Friday Headlines

$10 Billion for Rebuid: The Canadian Infrastructure Bank will spend $10 billion to improve infrastructure, with a focus on broadband, energy efficiency retrofits, and agriculture infrastructure such as irrigation.
Senate Subpeonas Tech CEOs: The Senate Commerce Committee voted to subpeaona the Chief Executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify about online censorship. The comittee hopes to hold the hearings before the election, hold on tight. 
AC Embraces Rapid Tests: Air Canada has ordered 25,000 of the newly approved Abbott Laboratories quick testing kits, to be rolled out initially with employee volunteers. The airlines hope to use testing more broadly among passengers in a bid to roll back the restrictive covid related rules that have hammered the industry.
Google Spends on News: Google is pledging to spend $1 billion to license news for a new product called Google News Showcase. Sounds neat, but we expect you to stick with The Peak. 
Restaurant Inusrance Skyrockets: Insurance companies are hiking rates on restaurants as they're being squezed by the pandemic. In some cases insurance costs have gone up 300% or outright refused to renew, citing unknown liabilities if a patron were to contract covid-19. 
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Friday Q&A with Chris Spoke, Founder of August

It's Friday, so that means it's time for Peak Q&A. 
Every Friday we feature someone in the Canadia tech, finance, or startup space doing something cool and pick their brain to get practical and actionable tips and advice for the rest of us. 
This week we are featuring Chris Spoke, founder of Toronto digital agency August.
What's one book that has taught you a lesson that you apply to your daily business life? What's that lesson?
Chris Spoke: Titan by Ron Chernow, which is one of the all-time great biographies. The lesson came from a JDR quote: "As soon as you can, get some one whom you can rely on, train him in the work, sit down, cock up your heels, and think out some way for the Standard Oil to make some money.”
Work hard, understand the role, delegate, and think of something else to do.

What evening and/or morning routines do you have that set you up for success?

CS: I'm most productive when l go to sleep early and wake up early. Nothing special beyond that. Gym first thing most mornings.

What are you involved in outside of your company? As in mentoring, boards, volunteering or other activities? How do you recommend others engage in activities outside of work and how do you give and get the most out of them?

CS: I'm the founder and lead organizer for a yimby (yes-in-my-backyard) organization in Toronto that advocates for increased housing supply. I think that this is an underrated issue in terms of importance, and think that we need to do more to ensure that Toronto is a city that's affordable and welcoming to all.

What advice do you have for students or young professionals who are trying to position themselves in a competitive job market. What can they do to make themselves stand out?

CS: Write and publish your thoughts online. Your resume tells me almost nothing. A longform essay on a topic you're passionate about can tell me a lot.

What's one app or another piece of technology that improves your productivity and you couldn't live without?

CS: Roam. I like it so much that I'm getting a dedicated ipad for it.

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Market Highlights

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Peak Picks

Death of the Deal: Friend of The Peak Chad Rogers wrote a great piece on how challenging it is for foreign entities to do deals in Canada during the pandemic.

Bubble Busting: Fun piece about what one reporter learned in the NBA bubble amidst a backdrop of racial tension and a global pandemic.

Fast Factories: Learn how Tesla builds their global network of factories so quickly. Hint: it's thanks to a pretty elaborate manual.

Community: With our institutions being hollowed out, McDonald serves as one of the last few community gathering places.
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Diversity: California rolls out diversity quotas for corporate boards.

NXIVM: Heiress Claire Bronfman of the Seagram’s fortune was sentenced to six years in jail for her participation in the NXIVM cult.

Lightspeed: Watch out ritual. Canadian tech darling Lightspeed released their order ahead product to help restaurants facilitate contactless takeout.

COVID: The second wave continues as Texas reports their largest daily jump since August.

Boeing: The FAA has given the go-ahead to Boeing's proposed fixes to their 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

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House Hunters

Toronto startup Properly announced that they raised $100 million in financing to power their online home buying platform.

What's Properly? Properly is an online home brokerage that lets buyers purchase a new house using their existing home equity before even listing their current property.

How do they do this? Properly uses a 'backup offer' that guarantees that they'll buy the house at market value if it doesn't sell. The seller uses the backup offer to securing traditional financing from a bank. If the house doesn't sell on the open market in 90 days, Properly will buy the house and re-sell it on their platform.

What's the 100 million for? CEO Anshul Ruparell says that the the capital will be used to buy houses from customers that don't sell. Properly recently launched in Ottawa and the GTA so the money will help meet demand in these markets.

Zoom out: As Marc Andreessen says, 'software is eating the world' and real estate is no exception. Watch as companies like Properly begin to challenge the real estate establishment with a more consumer-friendly offering.

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Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue

I'm sure many of you watched the 'Presidential Debate' on Tuesday evening. No matter how you feel about what's going on, the single most important issue for the health of the global economy is the outcome of the US Presidential election. Here's where we're at:

Election Day: We're just over a month away from Election Day on November 3rd.

National Polls: The Real Clear Politics average of national polls has Vice President Biden leading by 6.5% ahead of President Trump.

Battlegrounds: Battleground states are where the election will be won or lost. In these states, the election is much closer.

Polls give Biden a slight edge but the shift of a few hundred thousand votes could swing the election in either direction. In the critical state of Florida, Biden only has a 2 point advantage over Trump.

The Debate: And that debate... it's hard to see how either candidate won but voters disagree.

  • Post-debate CNN poll found that 6 out of 10 debate viewers said Joe Biden won the debate.
  • And a CBS poll also gave Biden the edge with 48 percent viewing him as the winner and 41 percent saying Trump prevailed.
Bottom line: With battleground states too close to call, it's still anyone's race.
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One Test to Rule Them All

In the midst of a surge in new cases, Health Canada approved a new rapid test for COVID-19. The Abbott Diagnostics ID Now test uses the same nasal swab as existing tests but can be processed on-site and get results in as little as 13 minutes.

Need for speed: As we enter a second wave of COVID-19, testing facilities across the country are overwhelmed. Ontario, in particular, is struggling to process tests fast enough due to lack of lab capacity.

  • Public health authorities can use rapid testing to quickly quarantine positive individuals and reduce the spread.
  • In-facility testing also increases overall testing capacity and reduces wait times for patients.
When will we get it: The Government of Canada purchased 7.9 million testing swabs and 3,800 of the analysis machines. No word on when they'll arrive.
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Advance Your Career From The Comfort of Your Own Home

We know you’re a digital-first professional. You read The Peak after all.

Now, add Excel, Tableau, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and other DIY skills to your resume to take your career to new heights. 

Lighthouse Labs’ live online part-time classes can teach you all those critical tech skills (and more) in just six weeks. Learn from the best and get real-time mentor support.

Multiple time slots to fit your schedule. Next class begins Nov. 7. 
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Big Brother Goes Public

Yesterday, Palantir made its Wall Street debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares closed at $9.50 with a valuation of $21 billion. Palantir went public using a 'direct listing', removing the bank from the IPO process and saving the firm millions in fees.

What's Palantir? You can think of them as the tech that powers the surveillance state. Very Minority Report–esque.

  • Palantir builds software that helps governments collect and analyze data. Their clients include the RCMP, CIA, CSIS, and local police departments who use the slick platform to conduct intelligence operations.
  • Palantir is controversial. Critics argue that the company builds unethical spy software used to harass minority communities and infringe upon our civil liberties. And they make a point... it's reported that ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) uses Palantir's software to conduct raids on undocumented families.
Is Palantir a buy? Hard to say. On one hand, government contracts are highly lucrative, but they're also vulnerable to political change.

And it's not hard to imagine that a Biden Administration wouldn't be too pumped about issuing huge software contracts to a firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, an outspoken Trump supporter.

The Year of the IPO? Palantir wasn't the only company to do a direct listing yesterday. Asana, the project management platform, also went public via a direct listing and closed at a $5.5 billion valuation.

Both companies exceeded expectations so don't be surprised if more companies come out of the woodwork looking to go public.
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