Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Decline and Fall of the Art of Spam

I've been taking a break from posting, storing them for fall. Lots of flash reports coming from me and my firm in the weeks ahead; I hope you'll tune in.

One thought before the long weekend: I may not much like SPAM, but for a while I was somewhat accepting of SPAM as a fact of life. Time was, if you could get past my filters, I would even have a small admiration for your industriousness.

All that's changed. No one seems to even TRY anymore. Am I going to mistakenly open an email titled "Did he ask you last night?" Am I going to be able to resist learning about a bored girl who is at home and woud like to send pictures? What am I, a prepubescent boy? And what makes them think people are more likely to buy Cialis on line if you spell it CIAlis?

The art of spamming has gone to the dogs. Whatever happened to the subtle titillation of "Your application has been accepted?" or "Re: Your inquiry?" I used to be fascinated about how spammers figured that the people who clicked through on messages called "Re: Backspace Key" were the kind of people who would be looking for a pricey watch. Now, I'm tired of it all. They could be selling La Mer at wholesale for all I care.

Kids today.

Monday, August 20, 2007

TxtCircle: Another Quick Success in Toronto

When my US colleagues ask me why I'm excited about the future of Canada's innovation community, I don't focus on the handful of players who successfully attracted venture capital this year. Instead, I point to the increasing number of young entrepreneurs who are building great technology, selling early, and using that experience to move on to the next innovation.

Tom Whitaker is one of these. Just a few months ago, Tom and I met to discuss his plan to build a mobile messaging service that would push text promotions to subscribers according to their preferences. The technology was neat, but it was the service itself which was sleekly designed to tap into the student market at the right time.

This is not Tom's first successful wireless venture, and it's clear that he knows what he's doing. Fast forward a few weeks, and not only has Tom secured some first rate partners for launch (including the University of Toronto, Ryerson, York University, and George Brown College student unions) but he's sold the company, too.

Student, a leading provider of communications products to student across Canada, whose shareholders include, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has scooped up the service and Tom, who will remain on as CEO.

Not bad for a few months' work. And I'm betting Tom's not done yet. Congratulations, Mr. W.

Monday, August 06, 2007

BCE Capital: Easing Out of the Mothership

In the last few weeks BCE Capital, the venture capital arm of BCE, has quietly been preparing itself for life post-buyout. newly dubbed Summerhill Venture Partners, their site is up and re-branded with a new advisory board to boot. Historically, BCE Capital had only one limited partner -- BCE. With the exception of a few early stage opportunities here in Canada - Third Brigade, Radian6 and Vantrix - much of its investing in the last few years has taken place in the US. I expect there will be further details this fall about how, and with whom, the fund is transforming itself.