S|W: The SaaS Weekly – Allen Lau Recall

Plus: Certn is raising C$65.1 million to expand background check technology beyond Canada.

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Wattpad Co-Founder Allen Lau Steps Down As CEO, Becomes Executive Advisor (BETAKIT)

Just over a year after Wattpad was formally acquired by Naver, the company announced that co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is transitioning into a new role, in a move Lau described as “the last curtain call”. Lau will become an executive advisor for Wattpad and Webtoon, while Wattpad president Jeanne Lam will take over as Wattpad’s operations manager.

Ripple valued at over $11 billion after last funding round (Reuters)

The San Francisco-based company offers services for businesses to manage their human resources and information technology operations, such as employee onboarding and payroll management. It was co-founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Parker Conrad, who was previously chief executive of HR software company Zenefits, a position he left the same year Rippling was founded.

Georgian again backs Vention for C$123.7m in Series C (BETAKIT)

This round would represent the second time that Toronto-based venture capital firm Georgian Partners as a lead investor in Vention’s fundraisings, also led Vention’s $38 million Series B round in June 2020. Fidelity Investment Canada ULC participated in the financing as a new investor, alongside investors White Star Capital, Bain Capital Ventures and Bolt Ventures.

Grindr Dating App to Go Public via Tiga SPAC at $2.1 Billion (BNN BLOOMBERG)

The male-dominated dating app is merging with Tiga Acquisition Corp., which debuted in November 2020. The special-purpose acquisition company does not offer any private investment in public equity transactions, or PIPE. The business combination will provide Grindr with approximately $384 million, which the company will use to pay down debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

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Certn raises C$65.1 million to expand background check technology beyond Canada (BETAKIT)

With a client base of recruiting firms, property management firms and the gig economy, Certn’s platform uses artificial intelligence to predict candidate behaviors and has the ability to resend background checks domestic and international criminals, credit reports, reference checks, education verification, employment verification, motor vehicle records and identity verification in minutes.

Colombian proptech Habi achieves unicorn status with $200m raise co-led by SoftBank and Homebrew (TECHCRUNCH)

The startup did not reveal its exact valuation, saying only that it had achieved unicorn status, which means it is now valued at over $1 billion. The increase follows a year of strong growth, according to the company, which saw its revenue increase “well over 20 times” in 2021. With this latest increase, Habi says she has become the second unicorn in Colombia. and the only LatAm unicorn with a female founder and CEO, according to Crunchbase.

White Star Capital, Coveo alum-led Lighthouse Labs closes C$9.1 million to build a research platform for the Metaverse (BETAKIT)

Lighthouse has narrowed its focus: to create a metaverse search engine that will allow users to search for places, events, friends, creators, assets, and experiences across and within blockchain-based virtual worlds, most of which were built on Ethereum. Through its platform, the company intends to help users locate trending activities, build communities, check where their NFTs are usable, and follow specific brands and creators.

Tengiva closes $5 million to address supply chain issues in the textile industry (BETAKIT)

In an interview with BetaKit, Tengiva co-founder and CEO Annie Cyr described the textile industry as “one of the oldest and most important in the world”. But according to Cyr, the sector has always focused on the machinery and technical processes used to make textiles. As a result, Cyr says the textile industry has neglected to tackle its months-long, mostly offline, “complex and outdated” approach to supply and distribution.

Thinkific sees revenue surge and net loss jump in Q1 2022, following recent layoffs (VENTUREBEAT)

Today, cloud-native email security platform Abnormal Security raised $210 million in a Series C funding round, bringing the company’s valuation to $4 billion . Abnormal Security’s customer base has grown by 270% and includes companies such as Xerox, Hitachi Vantara, Urban Outfitters, Groupon, Royal Caribbean International and Auto Club Group-AAA.

Volley founder aims to leverage Andela’s experience to create a similar model for sales talent (BETAKIT)

New York-based Andela, which Carnevale co-founded in 2014, connects tech talent from regions like sub-Saharan Africa to job opportunities around the world. The SoftBank-backed startup, which has reportedly raised $381 million to date, has successfully helped tech companies build remote engineering teams by bringing in workers located in emerging markets.

This startup hit a $1.1 billion valuation by removing email hacks (FORBES)

A growing wave of tech layoffs has led to remorseful laments from CEOs they hired too quickly during the pandemic. When starting Material Security, Ryan Noon says he faces no such issues; on the contrary, he says, he is being hired “probably a little slower” than necessary. “I think the last two years of Silicon Valley will be remembered as a particularly wasted era,” says Noon, co-founder and CEO. “You don’t need a lot of people to do a lot if you have the right people.”

Alida set to expand into Alberta with new office in Edmonton and plans to hire over 100 people (BETAKIT)

Alida said she did an international search before finding a new home in Edmonton. The tech startup noted that the city has seen significant growth in its tech sector over the past five years. “Edmonton is a fantastic city with a rapidly growing population and an equally thriving tech industry — perfect for establishing and growing long-term roots,” said Ross Wainwright, CEO of Alida.

Airbnb is reinventing itself – Brian Chesky explains why (TECHCRUNCH)

Airbnb has just redesigned its website to change the way users search for listings on the platform. Category search allows users to explore trips without having a specific destination in mind. Instead, they can look for A-frames or country homes or locations near great golf experiences.

Fobi AI Signs Agreement to Acquire Basket and Strengthen Coupon Aggregator Offering (BETAKIT)

Vancouver-based startup Fobi AI is set to acquire grocery coupon app Basket. Meanwhile, Toronto parking space market WhereiPark has been acquired by Australia’s Spacer Technologies. Elsewhere in Canada’s tech acquisition news, Toronto startup EdTech Habitat Learn has acquired Temmer to provide computer-based note-taking for students.

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