💬 13 thoughts... Shopify, Scotiabank, superclusters and speeches
So, who will Scotiabank poach to run their Vancouver tech and innovation banking practice?
As a writer, I often come across stories or bits of information that don’t warrant their own full article but deserve more than a tweet. That’s what this new column, 13 thoughts, is for—to share news, ideas and notes that need more than 280 characters. You can expect these semi-regularly. Enjoy.
“Digital by default”
Last May when Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke tweeted, “Office centricity is over,” he meant it. I’ve spotted a few signs of this recently. For example, when Shopify announced its 1000-person Vancouver office in January of 2020, Lynsey Thornton, then vice president of UX at Shopify and general manager of their core product, was said to be leading the space. Thornton is still based in Vancouver, but she’s actually now focused on the U.S. Her new role is managing director, US West. “I’ve moved out of RnD and into a new commercial role,” she told me recently. “It’s a big change but also a really good one as I can bring experience design to the services and support we offer merchants now, instead of focussing only on the products we build.”
When asked who was leading the company’s Vancouver hub, she shared that she’d “still be championing the future of our spaces in Vancouver” and would be involved in local happenings.
Another “Shopifolk” that’s based in B.C., but has also recently been focused on a different geographic region is Matt Nelson, a marketing lead. After the “digital by default” declaration, Nelson moved to Vernon, and he recently announced that he’s looking for growth marketers to help build a new team. “One catch,” he stated. “They’ve gotta live in the US West.” US West again—so what are they building there?
My last note on Shopify: Ian Black, who Shopify hired away from UberEATS for the position of Director of Retail, was recently elevated to Managing Director for all of Canada. Black is located in Toronto.
Scotiabank is coming to town. Remember the flurry of headlines when Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) announced their Vancouver expansion and a new local executive? Well, if Scotiabank’s job postings are anything to go by, we can soon expect a similar announcement from the major bank. Scotiabank subsidiary Roynat Capital is hiring a Vancouver-based director to oversee the “Ventures team of Technology and Innovation Banking (TIB) in Canada.”
My sense is that, similar to SVB, Roynat will have to poach someone who’s well-connected in the ecosystem. Who might that be?
Fraction Technologies and a fraction of detail. The local startup announced they raised CAD $289 million in debt and equity financing, but wouldn’t reveal the breakdown. A source told BetaKit’s Meagan Simpson that “a big portion of the $289 million consisted of debt.” Plus, the debt was provided by an undisclosed “major global bank.” Hmm. Can anyone tell me what the big secret is?
Here’s a larger question from someone who’s worked as both a tech PR practitioner and tech writer: Why did the Globe & Mail and its most prominent business reporters—the people I would’ve most expected to break this news—pass on this story? Was it because they couldn’t get the facts?
Innovation, science.. and education. A recent report from The Logic shed light on the fact that three of Canada’s ‘Superclusters’ were lobbying for more funding. There were two ways to view this. The most obvious, as Catherine McIntyre reported, is that most of the organizations ramped up spending throughout the pandemic on COVID-19 related projects; they’re lobbying because they need to replenish their budgets sooner than later.
The other way to look at this: Focus on the fact that there’s a new federal innovation minister. His name is François-Philippe Champagne, and he needs to be educated (quickly!) about Canada’s distinct innovation ecosystems and their importance in the country’s economic recovery.
For the business and political leaders across the country, this is like getting a new boss—you feel like you have to prove yourself again. In B.C., the provincial innovation file seems to change every year or so, but federally, Navdeep Bains had been a stable figure—reliably touring companies, participating in panels and photo-ops, and taking a genuine interest in Canadian innovation.
What becomes of all the effort the provinces (and especially B.C.) put into relationship development with Bains and his people? Speaking of which…
Ravi Khalon needs to get practicing his talking points. B.C.’s top innovation spokesperson, Ravi Khalon, has been minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation for around 80 days—and if his schedule is anything to go by, I think he’s ready for his close-up. Today (February 16), he talks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Tomorrow (February 17), the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce. Thursday (February 18), Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce. And next Tuesday (February 23), Surrey’s Board of Trade. Plenty of practice, I’d say, and great timing, as it’s budget consultations season.