Sunday Briefing | #121

Quantum Park, Vancouver’s version of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, is in the works.

Welcome to the Vancouver Tech Journal’s Sunday Briefing, your bi-weekly roundup of Vancouver innovation stories and insights.

Recently, reporters and writers explored a proposed real estate development for Vancouver’s tech sector, what Canadian VCs expect in 2021, Hootsuite’s history of acquisitions, and what the hell is going on in crypto (for dummies).

Read on for more.

Quantum Park, Vancouver’s version of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, is in the works.

Pending city approval, developer Concord Pacific plans to turn the former Molson Coors brewery plant, which it bought for $164.8M, into a “tech-oriented, campus-style complex” with office space, interior courtyards, garden spaces, and condos. “The idea is that people can have a life-and-work lifestyle,” Peter Webb, senior vice-president at Concord Pacific, told reporter Frances Bula of The Globe & Mail. “They can spin off each other’s activities and ideas.” While COVID-19 has driven many companies to introduce teleworking and distributed work arrangements, industry leaders still recognize the benefits of in person interactions.

  • Jill Tipping, president of the B.C. Tech Association: “We’ve discovered that people can be very productive when they’re distributed, but to be creative, to generate new ideas, requires unscheduled interactions. So being in a campus with different companies around [is] quite appealing.”

  • Alain Rivère, associate vice-president with CBRE: “Tech companies were able to work better than expected at home, but many are now saying, ‘We really see the value of the office – we’re just going to do it differently.’”

Carl Hansen, AbCellera Biologics’s billionaire boss, is planning to hire hundreds in Vancouver after record-setting IPO.

Recall: Working with giant Eli Lilly & Co., Abcellera has developed an antibody-based drug for COVID-19 treatment. The company recently raised US$555-million through a NASDAQ IPO that made Hansen a billionaire four times over. Now, according to Sean Silcoff of The Globe & Mail, the firm is scaling up with:

plans to hire hundreds of people (AbCellera has just more than 200 now) and eventually expand laboratory operations to one million square feet – and hopes to build AbCellera into Canada’s first true pharmaceutical industry giant.

From Swift to Sparkcentral, a timeline of Hootsuite's acquisitions.

The Vancouver firm has made at least 13 acquisitions to strengthen technical infrastructure, fill product gaps and serve new markets.

  • Given the rapidly changing and ever-expanding nature of the social media and marketing tech ecosystem, it’s no surprise Hootsuite’s history is chock-full of these types of acquisitions.

  • In fact, you may have forgotten about many of them. So, the Vancouver Tech Journal put together a quick reference guide for Hootsuite’s most consequential public purchases over the years. Enjoy.

BCBusiness mag’s Innovators series highlights companies moving the province forward in challenging times. First up: Vancouver’s MetaOptima Technology.

MetaOptima’s software platform DermEngine, is critical to a project, Dermatology Point-of-Care Intelligent Network, “meant to harness artificial intelligence to help dermatologists remotely zero in on possible cases of melanoma at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of success.” If successful in B.C., the project will expand across the country. And not a moment too soon. Skin cancer strikes 80,000 people annually.

In a rare acquisition, Nintendo announced that it will be acquiring Vancouver-based Next Level Games, the developer behind Luigi’s Mansion 3.

According to Techcrunch, “Nintendo’s announcement is the first studio acquisition for the company since their 2007 purchase of Xenoblade Chronicles developer Monolith Soft.”

Next Level Games  has been working on Nintendo-licensed IP exclusively for the better part of the last decade, crafting a number of titles across some of the company’s second tier of intellectual property including the Super Mario Strikers series as well as mobile iterations of Metroid Prime and Luigi’s Mansion.

Pay day: “Next Level Games began exploring a sale when a number of its owner-directors determined ‘the time is right for them to’ do so,” according to a report in BetaKit. “All of Next Level Games’ shares are currently held by its owner-directors and employees.”

Crypto In Vancouver

Mogo, a digital payments company, reports 108% increase in new bitcoin accounts in December compared with November

Vancouver cryptocurrency mining company Hive Blockchain has passed $1B in market value as its shares surge amid bitcoin’s parabolic rally

NetCents Technology Inc, a cryptocurrency payments company, announced it will soon offer interest-bearing crypto accounts on its platform

Money talks

Eight VCs, including Rich Osborn, Lauren Robinson and Boris Wertz, on what to expect from venture capital in 2021

Apollo, an insurtech company that’s developed an online marketplace aimed at offering insurance products, raised a $13.5 million Series A funding round

Lungpacer, which develops a diaphragm pacing therapy system (DPTS), raised just shy of $16 million in equity financing

Canary Medical, a health data company that offers smart medical devices, secured a $25.3 million CAD venture loan facility from SVB and Horizon Technology

Telus International files for U.S. IPO of up to $100 million


NexTech, which develops VR/AR solutions, hired Hareesh Achi, a former president of Microsoft Online Inc., to lead their 3D/AR Advertising Network. Note NexTech (CSE:NTAR) trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange, and its stock has nearly quadrupled over the last 365 days.

Liquid Media, an entertainment company with the novel NASDAQ ticker YVR, hired Ronald W. Thomson as its CEO

Hootsuite appointed Melissa Murray Bailey, a former head of sales at LinkedIn, as senior vice president of global sales

More headlines you may have missed

Déjà vu: Hootsuite’s B Corp. status in question once again following complaint

The future is female: Three women CEOs, including BBTV’s Shahrzad Rafati, who prove that diversity is the key to success

And diverse: Tech, marketing firms make the business case for diversity

Green is good: Canada’s tech and innovation sector had a good 2020 in the markets—and cleantech led the charge

Smells like change? UBC have launched an app, Smell Vancouver, intended to track the things that make the Vancouver region stink—and are hoping to hear from locals offended by those smells


Blockchain Intelligence Group president Lance Morginn explains blockchain for businesses, law enforcement and students

Ideas and opinions

Annika Lewis, investor at Vanedge Capital, writing on Notion: What's going on in Crypto? (For Dummies) 

Dominic Wong, design director at Invoke, writing on LinkedIn: Proud of our Ship (and weathering 2020)

Rick Perreault, CEO of Unbounce, writing on his company’s blog: 5 Lessons We Learned in 2020

Me (William Johnson) and Jonathon Narvey, CEO of MindMeld PR in conversation: How to have better conversations, for PR professionals or anyone else

Ryan Wong, founder and CEO of Visier, writing at Techonomy: How Should Businesses Use Data in a “Post-Truth” World?

Robbie Sebullen, product designer at Invoke, writing on his company’s blog: Five Criteria to Keep Your No-Code Projects Stress-Free

Wal van Lierop, founder at Chrysalix Venture Capital, writing on Forbes: We Need An Operation Warp Speed To Battle Climate Change

Dan Lionello, founder and CEO of Omnae, writing on Techcouver: Behind Every Moon Shot Is A Supply Chain

Riz Somjid, CEO of Cymax Group, writing on LinkedIn: Leadership Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World

Feature Event

M&A in Uncertain Times: Lessons From Successful Vancouver Exits

As businesses transition to a new normal, many questions remain about the impact of 2020’s serial crises on the tech sector, startup valuations and M&A activity. Join Pender Ventures, DarkVision Technologies, Generac and CI Direct Investing for the first VEF event of the year to hear stories and insights from entrepreneurs that have successfully sold their companies before and during the pandemic, as well as their thoughts on COVID-19’s impact on the overall M&A market.


550-person Clio is still growing, according to CEO Jack Newton.

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