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The Montreal-based point-of-sale technology company had a net loss of US$10.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared with a loss of US$8.2 million for the same period last year. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Lightspeed is trying to expand into Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific all at the same time, so while revenues are up—US$28 million this quarter compared with US$18.6 million a year ago—costs are, too. Even more spending is likely around the corner: In October, Lightspeed CEO Dax Dasilva told The Logic he had a “robust pipeline” for potential acquisitions. The firm currently has US$171.8 million in cash on hand to make more purchases. It also has no debt, despite taking out a US$55-million debt facility with CIBC in April. This is the third time Lightspeed has reported earnings since going public this year, and the first time its results have been relatively mixed. When it reported in August, its stock rose 8.9 per cent. In May, it jumped 13.8 per cent. This time, the market is less enthused; the company was down 1.3 per cent at close Thursday.

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Fellow.app, an Ottawa-based performance- and team-management software startup, has raised a $8.75-million seed round.

What it is: Managers use Fellow to schedule meetings with direct reports, track tasks they’ve agreed to, set priorities and get feedback on projects and decisions. The app, which integrates with calendars and workplace-messaging platform Slack, also suggests questions to ask in conversations with staff based on management research and best practices. It’s ongoing engagement, rather than the annual goal setting and review systems many big companies use.

What’s happened so far: Aydin Mirzaee, CEO, and his two co-founders started Fellow in October 2017. The platform was tested at local tech giant Shopify starting with 200 employees, and eventually installed across the company. Fellow now has more than 8,000 users and 20 staff.

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What Fellow said: “Everybody wants to make their organizations work better. And they want a tool for managers and their teams,” said Mirzaee. “So, naturally, just through the Shopify angle, we were introduced [to other companies].”

Who’s backing it: iNovia Capital, the Montreal-headquartered venture capital firm, whose portfolio includes commerce software company Lightspeed POS, which went public in March, and enterprise messaging startup Smooch, which was acquired by ZenDesk in May. San Francisco-based Felicis Ventures—which invested in Shopify—and Garage Capital—a recipient of the federal government’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative—also contributed to the round.

Why it matters (financially): Fellow’s raise is the fifth-largest seed round ever in Canada, according to data from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.

Why it matters (to Canada): Fellow is being used by many of Canada’s best-funded scale-ups, including enterprise video platform Vidyard, wearables developer North, and Tulip Retail, a software platform for brick-and-mortar stores. Fast-growing firms frequently promote employees into their first management roles, and are rapidly adding to their workforces—Shopify went from 632 employees to more than 4,000 between May 2015 and December 2018. Helping those first-time managers was “part of the motivation in originally building the product,” said Mirzaee. The user base has since expanded to company leaders at all experience levels, and sectors like health care and education.

Why it matters (in Ottawa): Mirzaee and his Fellow co-founders previously started Fluidware, an online survey and review company that grew to 70 employees. SurveyMonkey acquired the startup for more than US$20 million, and made Ottawa its second headquarters; the San Mateo, Calif.-headquartered company now has more than 150 people in the city. Mirzaee is a prominent figure in the local tech community, helping set up the city’s SaaS North conference.

What’s next: Starting Thursday, companies can sign up for early access. Fellow’s full public launch is scheduled for the fall. Mirzaee said the app’s suggestions will improve over time, and companies will eventually be able to customize it for their specific policies and routines. “I wouldn’t quite call what we’re doing right now AI, but it definitely lends itself well to morph into that category,” he said.

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Lightspeed CFO Brandon Nussey, Ceridian CEO David Ossip and SOTI CEO Carl Rodrigues are concerned that individuals receiving more than $200,000 worth of shares will be affected by higher taxes, making it harder to attract top talent. (Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: The new measures are designed to target employees at “large, long-established, mature firms,” but won’t affect startups and “emerging Canadian businesses,” according to the budget. It doesn’t define what constitutes a startup or emerging business, however. It’s unclear if more established tech firms like Lighstpeed—a 14-year-old company that went public earlier this month and currently has a market cap of $1.8 billion—will be affected. Tech companies have dodged similar tax increases before. In 2016, the government dropped a plan to tax stock options gains in excess of $100,000 that would have affected small companies as well as more established ones.