Some more notes on business in Canada. Why does Canada have no large tech companies? Our economy and population are about equivalent in size to California, but ours is focused on resource extraction.

As the world blindly competes to build the next Silicon Valley, they are merely paving a better road to it. Almost all second-tier startup incubators end the program with a road show to Silicon Valley. You'd wonder who is really benefiting from the whole startup hype.


If you are wondering why Canada doesn't have the billion dollar company, it cannot be more obvious than this. Too many people are in it trying to get rich quickly off entrepreneurs. Not enough people have the gut and commitment to create or help create something truly meaningful.

As always, commentary on Hacker News.

Some pithy quotes:

Because Canada prefers many more smaller companies, that actually employ people, instead of few billion dollar tech darlings with a sub par personel and even less taxes paid?

How about: why California is bankrupt, as a state, and with large swaths of the population in utter poverty, despite having the worlds largest tech companies?

-- coldtea

I'm originally from Vamcouver and spent the majority of my 20s there working in the Games Industry before switching more to web and mobile and then moving to the US for last 5 years. So I've obsessed and tracked this topic. I've lived in many States in the US as well as Montreal in Candada.

I think reading Steve Blank's Secret History of Silicon Valley gave me the best break through in understanding of why Silicon Valley is so dominant in tech.

There's just been decades and decades and billions of even World War and Cold War money poured into into it's infrastructure. The shear amount of money and momentum of peak US effort seems nearly impossible to catch up to.

My best advice to other locations is to tie into SV as best as you can and of course focus on getting to scale by bringing in external to your local economy revenue and partnerships to bootstrap, but regardless it's gonna be a long haul. SV is the Holliwood of programmers and its best to acknowledge that. If you are an actor in Canada you know you are likely going to stay small time unless you go down North West for example and break out or stick to a niche.

-- endergen

My point is that empirically, money matters to people. Those 300,000 Canadians aren't hanging out in the USA for fun, they are largely there because of the market gap. This is an enormous loss of talent for Canada.

Now, we can argue about whether or not they're making the right decision being in California, paying Bay Area rent, etc etc, but the fact of the matter is that they're doing it, which puts them in the US, and not Canada, and harming the Canadian tech industry. We're training a huge number of capable technologists, exporting the bulk of them to the US, and the domestic tech industry is poorer for it.

I do not see anything slowing the brain drain by an appreciable degree, except to hugely raise engineering salaries in Canada. I don't think there's a chance in hell of this happening. And I believe that the brain drain, at its current scope and scale, is having a large chilling effect on creating the sort of companies and jobs that the blog author is talking about.

-- potatolicious

See also the Financial Post on Why Canada is Failing at Technology:

Canada suffers from a desperate and growing shortage of computer developers and software engineers. Over the past several decades, Silicon Valley has claimed our best and brightest. An estimated 350,000 Canadians now live in the the Bay Area - a veritable lost generation lured by good, high-paying tech jobs and access to collaborators and capital.

And the Globe and Mail gets in on the action, too:

In a Q&A, a garrulous American VC encourages a Canadian entrepreneur to ask for much more money from potential funders in Canada.

"You don't understand," another entrepreneur pipes up. "If we ask for that kind of money in Canada, they'll think we're on crack."

The VC chuckles: the small-mindedness of in-country funders.