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The Risk Manager
An Interview with Louis Têtu
Louis Têtu is one of Canada’s most successful tech sector entrepreneurs. In his early 20s he and his older brother built supply chain software pioneer Berclain into a $20mm per year company before selling it to Baan Software. Shortly afterwards Louis founded Recruitsoft (later re-branded Taleo Software) which he built into a $200mm per year, publicly traded talent management SaaS powerhouse. Louis is now at the helm of Quebec City-based Coveo Software, a fast-growing enterprise search software company which he believes will be his greatest success to date...
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Never Ever Quit!!
An Interview with Castek Founders Fay and Yung Wu
Castek Software was founded in 1990 by siblings Yung and Fay Wu, along with a third partner who exited the business in 1999.

Initially funded with $60,000 in credit card debt, the partners nurtured the firm into a successful and profitable international enterprise software company, with revenues approaching $40mm, and double that in committed order backlog. The founders risked it all and raised $70mm over three major financing rounds in an effort to become the leading insurance software vendor in the market. ...
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The Second-in-Command
The classic profile, making the relationship work and why it oftens fails
Buried among the stock market rubble of the past year is News Corp, the $33bb media giant hand-crafted by fabled entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch. Its stock, like so many others, has been battered amid questions surrounding the economy, the sector and the company itself. Topping that list is the uncertainty surrounding the fate of one executive. No, it is not the septuagenarian founder himself, or even one of his offspring who are expected to eventually ascend to the company’s leadership mantle. Instead, the street has been aflutter over the impending contract expiration of Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin and whether or not the $30mm per year ‘anti-Murdoch’ at the helm of News Corp’s vast day-to-day operations plans to renew. Even the biggest of Murdoch family fans considers the Chernin contract situation a significant risk factor for the company.
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The Plight of the Canadian Small Cap
An Interview with Stephen Sorocky, CEO of Virtek Vision
In January, Stephen Sorocky was appointed CEO of Waterloo, Ontario-based Virtek Vision. Fresh from a successful turnaround of a small VC-backed Toronto-based instrument company, Stephen brought a breadth of experience developed at firms such as EDS and Spar Aerospace where he rose to run one of the firm’s most successful divisions...

...Events of the ensuing six months however caught everyone by surprise and took the firm down an altogether different path of hostile takeover attempt, restructuring and eventual sale to NYSE - listed Gerber Scientific of Connecticut.
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An Interview with Frank Slootman, CEO of Data Domain
StoneWood Interview Series
Data Domain has been nothing short of a spectacular success story. The firm is the leading provider of Deduplication Storage systems for disk backup and network-based disaster recovery. From zero revenues in 2003, the firm recorded net revenue for the third quarter of 2008 of $75.0 million, an increase of 23% from the second quarter of 2008 and an increase of 134% from the third quarter of 2007. Having gone public in June 2007, with a valuation of close to $1billion the company continues to grow at a breath taking pace with ambitions to be the ‘next Net App’.

Frank Slootman joined the company as CEO in 2003. The firm was very small, with no management team, less than $3M in available cash, and no revenues in sight. The outlook for technology startups was bleak. Frank was also a first time CEO from out of the category.

Schweichler-Price and Partners interviewed Frank Slootman about his tremendous journey in building Data Domain, lessons learned and the firm’s ambitious path going forward.
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The Art and Science of Selection Excellence
An Interview with Dr. Guy Beaudin, RHR International
Selection excellence is one of the more elusive goals of all organizations. From poorly defined job requirements to poorly considered and inconsistent selection techniques, the process of hiring executives remains haphazard and more art than science.

RHR International is one of the world’s premier industrial psychology consultancies. The firm pioneered the field in the 1930s, and remains a renowned innovator of theory and practice. With 19 offices around the world, RHR counsels some of the world’s most successful organizations on improving selection practices.

StoneWood Group’s Bob Hebert sat down with RHR’s Head of International Operations, Dr. Guy Beaudin to discuss best practices in selection
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From Tech Ventures to Alpine Adventures
An Interview with Tony van Marken
In 1994, Tony van Marken joined Toronto-based Architel Systems Corporation and over the next 5 years helped grow the telecom software vendor from $1mm to $50mm in revenues while taking the company public on the TSX and NASDAQ. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year (1996) award by the Canadian Venture Capital Association (CVCA) and was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 (1999). Architel was subsequently sold to Nortel for US $400mm.

In 1999 Tony became a partner in venture capital firm XDL Intervest and over the next 5 years played an active role in the creation and nurturing of a number of Canadian technology fi rms. While still a partner at XDL Intervest, Tony moved to Sophia Antipolis in France and for a 3 year period devoted himself to climbing the world’s seven summits, the highest mountains on each continent, as well as many of the world’s classic peaks. Tony then moved to South Africa where he is now Executive Chairman of Vox Telecom, a rapidly growing $300mm per year alternative telecom operator. Bob Hebert spoke with Tony about his life as a CEO and world-class climber.
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Improving Hiring Effectivenesss
The Role of Organizational Context
Suppose for a moment you are the board member charged with recruiting a new CEO into IBM. The executive search firm that you retain presents a slate of candidates featuring two CEOs of very successful small start-up software companies. Do you seriously consider the candidates or fire the search firm? Why? Now consider you are a board member of an early stage start-up and you face the same challenge of finding a new CEO. The search firm presents a slate of candidates from very large, mature companies such as IBM, all career professional managers and all experienced in the start-up’s technologies and target markets. Do you consider them seriously or fire the search firm and again, why?
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A Discussion with CSI Wireless CEO Steve Koles
Anatomy of a Turnaround
In 2006 Steven Koles was hired as the CEO of CSI Wireless. The high flying Calgary-based company, which once boasted a share price of $8.65 in 2000, was then in dire straits and in the midst of dramatically reorganizing, selling divisions and focusing on the GPS industry. Over the past two years the firm has seen a dramatic turn in its fortunes. Re-branded as Hemisphere GPS the company's stock price has moved from a low of $1.19 in Dec 2005 to over $4.50 currently. In its most recent quarter the company delivered a profit that was greater than any annual profit in the history of the company.
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A Discussion with PlateSpin CEO Stephen Pollack
From Bankruptcy to $205mm Acquisition
Toronto-based PlateSpin Canada was founded in 1999 with ambitions to build world-class management solutions for the telecom data centre market. Though the firm held considerable promise, in 2003 it filed for bankruptcy losing $11mm for its investors. Shortly afterwards, Stephen Pollack bought the assets of the company and with a skeletal team and $1mm in seed financing embarked on the journey to realize what he believed was its significant potential. In March 2008, PlateSpin Ltd was bought by Novell for $205mm in cash.
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Where are all of the Successful Serial CEOs?
It is a lament heard across the Canadian technology sector: Where are the successful serial CEOs and why do they appear so much more plentiful in the U.S. than in Canada?

A quick scan of the U.S. tech community readily surfaces a class of executives for whom success only eggs them on to pursue even bigger challenges. They are serial CEOs hooked on the game of tech and driven by the goals of mastery and excellence of play. They move from one successful start-up or turnaround to the next adding one experiential notch after the next to their expanding belts and wallets. And they appear everywhere, sprinkled liberally across venture capital rosters as executives/entrepreneurs in residence, and at the helms of countless tech companies.
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Secrets of Successful Serial Start-Up CEOs
We are all drawn and inspired by tales of entrepreneurial success. It may be the young engineer who founded a company which seemingly overnight was acquired by Microsoft or Cisco. It may be the drop-out who built a web-site now viewed by millions of people each and every day. Or it may be the siblings whose start-up was the top performing IPO of the year. And while we never tire of these fascinating stories, part of us always wonders whether the entrepreneurial masterpieces in question are the strokes of true artistry or of one-time inspiration, good timing, or beginner’s luck? And could they do it again?
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StoneWood Interview Series
The Science of Start-Ups

Michael Malcolm is one of Canada’s most successful yet least-known technology start-up entrepreneurs. Over the past twenty-five years, the former University of Waterloo professor has founded four companies and left an indelible mark of innovation on the North American technology scene. His first company, Waterloo Microsystems was a pioneer in operating system design before being sold to Hayes Microcomputer in 1990. His second company, Network Appliance currently has revenues of $2.8bb per year and employs over 6,500 staff around the world. His third company, Cacheflow (now BlueCoat Systems) had one of the most successful public offerings in the late 90s. His most recent company, Kaleidescape is a market leader in high-end home entertainment servers. Headquartered in Silicon-Valley, and with R&D in Waterloo, Ontario, the fast-growing company employs over 140 professionals and is solidly profitable.
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StoneWood Interview Series
Anatomy of a Textbook Start-Up

Founded in late 2004 by a group of successful security software entrepreneurs, Third Brigade began with a vision to solve a number of key enterprise intrusion prevention problems. Since that time, the Ottawa-based firm has systematically built and acquired world-class technology, raised $30mm in funding, assembled a world-class team as well as Board of Directors, and secured both major customers and global channel partners. With 70 employees including a Vulnerability Research centre in India, the firm is a model for how to build an early stage technology company.
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Cirque de Selection
Under the Big Top of Picking Winners

In this StoneWood Perspective we examine the elusive quest for excellence in selection. We describe the complexities of picking winners and how organizations most commonly deal with them. Finally, we lay out an approach by which to enhance selection decisions in all organizations.
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StoneWood Interview Series
An Interview with Sandvine Corp. CEO David Caputo

Founded in 2001, Sandvine Corp. is the second runaway success for a talented group of entrepreneurs whose first company, PixStream, was sold to Cisco in 2000 for $545mm. When Cisco unexpectedly closed the Waterloo facility the following year, the founding group of Brad Siim, Marc Morin, Tom Donnelly, Don Bowman and Dave Caputo started Sandvine Corp.
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StoneWood Interview Series
From Hockey to High Tech to Hockey
An interview with Florida Panthers Assistant GM, RandySexton

Randy Sexton was part of the founding team which brought the NHL back to the city of Ottawa in 1992. Over a four year period he served in capacities including President and General Manager of the hockey team. Randy left the Ottawa Senators during the 1995-96 season and subsequently worked for three software companies in senior sales and general management roles. He then became General Manager of the Bell Sensplex Arena in Ottawa before being appointed Assistant General Manager of the Florida Panthers in January 2007.
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The Secret to Success...
and how to hire for it!

So what's the secret to success? If you ask the guy inthe doctor's offi ce he'll tell you unequivocally that it isintelligence and education. He wants the smartest, besttraineddoctors tending to his medical needs, and nothingless. For the fans watching their favorite sporting eventthe answer is performing right before their eyes. It is talentand they want as much of it as possible on their team. Foryet others, success accompanies the mesmerizing charismaand vision of the great statesman or organizational leader.
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Enhancing Board Effectiveness in Hiring
Get the Issues Right!

While governance and fiduciary matters command a bigger share of their time and attention, the hiring of CEOs is among the most important, value-added responsibilities of Boards of Directors. It is also one exercised ever more frequently, with statistics showing that two-thirds of all venture-backed startup companies replace their founding CEOs and of these replacements, two out of every five fail in the first 18 months.
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StoneWood Interview Series
An Interview with Redknee CEO, Lucas Skoczkowski

Founded in 1999, Toronto-based Redknee Inc. has grown quickly to become a world leader in providing infrastructure software and solutions to telecommunications operators globally. With more than 300 employees in six offices around the world, including an R&D centre in India, the publicly traded company projects revenues approaching $50mm in 2007. StoneWood’s Managing Partner Bob Hebert sat down with Redknee’s 34 year old founder and CEO Lucas Skoczkowski to discuss the human dimension of high growth organizations.
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Corporate Culture and Stock Options in Emerging Companies
A recent article chronicling Google’s spectacular success highlights the company’s ‘over the top culture, including bathroom stalls with Japanese high-tech commodes and heated seats ….. each stall features a geek quiz that changes regularly and asks technical questions about testing programming code for bugs. The toilets reflect the company’s general philosophy of work: generous quirky perks keep employees happy, working hard and thinking in unconventional ways’.
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From Guesswork to Assumptions...
The peculiar way we select out political leaders
The federal Liberal Party will soon elect a new leader. The contest is intriguing as it marks the first instance in many years in which there is no clear favorite among the many contenders. While the process by which party delegates will render their decision is well publicized, the criteria they will use to make that decision is not...
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The Founder Syndrome - Part II
Avoiding the Deadly Trap
Part II looks more closely at the early life-stages of entrepreneurial organizations and the painful transitions associated with the founder syndrome. It argues that by understanding the nature of these transitions, and learning to anticipate, prepare and adapt to them, founders can exert far greater control over their fates while also benefiting the firms they so cherish.
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The Founder Syndrome - Part I
Why it's still a big messy issue and why attitudes have to change...
It has been debated for years yet remains a small-talk favorite around the water coolers of the venture capital industry. It is “The Founder Syndrome” and it goes something like this… founders innovate, incubate and invigorate.
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So you are taking over from the founder...
Canada abounds with great entrepreneurs for whom succession is the most significant future threat their companies will have to overcome: Magna's Frank Stronach, Roger's Ted Rogers, Bombardier's Laurent Beaudoin, Four Season's Isadore Sharp.
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Searching for Certainty in Hiring
This article explores the seductive notion of 'certainty' in hiring and offers a path forward with specific recommendations and observations gleaned from a quarter century in the hiring trenches.
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Do Stars make Companies or do Companies
There is an undeniable seductiveness to the heroic notion of the archetypical 'star' performer whose sheer radiance promises to illuminate and invigorate
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Leadership Development in Canada's Technology Sector
Technology sector entrepreneurs inhabit a universe of leapfrogging innovation and risk where speed and ‘first-in’ strategies are highly valued business differentiators
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