In the tech world, the biggest story of 2020 was how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital adoption across all industries, from health care to financial services to supply chain management and education. As consumers, schools and workplaces went online, the market caps of companies like Zoom, Shopify and cloud-computing provider Fastly soared. While that prompted talk of lofty valuations for forthcoming tech IPOs, it wasn’t nearly bearish enough to slow the wave.
Technology stocks soared in value in 2020, a product of the pandemic which saw the acceleration of digital adoption across a swath of industries. Canadian venture capitalists who spoke to The Logic expect that digital transformation to continue in 2021, justifying what some have considered frothy valuations. They are also forecasting a bigger role for government in the innovation space, as stimulus money starts flowing into the economy.
“We have come six years in six months, and there’s no going back,” said Rich Osborn, managing partner at Telus Ventures, referring specifically to the adoption of technology across most industries in 2020. “The tech opportunity is much larger than we think,” said Boris Wertz, founder and general partner at Version One Ventures. “It is a secular growth story that is going to go on for decades.”
The Logic spoke to eight Canadian venture capitalists who predicted that digital adoption was not just a pandemic-driven story, but one that will bleed into 2021 and beyond, potentially justifying those valuations. They also predict a higher rate of public-private partnerships, as governments are forced to address innovation head-on, targeting some of their billions in stimulus money at ventures that can provide solutions to existential issues like climate change. Here’s their forecast for the year ahead.