Tech Reviews

10 moments in the history of Canadian tech stocks that changed the world

It is inevitable No. Is it likely? And it is. If you are a Canadian inventor and your work is of the utmost importance, it will probably be marketed in the United States. In one way or another, this is the destination for many of the best Canadian inventions. Ask Henry Woodward, who sold US Patent 181,613 to Thomas Edison in 1874, what it was for the light bulb. Or talk to James Gosling, the Calgary technology expert who invented the Java programming language while working for Sun MicroSystems. Or even George Retzlaff, a director of CBC in Toronto, who invented instant replay during a 1950 episode of Hockey Night in Canada and was actually prevented by CBC from reusing it.

However, every once in a while, not only does a Canadian inventor hang on to an invention, but the intellectual property ends up in a publicly traded Canadian public company. Perhaps without even knowing it, millions of Canadians have had a financial stake in some of our greatest achievements. This is the criteria we present for this list. What are the greatest Canadian achievements that we all could have had, in some way, part of our RRSPs (before Canada’s exclusive ban on those savings plans was lifted)? Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED), for example, is out. Although The Company was founded on a Canadian invention, it is strictly a US listing.Although Research in Motion has a NASDAQ listing, it is also listed in Canada, so it is included. Many Canadians have owned and continue to own RIM in their RRSPs. Now that we have the criteria clear, let’s go directly to the list:

1. “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”

Although these famous words, spoken by Bell to his assistant Thomas Watson on March 10, 1876, have secured their place in history, Watson was actually in an adjoining room when they were spoken. Later that summer, a less heralded, but equally important moment occurred in Brantford, Ontario, when voices could be heard clearly through a call made more than four miles away. This showed that the phone could work over long distances. A decade later, there were more than 150,000 telephones in the United States, and with 1,497 shares, Alexander Graham Bell was the largest shareholder in The Bell Telephone Company. Bell Canada is now part of BCE Inc. and trades under the symbol BCE on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

2. The dynamic duo joins forces

In 1989 Jim Balsillie graduated from Harvard with an MBA. He surprised some of his co-workers by taking a job at a small Kitchener tech company called Sutherland Schultz. It was here that their paths would intersect with Mike Lazaridis, as Sutherland Schultz bought circuit boards from RIM. After Lazaridis rejected Sutherland Schultz’s removal attempts, Balsillie joined RIM as vice president of finance. He invested $ 125,000 of his own money in a 33% stake in the startup. It turned out to be a pretty good investment. Balsillie and Lazaridis would eventually become co-CEOs and RIM would become one of the most successful and innovative companies in Canadian history, with revenues now close to $ 15 billion.

3. Nortel goes up and down

It ended bad, very bad, for a staggering number of Canadians. At its peak in 2000, Nortel had a market value of $ 350 billion. At one point, shares accounted for 36% of the total value of the Toronto Stock Exchange. No shares have likely been owned by more Canadians, either directly or through pension plans and mutual funds.

Out of nowhere, it seems, cracks began to appear. On October 25, 2000, CEO John Roth realized, for the first time, that Nortel would not meet its sales targets. The shares fell from $ 96 to $ 71 that day. By 2002, half of the company’s 90,000 workers had been laid off. And then it got worse. Debt cuts, missed reporting deadlines, and financial corrections ended with a modest rally in stocks. It spun out of control and never recovered. Nortel filed for bankruptcy on January 14, 2009.

Now that we live in the post-Nortel world, what to do with this? It’s cold comfort to those who lost their jobs, homes, savings, or all of the above, but some believe Canada will continue to get benefits from Nortel. In a Financial Post editorial on July 14, 2009, Sue Spradley, North American director of Nokia Siemens Networks, spoke about Nortel’s legacy after Nokia Siemans submitted a $ 650 million offer to buy certain Nortel assets.

4. Mike and Terry lose some lawnmowers.

My phone. “Mike and Terry Electronics” or “Mike and Terry’s Lawnmowers”? While Michael Cowpland has rejected the latest explanation for the origin of the company name, the reasoning is based on an actual event. In 1973, Cowpland and Terry Matthews, who had met in the forerunner of Nortel Bell Northern Labs, intended to import and sell cordless electric lawn mowers. The only problem was that his first shipment was lost at sea. This must have been taken as something of a signal to the now legendary partners, because they immediately forgot about the lawn mower business and started producing a Ph.D. based telephone tone receiver product. by Cowpland. thesis. By 1981, Mitel had reached the $ 100 million annual revenue mark. In 1985, British Telecom acquired a majority stake in Mitel, making Matthews a billionaire. Matthews then went on to form Newbridge Networks, which was sold for more than 7 billion to Alcatel in 2000. Matthews, who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s, became the first billionaire in the history of Wales. Cowpland founded Corel, which was at one time the largest technology company in Canada.

5. Roger that

In 1925, Edward (Ted) Rogers, Sr. invented the world’s first AC radio tube. This invention allowed radios to run on ordinary household electrical current. This was a breakthrough in technology and became the key factor in the popularization of radio reception. Ted Sr. died young, at the age of 38. While his five-year-old son did not turn out to be his father’s inventor, his business acumen commercialized his father’s invention to a greater degree than he could have imagined. Ted Rogers Jr. founded Rogers Radio Broadcasting Limited, which became the first proponent of the FM signal in North America. A couple of years later, Roger’s CHFI-FM quickly became the most listened to FM radio station in Canada and also became the most popular and profitable FM radio station in Canada. Rogers’ interests in radio led him to cable television in the mid-1960s. In 2009, Rogers Communications (TSX: RCI.A) had revenues of nearly $ 12 billion.

6. Canada lends an … arm

If you were a taxpayer in Canada in the 1970s and early 1980s, you may have felt that the Canadarm was built to provide a solid hook to your pocket. The government of Canada invested $ 108 million in the design, construction and testing of the first. The program, which was carried out by the National Research Council of Canada, featured an industrial team led by Spar Aerospace, which was eventually acquired by McDonald Dettwiler (TSX: MCD). The project also included engineers from CAE Electronics (TSX: CAE), who built the display and control panel, as well as the manual controllers located on the aft flight deck of the Shuttle. The Canadian taxpayer finally shook off the effects of the Canadarm’s initial hit; The original investment resulted in nearly $ 700 million in export sales, including the sale and maintenance of 4 Canadarm systems to NASA, the sale of robotic components to Japan and Europe, the sale of simulators, and the development of robotic systems for the nuclear industry. It also helped stop the “brain drain” that established Canada as a global player in the fields of advanced manipulator systems and robotics.

7. Ski dog

In 1937, a Quebec mechanic named Joseph-Armand Bombardier dreamed of building a vehicle that could “float on snow.” A few years later, schoolchildren in rural areas of that province were among the first people in the world to ride snowmobiles, which started out as large multi-passenger vehicles. Bombardier’s invention was actually called “Ski-Dog” as it was intended to replace dog sleds. A painter misread the information and painted “Ski-Doo” on one of the early models. At the time of Bombardier’s death in 1964, his namesake company had sales of $ 20 million. Bombardier’s latest forays into the aerospace and rail industry saw the company become the internationally recognized giant it has become, now approaching $ 20 billion in revenue.

8. Open Text becomes synonymous with innovation

Before Google, there was Open Text. In January 1985, the University of Waterloo established the Oxford Center for the New English Dictionary, a collaboration with Oxford University Press to computerize the OED.

9. SXC Health goes public.

Since 2006, SXC Health, founded in Milton, Ontario, has experienced the kind of growth that we see perhaps once a decade in Canada. The company’s revenue has grown from roughly $ 80 million in 2006 to over $ 1.4 billion in 2009. But if it weren’t for the unique way Canada’s venture markets operate, this Canadian success story might not have been. never happened.

A frequent Cantech Letter contributor and Caseridge Capital boss Adam Adamou, who as a fund manager in the mid-1990s was one of the first private equity investors in SXC and later as an investment banker worked with the public market more broad and venture capital participants to finance the company. Through various acquisitions and restructurings, he says estimates of the size of Canada’s venture capital market almost always fail because they don’t understand our hybrid system.

“In Canada, the venture capital market and public equity markets must work together so that technology companies have access to the capital they need to compete globally,” says Adamou. “Private equity firms in Canada often try to replicate the Silicon Valley venture model, all private equity in a huge initial public offering model, and that model just doesn’t exist here in the same way.”

Many investors in SXC today may not know that the seemingly unconventional method SXC used to go public, a reverse acquisition of a publicly traded shell, allowed the Company to raise $ 10 million in 1997, which was followed. by additional and larger rounds of venture capitalists and institutional fund managers over a period of more than 10 years before SXC finally “hit it” with a sizeable initial public offering on the NASDAQ exchange in 2009. This is actually a method very common to raise venture funds in Canada and in this case The system provided not only the capital but also the support of the larger investment community of venture capitalists, investment bankers, research analysts, retail brokers and institutional fund managers which enabled the company to build a long-term sustainable business model over an extended period of time. SXC Health stands today as perhaps the best example of the flexibility and added value of the Canadian hybrid system.

10. The Canadian immigrant experience: a graphic example.

In 2006, the city of Toronto was home to 8% of Canada’s population, but was home to 30% of all recent immigrants. It would be hard to find a better GTA story from poverty to wealth than that of K. Y. Ho, who co-founded ATI Technologies in Markham, ON with fellow immigrants Lee Ka Lau and Benny Lau. Born into poverty in mainland China, Ho moved to Canada in 1984 and founded ATI (originally called Array Technologies) the following year. Over the next two decades, ATI would become the world leader in 3D graphics chips, competing with Nvidia and Intel for supremacy in the graphics industry. In 2006, after posting revenue of (US) $ 2.22 billion the previous year, Advanced Micro Devices acquired ATI for $ 5.4 billion.

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