Money What if the Toronto-Waterloo corridor really becomes the next Silicon Valley?
Toronto mall evacuated as shooting investigated
Panic erupted at a sprawling Toronto mall on Thursday afternoon after gunshots fired following an altercation between two groups sent terrified shoppers running for cover. No one was injured in the incident that took place in the southeast corner of the bustling Yorkdale Shopping Centre just before 3 p.m., and investigators said they were searching for multiple suspects."There was an altercation between two groups of men, at some point one of the individuals from one of the groups discharged a firearm at least twice," said Supt. Rob Johnson. "Thankfully no one was hit in this.
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Given Uber’s new experiments in the world of driverless cars, it seems only appropriate that Dara Khosrowshahi, the ride-hailing tech company’s CEO, would suggest that the company’s decision to invest and expand in Canada was self-driven.
“For us, it was much more about talent than any business incentive. We’re on the hunt for engineering talent,” Khosrowshahi said at a press conference on Thursday at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery Centre, announcing a new engineering hub in early 2019, the expansion of Uber’s driverless-car lab, and a $200-million investment over five years that would also swell the employee head count here to 500. “It’s about having technology talent that is building services that’s located here so that they understand what it’s like to live in Toronto and build services that are appropriate.”
Teen girl allegedly touched without consent in Waterloo
Police say the man approached the teen in Victoria Park at around 3:45 p.m. last Wednesday. READ MORE: 19-year-old man arrested in connection to incident that injured Waterloo officersThe man, who was unknown to the girl, started to talk to her before touching her without her consent, police allege.Police described the man as being East Indian, around 21 years old, between five feet five inches and five feet seven inches tall, with an average to stocky build. He had short dark hair and was wearing a light coloured, athletic t-shirt with dark grey sweatpants that had black specks on them.
But to solely take him on his word—that Uber’s coming to Canada just because it wants to be the best it can be—would be to ignore a trend line that has made itself explicit in the last year: Silicon Valley is looking north, specifically to the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor, and seeing an opportunity.
Months after Amazon announced that Toronto had made its shortlist of contenders for its $5-billion second headquarters, and Google announced its bold plan to convert a swatch of waterfront into a “neighbourhood built from the internet up,” two more tech heavyweights revealed plans to expand their footprints in Canada’s biggest city. Microsoft, whose headquarters were already just up the highway in Mississauga, is planning on opening a new office in Toronto’s downtown core and adding 500 jobs by 2022, as well as another 500 entry-level and internship positions. And Intel is set to restart its graphics processing units program by engineering and designing them in Toronto, bringing the company’s hardware expertise to bear in a city with manifold AI opportunities after Canada’s pioneering work in machine-learning AI. Major companies like LG and Samsung have made their own moves to establish AI labs in Toronto, too.
Sask. entrepreneurs win trip to San Francisco to help take startups to next level
SREDA announced the winners of trip to San Francisco to meet players who can help them take their startups to the next level. A group of Saskatoon entrepreneurs have received a big surprise.Each of them thought they were finalists to win a tech trip, organized by the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) and California’s Co.Labs.On Thursday, they learned they were all winners.READ MORE: Sask. introduces 2.5 year pilot program to boost investment in technology sectorThey will now travel to San Francisco to meet with mentors, investors and community players.
Members of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, which has worked to smooth visa applications for tech workers and has travelled to the Bay Area to seek out funding, have been quick to crow about these successes. “More proof that our innovation & skills plan is working,” tweeted Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science, and economic development, in the wake of Microsoft’s announcement. “Our govt is creating the right economic conditions to attract investment in Canada.”
The work to woo that investment, of course, began well before the Liberals’ three-year-old government—stretching back decades to investments by various levels of government across political lines. And there has certainly been plenty of big-name tech investment in other Canadian cities, like Montreal, Edmonton and Ottawa . Still, it’s hard to ignore what feels increasingly real: the dream of the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor as a second Silicon Valley—an idea long mooted and promoted by Canadian politicians—might actually be taking shape.
Waterloo police seek trio in connection to string of thefts
Waterloo police issued photos of three suspects they are looking for in connection to a series of thefts from cars in Cambridge in August. Police said the three -- two men and a woman -- are believed to have entered several cars in the Dellgrove Circle area of Cambridge overnight on Aug. 17.READ MORE: Woman assaulted near Lincoln Park in Cambridge: policeThe suspects made off with wallets, money, tools and other items.Continuing to investigate after multiple unlocked vehicles in the Dellgrove Circle area of Cambridge were entered overnight on August 17. Various items were taken.
“It’s always bit fraught to say ‘a second Silicon Valley,’ because those comparisons are never exact,” says Sean Mullin, an economist and the executive director of Ryerson University’s Brookfield Institute for innovation and entrepreneurship. “But there’s certainly been an acceleration in the pace of growth in this area.”
The fact that Toronto is drawing international eyes like Khosrowshahi’s is as good a sign as any that Toronto’s ready for the comparison. Toronto now has the fourth-best tech talent pool in North America, according to CBRE’s most recent, which also found that Toronto added more tech jobs than any other city in the world in 2017—more than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., combined. “In the tech industry, the strongest competitive advantage is talent—it’s a knowledge-based industry—and we have that,” says Mullin. “What Canada has done well is we’ve created great research at our institutions; we have trained incredibly qualified people,” agrees David Wolfe, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto Mississauga and co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab in the Munk School for Global Affairs.
Toronto BMW employee charged after allegedly poisoning co-worker’s water bottle with engine coolant
Police believe two men are responsible for an alleged attempted poisoning of a fellow dealership employee.Toronto police have arrested one man and are looking for another after an alleged poisoning at the downtown Toronto BMW dealership on Tuesday.
That’s a big piece, but there’s still plenty of work to be done if Toronto wants to be a self-sustaining Silicon Valley. While a June 2017 report from BDC Capital found that there’s been a 113-per-cent increase in venture capitalism in Canada between 2011 and 2016—an important grease that makes the whole system go—we still lag well behind Silicon Valley. And while having major players just down the street does help with talent cultivation and idea generation—”to create a world-class start-up, you almost have to have been inside a big company like Facebook, and that’s a big part of getting an ecosystem off the ground,” Mullin says—our start-ups have struggled to scale up before cashing out, usually to U.S. companies. And those are the three pillars of a truly healthy tech ecosystem: quality start-ups, successful scale-ups, and the plentiful lubrication of venture capitalism.
That’s the potential downside of these tech giants’ expansion; while their arrival can put a spotlight on a given region, they can also suck up the oxygen, wielding big chequebooks and enormous prestige to woo the talent needed to make Canada’s homegrown start-ups succeed. Those large firms’ shiny, new research labs create jobs, but they also only generate profit for that foreign company. And the presence of these billion-dollar companies can fuel the allure of selling off a small start-up (and the ideas within) before it has a chance to scale into a major player, warping success to mean a big, cash-out exit, rather than a game-changing idea for Canada. Indeed, while Canada can boast its own brand-name tech heavyweights—Shopify, Slack, and Hootsuite, to name three—none are headquartered out of Toronto, and their valuations remain relatively paltry in comparison. “I want to see exits not as a takeover of a Canadian company by a foreign company, but I want to see those exits in terms of a Canadian company getting a billion- or a multi-billion-dollar valuation, and staying in Canadian hands,” says Wolfe. “To me, that’s going to be the ultimate test of whether we truly emerge as a rival of Silicon Valley.”
Plane missing on flight from Alberta to B.C.
Plane missing on flight from Alberta to B.C.The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre says in a statement that its Pacific division was notified Friday afternoon that a small, private plane was overdue on a flight from Edmonton to Chilliwack, B.C.
That has a big impact on what Canada’s getting out of these investments, especially as the country continues to struggle protecting its own intellectual property. “We teach companies to take out a patent for their research findings, but we don’t do nearly as good a job in teaching companies how to use patents as a strategic weapon,” says Wolfe.
Still, these investments are encouraging, especially as they fly in the face of broader economic winds. Just last week, CIBC’s CEO Victor Dodig—mostly from the energy sector in the wake of the Trans Mountain decision—that warned that investor confidence in Canada had been dimmed, and that Canada risked chilling the foreign-investment climate. Indeed, Statistics Canada found that foreign direct investment in Canada declined in 2017 for the third straight year. But that was driven largely by a decline in mining and oil-and-gas extraction, which involve higher risk and more regulatory barriers than tech investments—and that’s a good thing for an economy that Wolfe says will need to evolve away from energy at some point. He points to decades’ worth of reports from the Science Council of Canada: “I have a whole bookshelf of them, and they say, ‘The future is not going to be resource-based or resource-intensive, it’s going to be knowledge- and technology intensive, and if we don’t figure out how to grow and maintain scale-up firms, that’s going to be a real problem for us down the road.’ ”
From economic need to the allure of big-name players, there are plenty of signs to suggest that the conditions are in place to realistically make the Toronto-Waterloo corridor a legitimate Silicon Valley rival. But there is one big question to be answered: Is that what we actually want? After all, in San Francisco and San Jose, the highest earnersmaking it one of the most unequal regions in the U.S. According to , rents are 227 per cent higher than the national average, while the California Association of Realtors reported in June that the median price of a house in San Francisco was Meanwhile, are preventing an at-capacity public transportation system from much-needed expansion. Many of those issues already exist, in some form, in Toronto, and “tech is part of a bigger set of economic forces that exacerbate that,” Wolfe says.
Jian Ghomeshi’s #MeToo moment: It’s all about him
Anne Kingston: Ghomeshi’s essay extinguishes any doubt as to whether his years in imposed exile delivered insight, wisdom or contrition . They didn’t. The hashtag referenced in the odd title is to #MeToo, the movement that took off in Oct. 2017. Ghomeshi suggests he deserves the credit: “One of my female friends quips that I should get some kind of public recognition as a MeToo pioneer,” he writes. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first.”The perverse boast indicates Ghomeshi really, seriously doesn’t get it. #MeToo pioneers were not the guys who abused.
Indeed, at that Toronto press conference announcing Uber’s cash infusion, Khosrowshahi remarked that Uber engineers from other cities will have the opportunity to move to Toronto as part of the expansion. “We expect a lot of them to take us up on it—this is a pretty nice place to live,” Khosrowshahi said. “The cost of living is attractive compared to San Francisco, so they’re looking forward to it.” In response, a knowing chuckle from the gathered group of young tech-types rumbled across the room.
But depending on how successful Khosrowshahi and his Silicon Valley peers are, there may not be anything to laugh at in just a decade or two. And that’s something that people living there now should seriously consider.
Cyclist dies after being hit by tractor-trailer in Cambridge .
A cyclist was killed in Cambridge during rush hour Friday morning when she was struck by a tractor-trailer near the intersection of Ainslie Street and Dickson Street. Waterloo Regional Police said that around 8 a.m. a woman was struck by a tractor-trailer near the intersection.Police are asking people to use Water Street as an alternate route as the intersection is expected to be closed for approximately four hours.ROAD CLOSURE: Ainslie Street and Dickson Street in Cambridge will be closed for several hours as we investigate a fatal collision involving a cyclist and a tractor trailer.
Do You Need to be in Silicon Valley to Build a Successful Startup?
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