Looking back ... At a macro level things are still pretty frightening. Greece, Ireland and the UK all caused tremors in the financial sector but, the bailouts coupled with fiscal corrections seem to have worked... for now. The US still has a staggering unemployment rate and the housing crisis has left millions homeless, they have massive debt and continue to print more money. Stimulus spending in most of the developed world is coming to an end and the focus is on fiscal restraint. The Canadian Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty has said that this will be the year of “No” for the Canadian Government and the start of tightening the belt (probably not the end). However, stimulus spending has been extended to October and then it is fiscal restraint. So at a macro level there are some pretty concerning trends.
The micro (or regional level) and by that I mean Ottawa is pretty solid in the tech private sector. Nortel has been sliced diced and acquired by a variety of buyers, which I think, is a good thing and helps bring a bit of stability to the old tech sector. Many of the start-ups I have been following for the past 6 or 7 years continue to improve their fundamentals and there have even been some stellar news stories in Ottawa. The BIG stories are Shopify securing a $7M series A round and Protus IP Acquisition both REALLY good news stories. In the current environment securing a Series A round is a real testament to the hard work and success of the founding team at Shopify. A hearty congrats to Tobi, Mark MacLeod, Harley and the rest of the team. Congrats to the Protus IP team to on a great exit. This should help to bring at least a little bit of liquidity back to some of the local investors and perhaps this is just the tip of the liquidity iceberg ... fingers crossed.
Now Looking forward ... I believe that Ottawa now has the opportunity to regain much of that lost ground in the tech sector. As stated previously I have not been this optimistic on the Ottawa tech sector since the bubble burst back at the turn of the millennium. The topic of Ottawa’s tech future will be turned into a series of blog posts over the next few weeks. So at the regional level things are looking good although there is much more that could be done.
As an aside ... I have stealthily launched a new start-up recruiting firm not too long ago and this has been very well received, is a lot of fun and basically builds on a lot of the community work I have been for the past 6 or 7 years. More on this next Monday. You can find me on my new twitter account at @StartupScout
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.
- Ian Graham