I am Ruffolo-ing feathers again

Featuring former OMERS VC honcho John Ruffolo, now of Maverix Private Equity and drive-by smears of Jim Balsillie and Slippery Som.
OPM 6 min read


I feel ambivalent about the previous piece I wrote about John Ruffolo - not unlike how Pontius felt about the original messiah. I mean, of all the real phoney-baloneys I could write about, writing about Ruffolo seems rash. Anyways, judging by the feedback and new subscribers I got from the original piece, I feel I have inadvertently created the expectation that there would be a follow-up. And I believe meeting expectations is a more important value than politeness, so I must reluctantly go back to the well, for the sake of completeness.

Firstly, I was absolutely right that the Globe unjustifiably mythologized John Ruffolo, as you can see from these headlines. Globe “legends” have an iffy record. Sometimes they are legends like George Soros, sometimes they’re legends like King Arthur.

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The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

I therefore regret to confirm that not a single person has written to me in defence of John Ruffolo. I know a lot about MLK because as the world’s second least racist person, I observe Black History Month year-round.

Speaking of anti-racism leaders, Wes Hall is on Maverix PE’s board of advisors. Wes recently rebranded his holdco as WeShall Investments. The firm claims $600m in assets. But don't feel smug about that, most of you are still systemically racist, as he writes in his book. Overall, it’s a pretty high-visibility board:

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Dani Reiss, CEO of Canada Goose is also an advisor. The big name board of advisors is the business version of “My dad is stronger than your dad”. I might as well mention that I’m no fan of Jim Balsillie either. In fact, Jim Balsillie is the leader of the Circle Jerk of Canadian Innovation Messiahs, which is the the sole reason I’m no fan of John Ruffolo. I know Jim B he has made a lot of money personally, he had a hot product for a while and even some of his subsequent investing has had some wins. But Jim B is the John McCain of Canadian tech. I’d feel safer if Canadian policy wasn’t shaped by someone who was roadkill on Apple’s path to world domination. In the media, you will regularly come across the family of some murder victim, whose entire existence seems to revolve around seeing “justice be done”. Sure losing a loved one is terrible, but finding a mission in life is a gift. Jim B was a victim of a highly skillful competitor, and now he gets to spend the rest of his life moaning how Big Tech is Bad.

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By the way, it’s important to say that the new BlackBerry movie is a fictionalized account. Many people say that Balsillie is an even bigger d*** in real life. I am just kidding. The Balsillie camp is conducting some PR counter-offensive:

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Many people commended me for treating wheelchair-bound Ruffolo just like I treat anyone else. Such empathy is easy for me: I actually sometimes use a wheelchair myself. I find it helps carry the weight of my massive balls. Ruffolo's private equity firm Maverix claims in their literature to be “run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs”. Indeed, some of the partners come from such nimble, high-risk startups as McKinsey, Teachers and OMERS. One managing partner worked for an asset manager that has yet to even crack the $100B AUM mark. Another feedback I got was that venture capital is dependent on deal flow and anyone sitting in the OMERS chair would have gotten good deals because it was one of the few players with lots of money and an openness to tech startups during that era. (Thanks to Ruffolo’s boss’s decision to commit to the space.) OMERS Ventures still has offices in Palo Alto and London. I give you my personal guarantee that those offices will close.

Ruffolo’s platform at OMERS enabled him to make friends in high places. You have probably heard the hullaballoo about the US Supreme Court justice who took free trips from a billionaire friend. I sympathize with his situation. Are judges or billionaires not allowed to have friends? Do friends not extend hospitality to each other? If journalism consists of revealing who your friends are, then here’s one for you. So John Ruffolo and Som Seif are long-standing friends. They are both part of the cycling club Les Domestiques which has many powerful people as members. They’re both involved with the Art Gallery of Ontario, another nexus of power. Trust me, they’re bosom buddies, a word I would use advisedly, because it’s really weird. Then in 2017, OMERS Ventures, which Ruffolo was heading, invested in Slippery Som’s Purpose Investments. A pension fund venture arm investing in an ETF manufacturer is a bit unusual. And again in 2018, OMERS was there to back cryptocrap Ether Capital, which Slippery Som co-founded. Then in 2022, Ruffolo’s first deal with his new shop Maverix PE was a co-investment in Viral Nation with billionaire Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries. Who is Todd Boehly? I haven’t studied him closely, but he seems to be a prolific wheeler-dealer. Most notably in this country, he owned Claymore Canada, of which Slippery Som was the founding CEO. That’s the very same Slippery Som from the cycling club, aka Kevin O’Leary with a widow’s peak. Is that something? Or is this just how the world works?

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Speaking of people’s personal appearances, I object to this new profile image that John Ruffolo uses on Twitter. This is jawline fraud, no way it’s this well-defined in real life. Misrepresenting your jawline is a big no-no in my world. I don’t know why he has to resort to jawline fraud when jawline concealment via a beard is widely socially acceptable now. I mean, even I have a beard and my jawline is exquisitely chiseled. My lips are sometimes pursed though, especially when I’m anxious, which I never am.

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I lied to you, one person did write to say my first piece on Ruffolo was shoddy. But this person can’t be considered to be at arm’s-length. Not with their head so far up Ruffolo’s ass. I don’t know how that even works logistically, wouldn’t the wheelchair be in the way?

Speaking of Ruffolo’s whole miraculous recovery from his bike accident, not that I’m an expert on his condition, but I am impressed by the pace of his recovery. He has said:

The doctors told me I would never walk again. They were wrong. My goal is to walk using just the poles within the next year.

Amazingly, Ruffolo now cycles again, using braces. Ruffolo has even said: “I’m trying to skate to where the puck is going to be”, although he might have been speaking metaphorically. I wish him well, but not too well. Walking is good, but I wouldn’t want him to get to a point where he can kick my ass.

This is the original post I wrote on John Ruffolo.

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John Ruffolo update

A brief update on John Ruffolo’s Maverix Private Equity, focusing on some staff turnover.
OPM 3 min read

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