Digital Media People to Watch in BC 2008 Wrap-up

Last December we put together our first list of British Columbians in the Digital Media space that we thought were worth keeping an eye on in 2008. With the year coming to a close we thought it would be worthwhile to re-visit the individuals (and companies) we singled out and provide an update on their progress.

David Ascher, MailCo – Ascher headed up the spin off of Thunderbird technology from Mozilla Corporation (Firefox) and built a team from Vancouver. Ascher launched Mozilla Messaging in February and earlier this month capped off the year with the launch of  Thunderbird 3 beta 1. Look for work on Thunderbird 3 to continue as Ascher insists they’re far from done making feature changes.

Ian Andrew Bell, Something Simpler (now with RosterBot) – Something Simpler launched their Pulse Facebook recommendation engine in January, but as of June Bell was no longer with the start-up. Bell’s side project RosterBot continues to roll along with over 11,000 users and close to 9000 teams using the site. A new version of RosterBot is set to launch in early January and Bell has been busy framing up a new startup in stealth mode as well.

Leonard Brody, – After landing the 2nd largest VC financing of 2007, continued to collect accolades (Branham Top 25, KPMG PICK 20, and Outsell’s 10 Social Networks to Watch), took citizen journalism mobile, upgraded their platform, and landed a veteran advisor in Guy Kawasaki. In September, NowPublic launched their 20 Most-Visible Individuals on the Web for Vancouver to plenty of fanfare but apparently our on-the-street sources were out-to-lunch and NowPublic has not been acquired by Canwest… yet.

Jonathon Ehrlich, (renamed Live Current Media) – Former EVP of Online at Indigo Books & Music came West to join in late 2007. Ehrlich’s e-commerce strategy kicked into high gear early in ’08 with the corporate re-brand to Live Current and $50 Million online cricket partnership with the DLF Indian Premier League. Since then Ehrlich has partnered to develop their propertyy, put some premium domain names on the auction block, and witnessed the recent Mumbai massacre firsthand. The BC tech community is happy to have him home safe.

Markus Frind, Plentyoffish – We predicted that Vancouver’s most successful one-man operation would take his Google Adsense cash cow to market and cash-in. Looks like he didn’t find the right buyer. Frind did however go on a hiring binge and grew his headcount 200%. According to his blog, he’s reconsidering the free model for his online dating site and has started to experiment with pay features.

Kris Krug and Robert Scales, Raincity Studios (RCS) & Bryght – Krug & Scales traveled the world growing RCS at home and abroad with an office in Shanghai. On the heels of their social media coverage of the Beijing Summer Olympics, they’ve added social media consulting services to the mix and recently launched a campaign to open a media centre for alternative media at the 2010 Winter Games. Their Bryght Drupal hosting platform relaunched with a new design and install profiles in English, Mandarin, and French.

Boris Mann, Raincity Studios (now with Bootup Labs) – As reported here last year, Mann put his plans to help more companies get started in Vancouver in motion with the launch of an innovative business incubator called Bootup Labs along with Strutta’s Danny Robinson. Mann and Robinson are in the process of raising funds to fuel Bootup Labs.

Danny Robinson, Strutta (and Bootup Labs) – Robinson launched Strutta in April to plenty of fanfare, fine-tuned their game plan in June, and bleached the business model in July with a new white-label strategy. Strutta will be relaunching a new platform before the end of the year. Along the way Robinson co-founded Bootup Labs (see Boris Mann) and they’re in the process of raising venture capital in a tough market. Stay tuned.

Fred Speckeen, AERS & Terapeak – Speckeen launched Terapeak 5.0, closed a $1 Million round, and landed a thrifty director all before the Summer. Speckeen closed the summer with their Terapeak product – an eBay Seller Pricing Tool – being chosen by eBay to replace eBay’s own search tool, eBay Market Research. Through the Fall, AERS continued to add corporate customers including Wall Street’s Majestic Research and closed its latest fiscal year with 100% growth for the third consecutive year.

Tom Williams, GiveMeaning – GiveMeaning remains Williams’ focus and passion even though the year got off to a rocky start thanks to an investigation of GiveMeaning by the notorious David Baines. The dust has settled and GiveMeaning’s service seems to be more and more relevant in turbulent times of economic, political, and social change.

We’re in the process of assembling our Digital Media People to Watch in BC in 2009 and are excited to announce on January 6th who we’ll be watching in the New Year.