Microsoft Canada laying low

Spin control. That's what software giant Microsoft has been busy doing in the U.S. market over the past several weeks, in the wake of a widely publicized antitrust ruling. When it comes to the Canadian market, however, analysts argue that a...

Spin control. That’s what software giant Microsoft has been busy doing in the U.S. market over the past several weeks, in the wake of a widely publicized antitrust ruling. When it comes to the Canadian market, however, analysts argue that a "business-as-usual" strategy may well be the best way to go.

On the whole, Canadian consumers probably couldn’t care less about Microsoft’s legal troubles, says Kevin Restivo, software analyst with Toronto-based International Data Corporation (Canada).

"Their image hasn’t been damaged in the consumer’s eye," he says. "Certainly a lot of attention has been turned toward the case, but as long as consumers’ software is working and it’s on their desktops, I would have to say that [Microsoft's] image is just fine."

On April 3, a U.S. District Court ruled that the Redmond, Wash.-based company had used its monopoly power to block rivals from marketing operating systems or emerging technologies that threatened its market dominance.

The ruling sent shares tumbling, and left Microsoft officials south of the border scrambling to minimize the fallout. A corporate image-building campaign featuring chairman Bill Gates hit U.S. airwaves in the aftermath, as part of the company’s effort to muster public support.

Not a word, however, has been heard from the Mississauga, Ont.-based offices of Microsoft Canada (whose representatives, Strategy was told, were unavailable for comment).

That silence isn’t actually surprising, Restivo says.

"This is still a U.S.-driven issue – it’s important to remember that," he says. "On the Canadian side, I’m not sure they would do anything to counter it. It’s simply a matter of all systems go."

Microsoft’s Canadian operation is currently gearing up for the launch of the Windows 2000 operating system, as well as the database product SQL Server 2000, and the groupware product Exchange 2000.

While the recent legal turmoil hasn’t yet translated into a loss of sales, there’s no question that the company’s overall image has been tarnished, says Richard Morochove, president of Toronto-based computer consulting firm Morochove & Associates. And in the long run, this may have a direct bottom-line impact.

Indeed, he says, there are many people now who refuse even to consider a Microsoft product as long as there’s an alternative.

"There’s a growing ‘anybody-but-Microsoft’ attitude," he says.

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.