Montreal Teo Electric Taxi is No More

The company that wanted to take on Uber and had government backing could not last even 3 years, as it was forced to shut down this week and their work force of about 450 drivers were let go.

Dominic Becotte, interim president for Teo, said that as much as they tried the company remained unprofitable all these years.

Becotte said Uber was partially to blame because “the conditions are not the same for all players in the mobility sector.”

Teo was given about $7.25 million dollars in Quebec government subsidies (around $5m for electric vehicle, $1.25m for vehicles and $1m for taxi permits). Teo said that was not enough, and tried to ask for more help from Quebec government but was denied.

It is not clear why backers like FTQ Solidarity Fund and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec did not step up to provide Teo more money. They have initially backed it with around $25m.

The big problems for Teo were three fold:

  • Quebec government did not allow them to adjust their rates and tariffs dynamically – meaning rush hour or big concert demand – Teo still could only get one pricing for the service
  • Electric vehicles are way more expensive to maintain than initially anticipated
  • Drivers had decided to unionize and therefore most likely driven costs even higher

Alexandre Taillefer, founder of Teo, said that they will now seek protection from its creditors.

Taillefer had initially touted three years ago:

“I’m not worried about Uber at all. We’re very confident we’ll provide an experience that’s way better. And what we’re doing for the drivers is fantastic. We’re allowing them to make a decent living while driving a cab. Montrealers need to adopt companies that focus on enhancing the lives of drivers.”

iPhone Facetime’s Hack

Update: Apple released iOS 12.1.4 that fixes FaceTime security flaw that let people eavesdrop in on you or even see your camera without your authorization. Feel free to go to Settings > General > Software update to do the update now.

You would never expect a large firm like Apple would let you eavesdrops on another person’s iPhone. But yesterday social media went crazy discussing how easy it is to do just that.

Basically you can call another person’s iPhone and eavesdrop or even see a video without the other person’s accepting it.

Apple acknowledge that it’s a bug in their Facetime software system and even without answering the call the other person can hear and see what you are doing.

We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week

Apple

Apple has also said that it has disabled group Facetime chat, the software that was causing an issue.

This is a big setback for Apple as it is trying to a be a leader when it comes to its users’ privacy.

At Planetweb, we have replicated an issue. It is very simple to do. Just call someone using Facetime and while calling, swipe up and add yourself to the convesation. Even if the other person does not answer – you will stay connected and can hear the other person’s microphone.

What’s even worse, if that person mutes the incoming call with up or down volume button, that will switch on his or her camera, and you will be able to see video.

How to fix it? Just wait for an update from Apple. You have been warned.

Top 40 Narwhals (2019 Best Tech Companies) in Canada

The Impact Centre, based in Toronto, publishes annual Narwhals’ list of 40 great Canadian tech companies that has potential to become successful on the world stage. They look at the fundraising patterns of over 1,000 private VC-funded Canadian technology product businesses in order to product their final list.

The companies on the list are weighted by their financial velocity. Financial velocity measures the speed at which a company acquires and consumes capital to fuel its growth. It is defined simply as the amount of capital a company has raised divided by the number of years it has been in existence.

Velocity is measured over time and is expressed in millions of US dollars per year. It provides a simple and elegant tool to enable entrepreneurs and investors to gauge the financial attractiveness of young and capital-intensive firms.

As you can see from the list below – entry to the Narwhal List is becoming more exclusive: the minimum financial velocity for entry is now 6.7 vs 4.7 it was in 2017.

You have various companies on the list but most come from either Artificial intelligence or Internet or Mobile industries. Most companies are concentrated mainly in Toronto.

The study points out that unfortunately none of the companies made it to their unicorn list , a company that is worth more than $1 billion, since Kik, messaging app, in 2015. At the same period of time, more than 19 US companies were founded and became Unicorns.

You can see the top 40 list below and read the full 2019 Narwhal technology report here.

Technology Narwhals

RankCompanyFoundedTotal Funding ($US Millions)Financial VelocitySectorCity
1Element AI2016105.735.2Artificial IntelligenceMontreal
2Hootsuite2008279.925.4InternetVancouver
3Ritual2014113.522.7MobileToronto
4Wealthsimple2014113.022.6InternetToronto
5Kik2009220.522.1MobileKW
6North2012152.721.8Consumer ProductKW
7Lightspeed POS2005292.020.9MobileMontreal
8Blockstream2014101.020.2BlockchainVictoria
9Integrate.ai201738.219.1Artificial IntelligenceToronto
10Hopper2007199.216.6MobileMontreal
11Breather2012113.716.2MobileMontreal
12League Inc.201476.215.2InternetToronto
13CryptoKitties201727.013.5BlockchainVancouver
14Kira Systems201550.012.5InternetToronto
15Coveo2005169.812.1InternetQuebec
16LeddarTech2007140.711.7ElectronicsQuebec
17The Aion Network201722.011.0BlockchainToronto
18ecobee2007131.310.9Consumer ProductToronto
19Assent Compliance2005151.610.8InternetOttawa
20D-Wave Systems1999209.410.5Computer HardwareVancouver
21Visier201091.510.2InternetVancouver
22TouchBistro201090.010.0MobileToronto
23Ranovus201268.59.8Computer HardwareOttawa
24Happiify20189.19.1Artificial IntelligenceToronto
25Wattpad2006117.89.1InternetToronto
26Tulip Retail201351.28.5MobileToronto
27Hubba201258.78.4InternetToronto
28D2L1999165.08.3InternetKW
29Wave200982.48.2InternetToronto
30eSentire2001140.97.8Computer HardwareKW
31Vidyard201160.77.6InternetKW
32Rubikloud201345.37.5InternetToronto
33Farmer’s Edge Laboratories2005103.67.4SoftwareWinnipeg
34Nuco201621.67.2InternetToronto
35Bench201249.17.0InternetVancouver
36Drop201527.36.8MobileToronto
37Analytics 4 Life201247.56.8SoftwareToronto
38MOJIO201247.46.8MobileVancouver
39SecureKey Technologies200873.56.7InternetToronto
40Platterz201620.06.7InternetToronto

US asks Canada to Extradite Huawei’s CFO

U.S. Department of Justice said it has asked Canada to extradite Chinese Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou to the US.

Jury has charged Huaweri as well as Meng with the following list of infractions:

  • conspiracy to trade secrets
  • attempted theft of trade secrets
  • seven counts of wire fraud
  • one count of obstruction of justice
  • faces charges of bank fraud
  • wire fraud
  • conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud

“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes. China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.”

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

A pretty large list of infractions indeed.

Last month Canada has intercepted Meng and put her on bail when she was travelling through Vancouver to Cancun, Mexico. Canadian government had to fire Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, because he said that it would be “great” and simply things for Canada if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Meng.

Chinese government continues to be furious with Canada and even went to say that “Canada sometimes acts more like America’s ‘51st state’ than a sovereign country with a will of its own,” through their People’s Daily Online publication.

Even with such a large list of potential infractions the US still has to prove any wrong doings by Huawei or its empoyees. US might be using this as show of force to get such a large company like Huawei nowhere near US or its allies due to its new 5G technology and great potential to spy on the US and its allies with it.

Amazon’s Fight with Toronto Drivers’ Union

According to The Logic, in-depth reporting publication, Toronto’s Amazon Drivers Union says that Amazon’s anti-union tactics made drivers lose their jobs and made one courier company go bankrupt.

Union says that under existing conditions with Amazon, drivers are powerless to negotiate their working conditions. Amazon says that drivers are not direct employees and are contractors only.

Union, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW), is not happy with that explanation and has decided to lodge a complaint with the board. They allege that by denying drivers’ full time employee status and just consider them contractors yet directing all of the work Amazon creates unfair labour practice.

In 2017-2018 one courier company, DEC Fleet Services, used to operate in Mississauga and Scarborough to deliver for Amazon exclusively. They have decided to unionize while delivering for Amazon. Due to unionization the operating costs went up. Soon after the unionization Amazon has cut their usage of the firm and a year later DEC has declared bankruptcy.

Amazon and DEC did not have a fixed contract, meaning that Amazon could end its contract for any reason. Amazon denies that DEC’s drivers are Amazon’s employees.

DEC’s president Sandy Montgomery said that with working for Amazon:

“I saw a ton of low-margin, major-effort work. Everybody wants free delivery; everybody wants cheap. On the other hand, they want to earn top dollar. It’s a challenging line of work.”

DEC’s president Sandy Montgomery

Another company All Canadian Courier, has decided to unionized. They wanted the more senior drivers to select their own routes and schedule while working for Amazon.

However that has not been allowed due to a clause in Amazon’s agreement: “Amazon has specific operational and or other requirements that are beyond the control of the company and are a requirement of maintaining the business. These requirements are subject to change without notice and are as determined by the customer. “

The union has since rejected that wording.

Toronto loses Amazon HQ2, but gains 600 tech jobs

Amazon said it will be looking to hire 600 technology professionals over the coming years. This is on top of 800 they already employ in Ontario’s capital.

This news comes to addition of many other tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Shopify opening new offices and hiring thousands of new employees combined. Toronto can not build office towers fast enough.

Amazon is hoping to hire professionals in software development, machine learning and cloud computing fields.

Toronto office is one of the 18 tech hubs Amazon has around North America. Toronto was shortlisted down to Top 20 to be on Amazon HQ2 list but unfortunately (or fortunately) lost out to the City of New York and Arglington, Virginia.

Toronto Mayor said he was happy that hundreds of jobs are being created.

Netflix to Open Production Hub in Toronto? It’s a Strong Possibility according to Mayor Tory

Netflix perhaps will soon be opening its production hub in Toronto. That’s at least what Mayor John Tory told The Canadian Press.

“I have a very high level of confidence, without betraying confidences that aren’t yet concrete, that they’re going to. They’ve been in active discussions with our industry, with me, about wanting to create one of their hubs here.”

John Tory, Toronto’s Mayor

This new potential production hub will be in addition to recently announced hubs in New Mexico, US and Madrid, Spain.

Netflix declined to comment but Tory said that he will go meet with them again in February or March to see if it is possible to make it happen.

In September 2017, Netflix has committed over $500m to Canada to fund Canadian production.

Because it is not based in Canada, Netflix is not required to collect Canadian taxes or contribute to Canada Media Fund. This would change if they would open an office or production hub here.

Tory said his job is to get this deal done and he thinks Toronto is an idea place for Netflix to come next.

“Their message to us has been very consistent in the four years I’ve been there: Don’t mess with the money, meaning the tax credits; build more studio space; get us an even deeper pool of talent by working to have more people available behind and in front of the camera; and give us good customer service.” 

John Tory, Toronto’s Mayor