10 YEARS ON: Dug from the morgue Feb 99 (Concl'd)
More notes from the February 1999 editions of SCAN's forerunner Silicon Valley NORTH, occasionally updated . . .WATERLOO: While maintaining its head office in the corridor, then as now, Mortice, Korn Systems Inc. (now MKS), with the world’s leading platform to manage everything associated with developing software, opens its U.S. base in Chicago . . . OTTAWA: Corel Corp and movie star Hedy Lamarr settle a lawsuit and the actress grants the software company a five year licence to use her likeness on its packages . . . TORONTO: Infocheck Ltd. gathers background info on job applicants to make sure the MSc on your curriculum vitae matches the Registrar’s records at uWherever and that Bill Gates is indeed willing to recommend you personally. It releases a survey that says women are better workers, men better liars, and concludes that “males are eight times as likely as women to have done poorly at a previous job and two-and-a-half times as likely to have been fired. Once hired, men are much less punctual and twice as likely to encounter conflicts with other employees.” Why hire men? Infocheck doesn’t say, but it’s probably because there aren’t enough chicks around who want to do the heavy lifting and shit shoveling. . . OTTAWA: Nortel is recognized in four separate surveys as the world’s leading supplier of ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) equipment, but Newbridge Networks gets the contract to supply ATM subscriber line equipment to Telus . Nortel is in bankruptcy protection today, Newbridge is absorbed into a tottering Alcatel, but Telus, which was an Alberta-bound provincial telco at the time, merges with BCTel that same year, opens for business in eastern and central Canada, and has since leaped in galloping bounds across the country to challenge the primacy of Bell . . . OTTAWA: JDS announces it will nearly double its plant space on 54 acres to 900,000 sq. ft. to accommodate what would become 11,000 employees in Ottawa in another year or so. That was the peak. Today there are fewer than 400 JDS employees still in the Nation’s Capital and the company is being driven from Milpitas in Silicon Valley. But the glorious planetary campus, boasting for its $200 million cost a sophisticated security system, 300-seat auditorium, fitness centre, and underground parking, as well as vacant land to accommodate expansion, is far from overgrown with weeds. Recognized by real estate developer Minto Group as an ideal location for an organization that likes tight control, high-level secrecy and has lots of money, it didn't take long for the loonie to drop. This year it becomes the new national headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the world's largest constabulary. Minto pays JDS $28.5 million, less than 20% of what the property at Prince of Wales and Merivale costs to build. It will realize about five times this much in rental from the redcoats over 25 years.
Scanning the Ontario Technology Corridor
LONDON: Carol Stephenson (right) leaves the presidency of Stentor as that telecom co-operative disintegrates under competitive pressure. She’ll be named president of Lucent Canada later in the year, leading a tripling of Lucent’s market share in Canada despite an industry downturn over the next few years. Carol joins UWO’s Richard Ivey School of Business, in 2003 and since then, as dean, has led a drive to reshape biz ed teaching . . . TORONTO: Bill Buxton (left) hopes for an Oscar nomination for Bingo, a slick and quirky short film with some amazingly humanistic animation. Bingo is a project of Alias/Wavefront (A/W), now part of Autodesk, but at that time the Toronto media and entertainment research arm of Silicon Graphics, for which Bill is chief scientist. Despite being shown at nearly 50 film festivals, Bingo doesn’t make the Academy Awards short list. Probably wouldn’t have done any good. Alexandre Petrov’s magical, colourful Old Man and The Sea, a paint-on-glass work, wins for best short. Bill goes on to be principal researcher for Microsoft, where he remains, still based snugly in the corridor, as well as columnist for businessweek.com . . . OTTAWA: News comes of deals for affiliate companies of billionear Terry Matthews’ Newbridge Networks. Cambrian Systems, with fibre optics smarts, is acquired by Nortel for $470 million. Vienna Systems, with equipment to distribute video and data over the internet, is bought by Nokia for $90 million. Sir Terry, wise fellow, takes his share in cash. He’s still funding affiliates but now they’re further beneath the radar and he’s forcing tight bootstrapping on them as he conserves resources for next year’s Ryder Cup, which he’s hosting at his Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. Thomas Wolfe wrote too soon that "you can't go home again." Terry wasn't to the Manor born but with an estimated $250 million Canuck bucks won in technology plays he's built the lavish resort with three golf courses on the very site of the maternity home that was his birthplace in Gwent.
OTTAWA: The gaming world is in the thick of transition from a glut of CDs to the delivery of games via the internet, where they'll also increasingly be played as broadband rolls out. Alfredo Coppola (left), running Animatics Interactive, notes that “in 1994 more >than 10,000 titles were on the market, but shoppers only have about 1,000 titles to choose from now.” Afredo has since become an international management consultant in Silicon Valley, where he helps Canadian high-tech firms with US export strategies . . . TORONTO: A dozen Toronto HS students top an Internet Treasure Hunt sponsored by CANARIE, the federal agency running Canada’s high speed advanced network for scientists and other large data users. Prizes in the hunt were just shy of $100,000. Needless to say, this was in pre-sponsorship scandal days, and would later be considered an excess . . . TORONTO: Bell Emergis, created to develop new products with advanced technologies, is folded back into Bell Canada. Emergis chair Jim Tobin (right), Moncton born, Yale AND Harvard educated and much praised protégé of Bell CEO and consummate Maritimer John McLennan, quits. Within months he surfaces as president at Hummingbird Inc. (where McLennan is a director and which has since been acquired by OpenText) but flames out before the end of the year and his first anniversary on the job. After a two year hiatus and stints at Time Warner and AOL, he settles in Philadelphia at Comcast, the Rogers-type gorilla of the U.S. cable and media industry, as SVP for product development. Even in the turbulent telco world of the last decade, where disruption has been the common experience, Jim serves as inspiration to those who have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again.
Companies in the Ontario Technology Corridor, almost 6,000 of them, spanning the software, photonics, wireless, cleantech, digital media, life sciences, and micro-electronics sectors, employ more than 250,000 people. There are almost 30 universities and colleges along the corridor.