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Uber

Uber And The False Hopes Of A Sharing Economy

At its inception, Uber touted itself as a shining example of the “sharing economy” described by Jeremy Rifkin, in this now famous book, The Third Industrial Revolution. As time has passed the reality has been radically at odds with a sharing economy.  Among the many issues that have emerged has been the legacy of Uber’s ugly corporate culture, secret apps used to confound regulators, and to intimidate journalists, a Justice Department investigation of illegal practices, including 200 Uber employees conspiring together to attack Lyft’s operations. The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, as municipalities around the world have begun to regain control of transportation policy within their jurisdictions, and the inflated valuations of these unicorns begin to deflate.

Investment

Vancouver Technology Industry On Verge Of New Era

The Vancouver technology industry may well be on the verge of an extraordinary period of growth. Global, national, and regional factors appear to be aligning in ways that could create an extraordinary economic opportunity for the Lower Mainland which could not have been anticipated. Vancouver has been an endless topic of discussion about its comparability (or not) to Silicon Valley, the historical Canadian investment conservatism, and the lack of other resources necessary to create the “secret sauce” that makes a region achieve critical mass. That may be changing if only the convergence of factors is grasped and exploited.

Internet of Things

Vancouver company Energy Aware making Big Waves in Internet of Things

I met today with Ali Kashani and Janice (pronounced “Janeece”) Cheam of Energy Aware in their offices in Chinatown, East Vancouver. Ali is a UBC Vancouver Engineering Ph.D, and Janice is a Sauder “BComm” graduate. Together, they are the brains behind Energy Aware’s novel approach to the “hairball” of the Internet of Things. I began our meeting as a skeptic, and came away impressed with their approach, their market savvy, their chemistry as a team, and the big name partners they have already attracted.

Supercomputers

Google Buys a D-Wave Quantum Computer

Earlier this week, I was advised by a VC friend in Vancouver to expect another blockbuster announcement from D-Wave. And so it has happened. As if to stem any further skepticism and debate about D-Wave’s quantum computing technology, Google today announced that it has bought a D-Wave quantum computing system, in a partnership with NASA and Lockheed Martin Aerospace. This is the second major sale of a D-Wave system, and further evidence that this is not simple tire kicking by a group of ivory tower scientists.

Canada

Glut of Startup Accelerators Points Toward a Shakeout

Yesterday, I was an invited guest at an annual “entrepreneurship” event held in Vancouver. The event is an extraordinary opportunity to connect with most of the major figures, leaders, and investors in the entrepreneurship community. It also prominently showcased presentations from a number of the most promising new startups. But the undercurrents in conversations around the room were soul searching questions about the current glut of startup accelerators around North America, and the frothy euphoria and enthusiasm about “entrepreneurship.” Some experienced entrepreneurial investors complained about the air of unreality of it all, and the excess of mediocre companies being cranked out. A very prominent and experienced Vancouver venture capitalist pointed out to me that a glut of Canadian startups only compounds the long-standing issue that Canada could not produce the necessary risk capital even if more of these companies were investment ready, which they are not. A related issues is the waste of government money in these companies. Clearly, the situation is a mess.

Supercomputers

Vancouver D-Wave's Groundbreaking Quantum Computer Sale to Lockheed Martin Aerospace

This is a very Big Deal, which increases the likelihood that Big Data will be a very Big Deal.
While the Canadian economy is expected to languish in the doldrums for the foreseeable future, D-Wave, a Vancouver quantum computing company, with e@UBC funding, is making big waves (pun intended). Seemingly out of the blue we now have two Vancouver companies that may be showing Canada the way out of its “natural resource curse:” D-Wave and potentially also Hootsuite.

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