RocketSpace tech firm fails to land in Calgary

Despite a 2017 announcement they would locate in Calgary, their operation never materialized and now they're shutting down

A 2017 photo posted with a Calgary Economic Development story on RocketSpace coming to Calgary. VIA WAYBACK MACHINE / CED L-R: Matthew Machielse (Government of Alberta), Mary Moran (CEO, Calgary Economic Development), Minister Deron Bilous (Minister of Economic Development), Duncan Logan (CEO, Rocketspace), Robyn Bews (Calgary Economic Development), Michele McConomy (Rocketspace), Mayor Naheed Nenshi (City of Calgary), Emily-Anne Paul (Government of Alberta)

Referred to as Calgary’s ‘TSN Turning Point’ when they announced they would office-up here in 2017, co-work company RocketSpace is shutting down without ever making it to the city.

The Silicon Valley tech company’s website indicates they are closing down.

“Boldly Gone,” reads the page.

RocketSpace CEO Duncan Logan responded via email after the story was originally posted. He said the Calgary Economic Development team was one of the reasons they’d chosen the city as an expansion location.

“We weren’t actually offered any financial incentives to come to Calgary but the team did an excellent job in introducing us to the key stakeholders to be successful in Calgary,” Logan wrote.

Logan also confirmed the company’s closure.

“Unfortunately the significant partnership with our Chinese investors has not worked out as we would have hoped and regrettably this will be the end of the company,” he said.

‘TSN turning point’?

In 2017, CED made a splash with a piece on RocketSpace’s announcement it would open up shop in the city.

“Some suggested one day we will reflect on it as a TSN turning point for our city,” the piece, found through a link posted to a Calgary Reddit forum, read.

Calgary Economic Development (CED) provided a statement Tuesday afternoon after the original piece was published, saying they routinely work with companies interested in expanding to Calgary.

“We have no direct knowledge of the current situation at RocketSpace,” the statement read.

“The vision for the company and the opportunity they presented to us for Calgary was very dynamic and compelling. It is unfortunate the company was unable to realize its vision but other entities are providing the same opportunities for local entrepreneurs.”

In that 2017 piece, however, they touted Rocketspace’s move to the city as the first North American move outside the San Francisco-area.

“And the expansion to Calgary was announced the same week their team were planning an opening in Shenzhen, China and ribbon-cutting in London,” the piece reads.

“Almost makes you feel like one of the cool kids for a moment.”

A July 2018 article in the Calgary Herald updated RocketSpace’s voyage, and CED CEO Mary Moran acknowledged RocketSpace was delayed. In that article, Moran speculated RocketSpace needed time to find larger corporate clients locally.

RocketSpace had also been in talks with Aspen Properties on leasing space in their Edison building.

RocketSpace no longer looking for space with Aspen Properties

Aspen CEO Scott Hutcheson confirmed to LiveWire Calgary that RocketSpace was no longer pursuing a location with them.

“We were down a path with them and they knew they needed to raise some capital, so we had a working relationship for a long period of time,” Hutcheson said.

“It then became evident that we had to move on.”

Hutcheson said he had immense respect for what RocketSpace built.

“These are really good community members that would have added a lot in our community, but that’s not to be now,” Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson said they parted ways roughly 18 months ago, with Aspen then pursuing a deal with WeWork, who recently opened their 9 Avenue SW co-work location at the Edison building.

Co-work as a use for office space is something that appeals to Aspen, Hutcheson said. They previously had their own Campus co-work space they made available.

“We like the co-working business, we think it’s part of the future. We think it needs to be in almost all buildings,” he said.

The RocketSpace announcement in 2017 pre-dated the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF). The CED confirmed they did not apply for OCIF support.

About Darren Krause 571 Articles
Journalist, husband, father, golfer, writer, painter, video gamer, gardener, amateur botanist, dreamer, realist... never in that order.

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