Every once in a while, a fascinating piece appears in the Washington Post and the New York Times - these are feature articles which go to the depth of an issue which a startup is trying to solve. I have found these stories to be very inspiring. Here is one which appeared today - talking about upcoming demo of Viv - which to me looks like an integrated store for conversational bots - either it will be the biggest thing since sliced bread or it will be a dud. ... See MoreSee Less
I think this (below) is a highly relevant conversation when we start to talk about Uber and the Gig Economy in Canada. I am an Uber user but I am concerned about how the service displaces practically all risk onto riders and drivers as a pillar of its business model. There are many aspects of Uber that I *do* love such as convenient payment, systemic customer/driver accountability, etc.
The protests of cab drivers are simply attempts to defend a cabalistic market advantage, and to maintain the exchange value of their cab licenses. They deserve to be disrupted.
But when you start to ask questions about how gig economy workers ultimately benefit, how communities benefit when the bulk of the profit margin for such services flows to unregulated and untaxed California-based companies, the conversation starts to become more awkward.
In reality, the so-called “gig” economy is really two quite different economies. Wealthier Americans are using “gig economy” platforms to rent assets like their homes (Airbnb) or sell products they own or make, according to a new study (see below). By contrast, low-income workers sell their direct labor, such as working as Uber drivers or TaskRabbit movers.
In other words, the gig economy is giving those who already have wealth a higher return on that wealth. But it’s not giving those who only have their own labor a higher return on that labor, because it’s enabling corporations (like Uber) to shift business risks onto workers -- and those added risks are reducing economic security and predictability.
Bottom line: The gig economy is widening economic inequality.
What do you think?
Varun MathurUber has expanded the market. These part time drivers were not rideshare drivers before. They are earning something doing this activity as a result now. Innovative idea, and I wish there were Canadian tax paying companies pursuing these as that would be a bigger community win - but Uber is entrenched now in the cab space locally. This is precisely why we need to aggressively promote Canadian entrepreneurs pursuing other marketplace ideas.. what if few years from now we find paying even more California companies for what are very simple ideas at the end of the day...if we fail to innovate and support local enterprises, we will end up paying someone else for it. Consumers want quality products.
2 hours ago
Bonnie Foley-WongHi Ian - good to see you here! If you're really interested in these issues, happy to have a chat. I wrote a post on Quora and on my blog about Uber's impact. Also currently reading a book that might be of interest - let me know if you'd like to find out more.
Reading applications to Y Combinator is like having access to a crystal ball. Twice per year — once in the winter and once in the spring — thousands of men and women apply to Y Combinator. Each of these bright minds has his or her own vision of the future of technology. They pitch ideas related to B...
looking forward to moderating a panel Thursday at Startup Canada Day on the Hill in Ottawa about attracting and retaining talent - and addressing some of the woes Canadian startups have had dealing with the immigration system. I'll be on stage with Allen Lau of Wattpad, Danielle Lovell of BLANKSLATE Partners and Arif Virani, parliamentary secretary to John McCallum, the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. Should be an interesting chat. Our panel starts at 10 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. ... See MoreSee Less
Interesting read about Canada's nascent sharing economy. Hoping more Canadian entrepreneurs tap into the Canadian market. We need more choices, more competition, more innovative services here at home which improve the lives of everyday Canadians. Dream, build and ship! ... See MoreSee Less
Varun MathurAren't they about sharing someone else's car, someone else's house ? They operate as different marketplaces (Uber is supplier picks; while Airbnb is buyer picks) - but at the end of the day the phrase "sharing economy" looks suitable for what they do.. what do you suggest this industry be generally called ?
Mudit Singh RawatCanadian entrepreneurs already are, but unfortunately at times mainstream Canadian media decides to focus primarily on US competitors instead sharing more stories about Canadian companies tackling these problems.
I find the term 'struggle' really out of context in this article. I don't think we are struggling in any way in Toronto! US players do have access to more capital which helps them grow faster in international markets but that doesn't mean the Canadian startups are struggling.
Ryan ShupakThanks for posting this Varun Mathur - we're doing everything we can to do just this at Jiffy. We've got great traction in Toronto and are likely going to launch our next city in the US. From discussions with Canadian investors, it seems like they'd like to see traction in a market vs. some US "incumbents" before believing that a Canadian startup can be a North American champion
Varun MathurCongratulations Hockeystick team. Is this user/startup uploaded data which Hockeystick provides a platform for the investors to view ? Is data sourced from elsewhere as well (eg unstructured data such as blog mentions)?
So after a session I participated in at MaRS about tech recruiting a few weeks ago, Sarah Efron from the Globe & Mail asked me to put some of my points into an op-ed. It just posted here, if you’re interested:
I have to say, I was hesitant to write it. On the one hand, I think tech is in a really shitty spot on diversity, and I want to help any way I can because it pisses me off and it’s a place that Toronto should really be excellent and we aren’t, yet. But I also know that white men have a nasty habit of ending up in the centre of every conversation and I don’t really like any situation where I seem to be putting myself up there as an expert on stuff that, really, many other people know far more about than I do. The stuff in the article is pretty basic, first pass stuff, but judging from the MaRS audience, still new to some.
Anyhow, I hope I got that through in the post — it is a thing I care a lot about, but I am curious to know if you folks think I got the balance right, or just became another part of the problem. Thanks for any feedback, regardless. ... See MoreSee Less
Avery SwartzThis is so great Johnathan. I love that you even acknowledge that you shouldn't be the one saying it, but you have to.
Also, don't assume this is "basic, first pass stuff." It's still new to a lot... I've seen many in this group make many of these mistakes.
Kamil Rextin"I don’t care who you are, just show me your hobby projects on Github, or your think pieces on Medium” – but a bit of reflection is all it takes to realize that screening based on free-time pursuits gets you more affluent white men than it does underemployed single moms." ✊🏾
Colleen Sargeant JamesVery well written and valid points! I find companies are talking about diversity now because it's a hot topic but they are disingenuous. The fact is, in order to be diverse you must be inclusive and the lack of diversity will always suggest exclusion.
John Philip GreenNice that everyone is talking about this (again)... but is my company CareGuide still the only high growth tech startup in Canada that actually has more women than men?
Can anyone name another like us with more than 20 employees?
Karen Schulman DupuisJonathan, it's a good, solid piece, and I commend you for calling out the fact that you're a white man speaking about diversity (which of course is crazy in this context). I think that there are some people that are in the startup community that wouldn't listen to this piece unless it was written by a guy, so we have to tackle these issues piece by piece.
Next steps in this conversation is to include the women who're doing the hard work in this space day after day. I encourage you to connect with Cathy Gallagher-Louisy of The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion for resources, guidance, experts and insights.
2 days ago · 8
Varun MathurI think the right forum for affirmative action in tech is at the education level - encouraging everybody, some more so than others, on a tech education - in high school/colleges (and startups can play a role in that). Beyond that, in the industry, it has to be purely based on merit alone and we need to be blind to any attributes of a person - race/gender/ethnicity should be irrelevant and not favor or disfavor one group over another. Would any person who believes in his/ her merit in the tech industry feel comfortable he/she got hired for a role not just because of merit, but because of an attribute/affirmative action ?
Janice DinerHorizn has 30+ Staff
9 Horizn staff were born in Canada
Horizn staff come from 9 different countries
We speak collectively 10 languages
Horizn manages business in 25 countries and 11 languages
Diversity is Canada, Horizn represents!
Steven UsterAmazing article. We are currently on a mission to attract and hire more women at FundThrough. I completely agree with Jonathan on this. It is critical for the success of any company, especially a start up. There are some amazing tips and tools in this article that we will start using ASAP to ensure that the vast majority of our next hires are female.
Gustavo MeloThe "best candidate vs. best team" argument is the most important here, as I see it. Without a clear and specific framework we can use (and we don't have a good one for hiring yet) to remove bias from the hiring process, it's inordinately difficult to do so in practice. However, a shift in perspective towards the desirable qualities of a more diverse team, especially as it impacts business success, gives you an immediate counterbalance and added incentive to be more mindful of thought processes related to hiring.
1 day ago · 2
Sarah EfronThanks to Johnathan for this piece and this discussion. At The Globe we are also trying to increase diverse points of view in our coverage. If that's you, feel free to connect with me, particularly if you're in a leadership role in a growth company. [email protected]
I am looking for help in identifying female angel investors across Canada. Suggestions, please!
Also, if you are attending StartupFest already and are interested in the topic of founders & funders, join me at AngelFest. I know I'm going to try and rope David Crow into at least an AMA or round table :) ... See MoreSee Less
a one-day event dedicated to exposing what’s next in early-stage startup investment. Presented by BDC Capital and in partnership with NACO, this premium event brings together seasoned and prospective members of the global angel investment community for a day dedicated to sharing best practices, how-…