Posted on 12/01/2020 2:23 PM
The head office of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (Photo: courtesy)
Element AI, considered one of the symbols of artificial intelligence in Quebec and which will be acquired by the Californian company ServiceNow, has been at the heart of the daily concerns of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) during over the past two years, according to its President and CEO Charles Émond.
As part of a virtual event organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal on Tuesday, where he notably addressed themes such as the global economic context, the transformation of Quebec inc. as well as the orientations of the socks of Quebecers, Mr. Émond also returned to the transaction announced the day before and which received a rather negative reception in the province.
The company co-founded in 2016 by renowned researcher Yoshua Bengio and which has already had around half a thousand employees, was experiencing serious financial difficulties as well as challenges in terms of commercialization. In particular, it offers artificial intelligence solutions inspired by deep learning for sectors such as cybersecurity, insurance, finance and logistics.
Mr. Émond indicated that the CDPQ held a 10% stake in Element AI after participating last year in a round of financing of more than US $ 200 million which also included the Quebec government. The head of the pension plan manager explained that he considered the company among “the files which have occupied the teams the most in the last two years”.
As of December 31, the Caisse’s investment in Element AI was valued within a range of between $ 30 million and $ 50 million.
Based in Santa Clara, ServiceNow, which develops software in addition to working in the cloud, will for the moment retain the services of the current President and CEO of Element AI, Jean − François Gagné, who is also among the founders. Mr. Bengio is expected to act as technical advisor to the Californian giant, which last year generated approximately US $ 3.5 billion in revenues and has a market value of over US $ 100 billion.