in Startups

Where are the Canadian VC bloggers?

CC-BY-NC-SA  Some rights reserved by Fonzie's cousin
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Fonzie’s cousin

I’m awarding Mark MacLeod (@startupcfo) of Real Ventures the Canadian VC Blogging Superhero Badge. Mark is producing world-class class content focused on SaaS Math including:

This is content that every entrepreneur looking to understand the basic metrics and mechanics of a SaaS business should read. Mark is the one Canadian VCs producing must read, world class content. It is the first time a Canadian VC has been producing content since Rick Segal switched teams (we’re much happier with Rick playing for the entrepreneurs). Rick’s post on Inside the Process is still the de facto standard for understanding the fundraising process from a VC perspective..

I keep wondering why more Canadian VCs don’t produce content.  It’s not like they don’t have access to blogging tools or the understand of how they should be used. For example, Inovia Capital uses their blog as a promotional tool for their portfolio and their activities in the community (not to pick on Chris, John, Kevin and team because they are really an amazing entrepreneur friendly firm that any entrepreneur would benefit from having involved in your company).  We have others like Boris Wertz blogging about his portfolio and his analysis of the industry including his support activities like StartupVisa Canada. It is just that in comparison to quantity and quality of US investors exploring the power of the medium to reach potential entrepreneurs. We have had some other interesting attempts like DigitalPuck.ca and The C100 to bring together Canada focused investment discussion. The other very interesting blog is Mark R McQueen’s blog (@markrmcqueen). But why are there only 2 Canadian VCs writing interesting content for the medium they are investing in?

Using the terrible “the Canadian market is one-tenth the US market” you might deduce there should be only 10 interesting US VCs blogging. Bullshit. Larry Cheng provides a list of 100 VC blogs by traffic, some of which like Rick’s blog are no longer active. Here is my short list of 30 very interest US VCs blogs you should be reading (or at least on your radar).

  1. David Skok (@bostonVC)
  2. Fred Wilson (@fredwilson)
  3. Mark Suster (@msuster)
  4. Paul Graham (@paulg)
  5. Dave McClure (@davemcclure)
  6. Albert Wenger (@albertwenger)
  7. Brad Feld (@bfeld)
  8. Roger Ehrenberg (@infoarbitrage)
  9. Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz)
  10. Mark Andreessen (@pmarcablog)
  11. Chris Dixon (@cdixon)
  12. Jeff Bussgang (@bussgang)
  13. Nivi and Naval - Venture Hacks
  14. David Hornik (@davidhornik)
  15. Fred Destin (@fdestin)
  16. Josh Kopelman (@joshk)
  17. Will Price
  18. Bill Gurley (@bgurley)
  19. Mike Arrington (@arrington)
  20. Ed Sim (@edsim)
  21. Seth Levine (@sether)
  22. David Cowan
  23. Scott Weiss (@W_scottweiss)
  24. Bijan Sabet (@bijan)
  25. Lightspeed Venture Partners
  26. Mark Peter Davis (@markpeterdavis)
  27. Mike Hirshland (@VCMike)
  28. Larry Cheng
  29. Rob Go (@robgo)

Maybe if you compare at the Q2 investment comparison it’s $7.5B by NVCA vs. $328MM by the CVCA where Canadian investment is 4.37% or the US VC market is roughly 23x bigger. It doesn’t matter. It seems that an interesting blog with insight and analysis of the market and trends is a requirement to differentiate and attract entrepreneurs in the US market.Why not here? Are Canadian VCs just lawyers, bankers and accountants with no real insight into market trends or company operations that can help entrepreneurs? I don’t believe that. So why are only 2 Canadian VCs actively blogging and providing insights? Is it that there is a limited number of potential deals and VCs already see every interesting deal? Is it that they are worried about competing against US led deals and don’t want to expend the effort to write a high quality blog? Do Canadian VCs not understand the medium?

It doesn’t matter. This is an open call for any Canadian VC to become an active blogger on StartupNorth.ca we’d love to have you write insightful pieces about the funding, market and landscape to help educate and inspire entrepreneurs.

  • http://www.mattroberts.com matt roberts

    I’m trying guys. 

  • http://startupcfo.ca/ Mark MacLeod

    Thanks David. I’m blushing. I think VCs have a unique opportunity to contribute to knowledge sharing. We meet so many strong entrepreneurs and see so many companies grow and fail. And while we’re busy, we don’t actually have deliverables in the way that our companies do. 

    And while I genuinely love writing, I have to say that blogging has introduced me to some great entrepreneurs, so for many reasons -  you’re right, we should have more of us sharing what we learn.

  • Jeff

    Canadian VCs are getting their asses kicked….even in terms of blogging. They should be embarrassed.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Maybe they can’t afford the mobile data costs…

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottjhoward ScottjHoward

    Number one, great list, entrepreneurs should take note and be following those VC resources. They deliver a tonne of value. There is more on those blogs than you can learn in $60k worth of MBA school.

    Two, I agree with the call out, a complaint from the capital community is that there are not enough qualified deals. A great way to get more is to educate the market on what you mean by qualified. An example topic I think one of our Canadian VC’s could take on is the need for a Canadian startup to have a well articulated plan for penetrating and fostering the US market.  Velocity, traction, and scale are typically dependent on the startup’s ability to address the US market. Sure prove the product market – fit locally, but please for the love of money please do not take your biz dev efforts to Calgary, get your butt down to NYC, Chicago, SF, etc and sell with the big boys. Our VC’s and experienced entrepreneur community have a lot of experience getting into the US market, would like to see more shared on it, as I see it as a weakness in many Canadian startups. 

    Another angle I see on this and has me intrigued is the notion on the part of the capital community that they already have great deal flow, that they are ‘seeing all the deals’. This is likely true; however, I suspect the entrepreneurs behind the deals that the Canadian VC community want to invest in are much more attracted to working with the US VC partners that are generating thought leadership. This is ‘smart money’ vs ‘banker money’ conversation. It is a lot easier for a entrepreneur to believe / see the smarts behind US based money when the partners writing the deals have written thousands of words on the space and the issues an entrepreneur needs mentorship in. A CEO with a good deal is not selling his/her equity for capital, they are selling it for EXPERT capital. Your 15 years in investment banking is fascinating, but I would rather work with an ex-operator who has been doing venture deals for the last 10+ years who can tell me about my customers not my balance sheet.   

  • bwertz

    Good post – generally agree with you that sharing your knowledge with the community should be an essential part of every investor’s activity but not quite sure if blogging is the only way to do so. There is already tons of great content out and sometimes an investor can be more helpful directing entrepreneurs to that content through Twitter than writing even more content. And then there are speaking engagements at events, participating in mentoring programs, the willingness to provide guidance to entrepreneurs 1:1,….. So looking at my 2011 numbers I probably wrote 20-25 blog posts, shared 200-300 pieces of content through Twitter, spoke at 10-15 events, participated in 4-5 mentoring programs and spent at least 1/2 hour with over 100 entrepreneurs. But will try to blog even more :-)

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    I forgot about @klasscapital blog http://www.klasscapital.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&layout=category&task=category&id=1&Itemid=184 so that would make 3 active Canadian VC bloggers.

  • http://twitter.com/eric_yaletown Eric Bukovinsky

    Great call out and I agree with the statement. Canadian VCs are not top of stack when it comes to communications. Call me biased but I don’t believe the lack of content implies they are devoid of insight. I think the key issue here is the weakness in the overall ecosystem, which will require time and successes on both sides of the boardroom table. The low funding levels is due the fact that there isn’t many active Canadian VCs; this plays out in multiple different forms, and blogging is one of these manifestations. That being said, I am happy heed the call.

  • David Dunnison

    Hi David,
     
    I am sure that other Canadian VC bloggers will reveal themselves. Hopefully your call to action will stimulate others to join in.
     
    As an EIR at Yaletown VP, and a founder of an angel fund, I actively blog at http://d-bits.com. Content is primarily on cleantech, especially solar. The blog is the second most visited solar industry web site in Canada.
     
    VC-specific highlights at d-bits include the Cleantech Pillars (http://d-bits.com/category/cleantechpillars/), and I am responsible for putting “Cashivore” into the Urban Dictionary (http://d-bits.com/cashivore/).
     
    With respect to US blogging VCs, you may also want to add Matthew Nordan of Venrock and his ‘Secret Formula’ blog at http://mnordan.com/, as Matthew is well known and highly respected. Black Coral Capital’s Rob Day, cleantechvc.com, is another great source.

    Please accept the invitation to check d-bits out.
     
    Regards, David

  • http://www.onceabeekeeper.com/ Kevin Swan

    Great topic, David, and trust me that I beat myself up over this one more than you did in this post.  It is funny how you get a post up and next thing you know it has been a month or two before you tackle another one.  I also lost my motivation for blogging once I started reading Mark’s excellent posts and realized that the bar has been set. :-)

    In terms of how we approach this at iNovia, while we use the company blog to make announcements a number of us keep personal blogs as well where we share observations, strategies and approaches.

    Chris - http://chrisarsenault.wordpress.com/
    Shawn - http://shawnabbott.wordpress.com/
    Kevin - http://www.onceabeekeeper.com/

    From a very selfish point of view, I like to blog as it helps me flush out my own thoughts on a topic.  Even better if others feel inclined to comment and start a discussion!  A blog is also a great way for others to know what you are all about before they meet you.  I don’t know if I have ever entered a schedule meeting or call without first checking the person out online – LinkedIn, blog, company website – to make sure I am prepared.  I expect, although not always fair, that others do the same to me.

    I also echo Boris’ position that blogging is not the only way to get out there and try to help entrepreneurs (and learn things yourself as well!).  In fact, whereas blogging was a novel and differentiating approach as an investor 5 years ago it is no longer the case unless you can quickly rise to the top.  While I love your blogger list (and follow most of them) I can only point out Ben Horowitz and Mark Suster as guys who started blogging in the last couple of years.  Generally I point entrepreneurs to the blogs on your list rather than to mine.

    Your team at Startup North gave me the keys to your blog a while back and I admit that I dropped the ball.  I realize that you are not asking for a daily blog, but you would think that I could swing a least one a month, right?  I accept your challenge!  Oh, and keep up the awesome work producing great content for Canadian entrepreneurs – and VCs!

  • Pingback: Bloggers: Another Part of Startup/VC Ecosystem | Mark Evans Tech

  • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com leigh

    Canadian VCs?  Bankers don’t blog.  

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Nail on the head David. We, Canadians are blogging bums.

    The company startups blogs should also be gushing with blog posts. I’m as guilty as any other one.

    How about @markevans:twitter ? He’s been a very active & regular blogger, and I would put him at the top of the Canadian charts for sure.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Ouch…

  • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com leigh

    not a VC though….

  • http://www.rho.com/ Roger Chabra

    David, you are absolutely right.

    Curious – since we are all in this together and we all share the collective goal of building Canada’s startup ecosystem into the envy of the world – what are your (and others) thoughts on whether some of the other players in the system should be blogging/tweeting/tumbling their thoughts and expertise?

    How about lawyers who focus on startups? Service providers, such as auditors and recruiters? What about entrepreneurs? Some of the CEOs/founders of the more successful US startups from the past few years do actively blog and tweet and some very successful ones rarely do or do not at all. Should Canadian entrepreneurs as a group strive to outrank their US counterparts in this area? Would this increase our likelihood of building big, market leading companies or would it be a distraction to the many other things they need to do as company leaders?

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Hi Roger,

    My question about VCs writing about tech trends, business development, investing, economic models, etc. is a little different than CEOs of startups writing about being a startup. Your expertise is important to educate and inspire the entrepreneurs you want to invest in.

    My expectation of the CEOs and founders is that they should write about their business. You would expect that @tobi:twitter can write about Rails and SaaS ecommerce for SMBs. Or that @dossip should talk about changes in workforce planning and management. Or that @ddebow might blog about changes to employee feedback for GenY. Or that @mikemcderment might talk about small business billing. Or that @waveaccounting might talk about financials for SMB.

    It is not necesssarily to talk about being a startup like @asmartbear, but to establish expertise in your specific industry.

    It just turns out that I assumed that Canadian VCs who invest in emerging technology/media might be interested in sharing their viewpoint of the trends and changes in this emerging industry…

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Oh I didn’t catch the title well. I see the whole thing as an ecosystem: VCs should blog, startups should blog, everybody involved should blog, etc…

    The same lameness could be said about the Canadian Tech blogosphere in general. I don’t have numbers to prove it, but just a hunch.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Bankers, accountants, and lawyers don’t blog you mean. Too risky. Not enough direct capital benefit.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Boris, I think your view on content and effort and reach is unique. You participate in a lot of programs focused not on LPs but on engaging and helping entrepreneurs. 

    Do I think there is a lot of content from others available? Yes. In comparison to 1997 when I started thinking seriously about being an entrepreneur I found one book “High Tech Ventures”. There is a wealth of information to educate entrepreneurs. This is great.

    My hope was that your view is important to convey and help differentiate @WMediaVentures from the competition. Plus that the potential reach, inbound marketing and findability of blog/twitter content makes it an important medium for you to reach beyond the entrepreneurs you meet 1-on-1 or in small groups. 

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Thanks Kevin,

    We want and hope that others like you can lead the conversation in the Canadian context. There is great expertise  @inoviacaptial:twitter and at other investors that I wish more shared your viewpoints and observations to help educate Canadian entrepreneurs. 

    I will extend my offer of an account on @startupnorth:twitter to any Canadian VC or angel that wants to blog. Our editorial process is very simple. And @jevon:twitter @jonasbrandon:twitter @dpmorel:twitter are much brighter and more helpful than me.

  • http://www.rho.com/ Roger Chabra

    Agreed I was also talking about sharing expertise about a specific industry… not “day in the life of a VC or entrepreneur” type posts.

    My point was that all the Canadian startup players should be rising to the challenge you’ve offered up, not just VCs – lawyers should blog about legal issues relevant to startups. Recruiters on building, managing and motivating teams and so on…

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Agreed historically @rubsun:twitter had answered question as part of interviews - http://startupnorth.ca/author/craig/

    And @rhh:twitter provided a lot of good content. But yes, it would be great to see others including founders able to participate more freely. 

    I’ve invited @ameetshah:twitter @dossip:twitter and others to pen nonPR puff pieces for @startupnorth:twitter 

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Btw- via a shameless plug, you can follow all the top VC bloggers here in one place http://portal.eqentia.com/techvcs, and/or on twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tech_VCs 

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Shameless hustle.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    True Roger. I made a similar comment. The whole ecosystem should be blogging more. VC’s aren’t to blame alone. But since VCs are looked up to, more blogging from them also will help.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    I don’t blush anymore for these kinds of things :)

  • http://www.getsnappay.com/ Jim Rudnick

    I do miss Rick’s take on all things VC….and a thought that I’ve not heard any “buzz” about his new venture either….

    but one further blog that I like – semi-VC in my mind, is the Velocity Blog here – http://velocity.uwaterloo.ca/blog – which technically isn’t VC but talks about the way in which UniWat helps it’s student entrepreneurs sort of “like” a VC set of tasks….

  • http://chrisarsenault.wordpress.com/ Chrisarsenault

    Ahhh, that question again, to blog or not to blog!? First, one should always take care of his own business first. Time is worth more than money. Second, if your are going to jump out and blog, then blog about what you know and what you are really good at. Me, its about entrepreneurs, funding and the ecosystem I breath, dream and live in 24hrs a day. I won;t bring much value if I blogged about other stuff. I think most VCs are shy. Don’t want to share something that could bite them back in the ass. My rule, “Don’t be shy, but don’t be an ass.” I would love to see more experience and knowledge sharing across our ecosystem, not just VCs though, angels, entrepreneurs, coaches, etc…

  • http://twitter.com/adelaidestreet Adelaide Street

    OK — I’ll do it :)  Just need to find time!

  • http://twitter.com/bwertz Boris Wertz

    Agreed – and as I said I promise to blog more. Was actually always the plan :-) http://www.wmediaventures.com/news/i-will-blog-more-and-you-should-do-so-too/

  • http://startupcfo.ca/ Mark MacLeod

    Don’t slag accountants :)

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Uh oh, I think I’ve failed on the “don’t be an ass” advice. 

  • Bootstrappin’ SRED Lover

    @davidcrow:disqus   I think I will quote Chamath  - “As we’ve discussed, I generally don’t believe investors add much to a success story and so minimizing their impact is a great strategy”Can’t we ALSO minimize the impact of blogging VCs?Isn’t it bad enough we have to listen to them drone on in board meetings about stuff that doesn’t make sense for your business?  And we have to put up with their irrelevant questions when pitching?Now you want to them to write blogs and say stuff like “raise more money than you need” – I mean what do you think I’m trying to do… RAISE LESS F’N MONEY THAN I NEED.Besides, they don’t teach writing skills anymore in MBA programs, its been replaced by powerpointing and spreadsheeting.  If you let VCs blog on startupnorth, it’ll probably be all bullet points with stock photos.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Anonymity still makes you a commie hippie.

  • http://twitter.com/ddbits David Dunnison

    Sure, but one of my favorite, often quite irreverent, VC blogs is anonymous.

    http://opensourcecleantech.blogspot.com/

  • Dossip

    Dave you arguments are sound – root cause is that most of Canada, Waterloo excluded, continues to struggle to form a true innovation/startup community.

  • drive axle

    Its also
    informative information. Thanks for showing and sharing. how much money you
    spend on it all . I appreciate you sharing this advice. I begin so abounding
    absorbing being in your blog abnormally its discussion. Now I just need a ton
    of land to do it on.