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Part of the thrill—and anxiety—of working at a magazine is the possibility that, well, news happens. I can never quite shake the feeling of foreboding that grips me the closer we get to shipping the whole thing off to the printer. After all, anything can happen to upend a story at the last minute (or worse, during the terrifying lull between hitting “send” and receiving the print issue three weeks later).

I thought we’d already had our twist for the March edition. Way back in September, Senior Editor John Daly started reporting on Yousry Bissada’s turnaround at Home Capital. We knew the company was in play—the alternative mortgage lender had already turned down an offer. But in late November, billionaire financier Stephen Smith swooped in with a bid worth roughly $1.7 billion, giving potential rivals until Dec. 30 to top it. We held our breath until the deadline passed and then sat down to recast the story. Crisis averted.

Or so we thought.

Jason McBride was also in the midst of writing a story about Magnet Forensics, whose software helps law enforcement agencies gather evidence against the worst kinds of criminals. Amid a rout that has seen tech stocks tank and led to thousands of layoffs, Magnet has kept right on growing. It seemed poised to become one of Canada’s most successful tech players.

Then, on Jan. 20, two weeks before we were due to send the magazine to press, Magnet announced it was being acquired by U.S. private equity giant Thoma Bravo for $1.8 billion. Once the deal is approved, it will merge with another company in Thoma’s vast portfolio of software makers, and that, as they say, will be that. Sure, BlackBerry veteran Adam Belsher could remain CEO of the new entity, and BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie—Magnet’s chair and one of its controlling shareholders—will stay on as a director. But Magnet might no longer be based in Canada, and the country will lose yet another tech champion.

It’s just the latest reminder that Canada has a problem holding onto its best and brightest companies. (A few recent examples: Sweden’s Essity bought 80% of Knix Wear, maker of leakproof underwear, last year for US$320 million. Smart-thermostat pioneer ecobee was absorbed in 2021 in a deal valued at US$770 million. The year before that, financial fraud–detection company Verafin was acquired by Nasdaq for US$2.8 billion.) And that should be causing all-out panic in Ottawa. As Sean Silcoff and Josh O’Kane put it in a three-part Globe and Mail series about Canada’s failures on the innovation file, it all amounts to “employers from other countries generating economic benefits thanks to Canadian talent.”

It’s particularly ironic that Balsillie helped broker the Magnet deal. For years he’s been screaming about the dangers of shipping our tech innovations south. He’s got an entire foundation dedicated to keeping Canadian intellectual property in Canada. “If you don’t have the IP,” Balsillie has said, “you have nothing to sell.”

I guess it’s a different story when the price is right.

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