentywaka launched in September 2019, and in the first two months, moved an average of six people daily, according to CEO Akumah. By its sixth month, this number increased to about 1,500 daily, and the company completed more than 100,000 rides within that timeframe.

Then in March 2020, the pandemic-induced lockdown hit businesses across Lagos and other states within Nigeria. Due to the nature of its business, Plentywaka had to make a slight pivot and began transporting essential services across Lagos, especially food items. It also opened a logistics service.

As the lockdown eased across the city and commuting resumed, the company moved 60% capacity while the operational cost remained the same. Although growth was steady and picking up, the company started seeking external investment. It received $300,000 pre-seed from its parent company, EMFATO and other early-stage investors like Microtraction and Niche Capital in August.

Backed with the new funding, Plentywaka has since doubled down on its core offering — transporting people via buses. The logistics arm that it launched, as well as a car service, have since been shuttered.

Akumah says the focus on a primary offering has paid a dividend. The company has expanded its intrastate services into two other cities in Nigeria including the country’s capital city, Abuja and has moved about 300,000 people. Following this announcement though, there are immediate plans to launch an interstate service across different cities in Nigeria.

This service will see Plentywaka partner with some major bus travel companies, which collectively have more than 2000 buses and ply over 100 routes in the country. Plentywaka acts as an aggregator, and commuters can see options of various transport companies, compare fares, and book on its platform.

“Plentywaka is getting to a point where we’re now becoming more like an aggregator as we onboard transportation companies on our platform. Interstate travel in Nigeria is data insufficient, and we want to be the first company to solve this.” Ena, co-founder and president of Plentywaka, said to TechCrunch. 

In addition to this and the new capital from Techstars, Plentywaka is looking to scale its platform across Africa and North America. Akumah says this global expansion plan will start with a city in Canada, most likely Toronto, on or before Q4 2021.

Sunil Sharma, the managing director of Techstars Toronto, confirmed this to TechCrunch. According to Sharma, Techstars is backing the Nigerian mobility startup because it’s solving a massive problem in Nigeria that can be likened to urban transportation challenges in other populated cities worldwide.

“We know that Western cities have legacy transportation systems. However, there are many transportation challenges, even in a city like Toronto,” he said. “And we think that Plentywaka’s technology and approach in improving the lives of citizens and their daily commute needs can be brought over to cities in the West just as they are in Africa.”

Plentywaka plans to launch its intracity service first after engaging the country’s necessary stakeholders before introducing the intercity model. Sharma thinks that most cities in Canada aren’t well serviced by buses, leading to a broken intercity transit infrastructure. Plentywaka’s presence will bring the much-needed option the city deserves, he says.

“Cities and towns here should have bus connectivity, but they quite simply don’t have it, and my view is that the arrival of Plentywaka will be an immediate option to the status quo. It will also resonate with people as a way to supplement existing transportation options,” he said.

Techstars’ relationship with Akumah also proved crucial in Plentywaka’s acceptance into the accelerator. A second-time Techstars-backed founder, Akumah co-founded Farmcrowdy, a Nigerian digital agriculture platform in 2016. Having gone through the accelerator’s Atlanta program four years ago with the agritech startup, Akumah is doing the same with Plentywaka. He doubles as CEO at both companies

The serial founder said the relationship with Techstars is one reason the company is expanding to Canada instead of neighbouring African countries.

“If the opportunity we have in Toronto right now to expand was similar to what we had in Ghana or South Africa, of course we’ll be having those conversations already. But when we have the support system from Techstars, Sunil, and regulators in Toronto without even putting feet on the ground, I mean that makes it exciting for us to expand to Canada,” the CEO remarked.

Nigerian or African startups, in general, rarely make their way into Canada. Plentywaka is on the verge of doing so, and it will be looking to close a seed round from investors to carry out these expansion plans and further improve its technology.

#africa, #atlanta, #canada, #funding, #lagos, #nigeria, #south-africa, #startups, #tc, #techstars, #techstars-toronto, #toronto, #transportation

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Investors Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt are coming to TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

The transportation industry is abuzz with upstarts, legacy automakers, suppliers and tech companies working on automated vehicle technology, digital platforms, electrification and robotics. Then there are shared mobility companies from cars to scooters and mopeds to ebikes. And who can forget the emerging air taxi companies?

At the center of this evolving industry are the investors. Simply put: TechCrunch can’t hold an event on mobility without hearing from the people who are hunting for the best opportunities in the industry and tracking all of its changes. That’s why we’re happy to announce investors Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund, Quin Garcia of Autotech Ventures and Rachel Holt of Construct Capital will join us on our virtual stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021. The virtual event, which features the best and brightest minds in the world of mobility, will be held on June 9.

p.s. Early Bird tickets to the show are now available – book today and save 35% before prices go up.

Brenner, Garcia and Holt will come on stage to discuss their near and long-term investment strategies, overlooked opportunities, and challenges that face startups trying to break into the transportation sector. They’ll lean on their considerable experience to provide the advice and insight that will help attendees understand the state of the industry and where it is headed.

Brenner is a serial co-founder. She is co-founder and managing partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs solving urban challenges. Urban Innovation Fund has backed curbflow, Electriphi and Kyte among others. She also co-founded Tumml, a startup hub for urban tech that provided 38 startups with seed funding and mentorship, and hosts events around urban innovation. In 2014, Forbes listed her as one of its “30 Under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship.

Garcia, a lifelong ‘car guy’ with an MS degree in management science and automotive engineering from Stanford University, is managing director at Autotech Ventures. He’s also a board director, board observer and advisory board member to a number of mobility companies including Lyft, Peloton Technology, and Connected Signals.

Garcia has been on the ground floor of startups, notably as part of the initial team at the electric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place, where he was responsible for partnerships with automakers and parts suppliers while living in Israel, Japan and China.

Holt is co-founder and Managing Partner of early-stage venture firm Construct Capital, which is focused on finding founders that are trying to change foundational industries such as manufacturing and supply chain, logistics and transportation. The company’s transportation-focused investments include ChargeLab. Holt also sits on the board of MotoRefi.

Prior to Construct, Holt was at Uber, where she was one of the company’s first 30 employees. During her 8.5-year stint at Uber, Holt rose through the ranks of the company, including roles running the U.S.  and Canada “Rides” business as well as global marketing and customer support. She was a longtime member of the company’s executive leadership team. Her last position at Uber was leading the company’s new mobility organization, which focused on its e-bike and scooter businesses as well as running its incubator, which funded and developed new products and services.

Rachel began her career at Bain & Company, advising companies in the private equity, financial services and healthcare industries. She was ranked No. 9 on Fortune’s 40 under 40 and was named by Fast Company as One of the Most Creative People in Business.

We can’t wait to hear from this investor panel at TC Sessions: Mobility on June 9. Make sure to grab your Early Bird pass before May 6 to save 35% on tickets and join the fun!

#articles, #automotive, #autotech-ventures, #better-place, #board-member, #business, #canada, #china, #clara-brenner, #construct-capital, #e-bike, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #events, #executive, #fast-company, #financial-services, #forbes, #innovation, #israel, #japan, #lyft, #manufacturing, #motorefi, #peloton-technology, #private-equity, #quin-garcia, #rachel-holt, #stanford-university, #startup-company, #supply-chain, #tc, #tc-sessions-mobility, #techcrunch, #transportation, #uber, #united-states, #urban-innovation-fund, #venture-capital

0

The toilet paper startup backed by Marc Benioff, Dara Khosrowshahi, and Robert Downey Jr. now sells paper towels

Cloud Paper, the startup whose bamboo toilet paper (and celebrity and billionaire backers including Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Marc Benioff, Dara Khosrowshahi, and Mark Cuban) made a splash last year, is getting into the paper towel racket.

Starting today, the company is taking pre-orders for its 12 pack boxes of sustainably sourced bamboo paper towels, which will retail for $34.99.

The Seattle-based company was founded by two ex-Uber employees, Ryan Fritsch and Austin Watkins, who went on to take roles at the logistics startup Convoy, before launching Cloud Paper. Their toilet paper (and now paper towel company) is one of several businesses trying to get consumers to make the switch to bamboo-based consumer products.

Cozy Earth and Ettitude sell bamboo sheets and bedding; The Bamboo Clothing Co., Thought, Tasc, Free Fly Apparel, all make bamboo clothing; and Bite has a bamboo toothbrush to go with its plastic-free toothpastes and flosses.

But (I’m quoting myself here) Cloud Paper may be the only one to get such super wealthy, high profile investors to flush it with wads of cash. Even so, companies like Grove, Tushy, Reel, and the aptly named Who gives a crap, Inc. are all angling to wipe up a piece of the $10.4 billion market for toilet paper.

The company’s founders are on a mission to make the paper industry more sustainable, according to co-founder Ryan Fritsch, and they’re looking to do it one roll at a time.

While other companies look at bamboo as a replacement for cotton or plastics, the Cloud Paper co-founder said this company is squarely focused on toilet paper and paper towels because those products make up most of the crap that’s most wasteful in the paper industry.

The company has already ordered 1 million rolls of toilet paper for production and shipped hundreds of thousands of toilet paper, but the rationale for adoption has shifted, the company said.

“It definitely had its moment when the COVID shutdowns happened,” said Fritsch. “But [consumption] shifted from a TP panic to ‘There’s an easy and convenient, sustainable, option out there.’ It’s less of an all-out craze,” Fritsch said.

No less august a body than the National Resources Defense Council has come out swinging against how much waste is sacrificed to the commode.

For instance, the logging industry in Canada degrades over a million acres of its climate-critical forest, in part to feed U.S. demand for toilet paper, according to the NRDC. Demand from the U.S. has grown so substantially that, in recent years, Canada has ranked third globally in its rate of intact forest loss—behind only Russia and Brazil—mostly due to logging, the NRDC said.

Ninety percent of that is clearcutting, which exacerbates climate change. By the most conservative estimates, “logging in the boreal releases 26 million metric tons of carbon through driving emissions from the forest’s carbon-rich soils and eroding the forest’s ability to absorb carbon,” the NRDC wrote in 2020 report. “Toilet paper’s impact is even more severe because, since it is so short-lived, it quickly releases its remaining carbon into the atmosphere. That is why, according to the Environmental Paper Network, toilet paper made from trees has three times the climate impact as toilet paper created using recycled materials.”

That’s why wiping out forested paper can be a real boon in the climate fight.

“The lion’s share of usage is number one is toilet paper and number two is paper towels, after that the size of the market really really shrinks. We’re going to be continuing on the paper space,” said Fritsch. 

The company’s next act will be working with businesses like restaurants, hotels, and even stadiums and arenas to make the swithc.

“We launched the company as a B2B company. We were working with WeWork and restaurants and the market — if you look at where our paper products were being used,” Fritsch said. “So another big focus will be building products for our commercial customers where there’s higher capacity.”

Cloud Paper box of paper towels. Image Credit: Cloud Paper

#bamboo, #brazil, #canada, #cloud-paper, #co-founder, #consumer-products, #dara-khosrowshahi, #gwyneth-paltrow, #hygiene, #marc-benioff, #mark, #paper, #plants, #plastics, #public-health, #russia, #sanitation, #seattle, #tc, #toilet-paper, #towel, #tushy, #uber, #united-states, #wework

0

Inovia Capital raises $450M for second growth-stage investment fund

Montreal-headquartered Inovia Capital has raised $450 million for Growth Fund II, the firm’s second growth-stage investment fund. The close of this funding comes just a little over two years after the announcement of its first in February 2019, a $400 million pool of investment capital that marked Inovia’s first foray beyond the early stage deals it originally focused on.

Inovia now has investments across every stage of a company’s development — including retaining stakes in some of its portfolio companies that have had successful exits to the public markets, like Lightspeed, the point-of-sale and commerce company that went public in a nearly $400 million public offering on both the NYSE and the TSX last year.

As with Growth Fund I, the goal of Growth Fund II is to invest in companies with a focus primarily on Canadian startups, but also looking to targets in the U.S. and EU, where Inovia also maintains offices. The firms’ partners, including Chris Arsenault, Dennis Kavelman, and former Google CFO Patrick Pichette, have focused on building out a team of experienced operators to help their portfolio companies, and invest specifically in areas of particular need for startups outside the Valley, like sourcing high-demand, senior talent with high-profile tech industry experience.

Inovia’s original Growth Fund was based on an assumption that the firm could leverage its relationships and its experience to deliver value to its portfolio companies not just when they’re starting out, but across their growth cycles. Arsenault explained in an interview that Fund I was kind of a proof point that that this assumption was correct, which then paid big dividends when the firm went out to raise Fund II last year.

“We basically built the team around Dennis, Patrick and myself,” he said. “We really followed through on our key assumptions over why it made sense for Inovia to use its platform to actually build a growth stage fund that would benefit not only from insights into the portfolio, but also all of the relationships and the platform that we built over the last decade.”

What needed proving, Arsenault said, was that Inovia could stand toe-to-toe with the growth-focused firms that had acted as follow-on investors for its early stage deals over the years. That was no easy task, when you consider that Inovia provided deal flow to some of the most respected venture firms in technology, including Bessemer, KKR, TA Ventures and Sequoia.

Inovia hired a lot of operators with experience at high-growth companies, and focused on being able to shepherd its investments through challenges like building a real board, and engineering a cap table to properly manage and prepare secondary sales. With a plan to invest in between 10 to 12 companies with the $400 million in Fund I, Inovia began making deals – the first was with Lightspeed, and then they got into Forward (tech-enabled primary health care), Hopper and Snaptravel (two travel industry startups) and more.

Inovia Capital growth partners Chris Arsenault, Dennis Kavelman and Patrick Pichette (left to right)

Most of the companies that Lightspeed picked with Fund I (it did 10 deals in total) ended up having a very strong 2020 – including, surprisingly, all the travel-focused startups. Based on the strength of their performance, Arsenault and his partners decided to accelerate their timetable for raising Fund II, and found LPs more than willing. They ended up capping the fund at $450 million (with a target of between 10 to 12 investments, as with Fund I) given what Arsenault says felt like the right size for managing across the investment and operating team, despite available demand to likely raise quite a bit more.

Arsenault noted that most of the LPs contributing to this fund also had capital in the first, though some new investors have also signed on. And while Inovia’s focus is not strictly Canadian, he added that the firm’s success, along with the makeup of its investment partners and portfolio (two-thirds of the companies it has backed are Canadian) tells a story of a changing investment landscape north of the border.

“The majority of our LPs are Canadian, and I take it to heart that it’s important to create patterns of success, so that people can look towards models and either replicate or adapt to their own situation,” Arsenault said. “I think that we need more success stories that people can look at and say, ‘I can do the same thing, or I can do better.’ And the fact that our LPs came back with us, and when you look at, you know, what Georgian [Partners] is doing, and what Novacap is doing, and what OMERS Growth – this is nothing like the VC ecosystem and industry that I was in 10 years ago, right? We’re definitely on another level now in Canada.”

He added that there are examples at every stage of company-building, citing the new Backbone Angels collective led by a number of post and current Shopify employees including Arati Sharma, Atless Clark, Lynsey Thornton and Alexandra Clark. Arsenault also pointed to Lightspeed’s decision to list first on the TSX before the NYSE as a sign of newfound tech industry maturity in the Canadian context.

Finally, Arsenault credits an unusual ‘X’ factor in how Inovia has been able to put together this second fund and manage deep involvement in its very active portfolio companies over the last year: the mostly remote conditions brought on by the necessities of the pandemic.

“It would have been impossible to do what we did within the portfolio, with the portfolio, fundraising a new fund, generating our best year, in terms of exits last year, we had the New York Stock Exchange IPO for Lightspeed, we had a dozen transactions of acquisitions where our portfolio companies are doing the acquiring,” he said. “I don’t know how we would have done what we’ve done, had we been traveling and had a normal life.”

#accel, #canada, #cfo, #chris-arsenault, #corporate-finance, #european-union, #finance, #fund, #funding, #google, #hopper, #inovia, #inovia-capital, #investment, #lightspeed, #money, #montreal, #patrick-pichette, #shopify, #ta-ventures, #tc, #united-states, #venture-capital

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Does Atlantic Canada have a blueprint for rural revival in the post-pandemic era?

When Mike Morrison left his hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, for Calgary, Alberta, he assumed he’d never go back except to visit.

Morrison was following a well-trodden path of Atlantic Canadians heading west to find work rom which few returned. During the mid-aughts, Alberta was booming thanks to the high price of oil. To Morrison, migrating west seemed an easy choice. “If I stayed, my options were to be a supply teacher or work in a call center.”

When he arrived in Alberta, Morrison worked three jobs. During his free time, he started a blog to tell his friends back home about his life out west, and also to recommend TV shows. Slowly, Mike’s Bloggity Blog became one of Canada’s premier entertainment sites, and Morrison found himself with a local newspaper column as well as regular television and radio appearances. He then started Social West, a Calgary-based digital marketing conference that, before long, expanded to three cities. His identity and public persona were intertwined with his adopted city.

“For a while, I would tell people that I was being paid to be a professional Calgarian.” Then, in 2021, Morrison left Calgary for Halifax, Nova Scotia, back east.

Morrison and his partner are part of a wave of skilled young people reversing Canada’s natural current of internal migration. In doing so, they’re participating in an economic revival that could change the destiny of the depressed Atlantic region.

When they return, young people like Morrison are finding that Atlantic Canadians have quietly built a robust startup ecosystem that has resulted in a dozen acquisitions to companies like IBM and Salesforce, the sum of which likely surpasses $5 million in cash and stock.

The Atlantic Canada story may provide a blueprint for other rural regions looking to take advantage of the decentralizing impact of COVID-19 to swap resource-based economies for the knowledge economy.

If you’ve never thought of Atlantic Canada before, you’re not alone. Indeed, many Canadians refer to Toronto as “east”’ despite there being 1,900 miles between Drake and The Weeknd’s hometown and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, the easternmost point of Canada and North America. The four provinces that make up Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador) are easy to overlook for their remoteness. Known within Canada for its sleepy seaside towns, kitchen parties, trouble-making red-headed orphans and lobster galore, Atlantic Canada has had a rough few decades.

After the collapse of the cod fishing industry in the 1990s followed by the migration of shipbuilding to Asia, Atlantic Canada defined itself as the have-not region of America’s rational northern neighbor. Despite booming from the war years onward due to its abundant natural resources, since the ’90s Atlantic Canada has watched its young people migrate west to the oil fields of Alberta for blue-collar work and to Toronto and Montreal for white-collar work.

Soon, the region’s hard-luck narrative stuck. Stephen Harper, the country’s prime minister from 2006 to 2015, famously quipped that the region suffered from “a culture of defeatism.” The narrative of the death of the coastal region became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Then, during the pandemic, the narrative drastically changed. In September 2020, Halifax-based fitness data management company Kinduct was acquired by mCube. In November 2020, Newfoundland-based Verafin was acquired by Nasdaq for $2.75 billion in cash. In January 2021, Prince Edward Island-based ScreenScape Networks was acquired by Spectrio for an undisclosed fee, then Halifax-based storytelling platform Wattpad was acquired by Naver in a deal worth $600 million. Atlantic Canada had four major tech acquisitions in a five-month period.

Outsiders were surprised by the sudden upsurge in exits, but momentum had been building for some time. Business writer Gordon Pitts pinpoints 2011 as the game-changing year for the Atlantic startup scene. In his book “Unicorn in the Woods: How East Coast Geeks and Dreamers are Changing the Game,” Pitts recounts how in March 2011 Salesforce purchased New Brunswick-based social media monitoring company Radian6 for approximately $300 million. Then, in November of the same year, IBM purchased another New Brunswick-based startup, cybersecurity company Q1 labs, for a reported $600 million. If anyone considered the Radian6 acquisition a one-off chance event, the subsequent success of Q1 labs demonstrated there was a there there.

Under normal circumstances, one might expect the founders of Radian6 and Q1 labs to disappear into the suburbs of Cambridge or Marin Country, but that never happened. Rather than uproot their newly acquired companies, both Salesforce and IBM opened engineering offices in Fredericton. Verafin would appear to be following suit: in the press release announcing the acquisition, Nasdaq committed to keeping the company’s headquarters in Newfoundland, investing in the local university and contributing to the development of the local ecosystem.

Once lone rangers, Q1 Labs and Radian6 are now surrounded by thriving copycats in a self-sustaining ecosystem. According to Peter Moreira, founder of Entrevestor, a publication that has tracked the Atlantic Canadian startup scene since 2011, the ecosystem has attracted over a billion dollars in investment spread among 700 companies, creating more than 6,000 direct jobs. About 100 companies are created every year in fields as diverse as life sciences, cleantech and ocean tech.

VC firms have taken notice: notable investors in Atlantic Canadian startups include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund supported by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Indeed, what’s remarkable about the string of recent exits is their diversity across industries and their inside-baseball inclinations, spanning everything from fraudulent credit card transactions to fitness data and video technology.

Sandy Bird is one of the protagonists of the Atlantic Canada tech-driven economic revival. Sandy co-founded Q1 Labs and then, after the acquisition, became the CTO of IBM’s security division. In 2017, Bird and the former CEO of Q1 Labs founded a new cybersecurity company, this one focused on public clouds, called Sonrai Security, which has since raised nearly $40 million in venture capital. Bird takes great pride in having lived his entire life within a 30-minute radius and showing the world that his prior exit was not a one-off event.

According to Bird, IBM was happy to keep an engineering division in New Brunswick because the quality of the engineers is high and employee attrition, one of the obstacles for any fast-growing company operating in the competitive labor market of the San Francisco Bay Area, is low. Atlantic Canada is a place where the idea of the “company man/woman” is still alive and thriving.

Bird noted that “thanks to our high retention, we’re able to build a company culture that makes up for any of the disadvantages of a smaller labor market.” Bird also pointed out that the Atlantic time zones are ideal, enabling effective communications with Europe as well as the rest of North America.

Bird is also honest about the region’s shortcomings. For example, airline connections to Atlantic Canada can be tricky. Getting to places like Denver can take a day and multiple connections. Sonrai Security, for example, has its core engineering team in Fredericton while sales and marketing are in New York, with regional salespeople spread out around North America.

In terms of starting a company, the local ecosystem can provide those first checks to get a company up and running, but growth from Series B onward requires tapping into U.S. venture capital. Another challenge is hiring fast enough to meet the demands of a thriving tech company. Though companies like his can recruit recent graduates and exiled Atlantic Canadians eager to return, Bird mentioned that Q1 Labs opened a parallel engineering office in Belfast, Ireland, to scale-up hiring.

So what is the playbook for other rural regions hoping to copy the Atlantic Canada model of generating tech jobs? Speaking to insiders, all cite the low cost of living and high quality of life as enabling startups to both attract and retain talent. Second, a welcoming attitude toward immigration helps. Even prior to COVID-19, Canada cheekily took advantage of anxiety around U.S. immigration policies to launch a startup visa program to attract entrepreneurs and H1-B visa holders away from the United States, and many cite that program as acting as a strategic advantage for the coastal provinces.

Atlantic Canada’s recent success is owed in part to proactive government. After years of failed top-down economic development initiatives, both the provincial and the federal governments have found formulas to kickstart new companies through grants as well as repayable and non-repayable non-dilutive funding.

Entrepreneurs cite IRAP, the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, as key to obtaining funds that subsidize wages for staff and contractors. Another federal government agency, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), awards funding between CA$500,000 and CA$3 million (roughly $400,000 USD to $2.4 million USD) through its Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF). Each of the four provincial governments has its own incentive programs, which include grants and wage subsidies as well as incentives for private investors.

Despite these government programs, local entrepreneurs stress that the region’s modest success is primarily driven by the private sector. Each province tends to have a godfather/cheerleader who has championed local startups through investment, advice and connections. Notable also is the accessibility of the success stories of the region’s protagonists. In a place where ostentatious displays of wealth are avoided, successful founders are easy to get a hold of and happy to provide advice, contacts and in some cases capital. Also notable is the region’s mix of 16 public-private universities that produce graduates with varied skill sets across STEM and humanities programs.

Even with these advances, obstacles abound, and it remains to be seen whether politicians and policy-makers can match entrepreneurs with bold initiatives. While countries like Ireland and Estonia have rewritten their corporate tax codes to encourage tech companies to set up in their previously disadvantaged jurisdictions, Atlantic Canada continues to have tax rates above neighboring provinces and U.S. states. Past innovation hubs have relied on physical proximity in order to build networks of human and social capital. Atlantic Canada as a region spans 500,000 square kilometers (193,256 square miles), much of which is hard to get to and poorly connected to the rest of the world.

Having done the hard work of providing the region with a new narrative, and a newfound sense of self-belief, many entrepreneurs hope to finally transition away from a declining resource-based economic model. They want to create a world where ambitious Atlantic Canadians don’t need to choose between staying close to home and pursuing exciting careers.

There are reasons to be hopeful: With every exit, future entrepreneurs are provided the success stories that, like supernovas, explode and act as the base material for new ventures. With every VC investment, the region’s network of startups builds the social capital that can enable the next round of funding. With every innovation, the region’s breadth of knowledge deepens through newfound expertise.

And with Atlantic Canada’s traditional migratory patterns seeming to reverse themselves as workers return to seek a lower cost of living and higher quality of life in small towns with coastal views, the pool of talent has only increased.

In the post-COVID world, talent can go anywhere, proving that constant proximity is not a prerequisite to building high-performing companies. To replicate the Atlantic Canada model, however, rural areas will need to offer more than a lower cost of living, as housing prices quickly catch up to demand.

Atlantic Canada’s modest success can be summarized as the result of fomenting a highly collaborative ecosystem that includes companies, universities, investors and government to ensure that the human capital, social capital and financial capital are available to propel new companies forward. Only by building an ecosystem can we create economic models where instead of talent chasing opportunity, opportunity chases talent.

#canada, #column, #founder, #north-america, #opinion, #startups, #venture-capital

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Too Much on the Bottom and Not Enough in the Middle: Nanaimo Bar Outrage

An online post of a Nanaimo bar photo swiftly prompted criticism in Canada and discussion about the treat’s ideal proportions.

#british-columbia-canada, #canada, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #instagram-inc, #northwest-territories-canada, #photography, #social-media

0

A Green Wave? Mexico’s Marijuana Market May Be Middling

Lawmakers in Mexico are on the verge of legalizing marijuana, but economists and industry analysts warn against expecting much monetary benefit.

#california, #canada, #marijuana, #mexico, #united-states

0

Idaho Pulls Out of Powerball Because of Overseas Expansion

An Idaho state committee killed a bill that would have allowed the popular lottery to continue in the state even after it expanded to Australia and Britain.

#australia, #canada, #great-britain, #idaho, #law-and-legislation, #lotteries, #multi-state-lottery-assn, #puerto-rico, #state-legislatures, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #virgin-islands-us

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Hackers are exploiting vulnerable Exchange servers to drop ransomware, Microsoft says

Hackers are exploiting recently discovered vulnerabilities in Exchange email servers to drop ransomware, Microsoft has warned, a move that puts tens of thousands of email servers at risk of destructive attacks.

In a tweet late Thursday, the tech giant said it had detected the new kind of file-encrypting malware called DoejoCrypt — or DearCry — which uses the same four vulnerabilities that Microsoft linked to a new China-backed hacking group called Hafnium.

When chained together, the vulnerabilities allow a hacker to take full control of a vulnerable system.

Microsoft said Hafnium was the “primary” group exploiting these flaws, likely for espionage and intelligence gathering. But other security firms say they’ve seen other hacking groups exploit the same flaws. ESET said at least 10 groups are actively compromising Exchange servers.

Michael Gillespie, a ransomware expert who develops ransomware decryption tools, said many vulnerable Exchange servers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia had been infected with DearCry.

The new ransomware comes less than a day after a security researcher published proof-of-concept exploit code for the vulnerabilities to Microsoft-owned GitHub. The code was swiftly removed a short time later for violating the company’s policies.

Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher at Kryptos Logic, said in a tweet that the code worked, albeit with some fixes.

Threat intelligence company RiskIQ says it has detected over 82,000 vulnerable servers as of Thursday, but that the number is declining. The company said hundreds of servers belonging to banks and healthcare companies are still affected, as well as more than 150 servers in the U.S. federal government.

That’s a rapid drop compared to close to 400,000 vulnerable servers when Microsoft first disclosed the vulnerabilities on March 2, the company said.

Microsoft published security fixes last week, but the patches do not expel the hackers from already-breached servers. Both the FBI and CISA, the federal government’s cybersecurity advisory unit, have warned that the vulnerabilities present a major risk to businesses across the United States.

John Hultquist, vice president of analysis at FireEye’s Mandiant threat intelligence unit, said he anticipates more ransomware groups trying to cash in.

“Though many of the still unpatched organizations may have been exploited by cyber espionage actors, criminal ransomware operations may pose a greater risk as they disrupt organizations and even extort victims by releasing stolen emails,” said Hultquist.

#australia, #canada, #computer-security, #cyberattack, #cybercrime, #cyberwarfare, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #fireeye, #github, #healthcare, #malware, #mandiant, #marcus-hutchins, #microsoft, #ransomware, #riskiq, #security, #security-breaches, #united-states

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Book Review: ‘Hunt, Gather, Parent,’ by Michaeleen Doucleff

In “Hunt, Gather, Parent,” Michaeleen Doucleff visits with Indigenous people to pick up parenting tactics that Western cultures may be sorely lacking.

#books-and-literature, #canada, #children-and-childhood, #doucleff-michaeleen, #families-and-family-life, #hunt-gather-parent-what-ancient-cultures-teach-us-about-the-lost-art-of-raising-happy-healthy-little-humans-book, #indigenous-people, #mexico, #parenting, #tanzania

0

There’s a Global Plan to Conserve Nature. Indigenous People Could Lead the Way.

Dozens of countries are backing an effort that would protect 30 percent of Earth’s land and water. Native people, often among the most effective stewards of nature, have been disregarded, or worse, in the past.

#biodiversity, #brazil, #canada, #conservation-of-resources, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indigenous-people, #papua-new-guinea

0

SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink satellites just one week after the last batch

SpaceX now has 60 more Starlink satellites in orbit – it launched its latest full complement of the internet broadband spacecraft early this morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Just last Thursday, SpaceX launched its last batch of 60, and this past week it also confirmed that it’s expanding its beta of the Starlink internet service to additional markets around the world, including Germany and New Zealand.

This is the 21st Starlink launch overall, and the sixth this year, with as many as three more launches tentatively planned for later this month, weather and schedule permitting. The simple reason it’s pursuing such an aggressive launch pace is that the more satellites it adds to its constellation in low-Earth orbit, the more customers it can sign up and serve. Starlink is currently in beta, but it’s now open to anyone to sign up depending on geography, with SpaceX taking a deposit and offering a rough timeline on projected availability.

So far, Starlink service is open to people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany and New Zealand, but the plan is to achieve “near global coverage of the populated world” by the end of this year. Adding satellites to the constellation not only helps expand geographic reach, but also improves network performance. SpaceX says that currently, the beta should provide speeds ranging from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s, with latency falling between 20ms to 40ms, but that both of those metrics should improve over the coming months as more spacecraft join the network, and as SpaceX rolls out additional ground stations.

Already, there are anecdotal reports that Starlink’s service bests the competition in rural and hard-to-reach areas where ground infrastructure for alternative services like cellular internet, or legacy satellite from geosynchronous spacecraft-based networks have been disappointing.

This launch also included a successful controlled landing of the booster used to propel the Falcon 9 rocket that carried the Starlink satellites to orbit. SpaceX landed the first stage, which flew previously on five missions, including SpaceX’s first human spaceflight mission, back at its autonomous drone landing ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

#aerospace, #broadband, #canada, #falcon, #falcon-9, #florida, #germany, #internet-service, #internet-service-providers, #new-zealand, #outer-space, #satellite, #space, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #spacex, #starlink, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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Synchronized Swimmers Say Coaches Have Abused Them

Coaches around the world in the sport, now known as artistic swimming, are facing accusations that they bullied, harassed and psychologically abused athletes.

#canada, #coaches-and-managers, #olympic-games-2020, #swimming, #synchronized-swimming

0

In Canada’s Long-Term Care Homes, Vaccinated and Still Locked Inside

“Right now, they aren’t living. They are existing.” As nursing homes in Canada grapple with the balance between protecting residents while preserving their rights and autonomy, time is running out for many.

#canada, #elder-care, #nursing-homes, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #quarantines, #toronto-ontario, #vaccination-and-immunization

0

Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky Shared His Father With a Nation

Walter Gretzky coached a young Wayne, who ended up setting N.H.L. scoring records that will never be matched, and became a role model for hockey parents.

#canada, #deaths-obituaries, #edmonton-oilers, #gretzky-wayne, #hockey-ice, #national-hockey-league, #new-york-rangers, #parkinsons-disease, #walter-gretzky

0

32 Rescued From Sinking Fishing Boat: ‘Every Moment Counts’

A scallop trawler from Nova Scotia was hit by fire, then lost power and began taking on water in stormy seas. Rescue teams from Canada and the United States mounted a joint operation to save the crew.

#canada, #canadian-armed-forces, #helicopters, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #nova-scotia-canada, #rescues, #ships-and-shipping, #united-states-coast-guard

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Alek Minassian Found Guilty in Toronto Van Attack

The defendant was convicted of murder and attempted murder for killing 10 people and injuring 16 when he mounted the curb of a busy sidewalk in a van in 2018.

#canada, #decisions-and-verdicts, #mental-health-and-disorders, #minassian-alek, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #toronto-ontario

0

Surf’s Up. The Temperature Isn’t.

Growing numbers of surfers are taking to the Great Lakes — even when the weather is well below freezing.

#canada, #great-lakes, #lake-huron, #lakes, #snow-and-snowstorms, #surfing, #toronto-ontario, #travel-and-vacations

0

Who is Arora Akanksha, the 34-Year-Old Running for U.N. Secretary General?

The United Nations auditor, with no diplomatic experience, has declared her candidacy for secretary general — an audacious bid to shake up an organization that she says badly needs it.

#canada, #content-type-personal-profile, #guterres-antonio, #haryana-india, #millennial-generation, #refugees-and-displaced-persons, #united-nations, #women-and-girls, #workplace-environment

0

Biden and Trudeau Renew the Ties Put to the Test by Trump

“The United States has no closer friend than Canada,” President Biden told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mr. Biden’s first virtual meeting with a foreign leader.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #canada, #trudeau-justin, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Project management service ZenHub raises $4.7M

ZenHub, the GitHub-centric project management service for development teams, today announced that it has raised a $4.7 million seed funding round from Canada’s BDC Capital and Ripple Ventures. This marks the first fundraise for the Vancouver, Canada-based startup after the team bootstrapped the service, which first launched back in 2014. Additional angel investors in this round include Adam Gross (former CEO of Heroku), Jiaona Zhang (VP Product at Webflow) and Oji Udezue (VP Product at Calendly).

In addition to announcing this funding round, the team also today launched its newest automation feature, which makes it easier for teams to plan the development sprints, something that is core to the Agile development process but often takes a lot of time and energy — something teams are better off spending on the actual development process.

“This is a really exciting kind of pivot point for us as a business and gives us a lot of ammunition, I think, to really go after our vision and mission a little bit more aggressively than we have even in the past,” ZenHub co-founder and CEO Aaron Upright told me. The team, he explained, used the beginning of the pandemic to spend a lot of time with customers to better understand how they were reacting to what was happening. In the process, customers repeatedly noted that development resources were getting increasingly expensive and that teams were being stretched even farther and under a lot of pressure.

ZenHub’s answer to this was to look into how it could automate more of the processes that constitute the most complex parts of Agile. Earlier this year, the company launched its first efforts in this area, with new tools for improving developer handoffs in GitHub and now, with the help of this new funding, it is putting the next pieces in place by helping teams automate their sprint planning.

Image Credits: ZenHub

“We thought about automation as an answer to [the problems development teams were facing] and that we could take an approach to automation and to help guide teams through some of the most complex and time-consuming parts of the Agile process,” Upright said. “We raised money so that we can really accelerate toward that vision. As a self-funded company, we could have gone down that path, albeit a little bit slower. But the opportunity that we saw in the market — really brought about by the pandemic, and teams working more remotely and this pressure to produce — we wanted to provide a solution much, much faster.”

The spring planning feature itself is actually pretty straightforward and allows project managers to allocate a certain number of story points (a core Agile metric to estimate the complexity of a given action item) to each sprint. ZenHub’s tool can then use that to automatically generate a list of the most highly prioritized items for the next sprint. Optionally, teams can also decide to roll over items that they didn’t finish during a given sprint into the next one.

Image Credits: ZenHub

With that, ZenHub Sprints can automate a lot of the standard sprint meetings and lets teams focus on thinking about the overall process. Of course, teams can always overrule the automated systems.

“There’s nothing more that developers hate than sitting around the table for eight hours, planning sprints, when really they all just want to be working on stuff,” Upright said.

With this new feature, sprints become a core feature of the ZenHub experience. Typically, project managers worked around this by assigning milestones in GitHub, but having a dedicated tool and these new automation features will make this quite a bit easier.

Coming soon, ZenHub will also build a new feature that will automate some parts of the software estimation process, too, by launching a new tool that will help teams more easily allocate story points to routing action items so that their discussions can focus on the more contentious ones.