The Narwhal Club: Home to Canada’s $1 Billion Dollar Tech Startups

The Narwhal Club: Home to Canada's $1 Billion Dollar Tech Startups

The Narwhal Club: Home to Canada’s $1 Billion Dollar Tech Startups

Created by Garibaldi Capital Advisors and Visual Capitalist

October 2015 Update:

The Narwhal Club is going strong with plenty of recent news concerning prominent Canadian startups. Working with Brent Holliday from Garibaldi Capital Advisors, we got the latest scoop on the sector and have updated the narwhal list accordingly.

The most recent notable event occurred in the summer of 2015, when Markus Frind sold his 100% owned to Match Group for US$575 million. As a result, we have removed POF from the Narwhal list, and instead have inducted Markus to a new category called the Nar-Wall of Fame. allowed Markus to amass a personal fortune from profits and sale of his business that makes his personal valuation Narwhal-esque.

Next, with its recent raise of $50 million from China’s Tencent, a new narwhal was born. Kik Interactive is now valued at over the coveted $1 billion mark, and claims to have over 240 million users in 230 countries worldwide. Kik is a chatting application that competes directly with the likes of Snapchat among younger demographics.

Lastly, three new “emerging narwhals” have been added to the list. Enerkem uses proprietary technology to convert non-recyclable waste into clean energy products, and most recently raised C$152.6 million from financings. Intelex, a software company providing web-based management systems, is also now on the emerging list after securing C$160 in strategic growth funding. The third new entry is Lightspeed POS, a company that just raised US$61 million in September for its point-of-sales systems.

The Narwhal Club

Original writeup published December 2014

In 2013, Aileen Lee of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers came up with the concept of the “Unicorn Club”, for tech startups reaching valuations of $1 billion or more. For venture capitalists, this number is much like unicorns themselves – very magical. It resembles big potential exits that can make up for all the startup investments that don’t pan out.

Brent Holliday at Garibaldi Capital Advisors, a Vancouver-based capital advisory with a focus on technology, thought there needed to be a Canadian equivalent. He created the concept of the “Narwhal Club”, based on the uni-horned Canadian animal that actually exists and roams the frigid seas of the North. This club represents companies with $1B CAD valuations that started in 1999 or later.

While there are more than 40 unicorns in existence in the US, there are only four members of the Narwhal Club in Canada: Avigilon, Hootsuite, Slack, and Shopify. However, there are many companies getting close to breaking the ice – these are companies we consider to be emerging narwhals, with valuations in the hundreds of millions with great growth rates.

Some of these include Desire2Learn, Vision Critical, Redknee, Real Matters, iQmetrix, PointClickCare, BuildDirect, DWave, and Wattpad.

We will be updating this list quarterly based on the latest public financing round available. If you know of a company that could fit either category, contact us here. Alternatively, connect with us below.


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