Is Collision staying in Toronto (and for how much)? Is Collision coming to Vancouver instead? Why are Canada’s governments paying foreign companies to compete against local events? Are we a branch plant innovation ecosystem? Do we secretly believe we can’t do it ourselves?
Did Collision ban journalists at The Logic from attending? Is BetaKit filled with ‘scumbag journalists?’
“This is city-states vying with each other to be the most loved child in the Succession drama that is our national discourse.”
These are just a few of the questions currently being asked about Collision, prompted mostly BetaKit’s recent extensive reporting. I can’t tell you we find all the answers on this podcast, but we certainly did our best to set them in context.
Organizing this mess has been helpful in understanding why Collision is sticking in everyone’s craw recently. I mean, some of the reasons are obvious: multi-million dollar price tags to host international events (even if a portion of that price tag is delivered through in-kind offerings) stand out in a city with a budget crisis but no mayoral leadership. The need for provincial and federal support to keep Collision in Toronto will obviously rub event organizers across the country—who do not receive similar support—the wrong way.
But there’s more going on here, and it speaks to Canada as a ‘tech ecosystem’.
Portugal reportedly paid a similar price to what is on the table for Collision here to retain parent event Web Summit. But Portugal is the size of about two Nova Scotias (I did the math). While that country can label a Lisbon-hosted Web Summit as a win for Portuguese innovation, I don’t think many here would say the same for Collision—here, it’s a Toronto event. Put another way, tech events that are truly seen as servicing the whole country wouldn’t need to feature a ‘Vancouver takeover’.
I’ve been told this many times privately in the past few weeks: “I can’t wait until Collision is gone.” And certainly, the price tag and the way Paddy Cosgrave has engaged with BetaKit and Collision with The Logic over the last two months has something to do with that. But those statements also reference a discomfort with Collision having arrived here in the first place.
I don’t know if that discomfort has more to do with Canadian tech’s lack of familiarity with playing on the global stage, or distaste for simply being its host—just another branch plant in our tech portfolio, if you will.
I also don’t know if I’ll be on centre stage at Collision in two weeks talking about any of this. But I know I’ll keep thinking about it and looking for ways to ask these questions in a way that produces useful answers.
Let’s dig in.
- Mayor Tory’s departure, competing bids, and financial pressure on province and feds place Collision’s future in Canada in doubt
- With Collision nearing a one-year Toronto extension, efforts are mounting for a West Coast alternative
- Good riddance, Collision tech conference and its $40-million ask. Canada can do better
- Letter from the editor: An update for readers on The Logic and Collision
- Paddy Cosgrave’s invitation tweet
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The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur. Sponsored by Goodlawyer.