Questions for 2015

Benedict Evans posted the questions he’d like answered in 2015 and in mobile with the platform wars over. Here are some of the questions I’d expect to see answered in 2015 for Canada and Canadian companies.

  1. What happens to Canadian companies in the mid-stage?
    Jim Orlando described a strong 2015 market in both early stage (local) and late stage capital (international) for technology startups. Are their enough Canadian funds that can invest >$15MM/company, i.e., >10% of their capital pool, to fund growth stage Canadian startups?
  2. Where will Kik land?
    Ted Livingston’s view of messaging as universal UI and the race to become the Wechat of the West feels like the right thing. It seems like figuring out how to operate profitably is not the most likely outcome, so it must be an exit. Facebook has already acquired Instagram and Whatsapp, so it seems like this is out (particularly given a teenagers view of social media apps).  Does a non-Google Android provider like Cyanogen or Xiaomi purchase Kik?
  3. When will a Canadian company report their first major cyberattack and breach? We’ve seen attacks and branches on the federal government it feels like only a matter of time until a financial institution or retail announces a major breach.
  4. How many narwhals will we see?
    There have been a number of US companies go to the public markets including HubspotBox and others. It feels like there are a number of Canadian companies that are on cusp. How many will forego the TSX and only go NASDAQ or NYSE?
  5. Will Shomi and CraveTV become true OTT competitors allowing non-cable subscribers access to compete with Netflix? Or do these offerings plus GameCentre Live and other live sports keep cable subscribers in Canada?
  6. Will Netflix be forced by content owners to cut down on grey market geofencing? What does this mean for services like Unblock-Us and TunnelBear? What does it mean for accessing foreign content like BBC iPlayer, Premier League Pass, NFL Game Pass? (p.s. where is my Internet access to Formula 1?)
  7. Will the Copyright Modernization Act changes that went live on Jan 1, 2015 impose additional fee increases because of management costs for independent ISPs?
  8. When will ApplePay launch in Canada? Will Apple be able to get mobile payments adoption than Suretap, Enstream, PayWave, PayPass, etc. that the carriers and banks have?
  9. Will one of the Canadian wearable companies begin rolling up others, that do not find product-market fit or a large enough audience, for the talent? Or will they be acquired by larger players like Under Armor?
  10. What impact for will the falling Canadian dollar and resource economy have on the tech ecosystem? We’ve already seen the rise of minimum app prices in the iOS store on Jan 9 to Cdn$1.19. Will a weaker Canadian dollar see a resurgence of the conversation and companies around near-shoring for larger US companies? Will this continue to build a stronger acquisition market for startups that struggle to find mid-stage growth capital?
  11. Do we need a Canada-based data centre for one of the larger hosting providers, i.e., Digital Ocean, AWS, Azure, Rackspace? IBM opened a SoftLayer data centre in Markham in 2014, with a few startups building on the infrastructure but all of the startups were still very small. Does data or computation sovereignty matter to Canadian startups?
  12. Is there a need for another startup conference in Toronto? There are great events in Montreal (Startup Festival), Vancouver (Grow Conference) and an investor focused event in Toronto (Canadian Innovation Exchange). But is there a need for more functional led events (design, growth hacking, CTOs, etc) like Warm Gun or Brooklyn Beta?
  13. Does one of the wireless carriers create a division or group with tools and pricing to support a strong IIoT ecosystem? We’ve seen Canadians like their oligopolistic carrier ecosystem, but there are segments like Wind Mobile users that are willing to compromise coverage or roaming for price. It is unclear if a 4th national carrier can survive on these customers alone, and the CRTC has determined that Telus cannot absorb Wind as their discount brand (like Fido or the MNVOs on Bell). Is there an alternate model where Wind or other carrier bets on the data carriage fees and the necessary tools to build a stronger IIoT ecosystem. The tools that mix RFID, cellular and Wifi?

Thanks Gideon Hayden for feedback and insight on the post.

2 thoughts on “Questions for 2015”

  1. I definitely think we definitely could use a startup conference in Toronto – something that is accessible and acts as a community catalyst. I was impressed by what I heard about Startup Empire in Halifax, so let’s just borrow that model for Toronto.

    1. Mark the original StartupEmpire happened in Toronto in 2008. Halifax borrowed from us, it was Jevon as one of key instigators/organizers in 2008 & 2014.

      One of the main challenges is finding financial support from patron companies or government agencies. You already know this from Mesh but people in Toronto are cheap when it comes to homegrown events, limiting the revenue stream from tickets and filling seats with entitled backsides.

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