Quebec Ink

Quebec Ink: Element AI’s demise met with sadness, and schadenfreude

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné meet on the sidelines of the Fortune Global Conference in Toronto in October 2018. Element AI
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MONTREAL—In the fall of 2018, a 40-page document circulated within Canada’s tech scene. Marked “confidential” and with no author identified, the report—titled simply “Element AI company analysis”—claimed to delve into the innards of a company that had taken Montreal’s tech community by force. 

Only two years old at the time, Element AI had muscled into Montreal, dazzled politicians and garnered millions of investment dollars from the likes of BDC Capital, Intel Capital and Real Ventures. So perhaps that anonymous report—which excoriated the company—was born of fear of the new behemoth on the block. Or perhaps it was sour grapes. In any case, re-reading it after Monday’s announcement that Element AI has essentially been sold for parts to California-based ServiceNow is either karmically damaging or an exercise in schadenfreude, depending on your outlook on these things.

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