Welcome to Unicorn County. Population: 9 | The Sunday Briefing

Another BC tech company has passed a billion-dollar valuation.

Good morning and welcome to the new subscribers reading this Sunday. I invite you to stay connected with us all week on InstagramTwitter and LinkedIn. Better yet, join us for coffee (in person) to chat all things Vancouver tech this Tuesday, August 31 between 8am-10am. The community will be meeting at The Birds & The Beets at 55 Powell St. in Vancouver. Please sign-up.

In this week’s Briefing, I’m excited to highlight the Victoria-based blockchain and Bitcoin tech firm that just raised $266 million, a Vancouver AR swim goggles startup, and 35 other stories.

Today’s Briefing is 1,830 words, a 6 + 1/2-minute read. Enjoy!

-William,@notionport


Top story: Blockstream hits $4B

Victoria-based Blockstream, which specializes in Bitcoin and blockchain technologies, raised $266 million (USD$210M) in a Series B round, valuing the company at $4 billion (USD$3.2B).

In connection with the funding news, Blockstream also announced the acquisition of the intellectual property and core team of Spondoolies, a Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer. ➝ Get the full story.

🦄 Blockstream is the ninth BC-based technology business to publicly pass a billion-dollar valuation—through fundraising, an initial public offering or sale—in nine months. ➝ Do you know the other eight?


⏩ Quick takes.


🤝 Funding and deals.

Victoria-based Buyer, which provides an on-demand procurement team for fast-growing, tech-focused companies, has been acquired by Ramp, a New York startup that provides corporate cards and spend-management software.

The acquisition became public Tuesday following news of Ramp’s USD$300 million Series C, which values the company at USD$3.9 billion. “Ramp’s mission is to help companies save time and money and I can’t think of another company whose mission is so completely aligned with what we originally set out to do with Buyer,” said Buyer founder Kimia Hamidi. ➝ Get the full story.


Vancouver cybersecurity startup Cmd has agreed to be acquired by California’s Elastic.

Cmd employees will be joining the Elastic team, with CEO and co-founder Santosh Krishan and co-founder Jake King taking executive roles with Elastic. The company was founded in 2016 as an Expa startup accelerator studio company. It’s raised approximately $27 million in funding and was listed as a top 20 cybersecurity startup by Forbes.➝ Get the full story.


Vancouver’s Lifebooster, a market leader in the digital safety technology space, today revealed the closing of an investment round from local and international investors including W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.

The investment (amount not disclosed) will enable LifeBooster to extend its lead in connected worker risk analytics technology. In addition, as part of the investment, the company will work with Gore & Associates on a multi-year plan to introduce a line of co-branded smart workwear products to market. ➝ Get the full story.


Richmond’s IRDI System Inc. is receiving $72,940 in funding from the BC government to further their use of hydrogen in zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technology and create new cleantech jobs.

The funding comes via the Province’s CleanBC Go Electric Advanced Research and Commercialization Program. IRDI’s neighbour and manufacturer, Foreseeson Technology Inc, was also recognized for its contributions to BC-based ZEV technology. ➝ Get the full story.


BC-based Semios has acquired Australia-based Agworld, a data-driven farm management platform. The deal is the local agtech leader’s third acquisition in the last three months.

The international acquisition means that Semios and Agworld will form one of the largest independent agtech solution providers in the world to service growers, agronomists and ag retailers in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South Africa. ➝ Get the full story.


  • Plus, managed IT services provider, Utah-headquartered Executech, announced the acquisition of Vancouver-based Nucleus, an award-winning IT support provider. 

  • Putting the “seed” in seed funding, plant-based food innovation company TMRW announced a seed round investment of $2.6 million.

  • Vancouver’s PDFTron Systems acquired New Zealand’s Solid Documents, which provides document reconstruction and archiving solutions.


🗞️ You should also know that…

Our friends at Capital Daily reported that BC’s “booming tech sector” and youth unemployment rates are bringing NPower Canada, which helps underprivileged, diverse youth gain the skills needed to find work in tech, to the province. 

“The organization is currently accepting applications from youth aged 17 to 30 years old in Victoria and Vancouver for two 15-week courses: Junior IT Analyst and Junior Data Analyst. The former requires zero prior IT knowledge and leads to Google certification, while the latter requires some intermediate skills and ends in Microsoft certification,” Brishti Basu writes


Cleantech accelerator Foresight and the University of Victoria announced a partnership to support the growth of the cleantech ecosystem and accelerate the transition to an inclusive, net-zero future.

The purpose of the partnership is to advance the growth and competitiveness of BC’s cleantech ecosystem by helping ventures attract the capital they need to commercialize and scale-up.


BC’s Boast.ai and Axine Water Technologies were spotlighted as one of Canada’s future economic stars by MaRS.

They are two of 68 high-growth companies in the MaRS Momentum program that are helping solve the major challenges Canada faces in such key areas as health care, the environment and workforce re-skilling.


Vancouver’s SAFETYDOCS Global was selected to join the Google For Startups Accelerator: Women Founders Class of 2021.

SAFETYDOCS Global is a document management solutions platform that streamlines and automates permitting and licensing documentation workflows.


Job Opportunities at Overstory Media Group

Vancouver Tech Journal is looking for an experienced salesperson to join our team as an Account Executive. Plus, Overstory Media Group, our parent organization, is hiring for multiple roles (20+). Learn more.


💡 Ideas and insights.

Peter-Paul Van Hoeken, founder and CEO of Silver Maple Ventures Inc, believes ‘Investing in startups isn’t just for privileged investors any more.

“I believe there is an important overall rationale why investing in private companies should also be accessible to retail investors, and those companies should get access to capital from those individuals. The rationale lies in the fundamental principles of a free market: freedom of choice and competition. Freedom of choice in that anyone, in this case any investor, can participate and entrepreneurs can raise capital from whoever they choose,” Van Hoeken writes.


Commit, meanwhile, continued their interview series ‘Thriving remotely’ featuring Buffer VP of Engineering Katie Wilde.

“Some of your coworkers are task-based trust people: they’ll trust you if you show up and do your job, and that’s really all they want you to do. Other people are relationship-based and those people will want coffee chats. That’s one way to think about it: how does someone build trust, and are casual social situations like coffee chats something they actually do (or don’t) care about?” Wilde points out.


Canadian HR Reporter picked the brain of Greg Gunn, CEO and co-founder of Commit, to explore ‘How to create a remote-first, employee-first business.

“Distributed work is about giving that power to the individual: power to their voice to vote for things in the company but that power to the individual to make decisions on how they best work and what they want to invest their overhead in to making their themselves more productive,” Gunn shares. 


Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO—An interview with Kevin Collins, CEO and founder of Charli.AI.

When asked how we can create an equitable society, he said: “A leader has to recognize that their success is not just tied to, but completely dependent upon, the success of the team that surrounds them. This may seem obvious, or even trivial, but in reality I’ve rarely seen it practiced. A leader must focus not on their own success, or even just the success of their team as a whole, but on the success of each individual member of the team. As a leader, you can’t be in it for your own gratification; if you end up shining and the rest of the team doesn’t, that’s not a win.”


Voxco’s Sarath Mantravadi asks ‘Why is Bitcoin seen as digital Gold?’

“Many things can be divided and transported, but few beat the law of entropy (second law of thermodynamics) and maintain value over time: metals corrode, produce rots, and cattle die. Gold is one of the few elements, chemically stable and inert enough to make it virtually indestructible,” he writes.


Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, argues that ‘Innovation can help ensure hydrogen becomes B.C.’s new natural gas.’

“The reality is that B.C. gas producers are both price and policy takers from export markets with increasingly ambitious climate agendas. Innovation is natural gas’ other strong headwind, as renewable power generation and storage costs continue their competitive decline,” she writes. “Thankfully, we can see what’s coming, and we have the resources to not only prepare for it – but to seize it. The choice is ours to make.”


🌐 More BC tech headlines from around the web.


🎧 Watch + listen.

  • Dejan Pralica, CEO and co-founder of SoleSavy, joined the Founder Journey Series podcast from Launch Academy to discuss building SoleSavy without a technical cofounder, how members of the SoleSavy community are changing each other's lives in more ways than just shoes, and how difficult fundraising was during the pandemic. ⁠

  • Dr. Sam Gharbi, co-founder of Arya Health, joined the A Clean Bill of Wealth podcast.

  • Kenndal McArdle, principal, Pender Ventures was joined by Carlo Perez, founder and CEO of Swift Medical Inc, on the latest Pender Ventures Podcast

  • Mark Mitchell, principal and director of Red Thread Ventures, joined the Collisions YYC podcast.


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