After two years of #maker #coder #cogger #splicer and #designer work with the perk of Schmaltz's "Bagel and Wolfhead Salmon" for coming in on the weekend(s), the Magniware team shipped "rthm" today - getrthm.com - a Toronto based start-up that has the potential to redefine how health analysis (DNA + Sensor + App) becomes useful with real-time, relevant health 'tips", all without a "rubber dongle" hanging around your wrist. The free App is all that's needed to start and like all start-ups, ...now the work begins! getrthm.com... See MoreSee Less
Darryl Ballantyne and Mohamed Moutadayne put one in the win column for biz dev. They've been at it for years, working hard, growing the business and making all of us 'up here', proud. Well done. guys. ... See MoreSee Less
Google Search and Google Play Music are diving more deeply into song lyrics via a deal with LyricFind. Lyrics as an add-on have been getting attention lately. Apple Music is adding them. Spotify offered lyrics and recently dropped them, but insists their coming back. ________________________________...
Startup folks who work in Product/UX or curious marketers who care about experience - They just announced early bird pricing for Fluxible, an awesome fall event in K-W. One of my favourite conferences of the year. ... See MoreSee Less
Mike ShaverBe interesting to see how they behave as investors. Institutional investors can be more conservative from a governance perspective than VCs, and even VCs are sometimes more conservative than the entrepreneurs would like. :)
I just attended C100’s 48 Hrs in the Valley program and it was fantastic. The C100 is is a nonprofit member-driven association that provides a bridge between Canadian startup founders and innovative corporations, and the highly influential Silicon Valley network. Co-chairs Terry Doyle, Interim Execu...
4 years ago we made a strategical choice (aka gamble) to setup our European office in Berlin. It's quite interesting to read a story like this post Berxit.
If anyone is interested in learning about EventMobi 's growth in Europe I'm happy to chat. Our team in Berlin is now just short of 10 fulltime staff and generates more revenue than local sales in Canada! It's been a great experience seeing the team grow in Berlin and having excuse to spend time there :) that said the journey was full of land mines that you have to carefully navigate !
Francois-Pierre MarcilThanks Bob, insightful to say the least. I'm curious about the land mines. Could you share one of these experiences?
1 day ago
Bob Vaez1. Employment law (it's very different in EU)
2. Subsidiary vs arms-length entity (Transfer pricing)
3. There is no European market! (how do you cover each country/language/etc)
4. Remote teams/cultures/ideals/communication
5. Currency fluctuation (hedging)
6. Product design requirement (multi-lingual, time format, etc etc)
7. Channel conflict (resellers crossing geographies)
8. taxes, legal , accounting
9. vacation days/sick days!!
10. data security!
I'll stop there :) also the parties in Berlin are just off the hook.
1 day ago · 3
Mykyta PonomarenkoDo you have an office in the US as well or do you use the Toronto office for US sales?
1 day ago
Bob VaezWe are registered in US for taxes but we don't have an office in US. The Berlin office was primarily due to support our clients better, having a sales team that is awake when the clients are! and be able to build relationships on the ground.
1 day ago · 3
Mark OrganAin't gonna happen, this article is naive. London has so many advantages relative to Berlin. London wasn't the startup capital of Europe because of the EU. Brexit is not going to make all of those VCs and founders leave. For gods sake in Israel there can be a shooting war going on and capital and talent still flock to the place.
Mike ShaverEquity lockin is a big deal for early employees who don't already have some wealth to exercise the options. You're seeing some companies, like Pinterest, extend the post-separation option exercise window to 5+ years, which I hope becomes a trend.
(As an aside, someone looking for a pop on IPO day is doing it wrong, IMO. Day-one pop means that the offering was mispriced: money went to speculators, not to the company. It's a missed opportunity to get more value for the equity the company gives up.)
Bob VaezOn the opposite of the scale there are tech companies that create marketplace for their existing shareholders to sell/trade stocks in the company. It depends on growth and exist strategy. Some companies exist strategy might be through employee ownership and such restrictions are counter productive. But if the goal is to motivate employees to stay for an IPO event, then it makes perfect sense.
16 hours ago
Ian Andrew BellWell, at the risk of sounding callous, this is about stock options doing their job: retaining valuable employees. I've always negotiated rights like no-cliff and longer exercise terms (or a sell-to-cover option) on the way in, and perhaps Silicon Valley companies will start competing on this stuff thanks to articles like this one.
In Canada, I find these debates largely irrelevant because employees simply do not care about equity as a form of compensation. This is at least in part because startups in Canada have historically gotten fucked by their investors as they move up through the rounds, and during exits, and the first thing to get crammed is the Founder/Option Pool.
In Silicon Valley the clock on capital gains starts the second you exercise. In Canada, it starts the second you realize the return -- not on paper, but in cash. So huzzah to our government for understanding Capital Gains, offering a $750K exemption, etc.
But the chief problem afflicting startups is that there is no real economy in Canada around Stock Options. Therefore you can't really use them to lure an employee, and I have only very rarely found myself discussing the nuances of cliffs, vesting, and exercise terms with a prospective staffer.
Mark OrganWow, what a mess. The move to SF makes more sense now, it is a complete reset of the business. There is a tremendous amount of skill with marketplaces in SF - probably one of the most difficult businesses to get to minimum scale and also one of the most rewarding.
James MartindaleAn interesting article. A bit of a disdain for sales people there clearly not to dissimilar to what was seen on HBO's Silicon Valley. If you treat your sales people as part-time then unfortunately those will probably reflect in your numbers.
Sean MoffittGreat job Betakit crew rooting this one out - hopefully a cautionary tale for others who decide to move stateside in the future on throwing the Toronto tech talent base under the bus as the key reason
3 days ago · 1
Joel LessemGoogle founder (Brin) just said he would do a startup anywhere but the valley, it's harder to start up in the valley, high costs and competition for employees.
Ian KingThe real question here is how to frame our national investment in education. If we're taking a purist moral stance of education existing as a fundamental human right, then we can not place any restriction on what receivers of subsidized education do with said education. However, that is a deeply naive and fundamentally flawed stance that does not take into account the real politik of global factors at play of a nation existing within a system of nations. Subsidized education is a national investment in our talent development funnel and we need an ROI on our tax dollars. If all the talent we invest so dearly in to develop does not contribute back to our companies and if those grads are not paying taxes to help support our national economy, it's even detrimental to the US who is profiting so dearly from this - that parasitism of our talent will eventually collapse Canada and the US won't have its cheap talent incubator anymore. I've had several conversations with Tannishtha on this in the past.
The only comparable initiative that comes to mind are military-subsidized tuitions that are tied to mandatory years of service. Granted, we are not completely subsidizing tuition and so we can't expect military-levels of lock-in yet the degree of lock-in should be commensurate with the degree of subsidies received.
The alternative discussion here which I've seen Tannishtha propose in some other threads is that rather than restricting movement, the goal should be to create systemic factors that make Canadian talent want to stay and work in Canada. Nonetheless, this really is a a chicken-and-egg phenomenon - which one do we focus on first?
Altogether though, I guess we should end on this note: why are we accepting national subsidies on our education if we're not willing to give back to our country? We take investor dollars and are eager to give them ROI and yet why don't we think this way about our country and its investment in our collective development?
Matthew YangPunitive measure never work, and all they will do is cause frustration and anger among the targeted groups (university students), and it won't do anything to solve the original brain drain problem. If you want talent, be willing to spend money and effort on attracting them, rather than blaming the talent for leaving.
Anthony ReinhartIn recent conversations with Canadian expats working in tech in the Bay Area, most told me they would move back if they saw more opportunities here to work on big, meaningful projects. For whatever reason, they're not seeing them. Another suggested Canada's tech companies cannot claim to want to attract top global talent on one hand, while paying discount wages on the other. If we want to compete with Valley employers for the absolute best talent, we have to be willing to at least match Valley compensation, he argued; otherwise, we're signalling to the world that we're not serious about competing. This is anecdotal feedback based on a small number of interviews, so I can't claim these people's views are representative of all 25K Canadians in the Valley. But to solve this problem, we should probably start by talking to the very people this kind of payback proposal would target.
4 days ago · 7
John RuffoloThanks Ian King. This penalty idea is not a policy plank of the Council of Canadian Innovators but the reporter seems to have written it that way. The current highest priority of the CCI is the talent agenda and together with the CEO members are developing ideas to increase the talent pool in Canada through innovative immigration and emigration ideas. Lots of great ideas are coming in and being formulated. One idea I heard bandied about is the double taxpayer hit when we taxpayers educate folks and then they immediately leave Canada. We paid for the education yet lose their economic input. So, in Ontario for example, when the Liberal Gov't announced a broad idea to pay for university education, is there a concept to pay for a students education by the taxpayers in exchange for them staying in Canada for say 3 years. This concept would be more of an incentive than a penalty. But as far as I am aware, the idea has not been fully fleshed out. I spoke to the ED of CCI who confirmed that the only point that was raised was the conundrum of taxpayer dollars leaking out ie. Akin to a churn issue for startups.
Ethan HenryNice work Mark Organ. The basic truth is that you have to compete with companies paying a lot of money. Talent follows the money. Working at Eloqua was great, but making 3x my Canadian income in the US is hard to argue with. And if you want senior talent, free lunches and gym memberships are nice but ultimately irrelevant. People beyond their 20's need higher comp, autonomy and flexibility - honestly not things most Canadian companies are famous for.
4 days ago · 3
Julian D'AngeloYour average grad isn't flocking to the states because they simply can't compete there, my guess is that it's the top 5-10% that are leaving, maybe less. (Though concrete data would be nice.) If you don't have an ecosystem to tend to the brightest minds, you're only holding them back. It's like a junior hockey coach saying, we invested so much into you, and now you want to go play in the NHL?
Mike ShaverMy perspective on this is either informed or tainted by spending 6 years on the board of Canada's largest post-secondary institution, just as a disclosure. I didn't attend a Canadian post-secondary institution myself, but I am reliably informed that they're great. I've hired probably dozens of Canadian grads into positions in Canada and the US.
I think that this sort of initiative would meet with substantial resistance from educators. The ones I know *celebrate* their students finding a position they are willing to move a long way for, and one where their employer values them enough to do visa and relocation work. That sort of actualization is a wonderful educational outcome, and it will be extremely challenging to get educators onside with pushing people into "lesser" (as perceived by the graduate) jobs via financial penalties.
(It's also not clear that it would work. Companies put claw-backs on tuition when they pay someone to get an MBA, and it rapidly just became part of the calculus of a hiring package. If Google or Microsoft or Facebook have to put an extra $50K Canadian into a hiring package to pay the emigration tax -- I can't believe that we're talking about such a thing as serious adults -- then that's pretty likely to just happen, with some clawback. Existing signing bonuses and relo budgets can easily be 3 times that anyway, and one-off costs for hiring are regarded as below the noise floor in many places.)
What these CEOs actually want, I think, is to increase the value that Canadian industry gets out of the Canadian educational system. That's a reasonable thing to want, even if this is a pretty distasteful approach to it. There are lots of things they could be lobbying for that aren't punitive towards people starting their careers by working for a company that is excited to have them. One example: better investment in education-industry research collaborations, especially in the area where colleges have been pretty neglected, and often able to provide more readily productizable work.
(Education is actually a provincial investment, so taken at face value this would penalize a U of T grad going to work in Montreal.)
Benjamin BergenI'm the ED at CCI -- In today’s Globe and Mail our goal was to create a conversation around issues of retention for domestic tech companies. I want to clarify that ideas discussed in the article are not official policies CCI is currently advocating. CCI is instead encouraging provincial governments to design policies that will ensure made in Canada companies can grow and thrive and talent is one of the critical issues. There are many different views on how best to tackle it and we welcome all ideas. CCI is simply seeking a dialogue with government to tackle this important issue for tech sector.
Tannishtha Ray PramanickSlightly concerned here that whenever the topic of the great Canadian tech brain drain has come up as an issue to deal with, people automatically assume that anyone looking to rectify the situation is hinting at closing borders/restricting emigration. I get this article is sort of hinting at that, but even in past discussions when that hasn't been hinted at, people have taken a critical stance by calling out a point that no one is making, namely; restricting movement. Relax guys, no one is saying Canada has only one way of dealing with the issue, and that's by becoming like North Korea. I don't know why this keeps happening.
Gustavo Melo", where salaries are much higher because of the weak Canadian dollar" - let's clarify one thing, the weak Canadian dollar has little to do with this discussion, if anything at all. Many tech companies in Toronto do business primarily in the US, get paid in American dollars, have many of their employees' salaries partially subsidized by the government through programs like SR&ED and IRAP, and still underpay their talent vs. American companies.
Leo LuoJaxson Khan, you got a good point. Talents will only follow the good opportunities, just like smart money! Your can't really force a mutual fund manager to invest in below average companies, what make those high-tech CEOs think Canadian graduates should spend their life with less competitive companies? The only way to attract talents is to be strong and competitive... nothing else.
2 days ago · 4
Leigh HimelIt's interesting - after a recent trip to grow my business in the US - it's clear to me - the Americans do small business exceptionally well. More supportive, great incentives to open offices and less bureaucracy. I think the Globe article approach just continues the trend towards red tape form filling vs. progressive platforms that will further develop the startup ecosystem and fuel growth.
22 hours ago · 1
Varun MathurThe best and the brightest students sometimes want to start their own tech startup, as opposed to working for one (at which point it is a comparison amongst employers). There needs to be direct incentive to startup here for students capable enough of getting recruited away by the best tech companies in the world.
Anecdotal evidence, but of all the maddeningly bright students I have seen locally who went on to work for big US tech companies (and did fantastically well there), they all tried to do a startup here first - couldn't connect enough dots and instead chose the amazing opportunity which the US tech companies offered. These folks run critical stuff at Microsoft/Google/etc now, which is a testament to their brilliance.
This talent is never coming back, their companies will fight tooth and nail to retain them -- all we can hope for is for the next generation of students we have a better plan than before of helping them connect the dots towards entrepreneurship locally.
8 hours ago
Jana ZaibakI've recently been thinking this: after students graduate from high school, there should be a one-year government funded program that encourages students to start their own company. If they succeed, then great, they stimulate the economy and they find their passion earlier in life, rather than going through 4 years of undergrad that they likely don't need. If their startup doesn't go so well, then great, they only invested one year during their late teens, and now have a better idea of what they'd like to study in university.
I just can't help but think of how many more entrepreneurs we'd have if there wasn't a pressure to go directly into university/college upon graduating high school. Canadians start schooling so early, and it's crucial that they take time to explore the world and explore what they really want to do to make a positive impact for the world – and starting a business can do just that.
Invest in Canadian youth, who will in turn stay in Canada and stimulate the Canadian economy.