With very little fanfare, serial entrepreneur and boy wonder Antoine Paquin has left Ottawa for sunny Southern California. Mr. Paquin actually made the stealth move to Orange County in the fall to take over an unidentified wireless startup that is still developing product. Very hush hush.
It is an interesting change of plan for a man who once called Silicon Valley "a miserable place."
The Buzz around the capital suggests Mr. Paquin was fed up with a lack of quality tier-one venture capital experience. Not so, he insists in an e-mail. "I left because I found an opportunity that was too good to pass."
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Mr. Paquin will be missed as a celebrity around town -- a home-grown prodigy with an appreciation for the arts, triathlons and making tons of cash. He built fibre-optic outfit Skystone Systems into an $89.1-million (U.S.) deal with Cisco Systems.
His next conquest, Philsar Semiconductor, fetched $107-million, pushing his net worth at the height of the tech boom to an estimated $300-million (Canadian). More recently, Mr. Paquin was chief executive officer of Bitflash Inc., Ottawa-based firm that makes software for cellphones. He quit after a year but still sits on the board.
Perhaps the most contested thing he built was his 15,000-square-foot monster home in posh Rockcliffe.
To do it, he levelled the house where Queen Juliana of the Netherlands sought refuge during the Second World War.
He won't comment on whether he'll keep the place, now that he is finding shelter elsewhere. CanWest Windows to the stars
C onvergence is taking on a whole new dynamic at CanWest Global Communications.
Microsoft is touting a new ad campaign starring CanWest personalities in varying states of gaga over its new Windows-powered hybrid computer, the Tablet PC. In its release, Microsoft says that using journalists who are considered celebrities in Canada will help it to target both the road and corridor warriors who might favour the part computer, part pen and paper device.
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Journalists offering uncompromised coverage include Jim Tatti of Global TV sports, Peter Kent of Global News, Deirdre McMurdy, co-host of Moneywise, and gossip columnist Shinan Govani. Watch for double-page spreads featuring the television chatterati and scribes doodling newspaper head shots and somewhat "blurred lines" on their Tablets in select publications. Cowpland still waits for a date
A happy one-year anniversary to Michael Cowpland and the Ontario Securities Commission. On Feb. 12, 2002, a proposed deal to settle charges of illegal insider trading against Mr. Cowpland was rejected by an OSC panel of commissioners (on a separate charge, his company MCJC Holdings Inc. pleaded guilty and paid a million bucks).
What has happened since then? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The two sides have exchanged phone calls but cannot even come up with a time to meet, let alone cut a deal. "We are in discussions to schedule a hearing date," an OSC spokesman says. Mr. Cowpland's lawyer, Nigel Campbell, did not comment. The legal lull contradicts the tough talk of last year, when the commission called illegal insider trading "a cancer that erodes public confidence in the capital markets." It decided that a fine and two years in the director's penalty box simply weren't good enough for the investing public.
The questionable trades in Corel Corp. shares actually happened in August 1997, according to the OSC, for total proceeds of $20.4-million. Those shares would be worth about $2.8-million today. A different toy sale; basketball bargains
F or sale: The Irwin Toy building. Receiver Ernst & Young is taking offers for the five-storey historical building, which had housed the now-bust toy company since 1926. The warehouse sits on the edge of the Gardiner Expressway -- its neon sign battling for commuter distraction with a massive Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. Irwin Toy filed for bankruptcy in December -- only weeks before the 25th anniversary of its plan to turn the old Don Jail into a wax museum.
On sale: Vince Carter stuff. Can't be a great leading indicator for a sports star's economic value -- especially with rumours of a trade in the works. Autographed jerseys are being made available to Raptors season ticket holders for the low, low price of $500 a pop. The tag apparently reads $800 for everybody else. An extra $200 will snag a jersey display cabinet -- the kind one's spouse wants beside the armoire in the living room. Janis Mackey Frayer is the host of The Close on Report on Business Television, weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST.