Just how big is Microsoft's investment in Vancouver talent? | The Sunday Briefing

Hint: It's pretty big.

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Today’s Sunday Briefing is 1,657 words, a 5 1/4-minute read. Enjoy!

-William (@notionport)


📰 Cover Story: Microsoft Vancouver is adding the equivalent of 10 large B.C. tech companies

Microsoft announced that it’s adding more than 500 jobs to its Vancouver operations, bringing the company’s presence in the city to a whopping 1,700 employees spread across multiple offices.

Just how big is this announcement? Well, successive BC Technology Report Cards from the BC Tech Association note the threshold to be one of the largest 10% of tech companies in B.C. is an employee count of 50. Considering that fact, we can say that Microsoft Vancouver is adding the equivalent of 10 large tech companies to the province. And here’s another way to think about the news:

  • If B.C. tech workers earn on average $91,520 a year ($1,760 x 52 weeks, per BC Stats), then you could look at this as a minimum investment into talent worth north of $45 million. Staggering.

Okay, most of you are probably just wondering how to actually get one of those new jobs. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Join our Clubhouse show, Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee, on Tuesday at 9 am PST to hear from Pamela Saunders, Microsoft Vancouver’s head of PR & social impact, in an exclusive conversation about her company’s news and hiring plans.

  • If you need an invitation to Clubhouse, please get in touch: william@vantechjournal.com


📈 Cheatsheet: Significant digits inside Thinkific’s preliminary prospectus for IPO

Vancouver’s Thinkific filed a preliminary prospectus for their proposed initial public offering (IPO) of subordinate voting shares. However, the terms of the offering—including how much they’re hoping to raise—have not been shared yet. The prospectus is a beast of a document, essentially 227 pages of text, largely legalese. But Vancouver Tech Journal has highlighted 18 numbers in it worth noting, including the fact that 66 million courses were taken on their platform in 2020 by 21 million students.


⏩ Quick Takes


🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.

  • After investments from Blackstone Growth and Atairos, Vancouver’s GeoComply Solutions Inc. is now reportedly worth more than $1 billion, making it a unicorn. “Our mission at GeoComply is to empower the future of Digital Trust, and with Blackstone and Atairos as investors, we are taking a material leap forward to make it a reality,” said Anna Sainsbury, founder and chairman of GeoComply. 

  • In a successful exit for Vancouver’s Beanworks, the 90-person company will be acquired by Quadient in a deal worth about $104.5 million CAD. That Beanworks was a target for Quadient is no surprise given the incredible growth trajectory it’s been on: 70% year-over-year revenue growth in 2020 and expected to achieve revenue of roughly $10.4 million CAD at the end of 2021.

  • Vancouver's Covalent, a blockchain data provider which has previously raised $3.1 million, raised another $2 million in strategic funding to launch its decentralized data query network. The funding round was led by Hashed with participation from Binance Labs, Coinbase Ventures, Delphi Ventures and Hypersphere Ventures.

  • Innovate BC opened up applications for the BC Fast Pilot program, which provides up to $200,000 for regional SMEs to design, build and operate a pilot plant or small demonstration of their technology in real-world conditions. The program allows B.C. technology companies to demonstrate the impact of their product, measure the value of their solution, and encourage customer adoption.

  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, VC investment in 2020 was the second-highest level of annual VC investment based on existing CVCA records, with CAD $4.4B across 509 deals, second only to 2019. Total dollars invested in 2020 was higher than the five-year average ($3.8B and 517 deals in 2015 – 2019) with a lower number of deals. Full report by the CVCA.

  • Mogo announced an agreement to acquire Montreal’s of Moka Financial Technologies Inc., a leading saving and investing apps, in an all-stock transaction. The acquisition will increase Mogo’s member base by over 40% to more than 1.7 million and expand Mogo’s wealth offering to include saving and investing products.

  • Vancouver’s Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (SPUD) is doing a reverse takeover of TSXV-traded Rainy Hollow Ventures in a going public transaction and will change its name to Freshlocal Solutions. Freshlocal will trade on the senior Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), and continue to operate SPUD’s businessess: FoodX and eGrocery.


📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.

  • Shafin Tejani, CEO of Victory Square Technologies, writes how after years of one-way entertainment, TV is about to become truly social, in a piece titled, ‘The Next Big Thing for TV: Co-Viewing.’ “Taking a cue from platforms as diverse as Fortnite, Twitch and Netflix, innovators are finally seeking out ways to make T.V. social, personalized and interactive — all on a single screen,” he writes.

  • Steve Davis, CEO at proptech Operto Guest Technologies, asks, ‘Is technology accelerating the decline of the front desk?’ “While identifying what the ‘new normal’ will look like from the consumer perspective is still unclear, hoteliers that remove friction points and provide memorable connections and personalization ‘at scale’ will ultimately win,” he writes.

  • Knowlton Thomas, the founder of Victorious Academy, explored a ‘A Post-Pandemic Reframing of Our Relationship with Technology’. “Too many of us have become dependent, or even addicted to, one or more aspects of technology: from video games to social media to Netflix and porn, a culture has emerged that makes it hard to feel in control of how we spend our time,” he writes.


👨‍💼 Personnel issues: People going places.

  • Ryan Holmes, co-founder and chairman of Hootsuite, is featured as part of Steve Johnson’s ‘The Smartest People I Know’ series. According to Holmes, the secret to fulfillment in work (and life) is, “Be constantly learning; if you’re not learning and challenging yourself, you’ll end up getting bored.”


💼 Pole positions: Tech jobs that matter.

Want to see your postings here? Get in touch: info@vantechjournal.com.


📡 Radar: Companies to watch out for.

  • NetCoins, a cryptocurrency digital payments specialist, has seen a surge in new partner interest, to the tune of 10-to-15 new partner leads a week over the past 60 days. "In my three decades in the payments industry, I have never seen such huge demand for a product," Patrick Albright, senior vice president of strategic development at NetCents, said in a statement.

  • Just released: The 2021 Ready to Rocket lists were just released and feature companies in agri-food, ICT, cleantech, digital health and life sciences. Now in their 19th year, the annual lists showcase the top technology companies that are best positioned to capitalize on the largest growth trends in the technology industry.

  • The Narwhal Project seeks to discover the underlying factors that lead to the creation of Unicorns—and recently released a 2021 list of Canadian companies to watch that features 11 B.C. companies: Hootsuite, Clio, STEMCELL Technologies, Thinkific, Conexiom, Global Relay, Bench, Trulioo, Carbon Engineering, Lungpacer Medical, and Precision NanoSystems. 


😎 Pretty cool: What else is new and novel.

  • UBC launched the Human Health Venture Studio (H²V), designed to leverage the university’s pool of research by transforming human health innovations to impact through venture creation. The studio will work with researchers and scientists through a collaborative approach, leveraging entrepreneurship@UBC’s community of academic and industry partners and mentors to create impact through new venture creation.

  • Aspect Biosystems is attempting to 3D-print and implant artificial tissues, hoping to use these “bioprinted therapeutics” for regenerative medicine.“We’re at a stage now where we’re turning science fiction into reality,” says CEO Tamer Mohamed.


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‼️ Double take: In case you missed these stories.


⌛ That’s it. Until next week…

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