Angus Reid | BCBusiness
The ups (mostly) and downs (sometimes) of one life's journey
This past fall, Angus Reid launched Angus Reid Institute, a new research company that sounds a lot like some of his old research companies, with one very big difference. Angus Reid Institute doesn’t want your business nor anyone else’s. Instead, it’s a non-profit foundation modelled on the U.S. Pew Research Center, which complements for-profit research companies and governmental statistics bureaus by instigating and carrying out comprehensive research on whatever it damn well feels like.
You will see the results of research done by the Angus Reid Institute. But if all of its work is conducted strictly in the public interest, where will the money come from? For now, from Angus Reid himself. The 67-year-old has pledged $5 million of his own money to fund it forfive years—a new twist in a career that has seen plenty of them.
1965: Reid enters the University of Manitoba, where he focuses on sociology, a discipline that is about to have its moment.
1974: Carleton University PhD in hand, Reid returns to Winnipeg to accept a post-doctoral fellowship from the University of Manitoba, where he soon gains professor status. But academia does not agree. “A complete waste. My dark period,” he says.
1978: He provides research help to a fellow U of M prof and provincial MLA running in the 1979 federal election. Bingo! Lloyd Axworthy is elected as an MP, soon becoming a senior Liberal cabinet minister.
1979: Reid leaves academia to form CanWest Survey Research, which focuses on telephone polling instead of cumbersome and expensive in-home interviews.
1984: Reid’s company, now called the Angus Reid Group, is the Liberal pollster during the 1984 federal election. John Turner’s party wins 40 seats, the fewest in its history.
1985: Reid swears off political allegiances, soon becoming a pollster for the Southam news-paper chain, which buys 60% of the firm.
1992: No more Portage and Main in January. Reid moves himself and the company to Vancouver.
1996: Southam’s new proprietors, Conrad Black and David Radler, are dismissive of Reid; they have no use for a polling company.
1996: Reid buys his company back on favourable terms.
1998: Growth accele-ates across Canada, and also in the U.S., where offices are opened in Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco.
2000: Revenues at Canada’s largest research firm have exploded, from $14 million in 1994 to $65 million today. But the company is heavily invested in soon-to-be-outmoded technology, including 1,000 phones.
2000: As the tech boom nears its zenith, French-based IPSOS S.A. buys the company for almost $100 million, well above the going rate, while keeping Reid on as CEO of newly named IPSOS-Reid.
2001: Reid resigns. “It was a year of ennui,” says the sociologist. “I’m not a good employee.”
2004: Reid incorporates as Angus Reid Consulting and shortly after becomes CEO of Vision Critical Communications, founded by his son, Andrew Reid, to develop software to facilitate web-based data collection.
2005: IPSOS-Reid seeks an injunction to stop Reid from fulfilling this function, on the grounds that it is in conflict with a non-competition agreement.
2005: No injunction is granted.
2013: Vision Critical approaches $100 million in annual revenues. With 700 employees in 16 global offices, it’s one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies.
2014: After finding a co-CEO for Vision Critical one year earlier, in June Reid steps back to consultant status—some say sooner than he planned.
2014: Four months after departing Vision Critical, he launches the Angus Reid Institute.