Two former leaders from Shopify Inc. are set to become the majority shareholders of tech-industry publication BetaKit and establish a new advisory board to maintain the Canadian media outlet’s editorial independence.
Good Future, a Toronto-based venture fund and philanthropic foundation led by husband-and-wife duo Satish Kanwar and Arati Sharma, has signed a partnership to hold the controlling interest in BetaKit, the companies told The Globe and Mail ahead of a public announcement on Tuesday. Financial details were not disclosed.
Mr. Kanwar will become interim chief executive officer and chair of the board of directors at BetaKit, while Ms. Sharma is joining its group of business advisers to work on its brand direction. Douglas Soltys, who has managed BetaKit for nearly a decade, will remain the publication’s editor-in-chief.
Good Future will provide BetaKit with capital for growth, Ms. Sharma and Mr. Kanwar said. They would not reveal any figures for their investment, but said it would be utilized for enhanced editorial offerings, subscriber benefits and community initiatives to “better serve and engage Canadian tech.”
BetaKit was founded in early 2012 by tech entrepreneurs Sarah Prevette and Erin Bury, operating under Postmedia Network Canada Corp. A year later, BetaKit was shut down abruptly, and Ms. Prevette left Postmedia. Soon after, MobileSyrup, another industry publication, bought BetaKit from Postmedia and relaunched the outlet.
Mr. Soltys took over BetaKit in late 2014 and, by early 2016, spun it out as a stand-alone company. He will continue to hold a large equity stake in the business.
“Over the last seven years, all sorts of misaligned parties have come calling, interested in what BetaKit could provide them,” Mr. Soltys said. “Satish and Arati are not those people: They are high-character individuals who believe in BetaKit’s mission.”
Ms. Sharma and Mr. Kanwar were among the first few hires at Shopify. The duo joined the Ottawa-based company through an early acquisition of design agency Jet Cooper in 2013, years before its stock went public in the U.S. and Canada. They were both instrumental in building up Shopify’s strategic presence in Toronto.
In 2021, Ms. Sharma left Shopify and became a founding partner for the women-led investor group Backbone Angels. And earlier this year, in July, Mr. Kanwar left Shopify after having been at the helm of the e-commerce company’s largest acquisitions, investments and partnerships with the likes of Meta, TikTok, Google and Amazon. Mr. Kanwar is currently on the board of directors for software company Delphia and not-for-profit investment agency Toronto Global.
Mr. Soltys said there will be a “firm firewall” between BetaKit’s editorial and business interests, which he added that Good Future has been committed to since they started their conversations about a partnership.
“Several of the tech publications I have worked for throughout my career no longer exist. I am obviously aware of the dire state of the Canadian news industry,” he said.
“Satish and Arati are passionate about the impact journalism has on a community, as well as BetaKit’s approach of reporting on Canadian tech from within the ecosystem – not as outsiders.”