The Wall Street Journal’s recent piece about “Silicon Valley invading Toronto” is, in my view, describing a generally positive outcome.
We are one of the largest cities in North America (the exact ranking depends on where you draw the urban boundaries).
We have more enlightened views around foreign and high-skilled workers (I was given a short window in which to leave the US after I finished my first graduate degree there).
And we have a large and highly educated pool of tech talent (the salary differential discussed in the article looks to be, at least partially, a result of the weaker Canadian dollar).
US companies are gobbling up office space in Toronto. And presumably, this is one of the reasons why 139 new flights were added between Toronto and Francisco over the last two years. (Source: WSJ)
However, I do agree with the remarks from people like Jim Balsillie (Blackberry) and Harley Finkelstein (Shopify) that a better outcome would be the creation of more massively successful Canadian tech companies.
As Finkelstein points out, there’s a big difference between 100,000 square feet of space for the HQ of a new and growing Canadian tech company and 100,000 square feet for a new branch or satellite office.
The stats we read in the papers about the number of tech jobs being created in Toronto generally don’t speak to composition. Where in the value chain do these people sit? Where is the value accruing?
The intellectual capital is here. And we should be doing everything we can to foster and finance new homegrown ideas and businesses.
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