Sidewalk Labs Launches Toronto Office

The future is here. Sidewalk Labs, Google sponsored organization,  opened their office in Toronto. Their goal would be to “re-imagine Toronto and other cities to improve quality of life.”

Their office and community space will be located at 307 Lake Shore Boulevard East – where anyone will be able to pop in and discuss the future of the city and provide their ideas how to make the city of Toronto a better place to live.

They will also be hosting monthly meetups called Open SideWalks which will cover meetings, demos, etc.

Main Objectives of Sidewalks Labs are to: 

  • Establish a complete community that improves quality of life for a diverse population of residents, workers, and visitors.
  • Create a destination for people, companies, startups, and local organizations to advance solutions to the challenges facing cities, such as energy use, housing affordability, and transportation.
  • Make Toronto the global hub of a rising new industry: urban innovation.
  • Serve as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and cities around the world.

People who work at Sidewalk Labs will be located on second floor, while all demos and meet up will take place on the first floor.

Next meetup will take place on Wed 11 July, 2018 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at their offices. They will discuss initial sketches for the planning and development work for Toronto’s waterfront. If you miss that one , there is another one coming up on Wed 26 September, 2018 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, where speakers will be discussing ways that cities around the world are preparing for the future and addressing challenges related to sustainability, mobility, housing, and inclusive urban design.

Now it is time to get a great job and help change your city for the better:

Uber / Lyft is Now Available at Toronto Pearson Airport

Toronto airport officials finally announced that now you can use Uber or Lyft to get home. You were always able to use Lyft or Uber to be dropped off at any location, including the airport, but now you have an option of getting picked up at the airport as well.

Basically now, when you arrive from that long Bali location, all you would need to do is use your cell phone and get Uber to pick you up from either Terminal 1 or Terminal 3.

TesaPhotography / Pixabay

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) said in their press release that this will be a pilot project and provide another transportation option for 47 million annual passengers.

“Following significant demand from our passengers, we believe that a pilot of full-ride sharing options is timely at Toronto Pearson, and in line with other airports across Canada and the U.S. already offering this service,” said Scott Collier, Vice President, Customer and Terminal Services, GTAA. “We appreciate the collaboration of the ground transportation industry in sharing their feedback and welcome another opportunity to offer our passengers choice in their transportation options.”

Still did not sign up with Uber or Lyft? You can use our Planetweb discount coupon codes to sign. Uber – use coupon alexk391 for $5 off, and Lyft use coupon code PLANETWEB for $20 off on your first ride.

Uber is now offering full service (pick up and drop off) at the following Canadian airports:

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport – YYZ
  • Ottawa International Airport – YOW
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport – YTZ
  • Calgary International Airport – YYC
  • Edmonton International Airport – YEG
  • Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport – YUL
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport – YQB

Lyft is now also will be providing full service (pick up and drop off) at the following airports:

  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport – YTZ
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport – YYZ

So what are you waiting? Now that is cheaper to get to/from airport pick a destination and enjoy your vacation. But be careful where you book your vacation from.

Breather, Montreal Startup similar to WeWork, raises $60m

Quebec based startup Breather, a network of beautifully designed workspaces offering individuals and businesses practical, distraction-free spaces, with more than 500 Locations worldwide and growing, raised $60m Canadian.

We have profiled Breather before and you can access the article here.

This $60m will bring the total money raised to $120m. Most of the financing was done by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec as well as Singapore wealth fund Temasek and several U.S. venture capital firms.

“Our customers include businesses of every size, from growing startups to leading enterprise organizations, to provide space solutions that scale to their needs,” said Julien Smith, founder and CEO of Breather. “Breather enables businesses to access the space they need when they need it, with the freedom to scale usage up or down when they want to. Working with our new equity partners increases our capacity to bring that freedom to even more businesses worldwide.”

The company is notably present in New York City, San Francisco, Toronto, and London, and revolutionizing the way in which companies utilize space. About 40% of its spaces are concentrated in NYC.

Now would be a good time to apply for jobs with Breather, as their current company’s size is about 250, and their team keeps on doubling every year.

Canadians Travelling to Europe: It is Now Illegal To Take Pictures

As you probably know already by receiving hundreds of emails about it, Europe has introduced a new draconic law called General Data Protection Regulation which states what you can do and can not do with data that you have collected. The GDPR for short has come into effect as of May 25th, 2018.

Maybe you have been under a rock last few months you have no idea and asking WTF is GDPR – here is the summary for you:

The objective of this new set of rules is to give citizens back control over of their personal data, and to simplify the regulatory environment for business. The data protection reform is a key enabler of the Digital Single Market which the Commission has prioritised. The reform will allow European citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the digital economy.

So basically starting this year, after spending few thousand dollars to get to Europe from say Montreal and are strolling along Champs-Elysees in Paris, be careful when taking pictures. If you take a picture, and there is another person’s face on that picture, you could be fined and potentially (?) jailed.

Hans / Pixabay

But no so fast, buster. Do not ask your parents to PayPal you money to get you out of jail just yet.

Basically, Europe is getting very overzealous on protecting its citizens’ rights. As per their photo taking GDRP policy , they warn you to be careful when taking photos when other people are present.

Our culture must change into one which accepts that all individuals enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy. What might constitute a good candid picture for a street photographer might, on the other hand, adversely affect the privacy rights of the individual captured on the photograph, particularly where such person might be facing difficult situations or extraordinary life circumstances.

Therefore, this Office strongly recommends that when the  photographer intends to publish or commercially use a photograph clearly identifying a data subject, the provisions of article 9(a) of the Data Protection Act must be satisfied. This shall mean that no processing shall be allowed without the informed consent of the data subject.

So to summarize, you can still take photos of Eiffel Tour just make sure you use it for your own enjoyment or maybe show it to your parents when you get home and that is it.

Where it gets interesting, anything else you do with the image but keep it on your camera might get you in trouble.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

So if you decide to take that picture and upload it to Facebook for example – this would fall under the law that can get you in trouble.

Basically, if you post a photo on Facebook (now publicly available – does not matter if you just have 1 friend on facebook) – now you will get in trouble

  • whether the photo was taken in a public place;
  •  whether the individual is a public person;
  • whether the publication was in the public interest; and
  • whether the photograph was taken during a public event.

But you are a law-abiding citizen and do not want to get in trouble? Before taking a picture, brilliant European government is asking you to go around and get “informed consent of the data subject”.

Lars Rieck is an European lawyer specializing in photography:

Street photography in my mind will have a big problem now.

If you have the consent of the person on your picture, there’s no problem. You can use the picture. But this consent has to be informed, as they say. So you have to tell the person in advance what you want to do with the picture. And also, a big drawback is consent can be taken back anytime.

OK you say, this is nuts, I am not gonna go asking hundreds of people for authorization just to take a picture of Berlin Wall – what am I to do? Easy, before publishing your photos to social media, you would need to erase all peoples’ faces.

If you still publish that photo, the people in the photo can file a claim against you, and the European agency can fine you, or ask you to delete the photo from the media where you have posted it.

You have been warned!


Canadian New VC Fund Launched

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Sun Life Financial among others have backed a new fund, Luge Capital, with $75 million dollars (with the possibility of topping it to $100m in the coming months) that aims to provide funding to fintech as well as artificial intelligence.

The main goal of the fund would be to finance seed and Series A funding between $250k and $1m.

David Nault, who has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial and investing experience, will lead the Montreal office and Karim Gillani, who has extensive experience in FinTech, will run the Toronto office.

Montreal Office’s David Nault , Co-Founder and General Partner said

“We have partnered with world-renowned institutions that bring considerable industry knowledge and resources to enable us to help entrepreneurs build their businesses. In addition, our AI and data-driven companies will have the opportunity to partner with our investors to access key insights in order to build best-of-breed solutions.”

Toronto Office’s Karim Gillani, Co-Founder and General Partner said

“We are looking for young mission-driven companies that challenge how the world interacts with financial services. We invest in bold teams that demonstrate passion, manage risk and optimize for performance.”

Luge Capital, interesting named for truly Canadian extreme sport, involving competitors lying on their backs on a tiny sled with their feet stretched out in front of them, and racing down an icy track at speeds in the range of 140 km/h, without brakes, joins 20 or so other VC firms funded by the Caisse, backing companies like Lightspeed  and Hopper.

The good thing about Luge Capital it is not limited by geographic limits and can back companies across Canada as well as the US. When asked why local Quebec VC would go chasing companies outside of the province, Caisse executive VP and chief operations and IT officer Pierre Miron said:

“Some of the financial institutions would love [Luge] to do 100 per cent of investments in Quebec, but the market is not that big.”

So if you have an idea and are in fintech or AI you might want to reach out to them to raise some money. Good luck.

Quebec Considers Restrictions Against Cryptominers

Government of Quebec has finally woken up by putting a stop on cryptomining in Quebec by temporary suspending sale of electricity to miners of crypto currencies.

Quebec’s super cheap hydro rates attracted hundreds of crypto-miners from around the world. China and South Korea have recently banned mining and threaten companies to cease all operations.

As recently as few years ago Hydro Quebec was looking to get potential clients to come to Quebec. But now it seems they have to turn away clients. Crypto miners are seeking 15,000 megawatts which accounts for over 40% of Hydro Quebec capacity and Hydro Quebec states that is not feasible for them to sell so much.

Hydro Quebec recommends only 500 megawatts to be allocated for crypto miners.

Régie de l’énergie, the Quebec’s energy board, need to come up with rules how to allocate thousands of megawatts being requested by crypto miners. Should they allow unlimited energy, limit it or restrict it all together?

If all requests from crypto miners are accomodated, Hydro Quebec would need to buy extra power or build new capacity, therefore increasing rates for all Quebecers.

Hydro Quebec spokesman Jonathan Cote said in an interview with Globe and Mail:

”If we had to build new capacity or buy extra power, then the rates for everybody in Quebec would go up because of this. This is something that we can’t accept. We need to protect the rates of all our customers.”

Provincial government and Hydro Quebec recommend crypto projects are selected on how many jobs would be created and price for power. They also recommend limiting power sold during winter months when most energy is used.

The study will be concluded pretty quickly as early as September since Quebec does not want to lose out on such lucrative business opportunity.

Canadian Govt is Picking Fight with Facebook, Netflix, others

The federal liberal government is warning technology media companies in Canada to play nice and add Canadian content ASAP or else.

The government announced that they will take 18 months to study how they can force tech companies operating in Canada to add more Canadian content without any cost to Canadians. Meaning at least for now unlike in Quebec, Government of Canada will NOT be adding GST tax to your Netflix bill.

Melanie Joly took a tough stance against foreign media companies in Canada announcing on her twitter.

  • “All players – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Spotify, etc. – that are in the system must contribute to the system. There is no free ride.”
  • “New technology, like streaming services, has changed the way that Canadians connect with each other, do business and discover, access and consume content. Now more than ever, Canadians go online.
  • To keep up with these changes we must modernize our legislative framework so that Canadian artists, artisans, businesses, consumers and broadcasters can adapt and thrive in a changing environment.
  • I announced the launch of the Review of the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act. A review of the Radiocommunication Act will also be carried out.”

Canadian artists applauded the initiative saying that thousands of jobs and our Canadian identity depend on it.

mojzagrebinfo / Pixabay

Netflix has long resisted to be covered by framework that applies to traditional broadcasters. But Netflix did say that they intend to spend $500m dollars in Canada over the next few years.

Facebook has also resisted to government intervention by caling for fewer not more rules. Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada public policy said:

 “The continued growth of different online video offerings − user-generated or otherwise − depends on a flexible regulatory environment that allows for innovation and experimentation.”

Other experts wondered how the government can restrict businesses passing on the cost to consumer?

Lawson Hunter, a regulatory lawyer and former executive at Bell Canada, said in interview with Globe and Mail:

“It’s hard to expect that you can add cost to any service provider and expect them to say they will swallow it and not pass it on to the consumer. That is not how the market typically works.”

Not everyone was happy with the announcement. Quebec’s left leaning NDP government’s Critic for Culture and Heritage, Pierre Nantel said:

“Netflix makes revenues in Quebec, so it should make investments in French [in Quebec],” said the president of the CRTC.


Melanie Joly’s “Netflix agreements”, without GST or Franco content, are a cul-de-sac for our culture.”