2016 Fredericton Encaenia - Ceremony D

LeBrun, Marcel

Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

Orator: Davies, Gwendolyn


to be Doctor of Science

Marcel LeBrun has written that he was seven years old in 1977 when Star Wars first came out, & he was enthralled by the idea of "The Force". "Before going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens," he has written, "my family and I watched the older films together." And "I admitted to them that, when I was young, I did hold out my hand toward random objects trying to invoke the force, but I never got it to work."1

Yet, by 2016, as he stands before this Encaenia today, I think that we would be safe in arguing that, in his career thus far, Marcel LeBrun has indeed created an energy field all his own - and, in the process, has fostered new empires to explore.

Graduating from Mathieu Martin high school in Moncton, Marcel LeBrun entered UNB with a John Aubrey Allen Memorial scholarship in 1988, completing a Bachelor of Science in 1992 specializing in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He began his career at telecom company NB Tel, an environment that promoted innovation and encouraged a culture of risk-taking -- a background, he has argued, that in 1998 informed his becoming CEO and President of Imagic TV Inc., a start-up company that was a pioneer in "streaming television over the internet"2 and that became a worldwide market leader in internet protocol television video software solutions. Thrust onto the international stage while working from a base in Fredericton, he quickly discovered the energizing challenge of seizing the moment, building a company, and becoming an entrepreneur, all of it still allied with the intellectual challenges of computer engineering. Integral to this journey was LeBrun's connection to New Brunswick's budding tech sector through Saint John based Mariner Partners, chaired by Gerry Pond, often called "the godfather of New Brunswick's IT sector,"3 and where Marcel LeBrun was to become a Vice President of Technology Consulting.

In 2006, supported by Pond and various angel investors, including the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Marcel LeBrun, with partners Chris Newton and Chris Ramsey, became CEO and co-founder of Radian6, a company situated in Fredericton that enabled "businesses to track and react to what is being said about them online"4 and therefore helped "corporations monitor and analyze their social media".5

Enormously successful (customers included Dell, Microsoft, Pepsi, and half of the Fortune 100) -- and "growing 100% or more annually" even through the recession of 2008 -- Radian6 was purchased in 2011 by San Francisco-based cloud-computing company Salesforce.com in a deal worth "nearly $350 million in cash and stocks". In what has been described as "one of the most impressive business deals in Maritime history,"6 Canada's Venture Capital & Private Equity Association rated Salesforce's acquisition of Radian6 in 2011 as "the deal of the year". As a Senior Vice President and General Manager of the new Salesforce Radian6, Marcel LeBrun noted that the merger -- apart from making Radian6 "a key component of Salesforce, one of the world's great software companies" -- also enabled the Fredericton and Halifax offices of Radian6 to employ "more Maritimers than when it sold out" (and "the Maritime investors in the company" were soon able to invest "in 37 other regional start-ups").7 With the Radian6/Salesforce deal, noted LeBrun, "Rather than being sold to the U.S., we brought Silicon Valley here." "Salesforce," he added, "is accelerating our growth locally. ... The more tech talent you have, the more successful start-ups you're going to have. ... Investors are no longer asking, why would I invest there? ... Instead they're saying, maybe there's something in the water..."8

As one reads and listens to American and Canadian interviews with Marcel LeBrun, one is struck by the diversity of his professional experience -- ranging from Vice-President, fixed solutions division of Paris-based Alcatel, a leading provider of communications solutions to telecommunication carriers -- to his five years as Senior Vice-President of Tech & Product Marketing Cloud at Salesforce. Focusing since 2015 on Social Cause/Impact Entrepreneurship,9 he continues to stimulate innovation in the region, including being currently involved with one of the startups in UNB's Master of Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (MTME) programme. Having helped to build the first tech company in the Maritimes to go on the NASDAQ, and having illustrated that we can "do it from here," he clearly continues to be an inspiration and an innovator in both regional and wider contexts.

In 2011, the UNB Associate Alumni presented Marcel LeBrun with its Alumni Award of Distinction. Now, it is with great pleasure that the University of New Brunswick bestows upon this distinguished graduate the degree of Doctoris In Scientia, honoris causa ... Insignissme praeses ...

1 Marcel LeBrun, The Grace Awakens, https://medium.com/@lebrun/1, January 5, 2016.
2 Peter Moreira, Radian6 deal broke ground in region, Entrevestor, The Chronicle Herald, May 26, 2014, www.entrevestor.com.
3 Quentin Casey, The Mavericks, Progress Magazine, Vol. 18, No. 08, 1.
4 Ibid.
5 Moreira, 1.
6 Casey, 1.
7 Moreira, 1.
8 Casey, 1-2.
9 Mark Taylor, The Exit That Created the East Coast Startup Community, Entrevestor Intelligence (April 2016), Volume 5, issue 2, 5; & Dhirendra Shukla, Dr. J. Herbert Smith /ACOA Chair, May 16, 2016.

Citations may be reproduced for research purposes only. Publication in whole or in part requires written permission from the author.