Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I've been going to Vancouver regularly (about once a year) since the mid 90s. As the return of Hong Kong to China approached, the influx of Chinese investment spiked. It started in Vancouver, people who had been in the better parts of Vancouver and were of retirement age sold and moved out (basically the first wave) and those being bought out moved to places like the Okanogan, etc.

Then, single story buildings in Kits, for example, gave way to three+ story multi-use (commercial downstairs, residential upstairs) units. Some of this is still happening around the city. Where older 2-3 story condo buildings exist, some were vacated for building some more towers.

Funny this story shows up now. It is something that has been happening for almost 20 years.

It is also amazing to me, given the beauty, the availability of technology, and the desirability, Vancouver never has become a tech hub. There were a few startups circa 2000-ish that made waves, some were sham puffed up deals like those lead by Dick Hardt (sxip). There has traditionally been a lot of media (popular for hollywood filming), gaming, and smaller startups, but nothing that served as an anchor.

Vancouver and BC are probably at the top of my favorite places on the west coast, but the issues it has in technology, building an industry, and being affordable go back in time well before this simple blog post.

edit: typos

Vancouver and BC have a close knit, vibrant tech community with a long history. I've never been short of a great work in Vancouver since 1990.

Price Waterhouse Cooper has a "BC Techmap" project: http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/technology-industry/bc-techmap.jhtm...

This is a big poster you can order.

Unfortunately, the preview site for it is defunct. The map traces the linage of tech companies in BC back to the 1940's.

Here is someone's shot of the 2003 version:


If your idea of a tech scene is that there must be a mushrooming of "like Facebook, but for dogs" type startups, then indeed, no, Van is not a hotbed for that kind of thing.

My take on vibrant is visibly growing. I don't mean in an SF or Palo Alto sense - but more startups and other companies opening shop, employing locals and attracting talent. Meet ups, conferences, the like.

I don't rule out Vancouver has companies and a tech scene, but it has potential (and has had) for more. I think of Austin, Raliegh-Durham or Berlin as examples of comparison than SF or Palo Alto.

I don't think that the locals in Vancouver have problems getting jobs; they do get absorbed into the industry. (I'm thinking of, say, new graduates from programs at from UBC, SFU, Capilano University, BCIT, ...).

Almost every company I've worked for in a quarter century has participated in the co-op program; we've had bright interns every year, and they all went on to work either for the same company or elsewhere.

Many people are satisfied with that, and have other hobbies outside of work other than going to meets with other programmers. Or those who have programming as a hobby would rather be actually doing that.

Also, people have significant others and families. Geek get-togethers are mostly for single people who don't have a significant other that isn't also a geek.

In the early/mid 2000's Vancouver had a healthy games industry. Not sure about now. But your point is valid.

Vancouver doesn't really have any technology industry that's in a virtuous cycle yet.

Google / Microsoft / others are building office complexes in Richmond, Surrey, and other places close to the border because of "US immigration" limitations, but those aren't going to help build industry.

Until the mid 2000s, I was looking for a viable company / excuse to move to Vancouver (meet the required points/immigration first bar), but never felt like tech was taking off there.

I was involved in the identity arena from the late 90s to mid/late 2000s, the aware of sxip (Dick's company) and had me again exploring the vancouver scene. Funding and major players then were a handful of people and not growing. Not healthy for long term growth -- at least for the risk assessment I was running personally.

Microsoft's latest development isn't even a real office. It's just a temporary stopover for non-Canadians to get them enough time working at MS to apply for an L-1 to go to Redmond. The people working there will not have immigrant status in Canada and couldn't stay even if they wanted to. The contribution to the Vancouver economy will be only from custodial or clerical support jobs.


I disagree,because of this: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/tech-news/microsof...

Imageworks is taking 2 floors in the same building, Amazon is already in the Telus building at the 555 Robson Atrium and have leased numerous floors in the new Telus Garden tower which will be open momentarily: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/10/amazon-vancouver-office-t...

Big companies coming in with their money does help. Vancouver loses out on loads of people to SF and Seattle.

I used to live around Vancouver, I really like it there. I'm not going to choose that over Seattle where I can make more money.

With TN visas being a pretty painless path towards working in the states why not move down?

Of course if I can work for good money at a good company in Vancovuer then I'd stay. Didn't really seem like an option.

re: my point...there are "body shops" for big companies, but no anchor development in the province.

I'd love to see something take hold. I'd love to move there, but the infrastructure and base for something more isn't there.

So....you had bad experiences in Vancouver a decade ago so its tech community is not vibrant today??

Facebook / Microsoft is here too but they hire almost no Canadians, most are foreigners, until they can get the green light to work in the States.

Amazon is the only one hiring locally but I often find that they just advertise positions but never really end up hiring

Amazon does hire local talents. I know a few people there.

I know someone there, too, but I have also been scouted a few times by folks looking to have me move from Toronto to Vancouver (something I’m not willing to do for a lot of reasons).

Quebec province was heavily subsidising the video game industry back then (and I believe still is though to a lesser degree) which might have not played in Vancouver's favour.

Quebec and other provincial subsidies played a role, but in general the AAA console game business model that fuelled the Vancouver games industry in the early 2000s has been weakened severely. The middle of the market is gone leaving only a tiny handful of ultra high budget games, and a low end of indies in the PC space.

There are a lot of talented games or ex-games people in Vancouver, a lot of them interested in indie games, but because games is not a repeatable business model and it is incredibly hard to predict what will be successful, there's no real VC environment and it's hard to find the cash to start up a studio. The age of big publishers like Sony and Microsoft dumping cash on people for exclusives seems over.

I know a few games guys that have gotten out altogether and gone to work at non-games companies, but in general I'm not sure if there's a great deal of interest from non-game companies in hiring ex-games people. Unfortunately games is weird highly specialized skill set.

EA has a very large studio there that produces the FIFA video game franchise among other things.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact