Maybe Vancouver should retire the term unicorn? | The Sunday Briefing

Because it seems like billion-dollar businesses are no longer rare out here.

Good morning and welcome to the new Vancouver Tech Journal subscribers reading this Sunday. Make sure to stay engaged all week by connecting with us on TwitterLinkedIn and the Vancouver Tech club on the Clubhouse iOS app. If you’re not already on Clubhouse but want to be, please get in touch for an invitation.

Trust me, you don’t want to miss this week’s conversation with Richard Hungerford, VP of Corporate Development & Strategy at Hootsuite. Join our weekly show, Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee, to hear from him on Tuesday at 9am PST. Add this to your calendar. Done? Great, let’s move on.

This week, I’m excited to share a few original stories on Vancouver’s newest billion-dollar companies, a CEO trying to reinvent the capital markets using blockchain, and BC’s new $500 million investment fund. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

By the way, today’s Briefing is 1,738 words, a 6-minute read. Enjoy!

-William (@notionport)


💰 Legal tech firm Clio is now worth $2B

Last week, Clio announced it raised $137 million CAD in Series E funding which values the company at $2 billion CAD. The funding round was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., included OMERS Growth Equity, and reportedly makes Clio the first legal practice management unicorn globally.


🧑‍🏫 Edtech firm Thinkfic has a billion-dollar debut

Vancouver’s Thinkific successfully raised $160 million CAD in their initial public offering and closed the day worth more than $1 billion. 


🦄 Vancouver has produced 6 unicorn companies in the past 6 months

  • In fact, the city has produced five companies worth at least $1 billion in 2021 alone. Can you guess what companies make this list? Check your answers.


DH Kim’s journey back to the future

“I sometimes say that these regulations will kill people,” DH Kim, the CEO of Finhaven, told me on a recent Zoom call this year, in reference to the burdens companies operating in traditional capital markets face.


⏩ Quick Takes


🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.

  • A man who raised money for the development of a blockchain platform has agreed to pay $70,000 to the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) for using funds he raised from investors for personal purposes. Francesco Servedio, of Kelowna, received $3.2 million from investors to develop a blockchain platform—but then he used $480,000 of the invested funds for personal purposes.

  • Immersive Tech closed its previously announced non-brokered private placement financing worth $2.36 million CAD. Immersive operates the recently launched company "UNCONTAINED", the world's first COVID-safe free-roam AR/VR shipping container Location-Based Entertainment franchise.

  • TechX Technologies Inc. is acquiring Cryptobuddy.ai, a predictive cryptocurrency trading signals platform through its subsidiary Bull Market Media Inc. CryptoBuddy allows traders to navigate cryptocurrency market conditions with AI-generated future price forecasts and trading signals.


📝 604 Views: The sharpest ideas and insights.

  • Pender Ventures Managing Partner Maria Pacella says it’s time to build a foundation for more equitable entrepreneurship, economic growth and innovation. “Last year, business leaders could be heard repeating a version of this phrase: ‘We have seen 10 years of transformation or growth in just 10 months.’ Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for women’s experiences within business,” she writes.

  • Terramera CEO Karn Manhas shares insights on Channeling the Power of Activism Inside Your Company. “…doing nothing—ignoring ‘politics’ altogether—is tantamount to taking a stand for the status quo,” he writes.

  • Visier CEO Ryan Wong shares The Number One Mistake You’re Making In Tracking WFH Productivity. “When workers know their keystrokes are being measured, for instance, they’re incentivized to produce busy work, which may have little commercial value to the business,” he writes.

  • Roger Patterson, the CEO of Instagram scheduler Later, says it’s time to ditch the term side hustle.We’ve got legions of “mompreneurs,” “passion-preneurs,” side hustlers and gig workers. There’s nothing wrong with identifying with a proud community of course, but it shouldn’t preclude you from recognizing this truth: If you’re running your own business — big, small, after work, online, on Instagram, whatever — you are an entrepreneur,” he writes.

  • Redbrick CEO Tobyn Sowden shares advice for attracting top talent in BC’s tech industry, now. “In my experience, the type of employee who is looking to work at an Amazon or Microsoft is very different from the type of employee who wants to work at a startup. Although startups and scale-ups are competing within the same industry as these tech giants, they aren’t necessarily competing for the same talent pool,” he writes.

  • Tony Quattrin, vice chairman of capital markets for CBRE, suggests the next sound investment in Vancouver is life sciences real estate. “In order to see more developers engage in life sciences real estate projects, we need to adjust our thinking and consider life science real estate as a new and rapidly growing asset class all on its own that provides sustained returns from increasing demand,” he writes.


👨‍💼 Personnel issues: People going places.

  • Through Raven Indigenous Capital, venture capitalist Jeff Cyr is decolonizing the investment process and increasing the profile of Indigenous innovations. Cyr believes Indigenous communities have been innovating long before businesses and governments started recognizing its value. “We survived colonization, disease and economic exclusion because of our ability to innovate,” he told Corporate Knights.

  • TELUS Ventures introduced its first Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ohad Arazi, who is the former CEO of Zebra Medical Vision and was previously chief strategy officer at TELUS Health. In the role, Arazi plans to “work through investment themes, stitch ideas, people and assets together to create compelling opportunities,” he said on LinkedIn.

  • Former Sierra Wireless executive Brooke Hanson joined Delta-Q Technologies as vice president of operations. Hanson will be responsible for the global supply chain and manufacturing footprint of the company, which specializes in battery chargers.

  • Klaus Salchner joined insurtech firm APOLLO as Chief Technology Officer. Most recently, Klaus served as Vice President of Engineering, Customer Experiences at Realtor.com, a subsidiary of News Corp.


😎 Pretty cool: Everything else new and novel.

  • The WAX blockchain was set to host the launch of Topps’ Major League Baseball NFTs on April 20th. But, before the NFTs could even make it to the blockchain for the launch date, critics (opponents?) came out of the woodwork. In the ongoing Battle of the Blockchains, there’s still all to play for, and it’s not clear who will come out on top. But for a snapshot of where things stand right now, read this analysis from VTJ reporter James Matthews: Is a blockchain battle brewing in Vancouver’s NFT space?

  • The Business Council of British Columbia launched the BCBC Economic Dashboard, an interactive data visualization tool developed in collaboration with the KPMG Canada Lighthouse team. Available at bcbc.com/dashboard, the Dashboard compiles economic data from a variety of sources to quickly provide insight into economic conditions and important trends in the province.

  • TGS Esports Inc. (TGS), which manages Richmond’s The Gaming Studio, recently announced its acquiring esports tournament organizer Even Matchup Gaming Inc. (EMG). EMG operates a variety of esports competitions, including Get On My Level (GOML), the largest fighting game tournament in Canada and Let’s Make Big Moves (Super Smash Bros.).


🎧 Watch & Listen


📅 Mark your calendar to match ours.

  • Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee | Join the Vantech.Club this Tuesday, May 4 at 9am PST for an exclusive conversation with Richard Hungerford, VP, Corporate Development & Strategy at Hootsuite.

  • Tech Talent North | On May 12-23, join this focused community of people-leaders, culture scalers and HR success stories to learn tactical strategies from Canada’s most innovative tech industry leaders. Use code VTJ20 for 20% off.

  • Vancouver Startup Week | Over 7 jam-packed days from May 21 to 28, Vancouver Startup Week connects entrepreneurs, investors, community leaders, and friends to build momentum and opportunity around our community’s unique entrepreneurial identity.


🔥 Top stories, still trending.


⌛ That’s it. Until next week…

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