Posts tagged VC
I figured it would be appropriate to write about the lack of a growing and robust venture capital community in Toronto since it cropped up in three places over the last 2 days – once with several folks at Startup Drinks last night, today over coffee with Jeremy Laurin of OCE’s Investment Accelerator Fund and on Quora (the new social network launched by the ex-CTO of Facebook). On a side note, Quora is actually pretty snazzy with super-high-quality people.
Back to the main point of this thread — I’ve been talking about this situation for roughly 3.5 years now — first in the biotech/life science VC community in Toronto and now with the ICT community. I believe there is one problem at the root of both sectors — we need a kick-start in Canada.
What does that mean, a kick-start? Well, most people believe that there is a fundamental funding gap in Toronto’s venture community between pioneering research (in universities, by startups, etc…) and venture capital finance-able deals. That may be the case, but that is a different argument for a different day. I believe there is a more substantial funding gap that exists once a ’successful Canadian company’ reaches the point of raising a round of capital greater than $15 million. The existing VCs in the community (generally) just can’t get those kinds of deals done. It’s not in our Canadian cards (given the average fund size, risk thresholds, etc…). Canadians need later-stage financing options (or Government money) to back those deals and to create a better later-stage ecosystem.
So, what happens instead? Great Canadian companies knock on the doors of VCs South of the border who are flushed with cash and willing to invest larger amounts in later rounds. For the record, I love US VCs. However, for the purpose of this discussion, or monologue rather, they have tended to bring companies close to home to minimize their geographical risk with the investment. Now, as companies continue to grow and are eventually sold, the successful founders and key employees of those companies often (not always) stay South of the border to further progress their careers — joining US companies, or launching other companies in those locales. Worse for Canada, those successful folks often reinvest in US VC funds or Angel invest in other local US companies rather than Canadian startups.
Envision that cycle reoccurring over and over for the last 30 years. The trend becomes large enough that a substantial amount of capital, and human capital for that matter, gets lost from the Canadian startup ecosystem.
Some say that there is a lack of venture capital in Toronto because there just aren’t great deals. I disagree. I think that there is a lot of talent in Toronto and in the surrounding areas, like Waterloo for example.
Now, the scenario I’ve described may not be the only reason for the lack of capital in Toronto (or Canada), but I feel that it is a significant part of the problem. What are your thoughts?
Larry Cheng updated his Global VC Blog list today (originally posted in May 2009 as top-100 in Google Reader subscriptions) and has re-ranked the global top VC blogs by average monthly unique visitors on compete.com for Q4 2009 (oct+nov+dec)/3.
As per the latest global VC blog listing, Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures (Blog: A VC) took the top spot, shifting Guy Kawasaki from Garage Technology Ventures (Blog: How To Change The World) into second place.
Here’s the top 1012 for Q4 2009:
- Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures, A VC (100,279)
- Guy Kawasaki, Garage Technology Ventures, How To Change The World (82,838)
- Paul Graham, YCombinator, Essays (71,924)
- Brad Feld, Foundry Group, Feld Thoughts (45,633)
- Mark Suster, GRP Partners, Both Sides of the Table (39,389)
- Bill Gurley, Benchmark Capital, Above The Crowd (23,084)
- Dave McClure, Founders Fund, Master of 500 Hats (21,462)
- Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital, Redeye VC (12,972)
- Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital, Bijan Sabet (12,451)
- Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Ventures Partners, LSVP (12,097)
- Mark Peter Davis, DFJ Gotham Ventures, Venture Made Transparent (12,010)
- Larry Cheng, Volition Capital, Thinking About Thinking (11,851)
I kept 12 for obvious reasons. Check out the full list.
Larry, thanks for keeping tabs on all these metrics — it’s a great service to everyone looking to find knowledge in the VC and startup domains. The only problem with this methodology is that compete.com tracks only US traffic, while the blog listing is global in scope. Perhaps your next update in April 2010 can use Alexa rankings or some other novel solution.