Profits: Nature’s Way of Saying You Belong

by Rob Lewis | Business

There's a great article in this month's BC Business Magazine by VC Brent Holliday titled The Profit Myth that deserves a read.

A smart technology-industry observer here in the Northwest had a great saying when he spoke of the dot-com companies that flashed and fizzled last decade: Profits: Nature’s Way of Saying You Belong. Mark Anderson made and sold T-shirts and bumper stickers that tech geeks like me thought were hilarious. The rest of you are probably scratching your heads and saying, No kidding. Why is that funny?

Mark was mocking the fact that investors poured millions of dollars into ridiculous opportunities in the hopes of a quick flip. Many were burned in the tech collapse of mid-2000. When that famous bubble burst, many companies went extinct because they failed to make profits. Last month in this space, I talked about the Darwinian effect that economic downturns can have across industries. Why, then, are there tech companies that, having never made a dime, managed to survive the last meltdown – and may even survive the current economic mess?

Holliday goes on to refer to three long-standing Vancouver technology companies as exhibits in his analysis - Intrinsyc Software, Absolute Software, and Ballard Power Systems. Combined these three companies have accumulated losses totalling $964 Million.

Apparently profits aren't always a prequisite to building a successful company but Holliday wonders aloud if these growth companies can continue to pile up losses in our "new economy" or if "nature" will kick in as investors tire of funding the dream.

Intrinsyc Software Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Our unique software, hardware, and systems integration solutions enable companies to create, network and manage specialized, intelligent embedded devices and applications. We help customers increase ROI, lower risk, decrease costs and accelerate time-to-market. more

Ballard Power Systems Inc.
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Ballard Power Systems Inc., is a world leader in the development, manufacture, sale and servicing of hydrogen fuel cells. Our products and services are used today in various markets, from materials handling to residential cogeneration, backup power and transportation. Headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia, we are working to accelerate fuel cell product adoption. more

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Rob Lewis

Rob Lewis

Rob is the President of Techvibes Media and Editor-in-Chief of  His diverse background includes stints in International Trade Finance, Web Development, and Enterprise Software and he is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Simon Fraser University. When not running Canada's leading technology media property, Rob can be... more

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