The investors who keep the GTA’s startups flush with cash

The investors who keep the GTA’s startups flush with cash

A start-up is nothing without a deep-pocketed investor. Here, the most powerful tech kingmakers

Peter Misek
Partner at the Business Development Bank of Canada’s IT Venture Fund

As an advisor at DN Capital, Misek was involved in the firm’s decision to invest in the song recognition app Shazam, which in 2015 was valued at more than $1 billion. That year, he joined BDC Venture Capital, where he runs the Toronto office.

Money under management: BDC’s venture fund controls $300 million of the Crown corporation’s funds.

Notable investments: The IT Venture Fund has ownership stakes in Hopper, a Montreal-based smartphone app that helps users find discounted airfare, and Wave Accounting, a financial technology platform for small businesses.

The one that got away: Before joining BDC, he passed on investing in Twitch, the video game streaming service, when it was valued at $100 million. In 2014, Amazon bought it for almost $1 billion.

Friends in high places: Richard Handler, CEO of Jefferies LLC; Steve Doswell, CEO of Soundpays,an app that uses sound to transmit mobile data, and one-time COO of AOL Canada.

John Ruffolo
CEO of OMERS Ventures

Ruffolo began his career as an accountant before joining Deloitte in 2002. He led the consulting giant’s telecom practice, where he made his name in the press as a prognosticator of digital trends. In 2011, he joined OMERS to start its new venture arm. He quickly set about investing the pension fund’s cash in a who’s who of Canadian tech success stories. One of the fund’s first major buys was a $20-million stake in Hootsuite, the B.C.-based social media management platform, which reached a $1-billion valuation in 2014. Since then, Ruffolo has made later-stage investments in rising firms like Wattpad.

Money under management: Around $470 million.

Notable investment: He led a $100-million round of funding for Shopify in 2013, two years before the company made its IPO at a valuation of $1.27 billion.

Friends in high places: Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of RIM; David Kassie, chair of Canaccord Genuity Group.

John Albright
Managing partner of Relay Ventures

Albright has been a venture capitalist since before it was cool. He founded JLA Ventures in 1996, then merged it with RBC Venture Partners in 2008 to form Relay, which managed the BlackBerry Partners Fund. Albright’s big exits include Research in Motion and Descartes Systems Group, which made its IPO in 1999, just in time to ride the stock market boom and bust. He now has offices in Toronto and Menlo Park, California.

Money under management: Approximately $600 million.

Notable investment: He led a $16-million round of funding for the sports media company the Score as it pivoted from TV to mobile.

The one that got away: Albright passed on Waze in 2008. In 2013, the company was acquired by Google, reportedly for $1.3 billion.

Friends in high places: Tony Lacavera, founder of Wind Mobile and Globalive Holdings; Scott Dyer, senior vice-president at Corus Entertainment; Jonathan Lister, vice-president of sales at LinkedIn.

Matt Golden
Managing partner of Golden Venture Partners

Golden was among the first to cash in on mobile content. He co-founded Tira Wireless, a mobile games company, in 2001. A few years later, he left the company and joined the BlackBerry Partners Fund. He started his own, eponymous venture fund in 2011, focusing on mobile software. Golden had a notable payoff in 2015, when Tempo, a calendar app, sold to Salesforce for an undisclosed sum.

Money under management: $70 million.

Notable investment: Wattpad, the Toronto-based publishing platform. Golden invested during the company’s Series A financing in 2011; its Series C round clocked in at $46 million.

Friends in high places: Ivan Yuen and Allan Lau, co-founders of Wattpad; Boris Wertz, founder of Version One; Ameet Shah, former managing director of Zynga Toronto.

More of Titans of Tech