15 Jul 2019
Although a life long mathematician and technologist, recently much of my focus has been on being a savvy investor, in many asset classes from private seed/angel investing to public markets and alternative investments. While Canadian investors have traditionally thrived on conservative, cash generating value investing and fixed income plays, the future is rendering such risk averse models obsolete, making it critical to adopt a forward lens, looking out, perhaps a decade into the future.
I have lived through many market disruptions in which “software is eating the world.” Such disruptions include the “Kodak Moment” of digital photography rendering mining of silver oxide to supply the ecosystem around film irrelevant in a digital photography age. Another exemplar is the upending the entire value chain for newspapers and other ad-funded media by the likes of Google (Adwords) EBay (classified ads).
Energy has driven world …
10 Jan 2018
My own journey began as a teenager in the 1960s. Being a voracious reader with a strong scientific bent, was a perfect fit for me to embrace the fledging environmental consciousness of that era.
Clearly the changes during the last half century have matured my environmental world view. An early focus on simple industrial pollution was followed by the even more serious concerns about depletion of the Ozone Layer and energy conservation, building into today’s crisis of the growing impact of human-induced Climate Change. What this passage of time, accompanied by deepening adverse impacts, has taught me is that small individual actions can have huge collective impact, and that concerted efforts to change can be successful. Sadly, for many, this simple concept is abstract allowing some to pass the buck on personal action, seeing it as someone else’s responsibility. Economists even have a label for this metaphoric “fiddling while Rome burns”, namely the Tragedy of the Commons.
Many despair that our continued procrastination on …
5 Dec 2017
In a previous post, I spoke about my involvement with Canada 150 and also the Canada C3 signature project. The latter is an epic journey divided into 15 “Legs”, on a former Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker vessel (the MV Polar Prince, ca 1958) refitted to sail from coast to coast to coast for 150 days, and provide an ideal platform for connections and conversations. As a participant, I can only say I was profoundly changed, inspired, enlightened and mobilized by my time.
At our 150th birthday in 2017, Canada is at a crossroads as it strives to outgrow its colonial past, to find its rôle and place in a new world order and to respond to the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on the mis-treatment of our Indigenous Peoples in Residential Schools.
Compared to the celebration of our history that was the focus of Canada’s Centennial in 1967, Canada C3 responded directly to such challenges and sought to contribute to a new sense of nation building in our country. The ambitious goal was to engage over 20 million Canadians and contribute to …
29 Jun 2017
As we approach Canada Day of our 150th year of Confederation, I am compelled to share my personal reflections on where our country is headed, how the lessons of history (positive or negative) are shaping our future journey and the contribution we, as Canadians, can make to our world. Beyond celebration, our nation urgently needs our care and attention. As a result, I am sharing my own journey in the form of a call to action.
Over four years ago, I received a call join a group helping to build programs to shape our Canadian sense as a “Smart and Caring Nation”, inspired by His Excellency Governor General David Johnston. My love of our country has been inexorably shaped and enhanced through extended periods of living and working abroad. The opportunity to serve Canada and to collaborate with an unbelievably talented group of leaders, made it a no-brainer for me to accept this call. Since then, in many varied groupings, conversations about Canada and nation-building were convened at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Deloitte Greenhouse, Wasan Island and more. Although not apparent from the core group shown below, …
18 Sep 2016
Even though a life-long environmentalist, looking at the world through my children’s eyes drives home how pressing, and enormous, is the card we have dealt them. That legacy of unprecedented global climate change, leaves little choice between measures to achieve a rapid reversal of climate change or living with global apocalypse.
Personally, I vote for reversal, as one expects would most rational people. However, getting there requires a complete re-think of our lives, and our communities. In my daily life, I see huge opportunities.From Central to Middle of Nowhere (West Field)
Having grown up in Listowel, Ontario, I recently attended the closing ceremony for the Central Public School which will be replaced by North Perth Westfield Elementary School – the difference in the names, previously “Central” to the new “West field” says it all and is illustrated in this map.
Although we all spent time reminiscing about memories and a proud history comprising at least 3 school buildings on the “Central” site, the issue I raise isn’t about heritage. The new school will necessitate a school bus ride for essentially all students. Unlike Central, where most students …
8 Mar 2016
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Laozi c.580 BCE
Building on 19th Century US westward expansion (“Go West Young Man”), much of the current innovation in technology has been West Coast focused, particularly in California’s Silicon Valley, which has for more than 50 years been an intellectual epicentre of the technology world.Source: Wall Street Pit
Over my long tenure in the vanguard of technology trends, I have witnessed a tectonic shift in this comfortable, yet outdated, world order. Today the best and brightest innovators and entrepreneurs must also look east, especially to China, to fully embrace global reality of the 21st Century.
Many of you might be wondering about the slowing growth rates in China? Like many aspects of China, there are many perplexing contradictions that are beyond the scope of this post. It is certainly true that Chinese infrastructure investments and some manufacturing has been overbuilt. Not so in the technology industry. The difference is that there is a huge gap as the Chinese population increasingly moves to middle class status and the country needs to solve some huge issues (e.g. environmental issues around air quality). …
10 Sep 2015
The Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators has named Adam Barbu as its third winner and is moving up to a whole new level. Founded in 2012 by John Kissick and me, with initial investments from Middlebrook Social Innovation Fund, to support and mobilize Canadian creative talent, the Prize aims to inspire positive social change through creativity and connectedness in a time of unprecedented economic, environmental, social, and cultural challenges.
In our 3rd year, some exciting changes are afoot as we see our vision for the Prize unfold.
First of all, the Prize has a new home in our partner gallery, the recently re-branded Art Gallery of Guelph. Led by Dawn Owen, the gallery provides a compelling new venue to host the Prize exhibition and to mentor the winner.
Secondly, the Prize now has a physical form and a visual identity as befits an increasingly important Canadian cultural icon. Designed by the immensely talented and award winning creative director, Chris Duchaine, our new visual identity reflects the knowledge integration inherent in modern curating interpreted with the most modern design principles. Paying homage to the “White Cube” abstraction of the idealized art gallery, it also references the forces that are breaking down that cube and …
27 Aug 2015
[Note: this blog post also appears on the NACO Canada guest blog by Randall Howard]
Angel portfolio management remains surprisingly primitive. Many Angels have built up substantial portfolios over time, yet few give much thought to ongoing management of these valuable assets. The many various spreadsheets, documents, share certificates, warrants, emails and other essential documents are often scattered far and wide. I understand first hand the challenges Angel investors face when managing their portfolios and I also understand that things need to change.
At the beginning of October, I will be moderating a panel at the 2015 National Angel Summit, regarding best practices in portfolio structuring management and succession planning in order to build awareness, and activate change, around this issue. The panel will include two “Super Angels” and a Family Office Professional who will provide first hand perspectives on approaches to filling the portfolio management gap.
The fundamental question we will be addressing is, “how can Angels structure their portfolios better?” We will also be diving into the importance of succession planning for Angel investors.
It may sound morbid, …
30 May 2015
In mid-April, I attended the 10th annual ACA Summit hosted by Angel Capital Association in San Diego. With about 600 people in attendance from dozens of countries, it was an excellent chance to get tuned into the latest trends happening in angel world at large.
And since Angel Investing is now a global phenomenon, it is interesting to note that ACA Summit can have two faces. On one hand, it is a very international gathering of Angel investors and yet sometimes the content reflects the fact that ACA is primarily an association of US Angel investors, for example by showing trends without regard that Canadian angels are just across the border.
The international range of attendees was striking, with many delegations from various European countries; Latin American countries like Mexico, Chile and Barbados; India; a particular concentration from Australia and New Zealand and of course Canada. Regarding this antipodean concentration, one attendee found it odd that there were more of participants from halfway around the world than from Canada.
I am a member of the program committee for Canada’s own 2015 NACO Summit which is being held October 6-8 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, right on the US …
8 Feb 2015
The acquisition of MKS by PTC in 2011, caused me to reflect a bit on what good acquisitions might look like and what they might teach us about building (sometimes elusive) long term shareholder value. As a result, over the last 6 months, I’ve progressively assembled a collection on the most significant acquisitions in the Waterloo area. To my knowledge, such information has hitherto never been collected. We all love to speculate, but it is more productive to ground that speculation with facts.
The following table is intended to summarize value creation through the lens of several key benchmarks.