November 21, 2011

Vancouver is Home to Several ‘Social’ Rock Stars

Although Boston, Austin and Silicon Valley are home to both companies and personalities considered to be heavyweights in the Collaboration, Enterprise 2.0, Social Business, Technology, Open Leadership, Social Learning and Social Media spaces, — phew — I’d like to introduce you to Vancouver – or, as I’d like to rename it, Vancoolver.

Although biased, I truly believe there is something in the water at the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Let’s start first with the companies.

Invoke Media (makers of Hootsuite)

  • Ryan Holmes et al are ahead of their time. The social media dashboard juggernaut app known as Hootsuite is used by the NBA, Fox and even the White House. They build other web-based apps too, and there’s no telling what they’ll dream up next.


  • Although ‘technically’ now based in San Francisco, Zite was founded and developed in Vancouver by Ali Davar. This iPad news delivery app was recently purchased by CNN for $20 million. I use it every day – do you? Why not?


  • Perhaps a competitor of Zite, Summify takes content, streams and data from the social web (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and distills it into a summary of the top five or ten most important stories for the day. Where they take this product is anyone’s guess.

Vision Critical

  • You want cool? Check out Vision Critical, the brainchild of Andrew Reid. Take customer feedback, research, surveys and process improvement, add a little web and 2.0, and you have the brilliance behind Vision Critical.(side note: a few ex-Crystal Decisions and ex-Business Objects people now call this place home)


  • Darren Gibbons, Gordon Ross and Chris McGrath are onto something big. ThoughtFarmer (profiled in Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 book) is a great example of a social work-based collaboration application at its best. The ‘social intranet’ vision is going to bust out soon, in my opinion.


  • One of my favourites, CEO Ben Pickering et al “run promotions that capitalize on the power of user created content and social media”. They sure do get the new world of consumer-based IT/web.


  • Branded as a “people engagement platform”, Jostle is a fascinating application that just might be the next big thing that actually maps people to people to content in an organization. I hope they make it big.

Now, let’s take a look at some mind-bending personalities:

Alexandra Samuel

  • Just your standard social triple threat; world class blogger, co-owner of social consulting shop with hubby/influencer/satirist Rob Cottingham, and Director of Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University. Rock star.

Jon Husband

  • Jon is a social/heterarchical prophet, ahead of his time and somewhat under-appreciated. Coined the term ‘wirearchy’ more than 10 years ago and has been writing, speaking and consulting about it since.

Chuck Hamilton

  • Chuck has been a true pioneer of collaborative, social and virtual learning at IBM for more than a decade. He’s been hugely influential in helping IBM and its customers morph to becoming a more social and ‘smarter planet’.

Richard Smith

  • Does the Twitter handle @smith say enough for you? Visionary behind several influential programs, research and offerings at Simon Fraser University that has produced countless successes. He currently is on assignment heading up the Center for Digital Media.

Bert Sandie

  • What hasn’t Bert accomplished at Electronic Arts? Innovator at large always seeking to improve the user to user experience first before the bells, gadgets and whistles. Someone I look up to.

Jen Schaeffers

  • An up-and-comer who now firmly has set her sights (and sites) on an improved networking option for Vancouver professionals. She’s onto something so stay tuned to where she’s going.

Gillian Shaw

  • Tech columnist for the Vancouver Sun (and its family of other properties), Gillian has been a social/tech/digital mainstay for years. Find her latest musings at her popular Digital Life blog.

There are many more individuals and companies in Vancouver as well as people and companies that reside on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands as well as the BC Interior, but I’ll come back again one day to profile them … in this space.

<Disclaimer: I have no financial or business relationship with any of the companies mentioned above, although ThoughtFarmer did ask me to speak in 2010 at their Social Intranet Summit event – no fees were accepted.>

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