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2014 Cantech Letter TSX Tech Executive of the Year: The Finalists

Cantech Letter Awards

A good jockey.

In tech, which moves so much faster than other industries, a strong leader is important. A tech CEO must do more than plan a drill site or change the product mix on a grocery store shelf. He or she must, in effect, predict the future.

Last year, the future looked very different for each of the three companies that have been chosen by our anonymous poll of Canadian sell-side technology analysts. In 2013, Amaya Gaming hadn’t yet completed the ostentatious acquisition of the company that owned the Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker brands, a move that would result in it becoming the world’s largest online gambling company.

BlackBerry, meanwhile, was on the verge of oblivion, at least if you were to listen to the predominant buzz in the tech media.

And Sierra Wireless was not yet reaping the reward it deserved for becoming a pure-play M2M company.

Here, in alphabetical order according to company name, are the three executives our judges, an anonymous poll of sell-side analysts, thought were the three best candidates for 2014 Cantech Letter TSX Tech Executive of the Year. You can vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page. The winner will be presented the award at the Cantech Letter Awards Gala Dinner, (brought to you by Difference Capital and Wildeboer Dellelce) which follows the Cantech Investment Conference, January 15th at the Toronto Convention Centre.

David Baazov, Amaya Inc.


In a recent profile of David Baazov for Forbes entitled “The King Of Online Gambling (Is 34)“, writer Nathan Vardi detailed the moves behind the scenes as the Amaya CEO readied an acquisition that would stun the world of Canadian tech. “Earlier this year David Baazov walked into the Manhattan offices of the Blackstone Group, the world’s biggest private equity firm, with an outrageous offer,” wrote Vardi. “With the backing of Blackstone’s credit division he wanted to stage the $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company.”

John Chen, BlackBerry

Turns out, fixer John Chen’s autopsy of the BlackBerry corpse revealed that the patient was still breathing. Cormark analyst Richard Tse says Chen’s execution is making the company’s brand meaningful again, especially in enterprise. In the year-long period that John Chen has been CEO at BlackBerry he has proved a more than competent operator, but also a surprisingly cagey strategist.

Jason Cohenour, Sierra Wireless

jason cohenour

Perhaps no CEO moved the pieces of his company around to arrange the picture he wanted more than Jason Cohenour did. The Sierra Wireless boss willed his company into becoming a pure-play M2M concern. He sees Sierra Wireless playing in the automotive, fleet management, point-of-sale, and healthcare spaces. “Over time, we believe that the M2M space represents a massive market opportunity,” he told Cantech Letter last year. “We believe eventually every machine that can derive value from being connected, will be connected. This includes everything from home appliances, to cars, to lighting systems and beyond.”

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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