On March 27th, Northcore Technologies (TSX:NTI) named Paul Godin its Chairman, replacing Anthony DeCristofaro.
For Godin, who is the founder and CEO of Northcore’s predecessor, Bid.com, the move was a homecoming more than a decade in the making.
Bid.com, which was the first Canadian ecommerce firm to be listed on NASDAQ, had a trajectory common to the era; a high flying start came crashing to the ground as money tightened and the Nasdaq underwent its historic swoon.
In April of 1999, just months before the dot-com crash, Bid.com received approval to list on the Nasdaq. By August of 2002, the company, which had became ADB Systems after the acquisition of the Norway-based software vendor, delisted from the Nasdaq. In 2006, ADB, which was still trading in Canada on the TSX, sold its core business and the company changed its name to Northcore.
Bid.com went from being the toast of Canada, with a billion dollar plus market cap and partnership with AOL, to a penny stock. But the company found a way to preserve its intellectual property.
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Through the myriad of changes, which included a number of management shakeups, the Bid.com core declining price auction process technology was safeguarded by Northcore, which since last summer has been led by CEO Amit Monga. Monga was an angel investor, a board member of Poynt and a member of Dean’s Business Advisory Council at the Alberta School of Business, who was convinced by a group of Northcore shareholders that the company was a prime candidate for a turnaround.
Monga and Godin joined Cantech Letter’s Nick Waddell for lunch last month in Toronto.
Over mushroom soup at Canoe, fifty-four floors above Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport and Lake Ontario, Godin said the Bid.com experience was exhilarating. He says the company made a “pretty good run at it” and while Bid.com’s technology was ahead of it time, there simply wasn’t enough of user base for mobile devices, which he sees as the ultimate goal for the use of its Dutch Auction patents. Godin says he lost interest when the company’s had to scramble in survival mode with an enterprise plan that ultimately led to the Northcore’s joint venture with GE Capital Solutions.
What he didn’t realize, he says, was the tenacity that Northcore’s Chief Technology Officer Jim Moskos had in working with a small team of engineers to keep the company afloat and its intellectual property intact.
When asked if he had any reservations that technology developed in the mid-nineties could still be relevant today, Godin says the declining price auction patent using the internet in real time patent the company holds is very specific, and not easily replicated. Both Godin and Monga believe that several other businesses may have infringed upon the patent, and the company will explore options to unlock the value of them.
What about the timing of his return to Northcore? Godin says Monga has a lot to do with it. “Amit has done everything he said he would do and more” he says “And the company is better positioned now that is has been in the past decade.”
Monga says that means positioning means pairing Northcore’s technology with entities that have built an audience. He says the Dutch Auction could be exciting when complemented by newer technologies such as near field communication or proximity marketing.
Godin says Northcore is a monetizing solution that could ultimately play a vital role in the consumer space. “What’s different now” he said, “is that you have social media giants such as FaceBook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and a variety of other social media companies that have achieved critical mass. The next thing they are going to have to do is get transactional. That’s where we come in.”
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