Sep 14th, 2001
there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them
So I try to forget it, any way I can.
Keep on rockin' in the free world "–
Neil Young, Keep On
Rockin In The Free World
can't believe the news today,
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long? Tonight we can be as one...
And the battle's just begun,
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trenches dug within our hearts,
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart...
And it's true we are immune.
When fact is fiction and T.V. is reality,
And today the millions cry,
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die. "–
U2, Sunday, Bloody
look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps "–
George Harrison, My
Guitar Gently Weeps
Friday night, 4 days before the world changed forever, I
made a friend. At the Banff Venture Forum, I started
talking to a tall, fun-loving Finn named Marko. Within
three hours (and six beers) of meeting, we had covered
everything from venture capital today (he's a former VC
turned academic in Tampere), to the condition of Saku
Koivu (the Finns only good center for the Olympic team),
to the fact that both of our six-year-old sons seemed
eerily similar in personality and likes/dislikes. As I
stood inebriated in a pub in Alberta close to 2 am, the
hair on my head pinned straight back by the sonic
assault of the house band, I grinned as I formulated the
topic for my next column. Despite all of the bad news in
technology markets, you can still lighten up, have fun
and meet interesting people. It's not so bad.
was my world. That was your world. And now it's
really don't have much to say tonight that hasn't
already been said. I can't really be poignant or
dramatic. It's not my style. I leave the poignant part
to the lyricists that I quote every week. I feel sick to
my stomach every few hours. I have imagined a hundred
times the horror of the last seconds of those on the
planes or those on the roof as the WTC collapsed or
those on the street as a million tons of metal rained on
them. I have imagined the horror of holding a child in
my arms as any of those things happened. I have imagined
the horror of leaving a child behind to take on the
world without a father or mother. It is too much to bear
can understand the rage that is building in the United
States. I know what to expect next. I fear for the
escalation, but I understand the sentiment. Now is not a
time for finger wagging at the US ("I told you
so", "You brought this on yourself").
This only enrages them more. The key point that we all
must remember is that by engaging the faceless
terrorists, we open ourselves to more attacks. Canada is
really not safe. Don't count on it in a future of
biological and nuclear capabilities in the hands of
is not just a cliché... they have attacked our very way
of life. They have taken advantage of our freedom. They
killed innocent, unarmed civilians. They have no code of
honour that requires you to attack military targets
only. They could have hijacked Fed Ex planes with no
passengers and gone after unpopulated symbols of America
like the Statue of Liberty and the Washington monument.
But they decided that a 4 year old girl in one of the
planes was not collateral damage, but a prime target.
And 10,000 workers were prime targets, most of who were
blissfully unaware of the reasons that America is so
hated in parts of the world. They went after the people
of the free world. Hundreds of people missing today are
Canadian, British, Australian, Japanese, South Korean
seems so stupidly ironic that I wrote my last column
about a possible light at the end of the tunnel for
technology market recovery. Some prediction! It seems so
trite to even discuss business at a time like this. But
we have all wondered what will happen to our businesses
and our money in the next few weeks and months as the
"war" begins. Many of the pundits have
predicted that the world's economy is irrevocably
pointed to recession now. I can't help but believe them.
We are on the other side of a hill now, racing away from
personal freedom and business recovery. It will be
tumultuous and painful for a while. Unemployment will
surely rise in technology and elsewhere as businesses
succumb to the long drought of funding and non-paying
customers. I can't even dredge up an optimistic crumb to
hang on to. I'm completely bummed.
Canada, business will be dreadful if the border with the
US remains tight. Free passage of goods and people has
made for fantastic growth in Canadian companies and any
slow down will have dramatic effects. We may actually
get a brain re-gain because the renewal of TN visas will
be harder forcing many Canadian ex-pats back to Canada.
But it doesn't matter much if that increase in talent
can't sell products south of the border easily. And what
about the few hundred or so BC technology companies with
operations (subsidiaries or headquarters) in the US? (Broadcom,
Electronic Arts, PMC-Sierra, Redback, eTunnels etc.)
What a drag it will be if you can't move people in your
own company between offices readily. Ask AnorMED how
they are doing with the top executives living across the
border in the US and facing 2 hour border line-ups just
to come to work!
guess is that we will survive. We will figure out how to
work in the new world. Adaptation is one of the keys to
the success of the western business world. The
entrepreneurial spirit will always find a way. But it
will take some time through all this uncertainty.
extremely disappointed by the turn of events. I have a
pain in my stomach again, just thinking about a sunny
day a week ago in Banff when everything seemed to make
sense. It angers me that the innocence is gone. It
petrifies me to think of the horror that could come
again. I wish it was all a bad dream.
What Do You Think? Talk
Back To Brent Holliday
Something Ventured is a bi-weekly column designed
to supplement the T-Net British Columbia web site with
some timely, relevant and possibly irreverent insight
into the industry. I hope to share some of the
perspective and trends that I see in my role as a VC.
The column is always followed by feedback (if its
positive or constructive. I'll keep the flames to
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