Village of Vancouver | BCBusiness

Village of Vancouver | BCBusiness
Vancouver's tightly knit tech community often makes Vancouver feel more like a village than a big city.

Playing the game of “where are they now” in the tech community can be a lot of fun, especially when you realize much of it has happened in the last 10 years. Let’s hope it continues.

The “Village of Vancouver” syndrome is one name given to that strange phenomenon in which many of us connected to business seem to know other people who also know other people we know.

It’s the “six degrees of separation” theory but smaller, as in two degrees in Vancouver.

I was thinking of this recently while talking to Matt Mickiewicz, the Vancouver-based co-founder of SitePoint, a hugely popular website for web developers and designers, and Flippa, a website sales site.

Seems Matt is at it again, as are many other young Vancouverites who have figured out this whole Internet thing to their benefit.

The latest web company Matt co-founded, 99designs — an online marketplace for graphic design jobs — just bought the similar European 12designer.com, which gives it a huge presence in Europe and makes it a truly global company.

Founded in 2008 in Melbourne, Australia, by Matt and his SitePoint partners, 99designs is on a roll. It’s hosted 155,000 design contest, has 175,000 registered designers in 190 companies and has paid out $38.5 million to designers.

99designs is now headquartered in San Francisco and Matt spends about 6 months a year there working on both his businesses.

So do many other young Vancouver entrepreneurs, and the conversation strayed to this while we were discussing 99designs.

A bunch have companies in the U.S., and divide their time between Vancouver and U.S. cities.

Here’s a brief list:

  • Rahim Fazal, who co-founded Involver.com, a company that helps large organizations advertise on Facebook, recently sold his company to Oracle for an undisclosed amount. Matt and Rahim had lunch a couple of days before we talked.
  • Stewart Butterfield, who co-founded flikr, which was sold for $35 million to Yahoo, and tinyspeck.com, an online multiplayer game, invested in 99designs. Both Stewart and  Matt meet often in San Francisco.
  • Nadeem Kassam, angel investor and founder of Basis, which produces a heart-monitoring device for the health and fitness industry. Nadeem also lives in San Francisco part of the time.
  • Milun Tesovic, who founded MetroLyrics 10 years ago when he was only 16 years old. MetroLyrics’ parent company MetroLeap Media was sold to CBS last year, and Tesovic now works in New York.

Doesn't it seem strange that in a region of two million people all these people are so connected to each other?

But the webtech startup community here was pretty small until recent years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that so many who have succeeded know each other so well.

I hope this upcoming generation continues the pattern — probably in mobile. Maybe “Village of Vancouver” syndrome will help.