Branham 300 Highlights

The Branham 300 came out today, and is a good barometer of Canadian tech. I've been following it for a few years now, and while the usual suspects don't change much, it's always good to see how they're faring on a relative basis. For me, though, it's more about the emerging companies and rising stars - those are the ones that catch my eye. The various lists around their annual update are published in Backbone magazine, and you can review those here.

I just wanted to share a few thoughts, but by all means, spend some time exploring the lists in detail - there are lots of interesting companies here.

First - as always - Canada is a small, highly concentrated market. As such, their Top 250 list of tech companies is led by the telcos and cablecos. However, RIM is the overall leader at $11.9 billion in 2009 revenues, well ahead of #2, BCE at $8.3 billion. For what it's worth, Nortel ranked #5 at $4.5 billion, and this may well be the last we'll see of them. Last year they were #1 on this list, but now RIM is really our only top tier/world-beating tech company.

In terms of revenues, things fall off pretty quickly after RIM. Only 11 companies in the top 250 are at $1 billion, and only 18 are above $500 million. Stepping down the line, only 45 are above $100 million, and only 80 are above $50 million. In terms of the rest, roughly half the list - 120 companies - are under $25 million. Any wonder why so little funding finds its way into this market?

Aside from RIM, two other telecom players are worth noting at the high end of the list - Aastra and Mitel. Both are in the area of $800 million, so with a couple more good years, they should soon join the $1 billion club.

Otherwise, some of the other telecom/IP companies on this list that are in my orbit include Vecima Networks, Peer 1, Platform Computing, Unis Lumin, Sigma Systems, Impact Mobile, Sangoma, PIKA and CounterPath. Wearing my Smart Grid hat, it's nice to see Redline Communications, RuggedCom and Matrikon on the list as well.

In case you're wondering, the global players aren't on that list - they have one of their own - the Top IT 25 Multinationals. IBM Canada is tops there at $4.9 billion, with HP Canada following at $4.3 billion. Five others are in the $1 billion club - Siemens, Xerox, Microsoft, Cisco and Apple.

Finally, I wanted to note the Top 25 Up and Comers. No sales figures here, just an alpha listing. Nice to see some Wesley Clover/Mitel presence here - Benbria, Magor and Teldio. Among the new wireless players in Canada, Mobilicity (DAVE Wireless) made the list. On that note, interestingly, I don't see Globalive in this report - anywhere. However, not surprisingly, mobile is one of the strongest themes in this particular list. By region, roughly half these companies are Ontario-based, and a third are from B.C. Only one from Quebec in this list - that is a surprise - would have expected more here. C'est la vie.