The last time Canadians really heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he was campaigning for another term in government against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. We know how that ended.
Now Harper is speaking up again, but politics are no longer his focus. Now departed completely from the House of Commons, the former Conservative leader has taken on an advisor role with a San Francisco-based tech fund. The firm operates in Silicon Valley, investing in disruptive companies in the healthcare, financial, and transportation.
“8VC is at the leading edge, tackling the deep and difficult problems that institutions and citizens are facing today,” Harper writes in a Medium post. “That is why I am so pleased to be joining the community you have built in San Francisco, Redwood city, Palo Alto, and indeed, around the world, in support of your important work.”
— Stephen Harper (@stephenharper) April 18, 2017
Since leading Canada’s government for nearly a decade, in a political career that saw him play a key role in uniting Canada’s right wing to win a minority and then a majority government, Harper has turned his career towards consulting. He operates a Calgary-based firm, Harper & Associates Consulting Inc., and last September announced a partnership with global law firm Dentons.
Harper’s role in 8VC could signal an opportunity for more Canadian startups to receive investment from the firm. It’s been no stranger to the Canadian tech scene already, according to a report in the Financial Post. Alex Kolicich is a University of Waterloo graduate that is a partner with 8VC, and he said the firm is seeking investment opportunities in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. Previous Canadian investments for 8VC include Toronto-based startup Street Contxt, which builds a content-tracking system for financial firms. 8VC founding partner Joe Lonsdale is also an investor in Toronto-based incubator Diagram.
In his Medium post, Harper calls having led Canada an “unparalleled privilege,” and says he’s eager to turn his mentorship towards leaders that are taking on complex challenges. He points to a rapidly-changing world and the need for disruptive technology to cope with that change and improve people’s lives.
“We cannot afford to just hope that businesses will be successful simply due to their creativity, profitability or technical brilliance,” he writes. “Rather, in the digital era, we must actively work to support badly needed innovation, particularly process and system transformation.”
Harper decided to join 8VC after seeing its engineering capability and breadth of strategic vision, he adds. The firm is funding solutions that have potential to improve lives.