Verafin: The origin of Atlantic Canada’s $2.75-billion, crime-fighting unicorn

You know the one. “Nasdaq Buying Newfoundland Online Security Company in $2.75 Billion U.S. Deal,” trumpeted the headline above a CBC.ca news story on November 19, 2020. (Yes, Virginia we are talking billion with a capital B, and the dollars are very much American.)

“Largest Ever Canadian Venture Deal,” chimed in the Globe and Mail.

“Verafin Sets Sights on Global Expansion,” added the Financial Post.

Yes, you probably do know that story.

Nasdaq is both the world’s premier venue for buying and selling stocks and also a rapidly growing company in its own right, peddling advanced technologies to banks, brokers and other stock markets across the globe. One year ago, it bought up Verafin, a fraud detection and anti-money-laundering software creator based in global financial-world Nowhere, Newfoundland. The news was huge for Verafin, for Newfoundland and Labrador, for technology companies all over Canada.

L-R: Jamie King, Raymond Pretty and Brendan Brothers

That story.

Well, this… isn’t that story. Not exactly. Call this the Verafin story before there was a Verafin, or even a story at all—with a few after-the-champagne-pop lessons for businesses, investors and policy makers for good measure.

This story begins with Joey Smallwood…

Not exactly with Smallwood himself, but close enough.

Let’s start in 1965 with David Kelly, then a fresh-faced young man from Quebec. His father ran a Montreal-based engineering firm that had just won a contract to build a transmission line across Newfoundland. Young David, a student at Montreal’s Loyola College, snagged a summer job working with a subcontractor at a construction camp outside Grand Falls.

David found Newfoundland “exhilarating.” So apparently did his father who soon announced plans to move the family to St. John’s for good. Eighteen-year-old David had a choice: he could return to Montreal for school or join the family in Newfoundland “and try something significantly different.” David chose the something different, which turned out to be Memorial University of Newfoundland.

That’s where Joey Smallwood enters the frame. Coincidentally, the legendary Newfoundland premier had just announced his latest scheme to drag his island province, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the 20th century: free university tuition to encourage more locals to get their post-secondary education.

Thanks to his family’s move, David had become a local. “The icing on the cake,” remembers Kelly, “was Joey’s free tuition and a stipend of $50 a month for townies—with no strings attached. That was great beer money.”

Kelly was, by his own admission, “a very average academic student,” but he flourished in the university’s small classes, which “allowed real interaction between faculty and student. MUN allowed me to embrace change and become a much different individual.”

By the time he graduated, Kelly had not only earned a commerce degree, but he had also found his life partner, Lorraine Ash, a Newfoundlander from Upper Island Cove, an hour and a half from St. John’s.

After graduation, Kelly decided he would look for work in St. John’s but applied to national firms with offices there because he believed “the merchant sons in my graduating class had the lock on upward mobility in their organizations.”

His first job was with IBM Canada’s Newfoundland operation where, he says now, he got the opportunity to “observe all nature of businesses in a micro-environment that gave me a significant leg up against my mainland fellow employees.” In fact, he now credits his ability to “embrace change while growing my career [to] the confidence and basic skills I learned in Newfoundland.”

Kelly and his young family finally left Newfoundland for good in 1973, moving five times in the following decade, all with IBM. At the time, Kelly jokes, staff often said IBM stood for “I’ve Been Moved.”

He eventually ended up in a middle management marketing position in Toronto. Having by then spent what he calls “a brief 16 years [at IBM] learning all about the responsibilities but having no authority,” Kelly determined he needed to shake up that equation.

After briefer stints at the Motorola Computer Group, where his title was director of strategic planning, and then Honeywell Group as director of systems development and integration, Kelly decided to take all that he’d learned inside multinational technology companies and launch his own venture to “bring technology users to new frontiers.”

His Vault Master software did exactly that.

Kelly makes it sound simple. “I basically built a Lego-based approach to programming where I put everything in little boxes, and then, when a need came up, I just assembled those Lego pieces together, little pieces of code, and I could have a system running in a matter of weeks that would take other people a year or more because they were always starting from scratch.”

In the early 1990s, Scotiabank, one of Canada’s five big banks, needed those Lego pieces rejigged in a way that would allow them to speed up the computer processing of millions of dollars in cash trucked each night from their more than 400 branches in southwestern Ontario to their Toronto headquarters. The cash had to be machine counted, deposited in the right accounts, the general ledgers updated and what was left re-packaged and dispatched back out the door and into the banking system before six o’clock the next morning.

Pre-Vault Master, the bank typically ended up with $400 million sitting idle—not doing business, not making more money—in their vault each morning.

Post-Vault Master, that amount had been slashed to just $5 million.

“So that’s $395 million that got back into circulation because of a better process,” Kelly explains proudly. “At that point in time, I was into my 40s. I thought, ‘Well, I better make this a good run.’”

He did. Banks and others quickly took notice. Loomis Armored Services Canada, one of many security companies vying to attract some of that cash processing business from banks, even hired an outside consultant to come up with “an internal specification of what they would need for a system to handle the banks,” Kelly recalls with a chuckle. “It was a massive document.”

Asked to look at their plan, Kelly reported back to Loomis: “Look, I can probably do 80-85 per cent of what’s in that document. You can build it yourself, but it’ll be a minimum of a two-year process. You’re not experienced at it. It’ll cost you $2-3 million to build, and you’re going to have screw-ups along the way because you’ve never done these things before. Or you can try my system, get 85 per cent of the benefits, and I’ll let you test drive it for 90 days and give you a money-back guarantee.”

Over the course of the next decade, Kelly’s company became the cash processing and verification back end of choice for what are known as “very large cash logistic service providers,” supplying hardware, software and 24/7 operational support for more than one hundred clients in North America and the Caribbean, performing computational magic on $3 billion in currency every night.

That, for the mathematically inclined, amounts to over $1 trillion a year!

David Kelly

“All told,” Kelly understates, “we did very well.” In 2000, an American company said, “‘Ooh, we want to buy you.’” He laughs. “And who am I to refuse them?”

Wait a minute. What does any of this have to do with Verafin? With Newfoundland? With Nasdaq and that $2.75 billion?

We’re coming to that.

But first came 9/11. The terrorist attacks on the United States changed everything about everything, including international finance and how it is regulated.

Money laundering wasn’t new, of course. “Washing” ill-gotten gains through legitimate companies and then pouring that cash back into the regular financial system as clean investments in everything from condos to commercial enterprises had been a concern for governments since at least the days of Bugsy Siegel and the first Las Vegas casinos/cash churners in the 1940s. By the 1980s, Latin American drug cartels had supplanted mobsters as money-launderers-in-chief. But, after 9/11, the even more worrisome new money launderers were the international terrorists who had turned the global financial system against itself to underwrite their attacks on western society.

Because Vault Master electronically monitored that trillion dollars’ worth of cash transactions every year, it was already an important player in the increasingly sophisticated world of fraud detection and prevention. It had helped automate cumbersome print-on-paper CTRS—currency transaction reports—U.S. banks had to file every day documenting unusual or suspicious instances where customers exceeded deposit or withdrawal limits. More importantly, it had begun to develop rules-based analysis to assist its clients figure out which transactions might be suspect.

Then, 9/11 increased the urgency of collecting and analyzing that kind of information for everyone, and financial institutions quickly found themselves more directly in governments’ regulatory crosshairs as a result. In the wake of the terrorist attacks, the U.S. passed the Patriot Act, putting sharp, biting teeth into corporate good-citizen obligations. Big banks that failed to report those activities were now not only being named and shamed but also slapped with multi-million-dollar fines.

“Everyone stopped and refocused on this new requirement,” David Kelly recalls.

“You can build it yourself, but it’ll be a minimum of a two-year process… It’ll cost you $2-3 million to build, and you’re going to have screw-ups along the way because you’ve never done these things before. Or you can try my system, get 85 per cent of the benefits, and I’ll let you test drive it for 90 days and give you a money-back guarantee.”

– David Kelly

By that point, Kelly himself was in the process of returning to North America after two years in Australia. The U.S. company that bought his had asked him to stay on to help them install his cash processing system in Australia.

Back home in Canada, Kelly asked himself, “What can I do next?” He was still only in his fifties and far from ready to retire to the golf course full-time. But, under the terms of his agreement to sell his company, he wasn’t allowed to return to the cash processing business.

That said, he notes with a smile, he was “unrestricted in developing new adjacent applications.”

That was the opening he needed. What about AML, as the anti-money-laundering business had become acronymized?

“Everybody was following a very fixed approach, and in computer language, it was related to ‘if-then,’” Kelly explains. “If the transaction is over $10,000, then do this; if it’s under $10,000, then do this.” But what if the bank’s customer knew the rules as well as—if not better than—the rule makers and began to structure transactions to undercut the rules? How do you program within the rules if the rules keep changing, and the “bad guys” keep coming up with new ways to counter your new rules?

“So that’s where the problem started,” Kelly says today. “That’s when I said, ‘Boy, if I can figure out a way to do this, there’s got to be somebody that can program it… Maybe I need to do some research.’”

Verafin? We’re almost there.

But first, let’s circle back one more time.

Although it had been nearly 30 years since he’d left Newfoundland, David Kelly never completely left the Rock, or Memorial University, behind. In part, of course, there were still family connections. But there was more too, including a personal recognition of the importance of paying it forward. And his understanding that a small university like Memorial could be more nimble than larger institutions when it came to grasping opportunities.

“I always had a good feeling about my time at Memorial,” he says simply. While running his own international company from Toronto, Kelly would often reach out to Memorial and take on a commerce co-op student for a work placement. He remembers one of them in particular: “really an impressive young guy, had great social skills, didn’t have computer skills, but he was a good commerce student. I started training him how to be a salesperson… We’d go out and do conferences and represent our product …”

We’ll come back to that co-op student too.’

“What we ended up doing was saying, ‘Look, if you guys feel there’s a business at the end, I will now bequeath to you all the intellectual property, all the development to date. You students will have 75 per cent ownership of the business. The university will get 10 per cent, and I’ll keep 15 per cent. So, it’s your business. I’m the angel investor, I’ve taken all the risk, but it’s all yours. You get to run with it. That was very unusual because normally the angel investor wants 75 per cent.”

– David Kelly

On October 3, 2002, just a little more than a year after 9/11, Kelly wrote a letter to Dr. Gary Gorman, the dean of business administration at Memorial.

“I am writing to determine your interest and to seek your assistance in establishing a funded research project in your department,” the letter began. “Specifically, I seek access to both your professors and undergraduates to undertake funded research in identifying… suspicious currency transactions. If the research determines a commercial, viable approach, I would fund the establishment of a new business to develop and market appropriate products and services.”

And that—finally—is where the actual Verafin story begins.

Gorman connected Kelly with Bob Richards, Memorial’s Youth Technology Entrepreneurial Chair, who agreed to head the research project and navigate the tricky shoals of putting together an engagement agreement between a private entrepreneur and a university bureaucracy. He did that, Kelly jokes now, “with the skill of a crocodile.” Richards, he adds, was “one of the most impressive individuals I encountered at Memorial. He really brought all the pieces together, managed the team during the formidable early stages and created the perfect conditions for launching this research.”

Within a month, they had a deal—and a plan.

Kelly’s company, Jambrex Inc., would supply $50,000 in startup funding, a palette of laptop computers and servers to keep the research team’s communications secure and separate from personal and university systems and, of course, his own expertise and experience. He briefed potential participants on both the problem but also what he saw as the commercial possibilities that could come from solving it. He even invited some of the initial student participants to accompany him to conferences so they could learn and network with others in the field.

Perhaps most importantly, Kelly helped pick that project team from the candidates Richards had assembled. The team was to be made up of six computer science and six business administration students. But who would lead them? The choice, Kelly recalls, came down to a Rhodes scholar, a “safe choice” who ticked all the right conventional boxes, or a young engineering PhD student named Jamie King. Kelly successfully argued in favour of King because, he says now, he had “detected a hunger for success in him. The other guy had nothing to prove. If it doesn’t go, he’ll just say, it’s not me. I’m a smart guy.” In hindsight,” he adds, “we made the right choice.”

King, in fact, was already part of a different team with two equally hungry fellow engineering master’s students, Brendan Brothers and Raymond Pretty, who’d also been selected to be part of the money-laundering research team.

The three Newfoundland-born-and-raised, Memorial-educated engineers had been working together on what seemed like a very different problem—developing artificial intelligence software using navigation and control algorithms to help robots in the dangerous environment of underground mines sense patterns in the rock face. The trio had even incorporated a company to take their research to the next level.

Photo from Verafin’s early days, circa 2010. Photo credit: David Howells

That’s when Kelly suggested they consider adapting their pattern recognition software to detect money-laundering, financial crime and illegal trafficking instead.

Although Brendan Brothers is the first to admit “we were three engineers with no background in business, no back-ground in entrepreneurship,” they were quick to grasp the “something big” in what Kelly was pitching. “That was the beginning of the Eureka moment,” as he told the Memorial University Gazette in 2017. Though their initial research had been “fulfilling,” the trio understood the mining market for their software would be modest while the prospects for anti-fraud software were limitless.

Money laundering is what Brothers today calls an “evergreen problem—as soon as you get really good at trying to detect a fraud predictor, the perpetrator changes their pattern, and you have to react”—and that especially appealed to them. He and his fellow engineers weren’t interested in simply “building a widget, selling it and moving on,” he explains. “You don’t create a business to solve a small problem. You create a business to solve a big problem.” Fighting crime became their mission and their mantra. “Our purpose was to create the world’s most effective crime fighting network.”

Kelly calls the three engineers, the “magic elixir” in what became the Verafin potion.

But the magic almost didn’t happen.

Barely three months into what was supposed to be a six-month can-this-work investigation, the project faced its first “major crisis.” Having determined they could indeed solve the problem Kelly had posed, the team began to better understand the financial possibilities of what he had in mind. And to worry.

“The team didn’t want to disclose their findings in detail to me,” Kelly recalls, because they were concerned he might take the fruits of their labours, “run off and do it by myself,” and they’d be left with nothing.

Kelly and Richards quickly scrambled to reassure them. “What we ended up doing was saying, ‘Look, if you guys feel there’s a business at the end, I will now bequeath to you all the intellectual property, all the development to date. You students will have 75 per cent ownership of the business. The university will get 10 per cent, and I’ll keep 15 per cent. So, it’s your business. I’m the angel investor, I’ve taken all the risk, but it’s all yours. You get to run with it.’” He laughs. “That was very unusual because normally the angel investor wants 75 per cent.”

It turned out more than satisfactory for all the players. Including David Kelly.

“The briefing became a key turning point for all project members,” Kelly says, “as it illustrated that this was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to become a true entrepreneur with little or no risk. As a result, the team doubled down on their work product and gained considerable traction.”

By the end of March 2003, in fact, barely six months after Kelly’s initial letter to Memorial, they had an incorporated business, Verafin Inc., with Kelly, Jamie King and Kristine Trask, then the head of the business team, as founding directors. They had a software prototype that could scour financial transactions for unusual patterns indicating fraud, money laundering and human trafficking, flagging suspicious activity that could then be investigated for criminal ties. And the company’s first employees had settled into what then passed for Verafin’s world headquarters: two tiny offices in the Genesis Centre, a separately incorporated entity of Memorial University that had been established six years earlier to incubate “commercialize-able” technology companies.

Photos from Verafin’s early days, circa 2010. Photo credit: David Howells

Two months later, in May 2003, King, Brothers, Perry and Bob Richards accompanied Kelly to the International Cash Cycle Operations Seminar in New York for what became Verafin’s coming-out party. During the conference attended by a hundred key players in the cash processing business in Canada and the U.S., Verafin’s founders got to learn and network while Kelly presented a formal paper on anti-money-laundering software that showcased the research Verafin had done to date.

While Verafin didn’t make any immediate sales there, Kelly remembers, the team got a better understanding of what they would need to compete with banking’s big boys on the international stage. It took a while for that lesson to sink in.

“We went far and wide, travelled the world, everywhere looking for our first customer,” Brendan Brothers recalls, “until somebody on our board of advisors was like, ‘Well, have you ever tried asking Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union?’” They hadn’t. They did. And the credit union, which had the same problems with money laun-dering and financial crime as financial institutions everywhere, became both a real-life lab for developing their product and also a steppingstone into the larger Canadian, then American and now global marketplace. “It just felt like dominoes,” remembers Brothers of Verafin’s rapid ride from one financial sector to the next. “But the credit union was instrumental in our growth.”

As the company rapidly evolved from university research project to commercial venture, many of the initial business team left for other jobs. To offset those losses, Kelly introduced Jamie King to another Memorial business graduate named Andrew King. Andrew—the “impressive” young co-op student mentioned earlier who’d done a placement with Kelly in the mid-1990s and then worked for his cash processing company—joined Verafin that summer and soon became its chief operating officer.

Kelly also tapped personal connections to help create the fledgling company’s first advisory board. He recalls phoning an old Memorial commerce classmate and asking, “David, can you help them out?” David was David Norris, a former deputy minister of finance for the province and then vice president of Fishery Products International who would later go on to chair the board at Fortis, Canada’s largest investor-owned gas and electricity distribution utility. Even better, his son had been part of Verafin’s original research team. David Norris “ticked all the right boxes,” Kelly says now. “He came from a business perspective but was not involved on the technical or marketing side, so he was always the one who would say, ‘Hey guys, you’ve got to consider these [financial] things.’”

Photos from Verafin’s early days, circa 2010. Photo credit: David Howells

Verafin quickly outgrew its first offices. “We had to convert a very large meeting room into a space for them,” recalls Michelle Simms, then a Genesis staffer and now its president and CEO. “They tried to cram all of their people in there, and it was a sight to behold. Lots of servers, and they kept knocking our electricity out in the building because they were running such high-powered computers and servers.”

Soon after they moved out of the Genesis Centre, St. John’s businessman Mark Dobbin’s Killick Capital agreed to invest a million dollars—“humongous for this company that was struggling day to day,” Kelly says—and that was followed a few years later by the Royal Bank’s venture capital group, which ponied up $5 million to help the company transition from its short-term strategy of selling their software to a long-term growth path of selling subscriptions.

“They were able to grow the business, and they were very aggressive on their growth path,” Kelly adds with admiration.

Having three co-founders making decisions may seem like a recipe for disaster, but Brothers says the relationship among himself, Jamie King and Raymond Pretty is closer to family than business partners. “We’ve built a very strong relationship over the last 18 years. The same way that I can have a ‘racket’ with my brother, I can have a racket with Jamie or Raymond, and vice versa. You need to be able to say what’s on your mind and argue and realize that tomorrow it will all be fine. We know we’ll get to a decision, and we’ll agree on it and then we’ll move on because we all want the same thing—to grow the business.”

Although Simms admits no one can predict which fledgling companies incubating inside Genesis will ultimately be successful, “the level of passion that [Verafin’s] entrepreneurs had for that company was pretty much unparalleled in our ecosystem at the time. I would go in there on a Saturday morning, and they’d be there. There were many nights where they would have been pulling all-nighters and they were still there the next morning, working very, very hard.”

All that hard work paid off. And the rest, as they say, is history.

By the time Nasdaq acquired Verafin in that eye-popping, jaw-dropping $2.75-billion deal in late 2020, Verafin’s annual compound revenue growth over the previous three years already nudged 30 per cent, and it boasted more than 3,000 bank and credit union customers across North America, with drawing-board plans to ultimately market their software all over the globe.

So why sell? The truth, says Brendan Brothers now, is that he and his fellow founders had no intention of selling, even though they’d attracted plenty of buyer interest over the years. In 2019, in fact, they had just convinced their existing major investors to re-up their investment to ensure Verafin had the internal resources they needed to grow for at least the next five years.

And then one day, out of the blue, a banker from Nasdaq in New York called to say that the global financial company wanted to make a “substantial offer” for Verafin.

“And we said, well ‘substantial’ means different things to different people,” Brothers remembers. “‘What does substantial mean to you?’ And they said that it would probably start with the two [billion]. We’d never seen an offer like that before, and we were floored by it. So, we said, ‘OK, we’ll take a meeting.’”

There were sound economic realities, of course, for bringing the two companies’ operations under one roof. Financial crime is now among “the biggest and most difficult challenges that banks face around the world” with experts estimating money launderers are still washing $2 trillion a year through the legitimate system. And yet Verafin and Nasdaq only had a financial crime fighting market penetration rate of three per cent between them. At the same time, Verafin’s customers were all in North America while two-thirds of Nasdaq’s existing surveillance business revenue came from larger clients outside the U.S.

Therefore, as Adena Friedman, the president and CEO of Nasdaq, put it, there was “an incredible amount of opportunity” to combine forces.

But there was more to Verafin’s own interest than simply goosing growth opportunities, says Brothers. When he spoke with Nasdaq’s Friedman the day after Labour Day 2020, he remembers it as “the first time we’d ever spoken to a potential buyer who believed in the purpose and the mission of what we were trying to build.”

“At Verafin, employees were given a lot of authority, a lot of independence. Their culture evolved to a point where people would do anything to join them and be with them, just because it was a fun place to work. I credit that to Jamie’s management style, very different from what I was used to. I’m just sitting there with my jaw-dropping open—he’s doing this, he’s doing that, doing what?”

– David Kelly

That was the jumping-in moment for what became close to three months of top-secret negotiations—conducted in the middle of a global pandemic, much of it over Zoom. Verafin’s three founders did finally meet face-to-face with Nasdaq representatives for a few days in early November in Philadelphia, “flying under the radar,” meeting and then returning to Newfoundland for “two weeks of quarantine… Don’t tell anybody where you were.”

When the deal was finally announced a few weeks later, it was stunning, the numbers staggering. But, buried in those big numbers were other numbers and other realities that made the agreement even more intriguing.

Verafin, with 600 employees, most of them in St. John’s, boasted annual revenues in excess of US$ 140 million. That, of course, makes Verafin’s future in Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic here-and-now vitally important to the province—and the region.

As Newfoundlanders, Brendan Brothers and his fellow founders understood in their bones their island’s too-long history of “selling the shop” for the private benefit of a few at the expense of the many. That’s why it was so important that the official announcement made it clear that that past would not dictate Verafin’s future: “Verafin’s headquarters will proudly remain in St. John’s and its executive leadership team will remain in place and continue to lead the company’s growth.”

Brothers says that wasn’t a hard sell. Nasdaq “understood this was a business that was thriving and succeeding, and their intention is not to mess that up. Their intention is actually to pour gas on and kind of drive it further.” He pauses. “One of the phrases that I remember us talking about in the due diligence was, how do we continue to bring benefit to everyone on our path?”

There is nothing new in that approach for Verafin.

Much like David Kelly, Verafin’s founders have always found all sorts of ways to pay their own success forward.

Michelle Simms, for example, remembers a time when she popped into Verafin’s offices for a meeting with one of the founders at a time when the ever-expanding company was in the midst of its latest move to its latest new and, this time, fully furnished offices.

“So, what are you doing with all of this furniture?” she asked.

“Do you guys want it?” he replied.

Simms shakes her head in amazement. “We took 20,000 square feet of furniture from them and outfitted 21 startup companies with it. They’ve been very generous from the beginning.”

And not just within the tech culture. The company supports more than 70 charities, including—significantly—a number helping people victimized by financial crimes like human trafficking, which the company’s software is fighting to prevent. Employees themselves spend hundreds of volunteer hours and have raised close to half a million in donations.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Verafin regularly appears on the list of Canada’s top employers.

And all of its employee do-gooder-ism, Simms says, doesn’t begin to calculate the time Verafin’s founders have spent serving on the board of the Genesis Centre, even offering space in its own offices to fledgling technology companies, then mentoring them as they grow. “I think that speaks volumes in terms of not just wanting their own company to grow and succeed,” Simms adds, “but wanting to see other companies in the ecosystem grow and succeed as well.”

Which brings us back to a different set of equally significant numbers. In the aftermath of Verafin’s sale to Nasdaq, Kelly—who cashed in his own Verafin investment back in 2014 (“I took a lot of money off the table; it was a great run”)—decided to dig more deeply into Nasdaq filings to better understand the details of the deal.

Kelly had long been impressed by Verafin’s corporate culture: a fully open office concept in which walls doubled as whiteboards, everyone flew economy, there were “family meetings” to determine appropriate corporate conduct, even built-in “time for play,” etc. Perhaps remembering his own time at IBM where he’d had responsibility without authority, Kelly notes pointedly, “At Verafin, employees were given a lot of authority, a lot of independence. Their culture evolved to a point where people would do anything to join them and be with them, just because it was a fun place to work. I credit that to Jamie’s management style, very different from what I was used to. I’m just sitting there with my jaw-dropping open—he’s doing this, he’s doing that, doing what?”

Doing it right.

Which, he adds, can also be said about the deal the company ultimately struck with Nasdaq too.

Besides pledging to keep the company’s head office in St. John’s, Nasdaq also agreed to fund a scholarship program at Memorial “to foster the next generation of talent in the province and help support Verafin’s growing employment base,” as well as invest in a US$1 million research and development partnership project with the Genesis Centre. Although some involved regulatory requirements, the specifics were big picture sweeteners the founders had obviously chosen to negotiate in the deal.

Part of that culture?

“Exactly.”

A culture that, to be fair, had its beginnings in Verafin’s beginnings.

This story originally appeared in Atlantic Business Magazine. You can subscribe here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *