By Nathan Rudyk
Ah, there's nothing like a bit of Toronto-Ottawa rivalry to get the Ottawa Valley blood boiling. This time though it's not typical Leafs versus Sens stuff, it's James Hynes' deliberately provocative column in national capital SCAN, our new (and excellent) high tech business paper started last year by former Silicon Valley North Publisher Tony Patterson.
Taking his cue from the retired Tie Domie, Hynes delivers a goon-squad sucker-punch to high tech Ottawa, saying "Ottawa ought to be the last place to indulge in empty puffery about being any kind of economic capital". He further goes on to say that "no one on Bay Street is getting excited about a return to the good old days that brought us the Nortel debacle, not to mention the JDS berets and trophy wives cuddling poodles while shareholder values burned."
As someone who left high tech Toronto for Ottawa in the early 90s weary of the American subsidiary mentality, the ridiculous traffic obstacles, the relative lack of community-based initiative and the relatively lousy real-estate-cost-related quality of life, let me get up off the ice for a minute, remove my gloves, and answer Mr. Hynes.
First, for a less thuggish view of what Big Money T.O. thinks of high tech Ottawa, listen to Ted Anderson's comments on "The Big Money Show" at OCRIRadio.com. In our September podcast the Toronto-based President of Ventures West clearly states his optimism for and interest in Ottawa's present-day tech community, up to and including the fact that Ventures West - the nation's leading VC firm - has for the first time decided to open an Ottawa office.
Second, tune into the podcast widsom of Celtic House Managing Partner Andrew Waitman, who has no illusions about the fact Ottawa joined every other tech centre in North America in a two-year (1999-2000) period of financial excess. But as someone who like Ted Anderson, controls more than a quarter billion dollars in his latest fund, Waitman is both investing in and gung-ho for what high tech Ottawa offers today.
The big money has spoken. Listen up Mr. Hynes. It's too bad you take the literal meaning of your "Hynesite" column so seriously. Before you sucker-punch high tech Ottawa again, try a little present-day research into facts like today's record number of Ottawa high tech companies, how Kanata's inventory of commercial office space has halved since 2001, and how Big Money Toronto (and beyond) really views our opportunity.
(Nathan Rudyk is President of market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency, founder of Ottawa's OCRIRadio.com tech business podcast, and VP Community Relations of Government 2.0 Technology Think Tank)