Canadian tech getting more attention – and money
Investors increasingly rewarded for risk
Since the financial crisis, and before the onset of the pandemic, the Canadian appetite for technology had remained paltry at best. From 2016 through 2019, it seemed that the Nasdaq would routinely touch all time highs every quarter, while the Canadian public markets had a minimal universe of names to be excited about.
Given this backdrop, few Canadian-domiciled companies ever even considered going public as a way for shareholders to liquidate and/or raise capital for future growth. And when you crunch the numbers, the reasons for the lackluster enthusiasm on both sides of the Canadian table seem obvious.
Since 2010, major U.S. exchanges have raised over US$180 billion for 373 technology companies in the traditional IPO process. This is in comparison to only $3.6B for 25 companies in Canada or 50 times less than our U.S. counterparts. But these numbers alone don’t tell the full story when it comes to public market technology investing in Canada.
Due to a low currency, coupled with depressed valuations, public market firms in Canada have been fertile hunting grounds for international acquirers. Since 2010, over $35 billion in market capitalization across 86 firms has been “taken out” of the Canadian technology public markets through acquisition. This is 10 times the amount that has been replaced via IPO (see the accompanying graphs).
It is clear that Canadian public technology companies have the potential to create value, as we assume the over $35 billion in acquisition capital was placed to generate a positive return on investment. Nonetheless, for over a decade, Canadian public market investors have provided little support for new homegrown talent. And private Canadian technology companies haven’t been interested in asking Canadian public investors for their money.
But this may be changing in view of some recent success stories. In particular, Nuvei Corp. (TSX: NVEI) recently raised the largest technology initial public offering on the TSX in history at US$700 million. This record is on the back of several other successful listings over the past two years2, including:
- Lightspeed POS Inc. (TSX: LSPD) with a $240 million IPO in Feb. 2019, and a 2.5+ times return since the IPO.
- Docebo Inc. (TSX: DCBO) with a $75 million IPO in Aug. 2019, and a 3+ times return since the IPO.
- Dye & Durham Ltd. (TSX: DND) with a $150 million IPO in June 2020, and a 2.5+ times return since the IPO.
And of course, the Canadian darling that paved the way for everyone:
- Shopify Inc. (TSX: SHOP) with a $159 million IPO in April 2015, and 40+ times return since the IPO.
We are excited that Canadian technology companies have an increased set of options given the renewed strength in Canadian public markets. Not all companies should or will go public, but it’s clear to see that it can be a great option for those companies that are ready and able to do so. Furthermore, healthy capital markets can lift entrepreneurial ambition and promote long-term thinking – two concepts we can readily get behind.
1. Minimum transaction size of $20M CAD. GICS sectors included: IT, Media and Entertainment and Health Care Technology. RTO and direct listings not included in transaction totals. Source: CapitalIQ
2. Pricing source: CapitalIQ, as of Oct 23, 2020
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