Is Real Ventures over? Is BDC just getting started?

Big #CDNtech news leads to bigger questions.

Summer is over, and so are the days of slow news, it seems.

Elevate returned in person this week and BetaKit focused on the two stages we have scheduled for the festival – AI and FinTech – as well as moderating several engaging panel discussions.

“Half a billion dollars for women in Canadian technology. Pretty cool!”

So, of course, news after big news had to emerge.

Taped late on a Thursday night after a busy week, Rob and I might not be the most compelling in this episode trying our best to answer listener questions.

But when the big questions submitted by listeners about the latest Canadian tech news prompt even bigger questions, you know it’s time to pod.

First, we have the news – reported by BetaKit – that Janet Bannister has stepped down as managing partner of Real Venture while the company suspends fundraising. The question asked on this podcast – is Real finished? – is the one BetaKit journalists have been asked several times over the summer. In fact, BetaKit has been reporting strong headwinds pushing back the firm’s attempts to shut down a new fund for more than a year, since founding partners Alan MacIntosh and JS Cournoyer joined the board.

There are several reasons for this, all discussed in the podcast: high partner turnover, poor portfolio performance and perhaps an insurmountable divide between Ontario and Quebec. But it’s the fundraising pause that returns to the original question; VCs pay themselves from the management fees of their funds, so without new funds, how does Real keep the lights on?

Again, these questions lead to other questions. To know: what’s next for Janet Bannister, one of Canada’s hottest female VCs?

While I wouldn’t say I… speculate on this podcast, I do talk a bit about my dreams and conversations about those dreams, which is kind of silly but also deadly serious. Many in the ecosystem thought Bannister’s summer sabbatical signaled a departure while others still believed it was tied to the aforementioned hiatus in anticipation of a better fundraising climate. Meanwhile, some Real partners have decided to leave the company this summer, while other key people have turned down offers elsewhere to hold on. How many people on both sides knew about Bannister’s decision before the announcement was made at Real’s AGM this week?

I am distracted by other questions. Instead of my ramblings, let’s look at Bannister’s own words.

According to reports from BetaKit, Bannister has no plans to leave Real Ventures “anytime soon”. But she also told BetaKit that not closing a new fund this year gave her “an opportunity to think about how I would like to make an impact over the next 10 to 15 years.” After some thought, Bannister said she decided to do something “more innovative, more creative.”

This latest statement came not from BetaKit’s original interview with Bannister, but from Thursday’s Elevate Women in Tech stage during a panel with BDC’s Michelle Scarborough. Scarborough also had a busy week of a different kind, announcing $500 million in new capital to support women-led businesses and venture capitalist.

This is exactly the kind of capital a Bannister-led Real could have leveraged in their fundraising endeavors. Or maybe (and this is speculation) that Bannister might take advantage of herself to do something more innovative, more creative. Timing is everything, right?

Back to the good news. BDC’s Thrive platform is a major expansion of the original Women in Tech fund, reflecting three programs and a larger total allocation than the last (and last?) VCCI commitment. It’s a big problem.

It’s so important that it raises so many more interesting questions, which we only touch on briefly in the podcast; look nowhere but two middle-aged white guys to answer it.

Until we find the right guests to help us out (we have a few ideas), take comfort in a quick chat at the end of this podcast where Rob discusses tech happenings in person again, and I reveal the data to you. secrets behind a miracle.

Let’s dig.


The BetaKit Podcast is sponsored by SAAS NORTH.
Use code BETAKIT20 for an early bird discount.


Subscribe via: RSS, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts

BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur. Sponsored by SAAS NORD.

Courtesy Image BDC.

Leave a Reply