For reasons that could be better understood, Vancouver investors are missing home-grown opportunities to make a lot of cash in the tech sector. These opportunities include everything from cloud software companies to emerging technologies.
Tech giant Adobe Systems Incorporated just bought local software company Nitobi for an undisclosed (but estimable large sum) of money. Nitobi is young, home-grown, and makes PhoneGap, a software that makes mobile apps compatible with many mobile phones (iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.). For those of you that don’t know, Nitobi was “bootstrapped” and started up without any large cash investment. If companies locally can bootstrap and be acquired by giants from the south, then what would our little industry look like up north with real players investing?
It is the opinion of this author that Vancouver is missing out on a very big opportunity and has shot itself in the foot. There is a large stash of hidden talent in this city, but city government has either not recognized it or has ignored it. Vancouver wants to invest in “green” but the return on that investment is far from green. Why?
Green and environmental investment as whole is not an industry, it is a characteristic. A green product is very valuable for a sustainable way of life, but our economic approach to such products does not properly categorize them. The economy is divided into three (or more) sectors: 1) Primary; 2) Secondary; and 3) Tertiary. There’s no green sector. Instead, we need to approach some of these investments as attractive when they display a green characteristic. Manufacturing is a big opportunity for green, but technology demands a different approach.
When it comes to internet companies like Nitobi, there’s no opportunity to have a green characteristic. Environment is totally irrelevant to internet software, because it’s intellectual property. Vancouver has been greenwashed, and now we’re stuck investing in a concept that we don’t fully understand. Vancouver needs to start investing in its local hidden talent. If the city truly dedicated itself, we could build the beginnings of a “Silicon Valley North” within a decade. We’re already seeing symptoms of job stagnation, and creating a local haven for the internet’s second coming will pay itself in the long run.