The Story of and How It Changed the Canadian Startup Ecosystem

A few weeks past I posted about the hockey stick growth of exit in Canadian startups. Well, let me give some interesting colour to some of the cause of that growth. is a company that most of you probably know very little about, despite its relative fame in the hey-day of the dot com boom. Back in the day when I was a student at Waterloo, I remembered coming on compass and having some great recruitment events at the local pub, The Bomber. That was the last I heard of them. Little did I know that would eventually help permanently alter the Canadian eco-system. was a Silicon Valley based company. They built a really cool IVR service, cutting edge stuff in 1998 when they were founded. Steven Woods was co-founder, CTO and Chief Product Officer at Dan Servos later joined quack as its SVP Alliances and Sales. In the year 2000, they sold to AOL for a hefty $200mm price tag. Big exit, even by that era’s standard.

A few years later Steven Woods & Dan Servos were at it again. Classic serial entrepreneurs – Steven started another company, NeoEdge which Dan joined. Not quite as big a success as, but not every venture leads to a $200mm sale of your company.

Fast forward to 2008. Dragged from the startup world kicking and screaming, Google steals Steven Woods and hires him as site manager and engineering lead for Google Waterloo. You have to understand how big this is. Steven Woods is a 2x entrepreneur with a big, big exit under his belt, also serving as an advisor & investor to several startups. He is a big deal in Silicon Valley, let alone in Waterloo where he should be recognized as an entrepreneurial god. Only the duo at 295 Philip St hold more entrepreneurial street cred than him in Waterloo. Not only is his startup background a big deal, but he has a fricking phd in computer science. An immense example of reverse brain drain if I’ve seen one. Which is ironic, since Woods was famously ripped as being a big cause of Canadian brain drain when they hired 50 Waterloo grads in 10 months before selling to AOL.

Check out what started to happen shortly after he came to Google Waterloo:

1. Google acquires Toronto-based company BumpTop for $30m.

2. Steven Wood’s old colleague, Dan Servos, ends up as CEO of Social Deck.

3. Shortly thereafter, Toronto-based Social Deck gets acquired by Google.

4. Toronto-based Zetawire gets acquired by Google.

5. Toronto-based Pushlife gets acquired by Google for $25mm.

6. Waterloo-based Postrank gets acquired by Google.

(and now Dan Servos lands as COO of Locationary. Hmmmmm…)

Steven Woods & Dan Servos have been machines, invigorating the Canadian startup ecosystem with new possibilities. Via his role at Google, Steven Woods has provided a real source of opportunity for entrepreneurs in Canada to do something with their company other than “move to the Valley”. 6 exits probably at near $100m in total money in under 2 years. Dan Servos has provided huge leadership to Canadian startups like Social Deck, Locationary, etc. This should be massive motivation to entrepreneurs. If you have success, find ways to be like Steven Woods and Dan Servos and help the ecosystem continue to grow. Don’t be like this.

PostRank acquired by Google

Ilya has confirmed today that PostRank has been acquired by Google.

The launch of AideRSS, the precursor to PostRank, was one of the first things we covered here on Startupnorth, so we are happy to see such a great outcome for the team.

Google acquires Postrank

We are extremely excited to join Google. We believe there is simply no better company on the web today that both understands the value of the engagement data we have been focusing on, and has the platform and reach to bring its benefits to the untold millions of daily, active Internet users. Stay tuned, we’ll be sure to share details on our progress in the coming months!

Of course, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for all the help, feedback, and support we’ve received from our community over the past four years—thank you all, you know who you are, and we truly couldn’t have done it without you!

Ilya also notes that the team will be moving to Mountain View as part of this acquisition.

Pushlife acquired by Google

Details are still emerging but it sounds like another Toronto company has been acquired by the GOOG. We’ve been hearing that the purchase price is close to $25MM, hopefully that’s Canadian Dollars this week and not US Dollars.

The Pushlife web is currently down. But you can see 10 employees listed on the Company Page on LinkedIn including CEO and Founder Ray Reddy. Ray (@raymondreddy) hasn’t updated his Twitter since December 2010.

t1m's Tweet

This makes Pushlife the 3rd Toronto company acquired by Google (Bumptop and SocialDeck being the other two).