If you haven’t heard by now, RIM is having a horrible year. Their earnings meeting yesterday was chock full of bad news:
Q1 revenue: $4.9 billion vs. $5.15 billion consensus
Q1 EPS: $1.33 vs. $1.32 consensus
Q1 shipments: 13.2 million vs. 13.5 million units expected
Q2 revenue: $4.2-$4.8 billion vs. $5.46 billion consensus
Q2 EPS: $0.75-$1.05 vs. $1.40 consensus
Q2 shipments: None given vs. 13.5-14 million units expectation
One caption I read put it best – RIIMMMMMBEEEERRRRRRR.
Out of the downfall the Globe and Mail was hypothesizing that the fall of RIM was catastrophic for Canada’s tech eco-system. The article was a bit light on fact as to why it would rip apart the Canadian eco-system, and my initial gut reaction was “RIM has almost no impact on any of the startups I know.” But then I decided to go and look at the facts.
Since roughly 2008 RIM has bought the following Canadian startups:
So they’ve probably flushed about $60mm-$80mm into the Toronto ecosystem over 3 years in exits. On top of that they have the BlackBerry Partners Fund (with about $150mm in cash) which has invested in several Canadian startups. Lets also not forget that the eco-system around their partners. BlackBerry’s platform has created opportunity for mobile dev shop’s like Fivemobile and Xtremelabs to exist. But it feels like those guys do most of their business in iPhone and Android.
So between exits and investment via BB partner funds they have probably kicked in about $100mm to the Canadian startup eco-system over the past 2-3 years. Which is not something to sneeze at. Having said that, Google (not HQ’d in Canada) has kicked in probably close to $100mm in the past 12 months… just in exits. So maybe its also not something to brag about either.
Putting these numbers together, makes me feel more ambivalent about RIM’s impact on the tech eco-system in Canada. Lets be clear, we’re talking about a decline in the short to medium term, not a total shutdown. In that decline I expect RIM to take an even lesser role in the eco-system than before. And I’m not sure it matters.
(Small end note as a UW alumnus. I’m not sure RIM’s downfall will have that big an impact on the school either. Big companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook are still going to fight over UW’s top talent – their won’t a shortage of jobs for UW’s engineering community anytime soon. Maybe Laurier’s business & marketing grads… oh low blow).