Home Venture Capital VC firms set course for a long winter

VC firms set course for a long winter

With all of the navel-gazing of late, you might think that the domestic VC sector is sitting around, waiting for someone else to solve the industry’s challenges. Not so.

OMERS has announced the completion of their search process for the inaugural Co-CEO of their lifecycle direct investing partnership Inkef, as well as a new position of SVP and Head of Knowledge Investing. Although global firms such as Harbourvest generally discourage these direct Angel investment strategies, this one is here to stay (see prior post “Exchanging notes on the CVCA conference” June 14-10). As I’ve mentioned before, this is a serious initiative, and OMERS intends for it to work.

John Ruffolo, a 23 year veteran of Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecom practice, was picked for the role that involved a rumoured 55 different candidates. John was the king of the Canadian tech audit/accounting sector, and had also become a trusted advisor to governments across the land. He will be “responsible for and leading the build-out of OMERS world-class knowledge investing management team as well as playing both lead and supporting roles in other initiatives.” With his role as Co-CEO of Inkef Capital, the international joint venture in life-cycle technology investing program founded by ABP and OMERS, John will also report to a European-based Board of Directors. For those who may not recall, OMERS has set aside E200 million for this effort.

Although it had been rumoured for months, the merging of RBC Ventures and JLA Ventures is now complete. The Toronto-based BlackBerry Partners Fund will now look to add an office in Silicon Valley as part of the firm’s global focus. In the news release, Kevin Talbot said that “by unifying the investment team, we are creating an even stronger, Canadian-based, globally competitive investment manager.” Absolutely true.

John Albright’s long interest in software, hardware and mobile makes this a natural next step. “The future of computing is mobile,” as he himself has said. The desire to build “the leading independent venture fund focused exclusively on mobile computing” is one we all can applaud.

The fact that the news attracted the attention of The New York Times, Dow Jones and Fortune means that the new firm definitely has everyone’s attention, which is a perfect launch to building a global VC investment platform right here in Toronto. Which would be a first for the country.

As the folks at Covington will soon have their hands full with the blockbuster deal that will merge the portfolios of the Covington and VenGrowth LSIF funds (see prior post “Mass confusion in ventureland” Oct 15-10), it was only natural for them to tackle the New York Marathon last weekend. Scott Clark, Phil Reddon, Matt Hall, Will Jin and Lily Lam all completed the race. If you know anything about marathon’s you’ll want to know that Mr. Hall did it in 3:41.

Our firm is also making some changes, with the addition of a new CFO in the next few days. He’s got a specialty in the financial services world, and will help us manage our increasingly complicated business. We might even look to raise new capital next year, given the high quality deal flow from both sides of the border that’s eating materially into our current $150 million Fund III capital base.

We’ve got two choices as an industry. Stand around, and wait for busy politicians to wave their non-magic wands, or ignore the weather and start running.


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