Vancouver’s high-tech hurdle: Attracting top-level talent

posted on August 7, 2015

By Sean Silcoff, Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Sean Silcoff, Globe and Mail | Link to Article

Vancouver is awash in startups with several poised to go public, transforming British Columbia’s economy as they grow. But for Canada’s lifestyle capital to emerge as a world-class tech hub it needs to figure out how to persuade top executives to actually move there (because hey, Silicon Valley has mountains and ocean too)

Andrew Reid is sore. After work the day before, the founder of Vancouver customer intelligence software company Vision Critical Communications Inc. and three buddies had driven up into the coastal mountains that tower over the city for a gruelling bike ride up and down Mount Fromme’s trails. “You go up there, it feels like you are so far away,” the 38-year-old Mr. Reid says in his downtown office on a sunny June day.

Being an entrepreneur in Canada’s lifestyle capital has its perks. One of the rewards for working hard is the ability to play in one of the most spectacular natural environments close to any major city in the world. Vancouverites aren’t modest about their hometown’s attributes: It has been ranked one most liveable, greenest and healthiest cities, with an abundance of outdoor activities and a brisk economy.

Lately, Vancouver has added another bragging right: It is home to one of Canada’s hottest startup scenes. Many of the biggest recent “exits” in Canadian tech have happened here, including the sale of dating website for $575-million (U.S.) in July, and last year’s sale of online eye wear retailer Coastal Contacts Inc. for $430-million (Canadian).

Waiting in the wings are several burgeoning local firms with nine-figure annual revenues readying to go public, including social media management firm Hootsuite Media Inc., online retailer Cymax Stores, and Vision Critical, part-owned by Mr. Reid’s father, pollster Angus Reid.

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