Where are the RIM alumni?

GigaOM has a great story about "The Growing Ex-Amazon Club and Why It’s a Good Thing”. This is essentially an extension of the Fairchildren model for seeding companies and talent. Jevon has placed MaRS in the deadpool. Austin, Joey and I have wondered about the role of early employees from successful companies at leaving to start, build and grow new startups.

It leaves me to question where are the RIM alumni? Where are the startups being started by ex-RIM employees?

You can find startups with founders from PixStream or Workbrain. You can see startups with DNA from Zero Knowledge Systems. The only RIM alumni founded startup I can find is Metranome.

Founders Wanted

I hadn’t realized how strong the motto at Reactivity was in our recruiting. We were looking for founders. John wrote about Reactivity’s beginnings back in 2004. I was lucky enough to join Reactivity as an early employee. I think I was employee number 12 and the third employee of Reactivity Austin (after Bryan Rollins and Andrew Willis). Reactivity was trying to build

A metastartup (this is a temporary name only–trying to think of a better one) is a company who’s mission is to foster a community of talented engineers and business people, with the goal of spinning off startup companies from that community, as well as to build a loosely coupled network of those companies.

It was a kieritsu, but not of businesses but of the individuals that build businesses. In recruiting new talent, whether on the design, business, marketing or engineering sides of the house, was to find founders. People that you wanted to leave Reactivity to start a new company. It meant that the goal was to develop every hire into a potential founder. You can see the alumni network of Reactivity designers, engineers and entrepreneurs around the valley. John Lilly is the CEO of the Mozilla Corporation. Mike Schroepfer is the director of engineering at Facebook. Graham Miller is the CEO of Marketcetera. Lynn Pausic runs Expero Inc. Ellen Beldner is the UX Designer for YouTube. Lynn Gabbay is the founder at Novod. Andrew Nash is a Senior Director at PayPal. Bryan Rollins was VP of Product Management at MessageOne before the Dell acquisition. The Reactivity alumni can be seen around Silicon Valley, Boston and New York.

A Magical Legacy – How these guys engineered our world

Fourteen years ago, a company called General Magic promised a handheld device that would make calls, send email, play music, and do almost everything else that makes today’s iPhone so drool-worthy. “Bill and Andy’s Excellent Adventure II” (April 1994) was about the two Macintosh vets – Atkinson and Herzfeld – leading the project. Unfortunately, they were far too early. General Magic sank in 2002. But its legacy lives on, in part because the effort was a formative experience for a team of brillant young engineers. Pierre Omidyar went on to start eBay. Tony Fadell heads Apple’s iPod hardware group. Kevin Lynch cooked up Flash. And Andy Rubin created the Sidekick and Google’s Android mobile platform. Not too shabby. As for Bill and Andy, they are still adventuring excellently: Atkinson works with the artificial intelligence startup Numenta, and Hertzfeld codes for Google. – Steven Levy, Wired 16.12 December 2008

Where are all the startups founded by RIM alumni?

Moving mountains

techdays-2008Mark and the Community Team at Microsoft Canada have been working hard on TechDays.This is the first attempt to move beyond a marketing event. Though you might not get that from the web site. It is a shift from Microsoft speakers standing on the stage with new product announcements and walkthroughs to sharing the stage with non-Microsoft employees showing examples of solutions they’ve built to solve problems (in big companies, small companies, as individuals, etc.).

What is TechDays?

TechDays is a career-development event for developers, IT professionals and IT managers with a focus on the Microsoft platform.

It’s hard out here…

This event is a big change for Microsoft. It represents a shift from marketing and product launch events to a focus on software development and IT as a profession. The goal is to focus on career development of professional and practical developers. To give real-world developers an opportunity to share their stories and experiences with attendees. To provide a public forum to celebrate the people making a difference to their companies, to their communities and to people.

techdays-speakersThe biggest change is that the content is not going to be Microsoft presenters doing Microsoft demos and product launches. It’s probably not obvious from looking at the speakers page, but 90% of the content is being delivered by non-Microsoft employees. The first seven people listed on the Speakers page are all Microsoft Canada employees. 

Once you scroll past the usual suspects, you’ll find a group of Microsoft friendly people from other companies. Consultancies. Big corporations. Smaller companies. Client side. It includes MVPs like Colin Bowern, Mark Arteaga, Laurent Duveau, and Barry Gervin. And others like Robert Burke and Ken Cox. Sure lots of these speakers are MVPs, it means that they are “exceptional technical community leaders”. They are experts. They write books. They blog. They consult. They build things in the real world.

Baby steps

I think it is courageous of the team to take a chance, they are having to battle internal forces that are resistant to change. They are making a bet that developers and IT professionals in Canada on the Microsoft stack want something more than canned demos and pitches. The bet is that professional development involves hearing from others in the community. About sharing their stories of the trials, tribulations and learnings to make help make others better developers. Yes, it’s about the Microsoft developers.

It is a step in the right direction. I hope that people will support the changes, because it will make the next set of changes easier to get support for.

If you are a Microsoft developer, IT professional or IT manager, then TechDays is attempting to bring the best of Canadian Microsoft community to you in 7 different locations including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg. Check out the Mark Relph’s Letter to your Manager if you need help generating support.

Galvanize the Empire

Jevon beat me to the punch. We have added a great group of speakers to the StartupEmpire program including:

don_dodge Don Dodge – Don is a Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team and was recently a panelist at the TechCrunch50 conference (check out his summary of TC50 launches: investor services & tools; social networks & collaboration; advertising & commerce; enterprise software). Don calls Microsoft “the biggest start-up in the world” and his job is to work with VC’s and start-ups to help them build great companies

hugh_macleod Hugh MacLeod – Hugh is an inspiration to many of us building companies and brands with limited resources. His work with English Cut and Stormhoek are some of the earliest and best examples of using social media to connect and engage people. To build community and evangelists as part of the marketing strategies laid out. And he draws cartoons.

david_cohen David Cohen – David is the founder and CEO of TechStars in Boulder, Colorado. TechStars is one of the most successful seed stage funds in the world. Don Dodge provided his summary of the TechStars 2008 Demo Day.

The Rest of the Schedule

startupempire We are working diligently to finalize a schedule for StartupEmpire. There have been a lot of great speaker submissions, and it has been making more work for me. We really want to provide something that you will find valuable. The feedback has been that we need to have sessions that deliver hands-on, actionable advice with takeaways. We are working to build a program that is more than just people talking. We’re hoping that after each session that entrepreneurs will have tangible bits, e.g., cashflow statements, business plan, sample pitch decks, draft legal agreements, etc. We’re working on finding ways that entrepreneurs can be involved in the program including demonstration opportunities; pitch feedback sessions; and more. If you think we’re missing something, drop me a note. I’m happy to see what we can do to find an appropriate speaker to fill any gaps.

You still have a chance to submit your proposal in the next few days, and we will still take a look for anything that we think we need to get on the program.


Thanks for all your support, we are working hard to create something you will find valuable. We have received a lot of support from our lead sponsors Microsoft and High Road Communications. Mark Relph puts up with me at Microsoft and has been incredibly supportive of the efforts to engage start-ups in Toronto. Martin Hofmann didn’t hesitate when I approached him for help. We’ve had some fantastic open conversations about social media and start-ups for the past 3 years.

Don’t forget to get your ticket before the early bird deadline, or ASAP before we sell out. The venue is small and we can’t really add more seats.

StartupEmpire is the new black

Image by Balakov Leave it to two knuckleheads, who tend to just do things rather than planning. The result is often something other than what was expected, sometimes you get bitten on the ass for your actions. Jevon and I both jumped the gun, showing you why entrepreneurs need help with logistics, legals and trademarks. Apparently there was a trademark registered with the previous name of our conference. We loved the name. While we’ve been in informed that our use does not infringe on the existing trademark, we decided it was just easier to change the name of the conference.

We bounced around ideas including:The League of Extraordinary Startups; StartupUnion; Her Majesty’s Canadian Startup; among others. Ultimately we’ve settled on StartupEmpire!

It’s a little audacious. Entrepreneurs need to start thinking big.

We’re working on planning the very hands on workshops. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs an extremely practical content around starting a company, building a product and growing a business. Participants can expect to leave the conference with example term sheets, example shareholders agreements, practical advice to dealing with cease-and-desist letters, marketing plans, example pitches, sample budgets and cashflows. All learnings from entrepreneurs and experts about in workshop format. We’re also open to suggestions and ideas for sessions. We want to make this valuable to attendees. We need a stronger, louder voice to build awe inspiring companies. Drop me a note about what you find valuable in a conference like StartupEmpire.

Startups and Agencies

drop.io Web2Expo was last week. There were a large number of startups kicking around the conference including FreshBooks, Octopz, GetSatisfaction, Aviary, ThoughtFarmer, ZeroFootprint, BrainPark and others. One very interesting story is the business development relations that Brookly-based startup Drop.io has built with Organic. AdAge has writing a great article, How Start-ups and Ad Agencies Can Collaborate, looking at the shared opportunities for Drop.io and Organic to meet the needs of customers.

This kind of collaboration between technology start-ups and ad agencies is arguably rare, but considering many media and tech start-ups are counting on advertising to be the bread and butter, they’d do well to make them more common.

I spend a lot of time at Microsoft working with both start-ups and agencies (sometimes even together). The trade rags tend to focus on the size of media buys and revenue per agency. What we forget is that agencies work for clients and brands. They are looking for cost effective tools to build unique engaging brand experiences. While the budgets roll up to very big numbers, it is the individual projects and designs that matter. Looking for opportunities to define new experiences where the agency doesn’t have to build everything from scratch. It is particularly valuable when there is a new technology or skill that doesn’t exist i house at the agency. In the case of Drop.io this technology and expertise was the iPhone. There are other technologies and expertise that are extremely important like Radian6 or Kontagent’s monitoring and conversation tracking software.

Drop.io is focusing on how it works and the functionality, and what Organic brings to it is a customer perspective. … We often brings thing to brands we think they should be doing and here there’s an opportunity for us to bring this to them and show them how they benefit.

For certain startups, agencies may be a great indirect sales channel to reach potential customers. The goal needs to be understanding how agencies can use your product and service to design, augment their offerings for clients. It’s really easy to see how GetSatisfaction could be used by an agency to help deliver better customer engagements for their brands. These relationships are just a business development tool for startups. The goal is to look for relationships where two organizations (in this case startups and agencies) that can leverage each others products a, services and expertise to help grow their business. The question for every startup is: what partnerships with service providers would provide value to the service provider like an ad agency and allow you to grow your business?

Humber College – Digital Marketing Manager

Toronto, ON

Position Summary

The Digital Marketing Manager identifies opportunities, undertakes appropriate market research and evaluates the effectiveness of all digital marketing initiatives and is responsible for managing all processes related to the implementation of web strategies, interactive media and emerging digital applications for Humber. This may include site development and design, content creation, search engine optimization and work on content management systems. This position liaises with the IT department to ensure marketing projects are supported. This position provides leadership and guidance to all faculties and business units for their online programs and interactive marketing campaigns. The incumbent will demonstrate an understanding of the growing role that digital marketing and emerging digital media play in the integrated marketing equation and will know how to communicate the vision and gain support and acceptance for new initiatives.


The successful candidate will have a degree or diploma in Computer Science, Computer Programming or related discipline and a minimum of 7 years experience in web management. In addition, the successful candidate will have demonstrated experience in digital marketing & advertising, in a web design, agency or client organization; excellent written/oral communication skills; highly developed project management skills; and proven ability to conceptualize, develop and implement strategies in support of the digital marketing strategy. Experience in online media, social media, mobile, user -generated content, and other digital communications is an important function of the role.


*We thank all applicants for their interest in this position. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.

Humber is committed to a workforce that reflects the diversity of our students and our city. We actively seek qualified individuals with demonstrated skill and knowledge to deal with all aspects of diversity in a post-secondary environment.

OPEN DATE: September 11, 2008
CLOSE DATE: October 12, 2008

All candidates are asked to submit a cover letter and resume to HR Services using one of the following three methods and quoting the competition number: 2008-146

By e-mail to: resumes@humber.ca (acceptable formats include .doc, .wpd, .rtf and PDF)

By mail: Humber College, 205 Humber College Blvd., Toronto, ON M9W 5L7

By fax: 416.675.4708


nation Jevon announced our efforts to continue to facilitate the opportunities for entrepreneurs in Canada. The goal was to have a grand gesture. To create a point in time to bring people together to learn, to connect and to inspire each other to build the NEXT BIG THING.


Canada’s conference for startups


Students, entrepreneurs, and funders


November 13 & 14, 2008 in Toronto


The event is a two day event. Day one is focused on practical workshops aimed at helping entrepreneurs get started, figure out the mechanics of starting a company, growing and taking it to the next level. The workshops will include:

  • Assessing your market opportunity
  • Why should I use your product?
  • Strategies for getting users
  • Presentation skills for developers
  • Legal pitfalls for startups
  • Shaking the money tree
  • Pricing Models
  • Product Design
  • First customers and other business development pitfalls

Day two is all about connecting Canada and our startups to the rest of the world. Jevon has the list of confirmed speakers:

This is going to be fun. Jevon has been working his ass off while I’ve been slacking with a move, a baby, and being in NYC for Web2Expo.

Kontagent – Super Awesome Developer

Toronto, ON

Kontagent is looking for rockstar developers both in Toronto and San Francisco area.

We’re looking for all the obvious traits — intelligent, creative, self motivated, etc.

But most importantly, we’re looking for people like us: a love for solving hard problems, as passion for build cool technology and coming up with creative solutions, and desire for working with small elite teams that create world class stuff.

We are looking for people without egos, but have a track-record of awesomeness or have demonstrated a passion and love for writing great software.

We prefer working with extremely strong generalists (look at our company bios and you’ll see what we mean), but we are currently looking for people that can help us with both front end web development (think CSS, AS3, Flex, Javascript) as well as backend web development (think Python, MySQL, large distributed systems).

We are funded by strong investors, have benefits, options, etc. etc.

You will be working in fast pace enviorment with new interesting technology.

Most importantly, you’ll be working with some awesome smart and fun people.

We are looking for both exceptional recent graduates as well as proven veterans… So please please please, if you or know someone who would be interested in working with emerging social networking technology — please contact Albert Lai!

UWO – Web Communications Specialist

London, ON

The primary purpose of the position is to oversee, and manage web content for the Richard Ivey School of Business, including creating, editing, reorganizing and or repurposing existing copy to meet standards for web consumption. The Web Communication Specialist will work closely with the Web Analyst in IT to implement web communications initiatives that position the Ivey Business School and its people as an internationally recognized, world class organization.

Key Result Areas

  • Responsible for content development and management of the corporate pages of the website, particularly the Homepage and About Ivey pages.
  • Oversees content on all other areas of the website in terms of ensuring that messaging meets corporate communications, brand and formatting standards and guidelines.
  • Responsible for editing, reorganizing and repurposing existing written copy to meet standards for web consumption and posts new content on a daily basis to maintain an evolving high profile web presence.
  • Writes new content for the web as needed, particularly for the corporate pages noted above.
  • Stays current with new web technologies and tools, such as social networking and podcasting, in order to advise and integrate person to person or other elements to engage our stakeholders online.
  • Tracks web statistics and prepares periodic reports; analyzes data and implements or advises on content changes to improve user experience.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of web design, site building and content management software tools for the development and maintenance of web sites.

Required Education, Experience, and Abilities

  • University degree in Communications, English, Journalism, Public Relations or Marketing
  • Excellent overall writing skills with a minimum of three years professional Web-writing experience
  • Extensive experience and skills in corporate communications, marketing, public relations or internal communications
  • Technical understanding of website development
  • Familiar with graphic design concepts
  • Experience in Frontpage/Expression Web or similar content development and management applications as well image editing/creating applications (e.g., Adobe Photoshop)
  • Familiar with content management systems and information architecture
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and a desire to build effective relationships
  • Demonstrated self-starter and independent worker with initiative and drive
  • Proven ability to think creatively and problem solve
  • Ability and willingness to work in a fast-paced environment with demanding deadlines


Email your resume: hrresumes@ivey.ca

This is a two year renewable employment contract with a comprehensive benefits package

Trapeze – Director of Application Development

Toronto, ON

Trapeze seeks a strong technical manager with experience leading and developing teams of programmers, making important technical choices, and defining internal processes and procedures.

Toronto-based Trapeze (www.trapeze.com) is a leading digital agency that works with a select group of exciting world-renowned clients, including Bonefish Grill, CBS Television, CBC, Cineplex, Disney, Jaguar, LandRover, Natrel, Sobeys and many others.


You will lead Trapeze’s talented team of web and application developers working on creating customized projects for our clients.

Your core duties will include:

  • Defining a standardized approach to define technical solutions and technical architectures for our client projects.
  • Collaborating with client facing teams and internal developers to determine the best technical solutions to challenges.
  • Defining the internal processes and methodologies of the development team.
  • Managing the development of re-usable code libraries and tools.
  • Acting as the lead technical person on the most demanding client projects
  • Making decisions on which technologies Trapeze invests in training and developing our staff in.
  • Developing the skill sets and capabilities of all of Trapeze developers, especially growing a team of highly capable lead developers under you.


  • Computer Science degree
  • Demonstrated experience managing multiple teams of developers
  • Demonstrated experience in developing software development project management processes.
  • Project management training and / or other management training an important asset.
  • Strong understanding of/experience with web technologies (see following list)
  • Required areas of technical expertise:
    • CMS Platforms
    • LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and Python
    • Some experience in Microsoft technologies -.NET / ASP would be a big asset
    • Front end  – HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Flash

Nice to Have

Experience with:

  • Java / J2EE / JSP
  • C++
  • Facebook and Open Social application development

Key Attributes

  • A desire to continuous learn and develop new skill sets
  • Detail-oriented and accountable for deadlines and quality of work
  • Committed to extensibility and reusability
  • Can distil business requirements into technical solutions while retaining a sense of the “big picture”
  • Comfortable working in a team environment
  • Actively seeks input from other team members
  • Can motivate and energize those around them
  • Willing to work occasional additional hours when necessary


  • Position Reports directly to CEO
  • You will be part of the senior management team responsible for charting a future direction for the company and integrating the capabilities of Trapeze’s different areas of expertise
  • You will have team of currently 10 developers reporting to you
  • Position will work closely with other VP / Director staff in following areas
    • Director of Trapeze Labs – in making technical choices for the company, determining development methodology and identifying opportunities for re-usable tools
    • Director of HR – in hiring and developing staff
    • Director of Production – in project staffing and resourcing decisions


  • Competitive compensation plan
  • Comprehensive health benefits plan (medical, dental, life insurance and disability)
  • Excellent working conditions
  • Career advancement opportunities

To Apply

Email your current resume to careers@trapeze.com with the words “Director of Application Development” in the subject line. No calls, drop-ins or faxes, please.