A handful of RIM escapees are leading the Toronto tech scene
Ontario’s first big innovator fostered a new generation of local talent. Here, five ex–RIM staffers turned tech tycoons
At RIM: Systems engineering and product management co-ordinator
Now: Founder and CEO of the messaging platform Kik
Livingston—a hoodie-clad wunderkind in the mould of Mark Zuckerberg—created his own chat app in response to his dissatisfaction with BlackBerry Messenger. Now Kik is the platform of choice for teens looking to swap messages without parental supervision. In 2015, Tencent, a Chinese media giant, invested $50 million in Livingston’s company, pushing its valuation to $1 billion.
Mary Pat Hinton
At RIM: Software R&D specialist
Now: Founder of the mental health app Emmetros
Hinton, who worked at RIM from 2006 to 2014, creates products designed to help jog the memories of people with cognitive impairments by turning their mobile devices into digital memory palaces. The company’s marquee product, an iPad app called MemorySparx, allows users to store and access information about their daily schedules, their personal histories and their medications.
At RIM: Mergers and acquisitions strategist
Now: CEO of Ritual, an app that automates restaurant takeout
In 2008, Reddy left RIM to create PushLife, which made software that managed media files on cellphones. After selling the company to Google, he dreamed up Ritual, an app where users order food from their smartphones, then pick it up at the restaurant. Ritual has launched in four cities (Toronto, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles) and works with 2,000 participating restaurants.
At RIM: Vice-president of the Verizon Business Unit
Now: CEO of the investigative platform Magnet Forensics
Belsher teamed up with former Waterloo police officer Jad Saliba to launch software that helps detectives comb seized hard drives for evidence. (Saliba is now the company’s CTO.) It’s currently used in about 3,800 agencies in 93 countries, and it has been instrumental in cracking online child-exploitation and terrorism cases around the globe.
Scott Totzke, Mark Pecen and Mike Brown
At RIM: Vice-presidents
of the cyber-security start-up Isara
Many technologists believe that quantum computers will one day be so powerful that they’ll threaten online security by breaking current methods of encryption. This trio are developing new quantum cryptographic security systems that will be able to withstand attacks from miscreants equipped with code-breaking tech.