Update on Alberta’s Digital Media People to watch in 2009

Last year Techvibes expanded its “Digital Media People” series by adding Alberta to BC and published a Digital Media People to watch in Alberta in 2009 list. We kept it tight and limited the list to five, but they didn’t disappoint. Here’s an update on their progress and successes in 2009.

Derek Ball – Tynt Multimedia – Ball’s Tynt put their original product, a graffiti annotation and markup tool, on the back burner and launched Tracer in February. The following month they closed a $5 Million Series A investment round that included existing angel investors, iNovia Capital and Alberta’s AVAC Ltd.

When invited out to Vancouver to represent Alberta at Launch Party 7 in June, Tynt jumped on the invite and proceeded to win both the Judge’s and People’s Awards. Turns out LPV7 was just a warm-up though – in the Fall, Tynt was named the Best Presenting Company in the Information Technology stream at the Banff Venture Forum.

2009 wasn’t just a huge year for recognition and investor interest, it was also significant from a product development perpective. In October, Tracer was renamed Tynt Insight. Look for Tynt to make headlines again in 2010 but this time think about adding some zeroes.

Stephen King – Mob4Hire – King got Mob4Hire rolling in 2009 with a second place showing at the MobileMonday Peer Awards in Barcelona in January. In the Spring, a partnership announcement with Vancouver’s Wavefront wireless commerciation centre no doubt helped Mob4Hire double the number of “mobsters” in their testing community to over 20,000 by September.

The Fall saw King headed West to Banff for the Venture Forum but only one IT stream presenter could take home the prize and their Calgary neighbour Tynt Multimedia took the top spot. After attending the annual PACT event at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale in October, King was ready to roll into Bob Chaworth-Musters’ 26th Angel Forum in Vancouver and grabbed two Angel-voted awards – Best Presentation & Best Company with Revenue.

While Mob4Hire may have spent some time in Tynt’s shadow in 2009, look for them to find the spotlight in 2010 and get some Angels to turn those votes into cheques.

Jon Lam – Ph03nix New Media – Lam ended 2008 looking for $1-2 Million to go to market with his new online game TRZZonline.com and by February had $1.1 Million from Alberta’s AVAC Ltd. 

By September Lam was teasing Techvibes contributors with “Project i” and in October Ph03nix New Media announced the launch of the first Canadian-based iPhone Fund. The $2 Million iPhoenix Fund will be used to develop 133 Apple iPhone and iPod Touch games over the next 5 years.

2010 will be a defining year for Lam, Ph03nix New Media and their iPhone Fund. 

Patrick Lor – Fotolia – This time last year we predicted that Lor would put on his Angel hat in 2009 and/or find his next great entrepreneurial idea. Turns our we were wrong on both fronts as Lor joined iStockphoto competitor Fotolia in May. You may remember that Lor was a key figure in one of the biggest dot.com exits in Alberta history when iStockphoto was sold to Getty Images for US $50 Million.

it didn’t take long for Lor to get busy with his new employer. Shortly after joining Fotolia, Lor helped launch PhotoXpress, a free, premier-quality image bank, which offers user royalty free image licenses for personal or professional use. The next month Fotolia was on a hiring frenzy in Calgary.

MJ Sikorsky – Robots and Pencils Inc. – Sikorsky spent 2008 fighting off reports that Calgary’s Cambrian House was not in the dreaded Deadpool. Turns out Sikorsky was right and Cambrian House is still kicking but MJ is no longer with the crowdsourcing startup.

In May Sikorsky and wife Camille launched consulting shingle Robots and Pencils which promises to “rent our brains, teach courses and angel invest”. The teaching has come in the form of iPhone Dev School in Calgary and iPhone Dev Camp in Edmonton and the company is developing their own apps as well – CrushFactor launched in May.

Sikorsky has been an active Angel of late including a board seat at Job Lam’s Ph03nix New Media. Sikorsky and Lam are the brains behind Canada’s first iPhone Fund. The $2 Million iPhoenix Fund will be used to develop 133 Apple iPhone and iPod Touch games over the next 5 years.

Look out for Sarah Blue’s Digital Media People to Watch in Alberta in 2010 list on Monday, January 4th. Blue is digging deeper into both the Calgary and Edmonton tech communities and will no doubt uncover the next round of shining tech stars.