Business Innovation Economy

Bitcoins end game or change agent?

I’ve recently started tracking more closely the emergence of Bitcoins and even tried a bit of mining on my laptop. After spinning the fans up to full because of the work it was doing I decided that I was probably spending more on electricity and shortening the useful life of my laptop that it was not worth doing. Marc Andreesen recently gave a great overview on why this is a technology that is going to change everything for payments in the future in the New York Times.

A contrarian view to the bright picture from Andreessen is posited in this in depth analysis on CNET. Interestingly the Canadian Mint has recently launched a new payment system called MintChip. While the transactions are limited to $10 to presumably minimize risk while the nascent technology is rolled out, I’m sure we will quickly see the emergency of various digital currency systems supported also by governments. The CNET article points to some serious flaws in the BitCoin model today like anti-money laundering, the perhaps over hyped infallibility of the platform and many others.

All of this come at a time where Visa/MC are partnering with wireless carriers to support using the phone as the universal wallet, PayPal continues to evolve, Square and many other options keep coming. Far too early to see how this will pan out, but what an amazing disruption going on.

General Tech Innovation Economy

Canadian Tech Picks for 2014

Check out the picks from Ron Shuttleworth for 2014 in the latest CanTech Letter. 2013 was a banner year for his Canadian Tech small cap picks with mean returns of 171%! Despite the challenges of players like RIM, it appears the small cap tech sector is thriving including the recent investment from OMERS in Shopify giving an evaluation of over $1 Billion.

Innovation Economy

CIX 2013 – Canadian Startups and Investors at MarsDD

This was my first year attending CIX 2013 and I was really impressed with the scale of the event, the number of  participants from both the investment community, incubators and startups. The auditorium at MarsDD was standing room only as the selected Top 20 startups presented their businesses to panels from the investment community. The breadth of companies from LMS (Learning Management Systems, a new acronym for me) to eHealth, video recognition processing, collaboration for hardware designing and the list goes on…. All of the presenters had seriously innovative solutions with real business models that are well on their way. And all made in Canada!

The breadth of investors in venture capital was also great to see. The smaller breakout sessions focusing on creating and building companies that last were backed by panelists from seed funding through to later stage funding. The advice was honest, open and encouraging to entrepreneurs. I was impressed by the willingness of founders that have gone before to offer angel investment and more importantly mentorship for the next wave of entrepreneurs even as they plot the next steps for themselves. The impact of the successful exits of many companies creates a viral community of people that have lived through a startup and know both success and failure. They are going on to found companies themselves. It really is where economic growth will come from and it is so important to foster and support businesses like these.

By the end of the day my mind was whirling with the possibilities of our innovation community in Canada and I can not wait to see who the next rising stars will be.