This Waterloo tech start-up is the first to go public in 15 years
KITCHENER -- Magnet Forensics, a Waterloo based software company, has gone public.
It's the first local tech start-up to offer an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the last 15 years.
“It was a bit surreal, 10 years of a lot of hard work,” CEO Adam Belsher said.
Company founder and Chief Technology Officer, Jad Saliba, is a former Waterloo regional police officer who also happened to have a background in software and computer technology.
After taking time off from policing to battle cancer, he returned to work and was re-assigned to the Digital Forensics Unit. While there, he found the investigative technology wasn’t matching up with what was needed to solve some advanced digital crimes.
“The tools that we had just didn't cover all those different areas that we were being asked to address," Saliba said. "So I started doing some work between shifts, on evenings and weekends.”
The software Saliba programmed can help find thought-to-be deleted digital evidence, such as social media conversations.
Saliba has since left the police force, expanding the single software into a line of products and a team of about 300 employees.
“The IPO is really going to help us accelerate that growth,” Saliba said.
Magnet Forensics programs have been used by major organizations like Scotland Yard and the FBI.
“One that there's public information on is the Boston Marathon bombing, and our software was used in that tragic case to help gather a lot of really key evidence that was used in court proceedings,” Saliba added.
Magnet Forensics’ ticker symbol on the TSX is "MAGT."
Dave Caputo is the CEO of Trusscore, the last Waterloo-based start-up to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Caputo is also Chair of the Board at Communitech, an organization that helps encourage tech entrepreneurs.
“I really hope that Magnet Forensics has kicked off a renaissance here,” Caputo said.
Caputo said it's been over a decade since his start-up went public and before that, there was a time when tech start-ups really put Waterloo on the map.
“For Waterloo Region you have to go back to the late 90s when OpenText, Research In Motion, Descartes, or people in the region will remember MKS and DALSA, they all went public in very short order.”
Caputo is hoping to see another wave of companies expanding.
“I think the Waterloo tech scene is really coming of age right now," Caputo said. "There's a number of unicorns out there, or probably a better name for them is Canadian narwhal companies, worth more than a billion dollars while they’re private.”
Magnet Forensics says their software is built to uncover the truth. Belsher and Saliba are excited to see both private and public sector organizations continue to take advantage of their technology.
“The investigations that make the most impact, and are the closest our hearts are the investigations that are related to child exploitation and child sexual abuse cases,” Belsher said.
Both Belsher and Saliba say they are proud of their hard working team's accomplishments.