Collision’s Paddy Cosgrave talks Shopify, tech downturns, and meaningful connections

Paddy Cosgrave Collision

Unpacking a sophisticated global perspective on Canadian tech.

Paddy Cosgrave seemed a little nervous.

It was the first time we had sat down for a conversation since 2018 – before Collision’s first appearance in Canada in 2019, shortly after Toronto had been named as the host city.

“There’s so much fire and uncertainty afflicting some of the big names in Canadian tech that I just don’t think that people even know how to process how they might participate in Collision without just getting smacked around on stage.”

Things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate in 2019, and we all know what happened in the years to follow. In fact, just yesterday Cosgrave published a LinkedIn post revealing how his company almost went bust in 2020 due to the pandemic.

So in our conversation recorded just a week before Collision 2022, Cosgrave was aware of the need for the conference to make a second first impression. On this episode, we discuss that, as well as running a conference that does not turn a profit, how Collision has changed from its 2019 iteration, and the value proposition of IRL tech events post-pandemic. Particularly for one that’s expecting 35,000 people – 40% more than the last time it was IRL.

But that’s not all we talked about.

Paddy is a… forthright lad, one with a sophisticated and global perspective on the current state of tech. So I took advantage of the opportunity to get his take on a variety of subjects, including the current tech downturn and Canadian tech’s capacity to handle the pressure.

Cosgrave had a lot to say on that last topic, related to Shopify in particular (note: Shopify doesn’t seem to be participating much in Collision this year).

So why does the co-founder of some of the largest technology conferences in the world think Canadian tech can’t handle, in his words, “getting smacked around on stage” a bit?

Let’s dig in.

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The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Edited by Kattie Laur. Sponsored by RBC.

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Author: George Holt