The Narwhal Club: Home to Canada’s $1 Billion Dollar Tech Startups
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 Plentyoffish.com 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. Plentyoffish.com 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.
Wired World: 35 Years of Submarine Cables in One Map
Watch the explosive growth of the global submarine cable network, and learn who’s funding the next generation of cables.
You could be reading this article from nearly anywhere in the world and there’s a good chance it loaded in mere seconds.
Long gone are the days when images would load pixel row by pixel row. Now, even high-quality video is instantly accessible from almost everywhere. How did the internet get so fast? Because it’s moving at the speed of light.
The Information Superhighway
The miracle of modern fiber optics can be traced to a single man, Narinder Singh Kapany. The young physicist was skeptical when his professors asserted that light ‘always travels in a straight line’. His explorations into the behavior of light eventually led to the creation of fiber optics—essentially, beaming light through a thin glass tube.
The next step to using fiber optics as a means of communication was lowering the cable’s attenuation rate. Throughout the 1960-70s, companies made gains in manufacturing, reducing the number of impurities and allowing light to cross great distances without a dramatic decrease in signal intensity.
By the mid-1980s, long distance fiber optic cables had finally reached the feasibility stage.
Crossing the Pond
The first intercontinental fiber optic cable was strung across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. The cable—known as TAT-8*—was spearheaded by three companies; AT&T, France Télécom, and British Telecom. The cable was able to carry the equivalent of 40,000 telephone channels, a ten-fold increase over its galvanic predecessor, TAT-7.
Once the kinks of the new cable were worked out, the floodgates were open. During the course of the 1990s, many more cables hit the ocean floor. By the dawn of the new millennium, every populated continent on Earth was connected by fiber optic cables. The physical network of the internet was beginning to take shape.
As today’s video from ESRI shows, the early 2000s saw a boom in undersea cable development, reflecting the uptick in internet usage around globe. In 2001 alone, eight new cables connected North America and Europe.
From 2016-2020, over 100 new cables were laid with an estimated value of $14 billion. Now, even the most remote Polynesian islands have access to high-speed internet thanks to undersea cables.
*TAT-8 does not appear in the video above as it was retired in 2002.
The Shifting Nature of Cable Construction
Even though nearly every corner of the globe is now physically connected, the rate of cable construction is not slowing down.
This is due to the increasing capacity of new cables and our appetite for high-quality video content. New cables are so efficient that the majority of potential capacity along major cable routes will come from cables that are less than five years old.
Traditionally, a consortium of telecom companies or governments would fund cable construction, but tech companies are increasingly funding their own submarine cable networks.
Amazon, Microsoft and Google own close to 65% market share in cloud data storage, so it’s understandable that they’d want to control the physical means of transporting that data as well.
These three companies now own 63,605 miles of submarine cable. While laying cable is a costly endeavor, it’s necessary to meet surging demand—content providers’ share of data transmission skyrocketed from around 8% to nearly 40% over the past decade.
A Bright Future for Dark Fiber
At the same time, more aging cables will be taken offline. Even though signals are no longer traveling through this network of “dark fiber”, it’s still being put to productive use. It turns out that undersea telecom cables make a very effective seismic network, helping researchers study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures on the ocean floor.
The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant
This infographic ranks the most successful media franchises of all time, and explores how they innovate to stay relevant.
The World’s 25 Most Successful Media Franchises, and How They Stay Relevant
Great stories come and go, but there are a certain few that can truly stand the test of time.
Tugging on the heartstrings with nostalgic stories can be a powerful tool. Yet, even the most world-renowned storytellers like Disney face pressure to constantly innovate.
Today’s infographic from TitleMax illustrates the highest-grossing media franchises, and dives into how they generate their revenue and adapt to new mediums in changing times.
The Supreme Storytellers
According to the infographic, the majority of franchise revenue comes from merchandising. Video games, comic books, and Japanese manga are also significant drivers of income.
|Rank||Franchise||Year Created||Revenue (USD)||Main Revenue Source|
|#3||Winnie the Pooh||1924||$75B||Merchandise|
|#9||Jump Comics||1968||$34B||Comics and Manga|
|#10||Harry Potter||1997||$31B||Box Office|
|#11||Marvel Cinematic Universe||2008||$29B||Box Office|
|#15||Dragonball||1984||$24B||Comic and Manga|
|#17||Fist of The North Star||1983||$22B||Video Games|
|#20||One Piece||1997||$20B||Comics and Manga|
|#21||Lord of The Rings||1937||$20B||Book Sales|
|#22||James Bond||1953||$20B||Box Office|
Perhaps surprisingly, Marvel is not included in the top 10. Despite nearly $30 billion revenue and a long history rooted in comic books, the entertainment behemoth still has much ground to cover as the newest franchise in the ranking.
Reinventing a Classic
While the list proves that success builds over time, these classics need to constantly reinvent themselves as their audiences become reliant on new technologies and demand more immersive experiences.
As the highest grossing media franchise earning roughly $4 billion a year, Pokémon’s strength lies in it ability to adapt to new technology.
The Japanese phenomenon has continued to reposition itself since it first introduced Pokémon cards in 1996. These days, the franchise is perhaps best known for bringing augmented reality to the masses with Pokémon Go—an app that attracted 50 million users in just 19 days.
Yet another Japanese brand tops the list of media franchises. With 50,000 product lines available in over 130 countries and cumulative revenue of $80 billion, Hello Kitty is famous for harnessing the power of cute.
The fictional character has evolved into a globally recognized symbol as a result of big name partnerships and licensing deals with the likes of Puma, Asos and Herschel—and is etched onto almost every type of accessory thinkable.
More recently, the brand announced its foray into video games, and will collaborate with the global esports organization FNATIC on content and merchandise.
Winnie the Pooh
The chronicles of Winnie the Pooh have transcended time by providing a connection to the innate wonder of childhood.
Originally created following World War I, the newest movie rendition “Christopher Robin” became the highest-grossing film in the franchise, grossing $197 million worldwide.
With 97% brand name recognition, Mickey Mouse is officially more recognizable than Santa Claus. Similarly to Winnie the Pooh, Disney introduced Mickey Mouse as a symbol of hope following the World War.
Over 90 years later, global brands such as L’oreal, Beats, Uniqlo and more recently, Gucci are paying homage. In 2019, the luxury fashion brand licensed the Mickey Mouse image for a 3D printed bag worth $4,500, making it even more of a ubiquitous symbol of pop culture.
Another Disney favorite, Star Wars holds the title of most successful movie franchise, with cumulative revenues of $65 billion.
The franchise successfully appeals to a multi-generational audience by mixing old characters with new storylines, such as ‘The Mandalorian’, broadcasting on the new streaming service Disney+—hailed as one of the more exciting moves to come from the saga.
Disney owns three out of the top five highest grossing franchises, so it comes as no surprise that the media conglomerate is investing heavily in digital innovation to provide a more immersive customer experience.
In fact, every franchise in the ranking relies on multiple touchpoints and revenue streams to create a more interactive and emotional experience for their audience.
By harnessing a compelling combination of both imagination and technology, Disney and other top global franchises can continue to lead in the business of making magic.
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