Nathon Gunn

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Nathon Gunn
Nathon Gunn at University of Toronto.png
Known forInnovation, Politics, Technology, Games, Entrepreneurship

Nathon Gunn (born November 4, 1973) is a Toronto-based Canadian serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Bitcasters Inc., Social Game Universe, LightningPlatform and most recently x-Pollinate. His work includes helping founders with strategy and growth. He is a mentor, writer, speaker and advises in the support of start-ups, scale-ups, democratic development, civic engagement, democratization of technology and entrepreneurship at forums like the Government of Canada, C100 and conferences such as Personal Democracy Forum [1] and Politics Online,[2] part of OpenCongress and Sunlight Foundation and in books[3] such as "Searching for the New Liberalism" [4] His most recent contribution to the Canadian political landscape was in the form of senior innovation advisor[5] to Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains where they developed Canada's Innovation Agenda, a primary focus of the 2017 Canadian federal budget. One of the major aspects was the Strategic Innovation Fund, a novel programme which was slated to run for five years and provide $1.26 billion over its life.[6]

In 2009, his philanthropic game History Game Canada,[7] won a MacArthur Foundation award for Innovation in Participatory Learning.[8] It was inspired by and created in partnership with Tom Axworthy.

Personal Life and Education[edit]

Gunn was born in 1973 in Melville, Saskatchewan to parents who were farmers and teachers in the prairies and on reservations up north in Churchill, Manitoba and Île-à-la-Crosse. Later, Gunn's mother Daphne McDonald remarried and the family relocated from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Victoria, British Columbia, then New Delhi India, where Gunn attended the American Embassy School, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia where he attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur and Sydney Australia where he attended Sylvania High School.

In 1991 Gunn entered Ryerson, taking a double major with honours in computer visualisation and film production in Media Arts. In 1993, Ryerson became Ryerson University. Gunn received a BA degree (Hons) from Ryerson University in 1994.

Gunn currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia but works frequently in Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Early career[edit]

In 1993, while on a tour of Citytv and MuchMusic, Gunn gained the attention of television pioneer and business impresario Moses Znaimer.[9] Gunn rose from producing weather graphics and writing for the news at CityNews to creative directing various brands and channel launches[10] for the parent company CHUM Limited.

With the suggestion that Citytv was the "real media lab" Gunn was persuaded to stay and help build the new media division alongside a small group as a kind of Skunkworks project. This led to one of the nation's first media websites,[11] CityROM a line of Interactive CD-Roms based on co-founder Robert Stein's Voyager Company and Citytv content, the first AOL Canada sites and some of the first webcasting and blogging in the world such as the 1996 Bill Gates at Bravo! webcast, 1996 Grammy's Backstage blogging, 1994 Toronto Film Festival Parties behind the scenes and the 1995 New York fashion Week.


In 1996, Gunn left Citytv and founded Bitcasters with Duane Wall and Oli Goldsmith,[12] an early multimedia production studio that had offices in Toronto and New York.

At Bitcasters, Gunn helped to build a Cooperative-model production studio of filmmakers, programmers, designers, Djs, writers and game designers. He also was a member as a film and TV director, producer and editor, and has won awards for various commercial and artistic endeavours such as short films and major-label music videos, including PromaxBDA Awards for Games and On Air Promotions for his work with the Family Channel and MuchMusic Video Awards for videos like Our Lady Peace's "In Repair" (Spiritual Machines).[13]

Bitcasters created one of the first tools for uploading and editing video to the web [14] and was a pioneer in the User-generated content space.

From 2001 to 2004 Gunn also spearheaded the Internet and Digital campaign initiatives for Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal Party leadership bid and subsequently acted as head of digital during Martin's successful election as Prime Minister. This was followed by innovative technology work for the Office of the Prime Minister (Canada).[15]

Gunn was a founding Director of the Board for Serious Games Canada.[16]

In 2009, Gunn founded Social Game Universe in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with the stated goal of creating a network of interconnected small casual games such as Hollywood Tycoon[17] that in aggregate would form a digital universe of players interacting while playing diverse games.[18][19]

Gunn served as CEO of Lightning Platform, which developed software for entrepreneurs. Lightning derived from Social Game Universe, for which Gunn was credited as lead game designer.[20] The company was a pioneer in cross application interaction and created an ad banner system, IGAPI,[21] that leverages social media and game mechanics for product discovery.[22]

Gunn served three terms as a Director of the Board of the Ontario Media Development Corporation (now Ontario Creates) under Ministry of Tourism and Culture (Ontario) and on the Audit Committee.[23]


From 2014 to 2016 Gunn mentored dozens of startups in Silicon Valley and Canada through Singularity University,[24] C100, BlackBox/Google and Viatec.

In 2016, Liberal cabinet Minister Navdeep Bains appointed Gunn as his top innovation advisor[25] to help the minister's office create a broad strategy[26] to help industries confront rapid technological change,[27] which resulted in the National Innovation Agenda for Canada and lead to Canada's federal 2017 budget being called the Innovation Budget.[28] This work again included advising the Office of the Prime Minister (Canada), this time under Justin Trudeau.


With co-founders Nicole Vrbicek and Craig James, Gunn started x-Pollinate to help founders, funders and artists connect to invent and scale their businesses. According to the website it is a Canada-based think tank with a mandate to seek out and advise on innovative projects that promote global connectivity and positive progress. The group works with founders and funders on helping them innovate and scale. The firm touts collaborations with the ExO Foundation, Open Source Pharma, USAID Jordan's "Our City" game (in partnership with Social Game Universe),[29] and claims to have helped companies raise major funding rounds in the Health technology, Video game and Blockchain space.


  1. ^ Lessons from the International Stage: England, Canada, Iran and the Middle East
  2. ^ Politics Online, part of OpenCongress and Sunlight Foundation
  3. ^ Searching for the New Liberalism
  4. ^ Whither Liberalism? Globe and Mail, Peter McKenna
  5. ^ "Liberals hire tech entrepreneur for senior role shaping policy". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  6. ^ Anderson, Paul (15 August 2017). "Strategic Innovation Fund: Putting Canada on the Global Innovation Lab". RDP Associates Inc.
  7. ^ August 2007
  8. ^ Ars Technica June 2007
  9. ^ Canadian Encyclopedia
  10. ^ GlobeandMail History of Chum Ltd.
  11. ^ Citytv on WaybackMachine and Internet Archive
  12. ^ Globe and Mail Young Leaders
  13. ^ MuchMusic Video Nominees
  14. ^ on Wayback Machine and Internet Archive
  15. ^ "Liberals hire tech entrepreneur for senior role shaping policy". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  16. ^ Globe and Mail June 01 2007
  17. ^ Ars Technica July 2011
  18. ^ Interconnected Games at December 2009
  19. ^ Playback Magazine August 2009
  20. ^ TechVibes January 2010
  21. ^ VentureBeat November 2010
  22. ^ VentureBeat November 2010
  23. ^ OMDC Board of Directors Website
  24. ^ "Liberals hire tech entrepreneur for senior role shaping policy". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  25. ^ "Liberals hire tech entrepreneur for senior role shaping policy". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  26. ^ "Let's Innovate The Sh*t Out Of The Liberals' Innovation Budget". HuffPost Canada. 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  27. ^ "Unleashing an Inclusive Innovation Agenda: SiG speaks with Nathon Gunn, Innovation Advisor to Federal Minister Navdeep Bains - Social Innovation Generation". Social Innovation Generation. 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  28. ^ "Liberals' Innovation budget gets seal of approval from the tech industry". IT World Canada. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  29. ^ "IYCE project overview_short". Retrieved 2018-10-24.