A positive trend I'm noticing lately is the flux of US tech startup investors peering into the global economy, seeking new opportunities outside of Silicon Valley and NYC.
In my experience, as recently as 2010, the default response to a Canadian company enquiring into US capital markets was, "Sorry, we don't invest in Canadian companies." In a world where borders are becoming increasingly obsolete I'm happy to see this type of nationality dwindling.
Communities Of Innovation
Last week I wrote about the generosity of investors, advisors, and mentors in areas like Silicon Valley. These communities nurture innovation by virtue of sharing intellectual property, capital, and connections. It's no wonder startups succeed in these areas. I believe it can only be positive to see these communities spread more globally.
Geeks on a Plane, an invite-only tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about burgeoning technology markets worldwide, is one great example. Started by Dave McClure of 500 Startups, this kind of activity can only lead to a more harmonious global tech ecosystem.
Another great step toward cross-border globalization was the GROW conference last week in Vancouver. According to the Vancouver Sun, conference founder Deb Landa aims to bring the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley to Vancouver. I attended the Growlab Demo Day on Wednesday and loved to see such a diverse group of investors in one room, including the aforementioned Dave McClure who sat just a few seats from me (although I didn't get a chance to shake his hand, he was feverishly working on a slide deck).
The idea of bringing US investors to Canada in one conference in the hopes of fostering seed stage investment in startups here is brilliant. Us Canadians just don't seem to have the same level of risk tolerance as investors in the valley seem to. As Tal Raviv, founder of Ecquire is constantly tweeting, that's some #cowboyshit and I think we need a bit more of it.
I'm looking forward to a future where we see borders as essentially non-existent and can instead focus on building great teams, locally or remote, and developing great tech.
Globalization Is Good, Especially In Tech
In many schools of economics, especially those in concert with the teachings of Adam Smith, trade with outsiders actually increases quality of life for everyone involved. Nationalistic viewpoints and protectionist laws, although protecting jobs in the short term, tend to stem the flow of capital and innovation in areas where they are most prescient. We need the best minds in the world, regardless of location, to be able to access funding and support to build great technology, not just in Silicon Valley.
Free Market Economics, Does It Work?
In closing, I'll just throw a disclaimer in here about the risks of free market economics. Recently, with the 2008 global financial crisis as an example, there's been a lot of positive criticism of the free market economic theories espoused by Smith et al. Even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and failed to foresee the destructive power that Wall Street greed would have on the world economy.
That said, it would be hard to fault the centrally human principles of innovation and recognition of human talent. I think investing in our neighbors is a natural human desire, and something I look forward to seeing more of, without interference from the entrenched colonial systems of economics we've built around us.