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March 14, 2008

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Well Said!

I remember the guys over at desktop.com before they sold the URL. I was at a Rogers event when most of the same team (now buybuddy) announced a partnership. I'm not sure I ever met Albert but its a bit disingenuous at best. Seems to be a trend with Tech Whiz kids from Canada.

Thanks for setting the record straight.

this is was fascinating read Rick, 1) for the simple fact that I have never seen you so 'mad' before an (2) for atually pointing out some interesting facts within the Canadian VC market.

Cranky, Peter, cranky. Different then mad. (sorrta)

Thanks for stopping by.

>R<

As a guy based in the Southeastern US out looking for venture funding, I would be blown away to have the kind of suppport I hear about (and you reiterate) that's available in Canada.

It's basically tough to raise money anywhere and it drives me crazy when entrepreneurs perpetuate existing myths that they know are simply not true.

Well done calling him out. If we all were a little more forthright, the whole process would be easier...

Ahhhh...that fire reminds me of the good ol' days.

Rick, love the post! When in the comment above "for the simple fact that I have never seen you so 'mad' before" I immediately flashed back to when we were doing the initial Chapters build...remembering ATT Canada...remembering SecureBuy...remembering launch week and having to have you almost focibly removed at 2am from the data centre in order to prevent me from, well, killing you with my bare hands.

For the clarity of all your adoring readers...Rick can get mad and when he gets really mad, and hasn't slept for oh say 84 hours...it is a sight to behold!

You should do some reminicing for these young punks (er turks). You have walked many miles in their shoes. Here's one that should jog your memory...about 45 days after launch you asked me for a list of emails for customers who hadn't received their orders after 30 or so days. You got the list late one night, fired up Outlook's mail merge, sent off 3000 emails, got almost 3000 angry responses by the next morning AND then answered ALL of them in less than 48 hours (I know this because I got copied on almost all the responses).

Ah the memories!

Rob

Couple of things I just wanted to clarify for the record:

I was one of 3 (super talented) founders of mydesktop as a company/commercial entity. Prior to my involvement, it was a loose group of web sites/hobbyist. Secondly, I was involved in cofounding, and spinning out of buybuddy from its parent company, and raised its first round of seed financing.

As for the article, my quote "you'd be an idiot to start a company in Canada" is meant to convey the lack of sufficient risk capital in Canada to fully support all the opportunities and talented entrepreneurs in Canada.

As an entrepreneur here in Canada, we need more help from all fronts to compete globally. It was not meant to convey that VCs themselves aren't doing their job, but rather we need to have more support and capital.

I have been very lucky, and I'm grateful for the support that I've received from the community -- which is why I've invested the time that I have in supporting events and young entrepreneurs in Canada.

Its unfortunate that some might have interrupted the article to think I was bashing the VC community or being anti-Canadian, when it was meant to be a rallying call to action to support young entrepreneurs (i.e. grass roots and student efforts) and innovators in Canada.

While I agree there are great reasons to start a company in Canada for the reasons you cited, esp. the SR&ED tax credits (which are amazingly helpful, and I evangelize to folks south of the boarder to invest in Canada for those reasons) -- there is an increasing number of folks that I've been meeting that is having a hard time finding the support that they are looking for from here and being sucked down south of the border.

As you may or may not know, I actually happen to be a fan of what you do in Canada. You are one of three VCs in Canada that I reference as the default go-to-people for new startups/entrepreneurs. I wish there were more VCs that is as aggressive about reaching out and engaging the startup community as you have. Your no-harm-no fowl offers, presence at events, and the JLA logo at the various startup events events do not go unnoticed.

Like you, I was trying to stick my neck out (risk) to push/provoke the community forward (reward) -- and rally the community around us to further support risk taking, innovation, and young people.

Just like you Rick. ;)

I remember that, Rob. While @ Chapters, I had to tell Rick that we were sending out credit card lists to customers and our Director of I.T. was quitting at the time. Thats probability the maddest I had ever seen Rick.

Albert,

I spoke to the founders and know the founders. I know Butch as well. I also know XDL capital people. You were not, have not, and never will be consider a co-founder of MyDesktop. You word spinning about roles takes your otherwise talented personality and lowers everyone's view of your results. Your embellishments of what you did aren't required. You should simply state the facts of what you did and not ego grab founder title.

Thank you for finally calling mr whiz kid web 3.0 out. I think he has the gift of BS. Finally someone willing to call it like it is.
He is what he is ....liar liar pants on fire.
scott

@Albert: Why the disillusionment with Canada ? Let me tell you that you and your story has been an inspiration to me. I liked Bubbleshare, but I also thought that it wasn't a killer app. Were you 10x better than the market leader (i.e. Flickr) or could have been with VC funding, being in the valley, etc ?

Let me share my example. 2 yrs ago, I got pretty frustrated with the existing RSS feed readers. So I came up with what I thought was a much better approach to RSS, got a team together and spent the past 18 months or so working 24x7 building it: Alertle http://www.alertle.com And we launched just about a month ago. Several top tech blogs wrote about us (http://blog.alertle.com/?p=17) and a user from Hungary had this to say to us: “I just found your feed reader, and i think it’s revolutionary! I use Google Reader a long time ago, but I signed up to alertle right after the demo.”

All that from right here in Toronto, Canada.

No funding, tax credits or any other help. Just bootstrapped and being smart about every little thing. And a lot of sweat, dedication and sacrifices (on a lot of Vitamin D :P). I think the eco-system which is being discussed here should come into play when companies are looking to "rapidly expand" and "absolutely need it". If you think you have a good idea, you better put everything on the line, so that if the startup fails, you fail. Otherwise people find excuses.

For anyone who is even slightly unsure about starting a software company in Canada or Timbuktu or wherever, I'll just like to share this quote I came across recently:

"Leap off the cliff and start building the airplane on the way down—you might be surprised with what you can pull off."

Good for you, Rick. We need to keep this liar and naysayer honest. If he can't keep his facts straight and support the community that supported him, then he should at the very least keep his mouth shut (or better yet, get the hell out of town).

Rick,

This is an appalling and disgraceful post. It's one thing to challenge, rebut or denounce Albert's comments in the Canadian Business article. It's quite another to focus this post and some of your comments as a personal attack on Albert who, I should point out, has done more for raising the profile and funding opportunities for Canadian Web start-ups in the US than practically anyone in this country, including you (gasp!).

You have definitely caused both harm and foul with this post. In fact, the whole post borders on the...."idiotic"!

Mark,

Naturally, I disagree. This isn't an attack on Albert, I happen to like the guy. I take offense at the Idiot comment, his words, not mine and I take offense at the notion that Albert was the founder of two companies when he clearly wasn't. Even Albert is now spining how we define "founder" as you can see in his comments. You'll note he is not disputing my commentary with respect to his turning down funding, etc.

Also, if Albert is out telling the U.S. funding community to come invest in Canadian companies, good on him and, you are correct, it is not something I spend time doing as a separate act rather I help the portfolio companies when they raise U.S. capital. I'm sorry you believe it was a personal attack. Albert has been in this office enough times and knows me well enough to know that I can verbally take em out to the woodshed and still like the guy. He does "harm" with idiot comments and it is 'foul' to embellish ones work when it isn't required.

Yikes! Controversy. Not used to seeing colourful debate like this in our little community!

Don't mean to douse the fire, but I can agree with some of each. Rick's been very supportive of Malgosia and I, repeatedly; while Albert is right, we could use more venture capital in Canada.

Now back to the debate: somebody call somebody an a-hole!

Hi John,
Albert is certainly not an A-Hole. He has a certain way of making his points. Somewhat like moi except without the gray hair.

My best to your better half, thanks for stopping by.

>R<

Hehehehe.

Thanks for the drama.

@Albert
Your follow up is disingenuous. Backpedaling is boring. Good luck in launching yet another social networking service.

@Mark Z
This is not Rick on the war path against Albert directly but against distortions about the truth of Canadian entrepreneurship. If you are new to this blog, you'll see this is a subject Rick is deeply passionate towards expanding.

@Rick
I've done the walk up and down Bay St and picked up a few bucks along the way. There is investment money in Canada. But there has to be a real business there. Buzzwords and hand waving doesn't get you as far as it does south of the border.

Maybe you could do a few more posts on success stories. Especially at the angel level.

I'm a little late to this, and I'm not sure anyone's reading anymore, but this is damn fine reading.

Peter Evans at MarsDD put me on to it - thanks, Peter!

This is fun because Rick and Albert are both slightly warped in that way that makes great reading. The fact that Albert got so deep under Rick's skin is only testimony to how successful Albert's been - certainly in profile, and more than most in dollars.

Rick, you're the absolute face of Canadian VCs these days (I'll bet very few of your readers even know John), and thanks for having what it takes to pour your words into a blog so often, and for so long. After just a few years in the business (2001?), I'll bet you're the single best known Canadian VC. Good hire, John!

Albert's a stud - no one has his unbridled enthusiasm for technology start-ups and ability to say controversial things with just the right ring of truth to get people going. His MyDesktop guys shared an office with me at one point, and I can't tell you who started what, but I can tell you that no one would have bought that thing without Albert. Believe it or not, he was by far the most mature member of that cast - remember they were all in their TEENS.

Anyone else here sell a company to a huge US firm before they hit 20?

Didn't think so.

Took me until 40, and even then I had to stick to Canada.

Ironic, given that I'm American, but whatever.

Rick - love the blog, love the spirit.

And love the links to Canadian Business!

(I run interactive at Rogers Media now, which owns CB)

WOW! :-)

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