Archive for the ‘Technology Related Articles’ Category

The Tech Stock Boom Has Arrived in Canada?s Market (Finally)

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Tech-stock boom has well and truly arrived in Canada’s market

Divya Balji

It makes up almost 6% of Canada’s stock market and is the best-performing sector this year.

That’s right: technology stocks have climbed a massive 59% in 2019 — more than double the next-best industry group on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. In fact, tech’s share of the benchmark index has grown at the fastest rate among all sectors in the past four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The tech ecosystem in Canada is very robust,” said Todd Coupland, managing director of institutional equity research at CIBC Capital Markets. “There are some high-quality growth companies that have begun to scale up over the last few years and they’ve gone public, and the success of those companies is manifesting itself in higher share prices.”

Canada’s tech sector hasn’t always had a smooth road. Fortunes have ebbed and flowed with the likes of BlackBerry Ltd., formerly known as Research In Motion, and now-defunct telephone equipment maker Nortel Networks Corp.

But the S&P/TSX Composite Information Technology Index, with a mere 10 members, is now on track for its seventh year of gains — its longest winning run on record — having added C$108 billion ($81 billion) in market value in 2019. In comparison, the S&P 500 Info Tech Index, with 68 stocks, has climbed 29% this year after a 1.6% decline in 2018.

Ottawa-based Shopify Inc., which has climbed more than 1,500% since it went public in 2015, is a big part of the success. It has a 39% weighting on the tech sub-gauge and comprises 2.18% of the broader benchmark.

“With Shopify getting bigger and bigger, it’s getting more on the radar of larger, more global focused investors,” said Suthan Sukumar, an analyst at Eight Capital. “That is drawing more eyeballs to the Canadian market.”

It isn’t just Shopify that’s making waves. Lightspeed POS Inc. — which boasted Canada’s second-biggest IPO this year and the biggest offering by a Canadian tech firm in almost nine years — had a stunning trading debut in March. The stock has climbed 175% as the company forecast annual revenue that beat analyst expectations. That performance isn’t reflected in the S&P/TSX Info Tech index, which hasn’t yet added Lightspeed.

And another tech company is looking to follow in Lightspeed’s footsteps. Toronto-based Docebo announced Wednesday that it filed documents with regulators for an IPO.

With valuations sky-high, it’s worth asking whether the rally can last. The price-to-earnings ratio for the S&P/TSX Composite Info Tech gauge stands at 34.6, compared with the broader benchmark’s multiple of 14.3.

Sukumar says he sees opportunity in at least some corners of tech.

“There is an opportunity for investors to continue rewarding higher-quality growth and growth that can prove to be resilient in these kind of market conditions,” he said.

Copyright 2019 Bloomberg L.P

Facebook co-founder says Libra could shift monetary clout to private companies

Friday, June 21st, 2019


Facebook Inc’s Libra cryptocurrency would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to private companies, the company’s co-founder Chris Hughes said in an opinion piece in the Financial Times on Friday.

“If global regulators don’t act now, it could very soon be too late,” Hughes said.

Hughes also said the corporations that would oversee the new currency would put their private interests – profits and influence – ahead of public ones.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The social media giant revealed plans on Tuesday to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra and linked up with 28 partners in a Geneva-based entity called the Libra Association, which will govern the new digital coin set to launch in the first half of 2020.

Hughes, a former roommate of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, had earlier called for a break-up of the social network in an opinion piece in the New York Times in May. Facebook, then, rejected Hughes’ call to split the company in three.

The company has been under scrutiny from regulators around the world over data sharing practices as well as hate speech and misinformation on its networks. Some U.S. lawmakers have pushed for action to break up big tech companies as well as federal privacy regulation.

All rights reserved SaltWire Network © 2019

Raised in a log cabin in Canada, Slack chairman is now worth $1.3 billion

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Raised in a log cabin, Slack chairman would be worth US$1.3B with workplace communication firm?s listing

Sophie Alexander and Tom Metcalf

Canadian entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield helped found Slack Technologies Inc. after selling his earlier startup, Flickr, to Yahoo for more than US$20 million. The latest venture is bringing a bigger windfall.

His 8 per cent stake in the workplace communication company would be worth US$1.3 billion if Slack goes public this week at US$16 billion, the low end of Wall Street’s expected range. Slack co-founder Cal Henderson, 38, owns 3 per cent worth about US$533 million.

Butterfield, the 46-year-old chairman and chief executive officer, has come a long way from the log cabin where he lived in a remote part of Canada without electricity and running water for the first few years of his life. He was introduced to computers in the second grade but lost interest in the technology as he got older and went on to study philosophy in college.

“By the time I finished my master’s degree I really had no idea of what I was going to do except for be an academic because, you know, the big five philosophy firms aren’t always hiring,” Butterfield told Bloomberg last year.

After brief stints in the startup world at and, Butterfield came up with the idea for Flickr, a photo and video hosting service that he sold to Yahoo in 2005. Butterfield worked at Yahoo until 2008 and later founded Glitch, which became the multibillion-dollar company now called Slack.

Slack, an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge,” will begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WORK.

Raised in a log cabin in Canada, Slack chairman is now worth $1.3 billion

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Stewart Butterfield’s 8 per cent stake in the workplace communication company would be worth US$1.3 billion if Slack goes public this week at US$16 billion

Sophie Alexander and Tom Metcalf

Canadian entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield helped found Slack Technologies Inc. after selling his earlier startup, Flickr, to Yahoo for more than US$20 million. The latest venture is bringing a bigger windfall.

His 8 per cent stake in the workplace communication company would be worth US$1.3 billion if Slack goes public this week at US$16 billion, the low end of Wall Street’s expected range. Slack co-founder Cal Henderson, 38, owns 3 per cent worth about US$533 million.

Butterfield, the 46-year-old chairman and chief executive officer, has come a long way from the log cabin where he lived in a remote part of Canada without electricity and running water for the first few years of his life. He was introduced to computers in the second grade but lost interest in the technology as he got older and went on to study philosophy in college.

By the time I finished my master’s degree I really had no idea of what I was going to do except for be an academic because, you know, the big five philosophy firms aren’t always hiring,” Butterfield told Bloomberg last year.
After brief stints in the startup world at and, Butterfield came up with the idea for Flickr, a photo and video hosting service that he sold to Yahoo in 2005. Butterfield worked at Yahoo until 2008 and later founded Glitch, which became the multibillion-dollar company now called Slack.

Slack, an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge,” will begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WORK.

Crypto Exchanges Are Facing Their Biggest Regulatory Hurdle Yet

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Olga Kharif

Bitcoin and its fellow cryptocurrencies have surged in popularity partly because they’ve offered a way to skirt the government oversight exercised over traditional financial systems. Well, get ready to kiss much of that autonomy goodbye.

On June 21, the Financial Action Task Force — a multi-government effort that develops recommendations for combating money laundering and financing of terrorism that’s followed by about 200 countries including the U.S. — will publish a note to clarify how participating nations should oversee virtual assets, FATF spokeswoman Alexandra Wijmenga-Daniel said in an email. The new rules will apply to businesses working with tokens and cryptocurrencies, such as exchanges and custodians and crypto hedge funds.

Much depends on how the rules — long governing traditional bank wire transfers — will be interpreted and applied by country-specific regulators, but they are “one of the biggest threats to crypto today,” Eric Turner, director of research at crypto researcher Messari Inc., said in an email. “Their recommendation could have a much larger impact than the SEC or any other regulator has had to date.”

The guidelines will require companies ranging from exchanges Coinbase Inc. and Kraken to asset manager Fidelity Investments to collect information about customers initiating transactions of over $1,000 or 1,000 euros, as well as details about the recipients of the funds, and to send that data to the recipient’s service provider along with each transaction.

While that may sound simple, compliance will be costly and technically difficult, said John Roth, chief compliance and ethics officer at Seattle-based exchange Bittrex, which has about $58 million in daily-trading volume. After all, wallet addresses on digital ledgers supporting cryptocurrencies are largely anonymous, so an exchange currently has no way of knowing who the recipient of the funds is.

“It’s either going to require a complete and fundamental restructuring of blockchain technology, or it’s going to require a global parallel system to be sort of constructed among the 200 or so exchanges in the world,” Roth said. “You can imagine difficulties in trying to build something like that.”

A handful of U.S. exchanges are discussing how to set up such a system, said Mary Beth Buchanan, general counsel at San Francisco-based Kraken, which does about $195 million in daily volume.

“Without enhanced technology systems, this is a case of trying to apply 20th-century rules to 21st-century technology,” Buchanan said. “There’s not a technological solution that would allow us to fully comply. We are working with international exchanges to try to come up with a solution.”

The end result could be that many crypto businesses will face increased compliance costs, Buchanan said. Some non-compliant businesses could shut down, said Phil Liu, chief legal officer at Los Angeles-based hedge fund Arca.

“People in crypto like to make a big deal about giving personally identifiable information to the government, but I don’t see a whole lot of disruption for legitimate players if the proposal is enacted,” Liu said in an email.

U.S. exchanges may also lose customers, as instead of going through an exchange or another virtual-asset service provider (VASP), some may simply start trading with others directly, to safeguard their privacy.

“I get why the FATF wants to do this,” Jeff Horowitz, chief compliance officer at San Francisco-based Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange. “But applying bank regulations to this industry could drive more people to conduct person-to-person transactions, which would result in less transparency for law enforcement. The FATF really needs to consider the many unintended consequences of applying this specific rule to VASPs.”

Just how soon these consequences start to hit home will depend on the individual agencies. Groups like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) are expected to start to vigorously enforce the rules. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued interpretive guidance that looks similar to those being considered by FATF. Some state agencies could follow suit, raising the risk that non-compliant businesses will lose money-transmitter licenses.

If a country doesn’t comply with FATF rules and is placed on its blacklist, “it can essentially lose access to the global financial system,” said Jesse Spiro, head of policy at crypto investigative firm Chainalysis Inc.

The proposed regulations could also impact many of the more than 500 crypto funds that have popped up in the past few years, according to Josh Gnaizda, chief executive officer of CryptoFundResearch. “Trading delays or additional transactional costs as a result of compliance with FATF could significantly chip away at returns.”

After multiple meetings with the crypto industry, the regulators likely know compliance will take time, as the industry mulls new technologies and processes. Some participants are looking at the bright side, as greater oversight could lead to more institutional acceptance of crypto.

“Will it be a potential hardship? Certainly, at least initially,” Chainalysis’s Spiro said. “While it may be a hardship, it seems to be something that’s necessary. The road map at the end of the day after this is less arduous for this industry.”

Copyright 2019 Bloomberg L.P

Flying a drone without a licence? You could be fined up to $5,000

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Jason Gaidola – Stephanie Wiebe

As of Saturday, people caught flying drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms without a federal licence could face fines of up to $5,000.

There are two different types of licences now offered by Transport Canada: basic and advanced.

The basic category is meant for people who never fly in controlled airspace or within 30 metres horizontally of bystanders. The basic category requires passing a $10 online exam, registering with Transport Canada, marking the drone with its registration number, and carrying the pilot certificate whenever the drone is in use.

The advanced category requires all of the above, plus an in-person flight review and special permission from air traffic controllers whenever flying in controlled air space.

Users must be 14 years of age or older to take the basic exam. They must be 16 or older to take the advanced exam.

Flying drones without a licence could mean fines of $1,000 for recreational users and $5,000 for commercial users.

Winnipeg drone enthusiast Evan Turner says he believes the government regulations “hit it pretty well on.”

“Something that’s over 250 grams can definitely hurt somebody if you’re going fast enough, or cause property damage,” he told CTV Winnipeg.

Calgary-area drone user Chris Healy also likes the regulations, because he no longer needs special permission each time he wants to fly.

“Anyone with proper training and proper licensing can (now) get the perspective of Earth which was usually meant for the purview of pilots or astronauts,” he said.

Drones that weigh under 250 grams are exempt from licensing. Drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms have their own set of rules.

Transport Canada says that drones should be flown where the pilot can see them at all times, below 122 metres, at least 5.6 kilometres away from airports and 1.9 kilometres from heliports.

Transport Canada has a list of drone flight schools on its website.

© 2019 BellMedia

Montreal-based Lightspeed is writing a new chapter in Canadian tech story

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Lightspeed is writing a new chapter in the Canadian tech story

Kevin Carmichael
The Vancouver Sun

The Canadian Establishment needed some new blood. On March 8, it got some, when Montreal-based Lightspeed POS Inc. debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Lightspeed’s shares closed 20 per cent higher, putting an exclamation point on the most successful initial public offering by a Canadian technology company in almost a decade. The surge pushed Lightspeed’s market value to about $1.7 billion, comfortably unicorn status. It also marked the arrival of Dax Dasilva, the founder and chief executive, as a national figure.

 If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will.

“We’re in a new moment for the company,” Dasilva told me in an interview at the C2 conference in Montreal last week. “I’m in a new moment as a leader and I think that comes with a big responsibility to your tech ecosystem, to our small-business customers, to all of our customers, but also as a thought leader.”

There is something good happening in Canadian tech. But that’s not always a satisfying story, as it lacks protagonists. Shopify Inc. is a legitimate world beater, and probably the only digital-economy company that a casual reader of the Canadian business pages could name.

Lightspeed, which sells point-of-sale software for restaurants and smaller retailers in about 100 countries, will help the narrative.

Dasilva could have exited early like so many other founders. He scrounged money together for seven years and then partnered with venture capitalists to achieve scale. When the VCs wanted out, he negotiated a path to an IPO rather than sell to a bigger company.

He broke with convention again by listing only in Toronto, ignoring warnings that the decision would alienate international investors. Lightspeed raised $240 million, almost twice as much as Ottawa-based Shopify, which was valued at about $1 billion when it listed in Toronto and New York in 2015. Shopify’s market cap is now around $42 billion.

“I’ve had a lot of people in the ecosystem say that our IPO has opened new possibilities to what our tech companies are able to aspire to,” said Dasilva, who will host his first earnings call with analysts and investors on May 30. “We build these companies in Canada and then they evaporate as they get acquired by American or Asian companies,” he said. “I think we’ve reached a stage of maturity with our ecosystems that there’s growth capital available now, not just venture capital, but growth capital.”

A popular subject on the conference circuit these days, whether in Davos at the World Economic Forum, in Washington at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund, or in Montreal at C2, is diversity and inclusive growth.

The thinking is that economic and corporate policies must be adjusted to offset capitalism’s tendency to reinforce existing power structures at the exclusion of women and minorities. Grandees say from the stage that failure to change will cause confidence in the economic system to further erode, entrenching political instability. Companies and institutions that continue to populate their executive suites with white men from American and European business schools will suffer from having too many blind spots to keep up in a fast changing world.

It’s an attractive theory, save for one thing: its main advocates tend to be rich and/or powerful white people. They know little to nothing of what they speak.

Dasilva is a believer in the power of diversity, and he is a more authentic spokesman for the cause than many of its advocates in the Canadian liberal elite.

He is the son of Goan parents who fled to Canada as refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1972. He was born in Vancouver; came out as gay in his teens while attending an all-boys Irish Catholic high school; participated in the protests at Clayoquot Sound that saved the old-growth rainforests from clear cutting; attended the University of British Columbia, where he studied religion and art history while doing computer work on the side; and then moved to Montreal in 2001 at 24 years of age.

In 2005, he started Lightspeed and converted to Judaism. The original Lightspeed team was from the LGBTQ community. As he added people, Dasilva put an emphasis on ensuring he had a mix of backgrounds. He thinks it made the company stronger. You have to work harder to get an idea approved by a diverse table; if you succeed, the idea probably is a good one. All that arguing helped Lightspeed develop a “stronger sense of self,” which helped Dasilva and other executives push back against investors with “strong opinions” about how the company should be run.

“We looked at difference as a teacher,” Dasilva said.

Now, Dasilva plans to do some teaching. Earlier this year, he published Age of Union, a partial memoir that evolves into an explanation of his thinking about leadership, spirituality, and the environment.

He also appears ready to involve himself in economic policy.

Because size is an advantage in tech, and Canada is relatively small, governments will have to be a partner, Dasilva said. So far, they have been, he said, although he urged them to “stay attentive to the fact that we are competing globally for talent.”

I asked Dasilva if he was talking about taxes, a sensitive subject with the current federal government and in his home province. He demurred.

“We have to stay vigilant and we have to find ways to outdo our competition, outdo the U.S.,” Dasilva said.

© 2019 Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

How smart will smartphones get? A look at the exciting , and worrisome, possibilities

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Ian Bailey
The Globe and Mail

Let’s say it’s 2029, and your new smartphone has detected a pattern in the use of your Starbucks app. Every time you have a meeting with your boss, you immediately stress-drink a Venti extra sweet, double-shot caramel macchiato with whipped cream. The phone might just start preordering that drink for you (and paying for it with your credit card) after every meeting with your boss in your calendar.

Some might find this prospect thrilling, and others might find it kind of creepy: a smartphone powered by advances in technology that make it capable not only of storing and presenting information, but using it intuitively to make decisions on behalf of its owner.

Experts agree it’s tough to predict exactly what the smartphone of 2029 will be like. The market will decide the fate of innovations such as folding screens. However, predictions from people who work in the tech sector, academics and industry observers’ coalesce around advances in artificial intelligence.

“The way to think of the smartphone in the next 10 years is as a personal assistant in your pocket, but it will also be, say, a doctor in your pocket, a banker in your pocket, a butler in your pocket,” says Neil Mawston, executive director of the consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

This could lead to more convenience, but at the cost of independence and privacy. What kind of future will come from such anticipatory ability?

“I don’t think there is one future,” said Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist, technologist and futurist at the Australian National University. “I think there will be many.”

For R. David Edelman – a former special assistant to U.S. president Barack Obama who now works for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a smartphone with enhanced AI could have dystopian state-control possibilities. He worries that phones already allow pervasive surveillance. In the future, they could be used to impose pariah status on individuals by being required to tattle if their sensors detect users associating with people the state says they should avoid.

“All of the groundwork is there for that to become a reality,” he said.

China is already monitoring its citizens’ behaviour – including online activity – to devise what it calls a “social credit score,” in which people gain or lose points for such conduct as impaired driving, paying fines late or posting fake news on social media. People with reduced scores, reports say, could be blocked from buying plane or train tickets, or public transit.

Edelman says future smartphones might enable a variation: Individuals might have social scores and lose points if they interact with unpopular or dissident individuals. It would isolate the dissidents without imprisoning them. The idea is not far-fetched, he says. “All of the groundwork is there for that to become a reality. The question is whether populations are docile enough to permit that form of political enslavement.”

In a less pessimistic view, smartphones with enhanced sensors, bigger memories and quicker processing abilities could use data that their users input to relieve them of mundane decisions.

For example, cellphones now use mapping apps and the information in the calendars to ask whether the owners need directions to destinations. What if Siri was smart enough in 2019 to see “get milk” on a task list and use the internet, transit and map apps to suggest the quickest, cheapest way to pick up milk on the way home.

“They will keep suggesting things to you, and persuading you of things, and anticipating things,” says Jim Balsillie, the former co-chief-executive at Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry. “[The phone] says, ‘I know where you are. I know your schedule and where you are going, and, by the way, here’s a couple of things on the way that I think you’ll like.’“

In a sense, the smartphones will reflect their owners, acting on their desires, calculating their present needs based on past conduct.

It’s easy to see how this could enable bad behaviour, such as consuming an expensive, high-calorie coffee at stressful moments without having to decide to do it.

Or, on the other end, a smarter smartphone could nag you about your eating because it has deduced from your food logging, calorie counting and smartwatch data that you’re on a diet. Or you might be with friends at a bar and it will chime in right after you’ve told a witty joke that this is the best possible moment to get your clothes from the robotic dry cleaner.

But Mike Kuniavsky, a principal scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center on information technology, says AI in phones could be used in a more productive, task-oriented way.

Multiple sensors and software could indicate the owner’s child is drawing a dinosaur on the screen. The smartphone, he said, might offer advice: “Let me guide you through some methods to draw a dinosaur. You draw some circles where the joints are.”

For those who fear this goes too far, Kathryn Hume, vice-president at, a Toronto artificial-intelligence startup, offers some solace. While she doubts AI technology will advance enough in a decade to be truly anticipatory, she is confident people will remain in charge.

“Our goals, I presume, will be to use this technology to live the richest life possible,” she said.

But today, the devices have been criticized for tilting the work-life balance, diminishing people’s memory and distracting parents from their children.

“I would imagine that if smartphones became smarter, they might become even more addictive,” says Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychological professor who has written about the impact of smartphones on young people who grew up with them.

“They might tell you to walk faster or not to eat salty food, but I bet they’re not going to tell you to put them down, which might be the best advice,” she said.

© Copyright 2019 The Globe and Mail Inc.

Simplifying Data for Real Estate Marketing

Friday, April 5th, 2019


When it comes to promoting a listing or growing your client base, it can be hard to figure out where to focus your efforts. Finding the right data and knowing how to use it can make you more efficient in your marketing process.  

We’ve centred on three channels that provide great data. There are more available, depending on who you’re targeting, but we’ve gone with some of the most commonly used.

Google Analytics: Identify Areas Needing Improvement

If you don’t have Google Analytics set up for your site, we encourage you to do it ASAP. There is a lot of data available, and it can definitely become overwhelming, but it helps to know where to concentrate your energy.

Charlie Kiers, a real estate agent and owner/investor with Keller Williams Realty VanCentral, says Google Analytics helps him advise clients about their listing and whether it’s priced right to produce interested buyers.

“It’s a tool for us to show them how their property is being marketed and coming up in searches,” says Kiers, “and it’s a secondary tool if we need to talk price adjustments.”

There are several essential Google Analytics reports to help fine-tune a web-based marketing campaign:

1) “Real-Time > Traffic Sources” reveal the current number of people on your site, the keywords that referred them there and the pages they’re viewing. You can use these keywords more on your site to keep visitors coming across your pages in their searches.

2) “Acquisition> All Traffic > Channels” tells you where your traffic is coming from. Focus efforts on channels that are performing the best. For example, if it’s social, spend more time promoting there.

3) “Audience > Demographics” lays out basic age and gender information of website visitors. This helps you see who your profile or listings are attracting, and can help you with targeting on other platforms.

4) “Audience > Overview” shows you the most relevant information about your site. Keep an eye on your New Visitors to make sure are attracting new customers to your site.

5) “Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages” report which pages are generating the most traction. You’ll eventually get an idea which pages to keep, adjust or get rid of, also which listings are doing better than others.

Facebook Data: Dig up New Leads

Facebook is an obvious favourite for agents and with good reason. Facebook provides a lot of great insights for both paid and organic campaigns.

For instance, Kiers says data from one of his Facebook Ads has shown him 69% of the clicks were from women, most were aged 35-64 and 93% came from a mobile device.

 “It’s a work in progress. You’re always continually tweaking ads to see how you can get more people contacting you or coming to look at the listings,” says Kiers.

The better you get with your targeting, the more people you’ll reach for the same spend.

Here are a few Facebook ad options to reach your desired audience:

1) “Location” lets you enter the postal codes of areas around the listing as well as where people tend to live before moving to the area of your listing.

2) “Age” can target the age groups most likely to be able to afford the price of the home you are selling.

3) “Lookalike Audience” is very clever and can find people similar to your past clients. By entering a Lookalike Audience, Facebook does the hard work of segmentation for you. We don’t suggest running this alone, though. Have this group as another target audience, not the only target audience.

4) “Relationship Status > Engaged” is the prime time many people start thinking about home ownership. You could target this group with branded ads as well as listings that are suitable for first-time homebuyers.   

Real Estate Wire (REW) Dashboard: Data on Display

Our agent dashboard presents detailed data to track the performance of your listings and profile. You can boost listings to reach a wider audience, or add extra branding to your presence on REW.

Kiers uses REW for both stats and client leads.

“Clients nowadays are always looking online,” says Kiers. “REW is very good about pushing out listings and getting people to come to their website.”

REW’s dashboard provides insights for real estate agents and clients, including:

1) Pageviews of a listing

2) The number of people who have marked a property as a favourite

3) Inquiries received for a specific property

4) Pageviews for your profile page

5) Inquiries received from your profile page

These numbers can help gauge the popularity of a listing and estimate how many visitors could be expected at open houses.

Tapping into these valuable data sources can help streamline your online marketing, leaving you with more time, money, and the blueprints to successfully close more deals.

© 2019 REW. A Division of Glacier Media

What is blockchain? Everything you need to know about the technology

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Emanuela Campanella

WATCH: Why blockchain is more than Bitcoin. Everything you need to know about the technology

You’ve probably heard it before: blockchain is here to stay, and it’s going to revolutionize the way we track our assets. But what, exactly, is blockchain?

Many mistake the technology for bitcoin. While this was its original purpose, blockchain has evolved beyond the realm of digital currency.

In short, blockchain is a continuously updated record of transactions spread out across a vast network of computers.

The term blockchain is shorthand for a whole suite of distributed ledger technologies that can be programmed to record and track anything of value. Think of it like a database that is decentralized and distributed among a whole network of computers.

“What [blockchain] enables is the exchange and storage of assets in digital form, peer-to-peer, without the need for intermediaries like banks and governments,” explained Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute.

According to Anthony Di Iorio, founder of blockchain startup Decentral and co-founder of Ethereum, blockchain’s main function is to track digital assets.

“It gives you the ability to prove ownership of part of that [blockchain] ledger so that you have control of it to move that asset from one point of the ledger to another point of the ledger,” said Di Iorio.

Picture sending money without banks, handling land disputes without lawyers and voting without the threat of electoral fraud.

But we already have processes in place that track data and assets. What makes blockchain different?

Let’s talk about data

Blockchain stores information in batches, called blocks, which are connected in a continuous chronological line known as a chain.

If you wanted to change information in a block, you couldn’t directly change that block. Instead, the change would be recorded in a new block, showing that A changed to B at a specific time and date. This plays off the centuries-old method of a financial ledger, which tracks data changes over time.

For example, let’s say there’s a dispute between Bob and his sister, Mary, about who will inherit their grandmother’s rare and precious red diamond that’s been in the family for years.

Since blockchain uses the ledger method, there’s an entry in the ledger showing that their grandmother first owned the diamond in 1930. She gave the diamond to her daughter in 1960 as a wedding gift, and Mary then purchased the diamond from her mother in 2011. Each of these changes is reflected in the ledger.

The fact that Mary is the owner of the diamond can be seen in blockchain’s recorded history. But what if Bob wants the diamond and goes behind everyone’s back, hacking into the system to change the record?

Trust in the technology

Blockchain is decentralized and distributed among a huge network of computers. If you tamper with the information, everyone will be able to see what you’re doing.

With each new record, a new block is created, and each block is linked using something called cryptography. When a block is added to a chain, it is sealed by a cryptographic stamp called a hash — a random string of numbers and letters.

In order to create this stamp, a cryptographic riddle needs to be solved by a block creator, also known as a programmer or a miner. The riddle is very hard — it’s like guessing a 20-digit combination lock. A miner has to invest a lot of time and computer power to solve even one of these combinations.

When the block is done, it goes through something called proof of work. Everyone on the network — Bob, Mary and everyone else — need to verify that the stamp or hash is valid. If so, then the new block is accepted into the blockchain.

“What’s important about this technology is that no single actor on the network can change the content of that ledger without the entire network reaching consensus,” Tapscott said.

But why would someone waste time and energy to confirm this kind of information? Money.

By design, a blockchain is programmed so that when a new block is accepted, it automatically releases cryptocurrency to the miner. And every time there is an action — like a change of ownership to Bob and Mary’s grandmother’s diamond — there is a small transaction fee, which also goes to the miner.

From here on, any changes to the block, such as a change in ownership to the diamond, would create a new block, but the old hash code would always connect to the next subsequent block in the chain.

Blocks are resistant to modification because, in order to hack them, you would not only have to rewrite the code of that individual block but also every other block connected to it, which could be hundreds of thousands. Because the blockchain is distributed among millions of computers, you would also have to rewrite the history of commerce for not only one computer but all of them.

As of now, it is believed that no human is capable of such a hack.

“It takes longer than our universe, and that’s why it’s unbreakable; no hacker can live that long,” said Elena Sinelnikova, founder of CryptoChicks.

No middleman

Blockchain also squeezes out the middleman. Think of a typical business — most require trusted intermediaries, such as lawyers, banks and notaries.

These agents go between two parties and build trust by verifying documents and transactions. For example, a lawyer will review documents and conclude with evidence that yes, Mary is, in fact, the owner of her grandmother’s diamond. Or, for instance, a bank might say no, that credit card transaction for a Rolex watch was not yours.

This method of business has always added a layer of security, but experts say it can be costly and time-consuming.

“It is a far more secure and far more efficient method of moving, storing and managing value than any system we’ve ever devised,” Tapscott said.

If Mary’s ownership information on the diamond was registered in a blockchain, she may not need a lawyer to verify her information against Bob, who is also claiming ownership. Instead, the information lives on the blockchain database — all Mary would have to do is show her brother.

We now know that any information or record added to a blockchain has been verified and encrypted and cannot be tampered with. We also know the blockchain is distributed across many computers and transparent for everyone to see.

Experts say this type of peer-to-peer interaction with our data is changing the way we access, interact and make transactions with one another.

“That is a paradigm shift that is going to have a big influence and impact on basically every single industry in the economy,” Tapscott Early days for blockchain


Early days for blockchain

The future understanding and use of blockchain may be similar to our current use and understanding of the internet — we may not know the exact details of how it works, but we all use it.

That’s how experts envision blockchain’s future over the next decade; they expect it will become so ingrained in our day-to-day activities that we’ll simply use it without realizing. The problems blockchain faces right now are also similar to the early days of the internet: before search engines like Google, it was a lot more challenging to get around the world wide web.

It wasn’t so long ago you had to use a phone line to get online — and even low-resolution images took a while to download.

“In the early 1990s, people in the newspaper industry said the internet will never pose a challenge to the newspaper business because it takes a minute to download a webpage and it takes only a second to open a newspaper,” Tapscott said.

“We are seeing the same thing here. People are saying, ‘Well, the usability is not intuitive. My grandmother can’t use it.’ Well, this is 1994 for blockchain.”

Just like the early days of the internet, Tapscott says blockchain has not yet gone through its “digital revolution.”

Blockchain does not have an easy-to-use interface — for now. Already, techies across the world are competing to create a more user-friendly interface that will bring the technology out of its early days and into the mainstream.

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