xRIM: The Virtuous Cycle
What would happen if a handful of ex-RIM employees started up new companies? Food for thought. Thousands have been laid off, we could get dozens of new startups. The groups would be experienced, knowledgeable, compatible, the ideal for a founding team. They would be connected to former colleagues wealthy from stocks from RIM's early days, making it easy to raise seed capital.
On the other hand, the RIM "diaspora" could drift away, getting jobs in the US, seattle, silicon valleyâ€_ pulling valuable human connections, knowledge, and experience out of the local loop.
It's not hard to see that the first scenario is better for the region. The existing cluster grew because individuals, once they get a taste of the industry, cycle through many companies. In fact, this region has been an entrepreneurial centre since the industrial age. Electrohome for example, a major electronics company in the mid-20th century, was founded in Kitchener. While Toronto has more tech and sheer scale, KW has a greater concentration, and it's concentrated groups of entrepreneurs that create the upwards spiral.
I can't go without mentioning silicon valley, because I spent a significant part of my formative career time there. Around the time of Electrohome, there started a lovely chain of diasporas and virtuous cycles in the bay area. Shockley left Bell Labs to start his new company. The "Traitorous Eight" left Shockley to form National Semi. More left to start Intel and AMD. At SRI, Engelbart's employees skipped out to join PARC. PARC people left in many directions—including the Mac division at Apple, as well as Adobe and 3Com. Ex-3Com people are all over the place. More recently, there's the Xoogler effect, leading even to specialized ex-google-only VCs.
My point is this: if we can keep the xRIM in the area, then cool tech will be created, the cluster will expand, and new startups will grow. That's a good thing. So, let's see if we can see the silver lining in the cloud and open up some doors.
Oh yeah, and come out to StartupCampWaterloo12.