Time for a review of 2008

2008 is almost over so it is time for a review of the year – here is what I am taking away from 2008 (and what I think about 2009):

  • In the past few months we have experienced the fastest economic meltdown since a long time – perhaps ever, perhaps since the Great Depression but in any case with a speed that nobody could have foreseen. Despite some cautious optimism building up in the markets right now, I think that the worst is still to come. There is a gigantic de-leveraging going on, paired with a huge drop in consumer confidence – all that will take some time to trickle through the system and 2009 will therefore be a tough year economically.
  • The most important take away though: markets are not always efficient. Let’s just keep this in mind the next time somebody proposes a deregulation of sort.
  • Internet start-ups have fared pretty well despite the economic chaos. Yes, we have seen some significant lay-offs, and yes, we have seen (and will see even more) fire sales of companies that have not yet gotten any traction or revenues. But the Web 2.0 bubble that started to build up in the past 2 years was way less pronounced that the bubble we have seen in the 1999 / 2000 time frame. 2009 will be the year where everybody refocuses on the fundamentals of building a great product and generating revenues and we will see some great companies emerging out of that class of 2009.
  • Canadian Internet start-ups where a bit of a disappointment in 2008 – not a single important one emerged, not a single one made significant headlines. Or am I missing something? So I hope that 2009 will be the year of the Canadian start-ups. I have argued before that the current economic conditions might actually be pretty good for us.
  • I was however really impressed by how the tech community starts to develop in Canada. Tech blogs like MontrealTech Watch, StartupNorth or Techvibes and events like Startup Empire, STIRR or LaunchParty help build the community that is so important for our space. So thanks to everybody who helped built a piece of this community in 2008, continue the great work in 2009!
  • Last but not least this was an exciting year for myself and W Media: got back into an operational role (Nexopia), had my first exit (AbeBooks) and did 3 new investments (CarrieandDanielleand two that have not yet been announced). 2009 will certainly see more activity on the investing front, both through W Media as well as through the late stage fund from Acton Capital.

So I wish everybody Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – enjoy the holiday times and see you back in 2009!

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