In one of the more bizarre recent articles on the state of the Canadian venture investment market, The Globe & Mail offered this story of the entry of Canadian commercial banks like CIBC, RBC and TD into the world of entrepreneurial finance. Not more than a few weeks ago, Toronto University Professor Richard Florida also published an opinion piece in the Globe & Mail, in sharp contrast which is entitled “Canada is losing the global innovation race”, describing the long term decline of Canadian venture capital and decades of poor investment in basic R&D compared to its other OECD industrialized nations. Recently, a colleague in Canadian venture capital told me of his retirement, citing the enormous difficulty his firm had raising capital from the Canadian financial industry. This is prima facie evidence of how disconnected Canada is from the reality of entrepreneurial finance and venture capital. The Canadian financial industry mindset is Problem One. Name another major entrepreneurial ecosystem that operates like this.
An insightful interview with Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn. But to my mind, Hoffman seems blase’ about Big Ideas and “deep tech” funding. I share the views of Startup Genome founder, Max Marmer, and bemoan the limited focus of VC’s on world-changing technologies, leaving it to billionaire angels. I also sense myopia about the ongoing intense debate over the distortion of the sharing economy by Uber, Airbnb, and others.
This is the best info-graphic I have seen on the historical evolution of venture capital, from the early days of Arthur Rock to the current trend of “platform” investors offering the “everything in a box” approach to entrepreneurial investment. The evolving venture capital models are overlayed onto a trend graph of the cost of startups contrasted with the number of startups. At first glance one might accept the now common refrain that traditional “venture capital is dead.” When I began my career in Silicon Valley, the typical entrepreneurial growth company needed $5 to $10 Million dollars to launch itself. Today, the argument is that a promising company can be started on $5000 or less, and competitors eager to serve this new market have mushroomed. But is this really the future?