Cool Companies: Alberta's Advanced Technologies 2013

Companies with Successful Exits

Excerpt from Cool Companies www.coolcompanies.caResearch and development by Cool Companies industry guides www.coolcompanies.ca February 5, 2013
Read PDF version that appeared in the Cool Companies industry guide [High Res PDF] [Web PDF] Summary List of 43 Successful Exits [HTML]

This chapter profiles software and hardware technology companies with Alberta roots that have successfully been sold for millions of dollars, called successful exits. This is the largest collection ever assembled anywhere.

 

Cool Companies estimates that since 1999 Alberta had over $6.7 BILLION in successful exits of software and hardware technology companies with Alberta roots.*

*This estimate is based on over $5 Billion in 38 acquisitions since 1999 covered in this Cool Companies Successful Exits chapter where the exit value was known or could be reasonably estimated. On average, this wealth produced an exit price of $132 million per company. If SMART Technologies (p.44) with its $1.7 Billion market cap at their IPO is included, the cumulative wealth generated in Alberta jumps to over $6.7 Billion, for a new average exit value of $171 million per company.

UPDATE: MetroNet Communications was sold for $7 Billion in 1999. This brings the Cool Companies ICT Exit Count to $13.7 Billion since 1999. 

MetroNet Communications – Liam Christie and Bob McKenzie co-founded Calgary-based MetroNet Communications, a national telecommunications company that they went on to sell to AT&T for $7 billion in 1999 standing as the 2nd largest domestic merger in Canada. The company grew to 4,000 employees.  More (Startup Calgary, thank you for the tip)

INTRODUCTION

In North America there is a big focus on building a company and selling it for lots of money, called a successful exit. When the company’s decision making power leaves or the company moves and takes its jobs and revenue stream with it, an exit—while profitable for the founders—can be a loss for the community. In other countries, different approaches are taken to the development and growth of companies. For example, the “Mittelstand” companies credited for Germany’s current economic growth and strength are small and medium sized high tech companies with innovative, high quality products with niche market leadership that are export focused and located in small rural communities. They are built to last, not to be sold.We love this idea! As a result, this chapter is a sample of successful exits that have generated a rebirth locally: Either the founders or former employees have started a new business and/or have become investors or advisors in Alberta’s high tech community.
The price the company sells for is called its exit value.

Some of the companies we profile in this chapter didn’t make their exit value public knowledge. In some cases such as Investopedia (p.93) and Tynt (p.97), the exit is really a strategic deal where the selling company joins the purchasing company to work together for a short time to create even more value and then they sell for big money.

Since not knowing the exit value is no fun for us as readers, here are some rules of thumb for an estimate. These will depend on the type of business and timing in the market:

  • Technology companies generate $100,000 gross revenue for every employee
  • Exit values are generally 2 to 4 times gross revenue (annual sales before expenses are deducted). Today a quickly growing SaaS-based (Software-as-a-Service ) company can be worth 6 to 8 times its revenue, much higher than this rule. A services company is often worth less than 1 times its revenue.

There are some companies where the exit values are much, much higher than these rules of thumb because the exit offers a significant competitive advantage to the purchaser. In addition to selling for cash, exit deals can also involve shares of the purchasing company and reverse takeovers which make the new company publicly traded such as Blackline GPS (p.46, 91) and Matrikon (p.93). Except for Saville and Zentra Computing, the data in the exit profiles have been verified with founders, former and/or current employees.

PROFILES OF 25 SUCCESSFUL EXITS

AudeSi Technologies

What the company did

Initially AudeSi Technologies (pronounced “odyssey”) partnered with Sun Microsystems and Motorola to work on smart card electronic cash technology for Visa and Mastercard. It also worked with WindRiver to develop the Storm Pad, a tablet that was a joint initiative with Intel, but was pulled before launch.

Vitals

Founded in 1997 in Calgary, AudeSi grew to 40 employees. Recognizing that silicon-based electronic cash was the new gold, AudeSi loosely translated to ‘Gold (Au) from Silicon (Si)’.

Exit value

$62.5 millionby California-based Wind River Systems (NASDAQ:WIND) in 2000.

Value to the purchaser

AudeSi’s products expanded Wind River’s product portfolio.

Founders

It was co-founded by Brian McKinney and Terry Sydoryk of Nortel, and Steve Maryka and Greg Kletke of Jade Technologies. Brian and Steve cofounded Calgary-based ICEsoft that develops open source Java technology for developing mobile rich internet applications. Terry is currently COO at Evoco (p.73).

 

BioWare

 

What the company did

BioWare creates some of the world’s best-selling role-playing video games (RPG), revolutionizing this genre. Games included Baldur’s Gate (p.24), Neverwinter NightsStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the Mass Effect and Dragon Ageseries of games.

 

Vitals

Founded in Edmonton in 1995, it grew to 400 employees in different locations when it was sold in 2008.

Exit value

$860 million (split) as a joint purchase of BioWare and Pandemic by US-based Electronic Arts (EA) in 2008.

Value to the purchaser

EA gained a foothold in the RPG market, franchises, and a passionate community of fans.

Founders

Just graduating from medical school, co-founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka used their salaries to fund the company and continued at BioWare until their retirement in September 2012.

Former Employees

Trent Oster co-founded video game company Overhaul Games (p.26). Dups Wijayawardhana is CEO and Co-Founder of Empire Avenue(p.21) which also includes many former BioWare employees including: Ric WilliamsCraig MillerBrad Grier, and Todd DerecheyCraig Welburn co-founded Pyxwise (p.23).

 

Blackline GPS

What the company did

Blackline GPS (p.44) develops GPS devices to monitor the safety of workers and assets.

 

 

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 2004, Blackline had 6 employees at the time of sale. Under a new structure, the company continues in Calgary with over 30 employees.

Exit value

Not fair to say yet. Blackline needed to raise investment. The exit in 2008 was a reverse takeover that made Blackline a publicly traded company (TSXV: BLN) to attract investors. Blackline has raised $18 millionCody Slater, who founded and exited BW Technologies (p.90), led this purchase.

Value to the purchaser

As CEO he sees an opportunity to repeat BW’s success.

 

Founders

Blackline GPS was co-founded by Brendon Cook who is still Blackline’s CTO, and Patrick Rousseau who has founded budtobud (p.15). They got the company idea working at Hemisphere GPS (p.63) where they tested Patrick’s motorcycle racing performance using GPS to map the racing line. The inspiration for Blackline’s current product line came from Dale Ramsbottom of Enmax who approached them to develop the technology to help him monitor the safety of his meter reader team.

 

BW Technologies

What the company did

BW is the world leader in gas detection instruments that measure toxic gas levels suspended in air. These detectors are used by people in industries where encountering a poisonous gas is a daily risk, such as mining, fire, rescue, police, transportation and the oil and gas industry. BW started with the world’s first wireless solar-powered gas detector.

Vitals

Founded in 1985 in Calgary, BW grew to 500 employees and was publicly traded. All manufacturing continues to be done in Calgary. In the 5 years before its purchase, BW Technologies had 30% growth EACH year.

Exit value

$260 millioncash in a friendly takeover by UK-based First Technology in 2004.

Value to the purchaser

First Technology was able to expand its product line and market scope.

Founders

BW Technologies was co-founded by CEO Cody Slater. In 2009, Cody purchased Blackline GPS (p.46, 91) where he is currently CEO.

 

Dynastream/ANT+ Wireless

What the company did

Initially sold through Nike, Dynastream’s sensor technology was the world’s first device to practically and accurately measure a runner’s speed and distance. Its ANT+ wireless technology has become a world leader in ultra-low power wireless networking and is used globally in world class products for sports, fitness, and wellness monitoring.

 




Dynastream’s wireless technology enables wireless devices to easily talk to each other

Vitals

Dynastream was founded in 1998 in Cochrane where it continues with 80 employees.

Exit value

$36 million in cash by Garmin in 2006.

Value to the purchaser

Garmin accelerated the growth and expansion of its fitness products.

Founders

The initial patented technology to launch the company originated from the University of Alberta by Dr. Ken Fyfe. Ken’s brother, former CEO Kip Fyfe, and colleagues Victoria Brilz and Jim Rooney founded Dynastream. Kip has started 4iii Innovations (p.18) with Victoria. Kip is an investor/advisor at Orpyx Medical (p.31) and Eleven Engineering (p.16). Jim continues on with Dynastream as President.

 

Greenpoint Software

What the company did

Leading tax software for Canadian tax professionals.

 

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 1995, Greenpoint grew to 30 employees and was used by 2,000 professional tax offices across Canada at time of exit.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount in 2000 by California-based Intuit Canada (see WinTax p.97).

Value to the purchaser

Greenpoint’s products extended Intuit Canada’s product portfolio into the Canadian professional tax segment.

Founders

Greenpoint was co-founded by Cameron Peters and Stephen King. Cameron served as Intuit Canada’s CTO and recently founded his third tax software company, Trilogy Software for Canadian tax professionals. Stephen become CMO of Intuit Canada until he left in 2007 to found his executive consulting CMO4Hire firm Stephdokin.com. He is also CEO of Boston-based TCELab.com and a co-founder of the A100 group of entrepreneurs and executives interested in helping Alberta’s next generation of innovative start-ups become successful.

 

Hyprotech

 

What the company did

Hyprotech was the world’s leading supplier of process simulation and optimization software for use in industrial applications.

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 1976, Hyprotech grew to 400 employees with revenues of $80 million at exit. It had 20% growth year to year and 20% margin, making it the 10th largest software company in Canada in revenue and number one in profit.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by AEA Technologies in 1997. Hyprotech was a subsidiary of AEA until it was sold for $106.1 million to AspenTech (NASDAQ:AZPN) in 2002.

Value to the purchaser

AspenTech developed software for the same market. Hyprotech had more software packages on the market than any other process simulation company.

Founders

Wayne Sim operates 3esi in Calgary. Tony Vysniauskas has an investment firm West Mountain CapitalCraig Morris has a company called Red Tree Development in BC. These 3 founders where students with Dr. Bill Svrcek (4th founder) who was a professor at University of Calgary and is now President of Virtual Materials Group.

 

Investopedia

What the company did

Investopedia is one of the Internet’s largest sites devoted to educating people who want to understand and be personally involved in their investment decisions. It makes money by selling advertising on the site.

Vitals

Founded in 1999, the company remains in Edmonton and had 25 employees in 2007.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by Forbes in 2007. In 2010, it was purchased by ValueClick for $42 million cash. Based on 2010 projections, Investopedia was expected to generate $10 million in revenues.

Value to the purchaser

Investopedia offered high quality content, organic traffic and established advertiser relationships. Adding the Forbes name improved advertising reach and significantly grew the company.

Founders

Cory Janssen is President of Galt Capital, a private investment firm and co-founder of Janalta Interactive, an online media startup. Cory Wagner is founder of SportingCharts.com, a tech company devoted to advanced analytics of sports.

 

Matrikon

What the company did

Matrikon was a leading provider of intelligence solutions that enabled industrial customers to optimize their operations.

Vitals

Founded in Edmonton in 1988, Matrikon grew to 570 employees and $82.2 million revenue at the time of the exit. It became publicly traded on TSX in 2001 through the purchase of TigrSoft (p.96).

Exit value

$145 million by Honeywell (NASDAQ: HON) in 2010.

Value to the purchaser

The deal increased Honeywell’s product offering.

Founders

Founder and CEO Nizar J. Somji has now started The Jaffer Group of Companies which deals in real estate, management consulting, financing and construction.

 

Merak Projects

What the company did

Economic evaluation and management software for oil and gas companies that allows them to calculate valuations based on production forecasts and royalties.

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in approximately 1986, Merak grew to over 200 employees at exit.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by Schlumberger (NASDAQ: SLB) in 1999 who is one of the world’s largest energy services and technology companies

Value to the purchaser

Schlumberger acquired leading software to sell to their existing customers, plus access to a large group of new customers.

Founders

Merak’s Co-Founders are Adrian ZissosDon Jeffers and Andrew Orr. Adrian lives in Canmore and mentors the computer science students at the University of Calgary to consider entrepreneurship. Don lives in BC and Andrew lives in Barbados.

Employees

Former employees with companies: ArcurveAclaroChaordix (p.39), EnersightIntaver InstituteSolium (p.52), Stormworks (p.95), and Visage.

 

NeuroArm Surgical

What the company did

NeuroArm is a surgical robot capable of performing delicate surgeries in a way that allows the surgeon to see more and work with greater precision and safety. Watching real-time MRI and visual video of the brain through a microscope or monitors, the surgeon’s hand movements are translated into movements of the robotic arm in increments of 50 microns (the width of a human hair) with no hand tremors.

 


NeuroArm: World’s first
MRI-compatible surgical robot
revolutionized micro neurosurgery

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 2006, NeuroArm was a University of Calgary spinoff. Being grant funded, it was important to the team that NeuroArm remain in Canada.

Exit value

$10.7 million by Canadian Winnipeg-based medical technology company IMRIS (NASDAQ: IMRS) in 2010. Additional funds received for ongoing research.

Value to the purchaser

IMRIS is a Canadian medical device company that commercialized the technology.

Founders

NeuroArm was developed by Dr. Garnette Sutherland and his team at the University of Calgary and Calgary Health Region. They continue to develop new leading-edge robotics-based technologies and products in Calgary.

 

NovAtel

 

What the company did

What the company did: NovAtel manufactured cellular communication technologies, and later GPS through the acquisition of NorStar Instruments in 1989.

 

With 65% to 70% of the world OEM market, NovAtel is the world’s leading supplier of high precision GPS technologies. Boeing uses NovAtel’s GPS technology to land a full sized unmanned helicopter on a moving marine vessel. NovAtel’s technology was also instrumental in the successful execution of NASA’s Mars Rover Expedition.

 

 

Vitals

NovAtel was originally formed in 1978 in Calgary. Today, NovAtel Inc. continues in Calgary with 350 employees and is the world’s leading OEM provider of high precision GPS. Applications include NASA’s Mars Rover Expedition (p.10, right).

Exit value

In 1990, a major restructuring saw the company split into 2 independent companies: NovAtel Inc. (to pursue GPS technology development) and NovAtel Wireless (for the cellular telephone business). In 2007, NovAtel Inc. was purchased by HEXAGON (NASDAQ: HEXA B) for close to $400 million.

Value to the purchaser

Expanded product portfolio and created product development opportunities.

Founders

NovAtel was a joint venture between Nova Corporation and Alberta Government Telephones (AGT).

Employees

Many former employees have started their own companies including Dynastream (p.92), LTX Software (p.50) Microlynx (p.87), Murandi (p.88), SignalCraft (p.88) and Wireless Dynamics (p.24).

 

RADSS Technology

What the company did

RADSS developed software to track and optimize transportation assets for shippers. The products used analytics and artificial intelligence to calculate cycle times and schedule empty cars to loading points in order to maximize utilization.

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 1995, RADSS quickly became one of the top rail management software companies in North America with customers like Lafarge, Rescar, Cemex, and First Union Rail.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by US-based IntelliTrans in 2003.

Value to the purchaser

RADSS allowed IntelliTrans to increase their market share, add innovative IP to their product portfolio, and utilize expertise in the development team at RADSS.

Founders

CEO & Founder Roy Masrani is now CEO of Calgary-based CodeExcellence (p.46) which helps large companies maintain quality control with their SAP implementations.

 

Saville Systems

What the company did

Saville was a leading provider of convergent billing and customer care solutions for the telecommunications industry that allowed communications services such as telephone, cable and internet to be integrated onto a single bill for the customer.

Vitals

Founded in Edmonton in 1982, Saville Systems grew to 1,400 employees worldwide.

Exit value

$700 million by Minneapolis-based ADC Telecommunications (NASDAQ: ADCT) in 1999.

Value to the purchaser

Saville Systems allowed ADC to offer a wider product range and boost their bottom line.

Founders

Bruce Saville is a philanthropist and community supporter. He supported the construction of Edmonton’s Saville Sports Centre.

 

Shana Corporation

What the company did

Shana was a world leader inelectronic forms software.

Vitals

Started in 1985 in Edmonton, Shana grew to 80 employees and $10 million in revenue. Its clients included BoeingNASA and Liberty Mutual and it was on Alberta Venture Magazine’s list of fastest growing companies.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount, all cash in 2003 by FileNet. FileNet was later acquired by IBM.

Value to the purchaser

FileNet acquired technology and expertise to integrate forms management into enterprise level workflow and document management solutions.

Founders

Shana had 5 Co-Founders: Don Murphy, his brother John MurphyTim SengerDave Perman, and Wayne Malkin. John has founded D-TEX which is pioneering a new optical filter technology. Don has co-founded Stream Technologies which increases productivity from data gathered from sensors. Both Don and John are invested in several Alberta startups and serve on many Boards. Wayne’s software development consulting company is InsightFools

 

Sonic Mobility

What the company did

Sonic Mobility developed and sold secure wireless and infrastructure management products that made it easier to administer and manage mobile devices and data centers on multiple platforms.

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 2000, Sonic Mobility grew to 20 employees. It had over 300 customers in 14 countries including Lockheed Martin, the US Army and FedEx.

Exit value

$13 million CDN by Alabama’s Avocent (NASDAQ: AVCT) in 2004.

Value to the purchaser

Sonic’s technologies were integrated into Avocent’s suite of products and provided a major competitive advantage.

Founders

Sonic Mobility was co-founded by Derek BallBarry Shilmover and Ken Cheung. Dayton Foster joined as VP of R&D. Later in 2007, Derek and Dayton co-founded Tynt (p.97).

 

Stormworks

What the company did

Stormworks was a software development and online marketing firm.

 

Vitals

Stormworks was a Calgary based company that started in 2000 and grew to 17 employees.

Exit value

$475,000 by Solium (TSX:SUM) (p.52) in 2002.

Value to the purchaser

Solium acquired Stormworks’ commercialization and capitalization expertise.

Founders

Stormworks Inc. had 2 Co-Founders, husband and wife team Brian Craig and Shelley Kuipers.Previously, both Brian and Shelley were part of Merak Projects (p.93) and later founded the Calgary-based private equity company, Adventure Capital whose investments include Tynt (p.97), Evoco (p.73), and Curve Dental. Shelley is currently Founder and CEO of Chaordix (p.39) which crowdsources market insights for market research, brand loyalty and new product ideas. Brian was President and CEO of Solium (p.52) until 2006. Based in London, Brian now leads Solium’s global expansion beyond North America

 

Swype

What the company did

Swype is a technology that allows you to input words into a touchscreen keyboard by “swyping” (i.e. sliding) a finger from letter to letter, lifting only between words. This makes typing very fast and has helped break the speed record for text input.

Vitals

Although the inventor and Co-Founder is from Alberta, Swype started with operations in Seattle in 2002, where the other co-founder and original angel investor were located. It raised a total of $14 M dollars in investment capital, approximately half of which came from strategic investors Samsung, Nokia, and NTT DOCOMO. At time of sale, Swype was hugely popular on Android with over 100 million installations. The company had grown to over 80 employees by exit.

Exit value

$102.5 millionin cash by the world’s leading speech and imaging technology giant US-based Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN).

Value to the purchaser

Nuance has established itself as the leader in all forms of computer text input, including voice recognition. Text input on mobile phones and smart phones was another specific target for Nuance. Swype held key patents and had good market traction which made it attractive to Nuance.

Founders

Randy Marsden discovered the concept of Swype in 2001 in Edmonton and co-founded Swype with Dr. Cliff Kushler (the original inventor of T9 predictive text). Previously, Randy invented the onscreen keyboard that has been licensed by Microsoft and included in every copy of Windows sold since 1998. Randy is also CEO and Founder of Edmonton-based Madentec, which is a successful assistive technology company that specializes in adapted computer input. Randy also has Cleankeys (p.33), which makes the world’s easiest-to-clean keyboard as well as cleaning monitoring software for healthcare markets

Quote

Quote from Randy Marsden about his Swype experience:

When we started Swype over a decade ago, the appetite for this type of investment just didn’t exist in Alberta. Smartphones hadn’t even been invented yet, and so it took significant vision and faith to see where it could go. We found a home in Seattle. But I hope it’s now clear that good ideas can come from anywhere—especially Canada where we have all the ingredients we need for building technology success stories.”

 

Telebackup

What the company did

Telebackup developed leading-edge storage management software that automatically backed up data.

Vitals

Telebackup was founded 1995 in Calgary, became publicly traded, grew to 60 employees and was on target for $10 million in revenueThis exit made almost ALL 60 EMPLOYEES MILLIONAIRES! The company stayed in Calgary 1½ years before moving to the US and offering 70% of the employees a chance to relocate.

Exit value

$600 million by the time the deal was signed with Veritas Software in 1999. Seven months earlier when the intention to purchase was made, the exit was for $202 million in shares but, being in the dotcom era, Veritas shares increased to $600 million at exit.

Value to the purchaser

Telebackup’s products fit Veritas’.

Founders

There were 3 Co-Founders: CEO Dr. Byron Osing who is co-Founder and CEO of Calgary Scientific (p.29) and PureWeb (p.56), board member Irfhan Rajani who co-founded Zentra Computing (p.99) with the third co-founder Scott Wagner who has now started Raging Bull Cloud Services.

 

TigrSoft

What the company did

TigrSoft (formerly ShivaSoft) was a leader in the development and implementation of advanced planning and scheduling software systems. It was the first of its kind during the dotcom days.

Vitals

Founded in 1993 in Edmonton, TigrSoft had 45 employees at time of purchase. It became publicly traded in 1998. TigrSoft had installations all over the world.

Exit value

$8 million by Edmonton-based Matrikon (TSE:MTK, p.93) in 2001.

Value to the purchaser

Through the acquisition, Matrikon expanded its product line and IP. Matrikon purchased TigrSoft as a reverse takeover, meaning the acquisition made Matrikon into a publicly traded company

Founders

TigrSoft’s CTO and co-Founder was Srinivas (Vasu) Netrakanti who is now the CEO and Founder of Optessa (p.61)

 

Tynt

What the company did

The most popular way to share information you read online with friends is still copying and pasting content from websites. Tynt allowed content publishers to automatically place a URL link on the pasted content referencing its source. This simple action allowed Tynt to capture the interests and online interactions of over 1.2billion users around the world! Based on this insight, publishers knew exactly what content their audience enjoyed and shared, and experienced increased traffic back to their website, ranking them higher in search engines. More importantly, Tynt gave publishers (and their advertisers) an accurate measure of consumer intent, and the insight to target new readers through targeted advertising with the right message.

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 2007, Tynt grew to 17 employees and 650,000 clients including HearstConde NastNewscorp and Time Warner. It raised $11.9 million in investment from several VCs and AVAC (p.34)

Exit value

Undisclosed amount all-stock transaction to New York’s 33Across in January 2012 (after 5 years). This means Tynt’s team has shares in 33Across and will be working together with them to increase the value of 33Across for a large future exit.

Value to the purchaser

33Across‘ technology produced insights into what consumers think of brands on behalf of 350+ Fortune 1000 clients. Just like Google and Facebook, 33Across with Tynt, now has access to both the publisher and advertisers perspective on customer intent. However with Tynt, 33Across now has the world’s largest social and interest graph, reaching over 1.25 billion users, compared to Google’s 1 billion and Facebook’s 800 million users.

Founders

Tynt was co-founded by CEO Derek Ball and COO Dayton Foster. Derek is now CEO and Co-Founder of AtVenu and Dayton is COO at Advocus. Previously, they were the founders of Calgary’s Sonic Mobility(p.95) which sold in 2004.

Employee

Tynt’s Big Data Research Engineer, Shawn Wang, has become the Big Data Engineer and Co-Founder of Granify (p.40).

 

Veer

What the company did

Veer is an online website for digital stock photography, illustrations and type. Veer is the fourth largest stock photo company in the world (according to purchaser, Corbis).

Vitals

Founded in Calgary in 2001, Veer grew to 170 employees with offices in 5 locations. Veer’s Calgary operations moved to Seattle in Jan 2012. In 2006 Veer was recognized as one of Calgary’s Best Places to Work by Avenue Magazine.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by US-based Corbis, a company owned by Bill Gates, in 2007. Corbis was the world’s second largest stock photography company in 2007.

Value to the purchaser

The acquisition of Veer helped Corbis increase its market penetration.

Founders

Veer’s CEO & Founder was Brad Zumwalt who owns the venture capital company Zinc Ventures. Previously, Brad had founded and grown EyeWire which was purchased by Adobe Systems for $33 million.

Employees

Veer employees have started Calgary-based Minigroup (p.51), mobile product development company Decoder and creative studio Uppercut.

 

WinTax (Intuit Canada)

What the company did

Windows-based personal income tax preparation software for Canadians.

Vitals

Founded in Edmonton in 1992, WinTax had 2 employees, the founders, at exit.

Exit value

Undisclosed amount by Chipsoft in 1993. A few hours later WinTax founder Bruce Johnson got a surprise call from Scott Cook of Intuit telling him Intuit had acquired Chipsoft. WinTax became Intuit Canada known for Quicken and QuickTax products

Value to the purchaser

WinTax secured Intuit’s foothold in the Canadian market.

Founders

WinTax was co-founded by computer programmer Bruce Johnson and accountant Chad Frederick. Bruce’s first business created music recording software which is how he met Chad, who was an amateur musician. Bruce become CEO of Intuit Canada and UK, growing the company to 700 people before he left in 2004. He is now an investor in local startups including Baby Gourmet. Quote from Bruce, “My advice for startups or growing businesses is that it’s all about working with amazing people. Look for smart people with passion and fire in their belly.” WinTax was co-founded by computer programmer Bruce Johnson and accountant Chad Frederick. Bruce’s first business created music recording software which is how he met Chad, who was an amateur musician. Bruce become CEO of Intuit Canada and UK, growing the company to 700 people before he left in 2004. He is now an investor in local startups including Baby Gourmet.

Quote

Quote from Bruce, “My advice for startups or growing businesses is that it’s all about working with amazing people. Look for smart people with passion and fire in their belly.”

 

Summary Table of 43 Successful Exits
of Alberta’s software and hardware companies
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