I’m in Canada today to attend a board meeting. I love Canada. It’s a kindler gentler more welcoming version of the US. And it’s increasingly an important place to be for the tech sector.

About 10% of USV’s active portfolio is in Canada. And 30% of our last ten investments are in Canada. We have portfolio companies in Toronto, Waterloo, and Vancouver. We also know that Montreal, Quebec, and Ottawa are attractive places to invest.

Canada has a lot to offer as a home for a tech company or a second office for a tech company.

The government is enthusiastic about tech companies and provides an R&D credit to tech companies. I don’t think this credit is so financially significant that it should determine where you locate your company, but it is a sign of the government’s enthusiasm for tech.

More importantly, the talent pool in Canada is rich. Canadians are well educated and there are a number of very strong engineering schools in Canada. All of our portfolio companies that have engineering teams in Canada claim they get higher quality and retention in those teams than the ones they operate in the US.

And, if course, Canada makes it easy for highly skilled workers to immigrate to Canada. In a time where high skilled immigration to the US has essentially been stopped, Canada is a great option to locate a team and recruit the smartest people in the world to it. What once was the game plan for tech in the US is now the game plan for tech in Canada.

Finally, entrepreneurship is alive and well in Canada. We have met and work with so many ambitious and agressive founders in Canada. And it’s a short plane ride from NYC and SF, depending on where in Canada you want to go.

We also work with a number of great investors from Canada. They are supportive and engaged and very much on top of the important trends in tech.

So I’m bullish on Canada and have been since we started investing here almost ten years ago. And unlike the US, Canada has the wind behind it’s back in tech right now.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .Not sure where you are getting your data, but every immigration proposal being batted about in the Senate (supposedly the adult part of the swamp) has the quota for H1-B visas doubling while simultaneously converting the entire immigration system to a “merit-based” system in which tech degree holders would be at the top of the virtue totem pole.[Note, doubling the quota would absorb 100% of the applicants in most years.]If you have the right credentials, you get to go to the front of the line — that’s the “merit” part of merit based. Huge difference with a lottery and the six degrees of Kevin Bacon approach.There is ample evidence that there is no shortage of tech workers in the US at all — tracking “employment after graduation” from even the best schools in the US proves this. What is true is that the H1-B visa program is still rife with abuses wherein abusers seek to employ great talent at bargain wages.What is also true is that the market for tech workers is becoming progressively more competitive which is driving wages up. At these higher wages, there is virtually no evidence that there is any shortage of labor.Hey, good economies create higher wages. Thank you, Don Don.If you want to pay tech workers low wages, that ship has sailed.Walmart recently opened a big tech operation in Austin By God Texas and was able to staff it completely locally with 80 software engineers. They figured out that they were not going to get that talent to move to Bentonville, Arkansas — great trout fishing in the area, but not so hip otherwise.The Mart paid some high wages and commanded and received the best of the best.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. falicon

      You can be bullish on Canada without being down on the U.S. (I have been my whole life) – there is plenty of love to go around.

      1. JLM

        .Hugely bullish on both. Want them to merge one day soon.Pointing out there might be a bit of misdirection – fake news? – on the immigration front, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Amar

      I get it that things are confusing, confounding and volatile here but I am amused by the general tone of motherhood and apple pie is gone for ever.I am tempted to go “emotionally short” on Canada a tad just to be contrarian 😉 It feels like the Canada is the next SV narrative is getting up there just because the cool folks like saying it to each other.On a side note: China is crazy y’all. Bloomberg has some great articles -> average Chinese user’s video consumption is through the roof so watch out 5G innovation. Except they are not the motherhood and apple pie incubators we want them to be; they use brain wave monitors on utility company employees to change behavior and openly discriminate against over 30 job applicants because you know -> old people have wife, attachments and other social obligations.Welcome to the new world 🙂

      1. JLM

        .There is a difference between democratic capitalism and Communism.Just because Xi looks good in his Brooks Brothers suit doesn’t mean he isn’t a vicious Communist.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. SV is weak

        SV is in denial about working in SV

    3. LE

      What happens when the ‘company town’ of tech opportunities hits ‘max oil’ and starts to go down?This idea that tech is everything to everyone and the answer to all ills just means that we will be in the same place we are now with the push (propagated by the media as is all evils) toward everyone having a college degree and further ‘becoming a lawyer’. We will have an oversupply of tech workers. Pay will decrease.Funny my mom, very old, was talking about my niece the other day. She is wrapped up in some liberal political jobs and things aren’t going well. So my mom says “I told your sister that she should tell (name) to go to law school!!’.And I said to my Mom ‘mom didn’t you get the memo? law school isn’t an opportunity anymore and hasn’t been for years’. My mom didn’t even know that. She was still living in the 60’s and 70’s. Last she heard a law degree was a sure thing. Kind of funny. And she reads the papers a great deal actually. Surprised me.

    4. fredwilson

      I am getting my data on the ground. From our portfolio companies who cannot bring skilled engineers into the US no matter how hard they try

      1. PhilipSugar

        Worse, the problem is the fear of those that are here. That is the view from the ground. That plain and simple sucks.

        1. JamesHRH

          Appears it is a communcation issue, if @Jlm is correct.

        2. Vasudev Ram

          >Worse, the problem is the fear of those that are here.Can you explain? Not sure what you mean by that.Edit: To make my question more clear, who do you mean by “those that are here”, and who fears them and why?

          1. PhilipSugar

            Ok. I employ people on h1b. I find the best that is my only qualificationI have changed over the years. Used to have an average age of 28. I am in my fifties. A mix is great. Just hired two summer internsUsed to not have any h1b. Tons of talent. Doesn’t take American jobs. Pay is same as everyone elseNow do I personally know of companies that abuse this. Usually outsorcing companiesAs we relax during the last two hours of the day tomorrow people with h1bs lament. They say cousins not coming. They are afraid. That is crap. The work will still get done. Not here

    5. cavepainting

      The issue is not the quota; it is the fear and the feeling that you will not be treated well in America.In my own family, my nephews did not apply to US universities because of the rhetoric from the administration, the hate crime in Kansas. and the issues with the H4 dependence visa.What you talk about and the environment you create is more important than what you actually do when it comes to attracting talent.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Last paragraph. So true.First two paragraphs. So sad.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Yes, yes, yes. See my comment it was independent of yours.

    6. scottythebody

      “There is ample evidence that there is no shortage of tech workers in the US at all — tracking “employment after graduation” from even the best schools in the US proves this”I think it just proves that most of the graduates get hired but not that all of the positions get filled. Agree with you about potential abuses, though. I’ve seen it first-hand, although that was a long time ago and I think, in this case, the market did a lot of corrections for it.

  2. JLM

    .I have long campaigned for a merger of the USA, Canada, and Mexico. [Also think there is merit in re-instituting dueling. Another day, perhaps?]If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.We currently have a faux border. We make stuff they buy. They buy stuff we make.We get Molson’s and breakfast tacos plus Huatulco. They get the NY Yankees.It really could work.Wm M is with me on this. Wm?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Mexico? NO WAY. NOT a chance. Sorry ’bout that. Even awash in oil, they are still a s**tpit. They just ARE. And sadly I see no chance for any significant improvement in less than 200 years. We can discuss details and why, but s**tpit is still a solid fact.Canada? At…is Luciano Pavarotti – Natale a Notre-Dame – Montreal, 1978. Just totally gorgeous throughout and some of the very best of Pavarotti. Terrific!!For Canada, they are a very different place from the US. E.g., they have a lot of strongly, proud French culture with an English style government, strong on “social democracy”. They seem to come up short on some of what we have on limiting government in our Constitution.IMHO, the thing to do with Canada is greatly to enjoy having them as good neighbors! A good friendship is a lot better than a bad marriage!

      1. jason wright

        Mexico? A country in a state of civil war. It’s not a drugs war. It’s the elite class working with and ’employing’ the drug cartels to eliminate socialists who would overthrow the ‘regime’ and give the average Mexican a better chance in life.The ‘Drugs War’ theme is a lie as a cover story to explain away what is really going on. The US government assists the Mexican government with this process with intelligence data. A very dirty partnership.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Long ago I saw a pattern: New World countries with lots of people from the British Isles, Scandinavia, the Baltics, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Russia, etc. did well. The ones with cultures from Spain and Portugal can never get past a few big shot land owners and a lot of peasants. Then maybe the peasants want to go for some version of a socialist, command economy, e.g., communism. So, century by century they fight it out, and all that comes out is a banana crop.I lost patience. To hell with them. Keep them the HELL out of here.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            Kind of bold analysis and conclusion IMO, dear Dr. sigma.You are right about something, there is a pattern. It has deep roots in history and the way the Spanish and Portuguese conquered this part of America, how the following waves of invaders blended with the native population that had survived the biological and direct genocide brought by the conquistadores during the first wave. There is also a religious reason based on how the different religious dogma allowed, or not, the cultural and racial integration of the people in the colonies with the natives, and of course other cultural factors.The characteristic tan of many Latin Americans is more of American than Spanish origin. So is the culture in some ways and the pattern of being abused. There is a good chance that those people that live in the countries you mention and despise, have more (native) American blood than you have.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            I don’t blame the native Americans. That is, in 1492, there were native Americans from Pacific to the Atlantic and from the Arctic to Patagonia. Then Canada and the US did well. Comparatively, Mexico and Brazil didn’t. IIRC Mexico was invaded mostly by the Spanish, and Brazil, by the Portuguese.Just what the heck was wrong with Spain and Portugal I don’t know. A simplistic observation is that somehow they settled on a few big landowners and a lot of peasants.The Native Americans, that is, in both North and South America, had a tough time: From some DNA analysis, there is a conjecture that the common ancestor of the Native Americans, Orientals, and Europeans were in India about 40,000 years ago. One group went east, populated Asia and Australia and crossed the Bering Sea Land Bridge and worked down the west coast of the Americas and eventually inland east to the Atlantic. That was a lot of walking.For the ones who went west, somehow they got domesticated animals — cats, dogs, sheep, goats, hogs, horses, donkeys, chickens, and cattle. Big, huge advantage.For grains, it looks like a wash: The Europeans farmed wheat; the Asians, rice; and the Americans corn.Maybe without all that walking the Europeans had a big advantage.By 1492, if not earlier by the Vikings, Europe came to the eastern Americas. Spain and Portugal got Mexico and south, and France and the British Isles got the US and Canada. Later the US got immigration from the countries I named — Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, …, etc.So, it looks to me like the Native Americans were present from the Arctic to Patagonia, but the big difference early on was Spain and Portugal from Mexico south and the British Isles and France from north of Mexico to the Arctic.JLM wants to merge with Mexico: Horrors!!!My view is that we should build a big wall between the US and Mexico and be really good friends with Canada.Other than that, we should also clean up the many problems we have in the US — drugs, crime, poverty, too many mothers without good husbands, broken families, etc. Then we should move on to a better future, exploiting computing and the Internet, bio-medical science, material science, etc.I’m sure you know the history I’m speaking of much better than I do. I’ll pay attention to what you have to say.Broadly, though, apparently something we can call culture matters a LOT. The best of the US are good candidates for the best in the world, and I don’t think that we should dilute our culture with cultures decades to centuries to millennia behind us.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          The whole world will have to unite to provide the forces necessary to help situations like in Mexico with a united front through a peacekeeping effort; there needs to be a way for drug cartel members and their families to feel safe and secure disobeying orders as well, which will take significant resources and trust in whomever is offering them as well.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Are you trying to make trouble ?Guns and healthcare make that a non-starter 🙂

      1. sigmaalgebra

        You mean Mexican drug cartel guns and Canadian health care?US subsized health care: Look up Hill-Burton hospitals and Community Health Centers.Mexico is a narco state: They can’t even start to run their own country. I don’t know just what they have, but very much the US doesn’t need or want it.Canada? I really like Canada.

    3. William Mougayar

      Yes and No. It’s gotten more complicated in the past couple of years.

    4. Matt A. Myers

      Countries and the world will merge, unify, into a single global system when the time is right. From my perspective it will be private-lead (merely for the necessary control aspect without politics of regions slowing the train down), government subsidized expansion – and most important, non-violent methods being used. The system will need to be attractive for all parties to join.

  3. Mike Zamansky

    Fred – do you know anyone doing the HS CS Ed thing up in any part of Canada? I’d be interested in learning more about what goes on up there.

    1. Rob Underwood

      @zamansky:disqus Not HS, but Gordon at Codesters is working with the Hackergal folks up there on their national girls hackathon happening today.

  4. jason wright

    CANada. Good branding.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I don’t know why but one of my favourite movie quotes is:”Are you a Mexican or a Mexican’t?”

  5. sigmaalgebra

    I visited Canada a few times. Yup, it seemed really nice!University of Waterloo has long had world class departments in applied math and computing. One of my profs was long chair of the applied math department.You are joking about the immigration issue, pulling our leg again, right? Uh, slowing the HxB immigration has not reduced by a single person any of the world’s best, highly qualified people we should, and DO, welcome to the US.E.g., I have some friends I met when I was a prof at Ohio State. One is a couple with wife from South Korea and husband from France. I helped hire her. Soon in one year she published five papers in Mathematics of Operations Research when E. Çınlar, long at Princeton, was Editor in Chief. The husband was a student of a member of Bourbaki, a good candidate for the best mathematicians in the world. And he’s a darned good, world class, pure/applied mathematician. We’re talking world class here, and both were much more than welcome in the US.The Chair of the applied math department at Waterloo I mentioned was from Canada, IIRC Waterloo, and he was one of my profs here in the US. He was very welcome here in the US. He wrote one of my favorite applied math papers! But I can see why he liked Canada better. So, he went back to Canada. But he was fully welcome here in the US.More generally, STEM field departments of high end US graduate schools are awash in foreign students. They are much more than welcome. Indeed, typically their families would have no chance of paying for tuition, room, and board, but, still, the students are here. IIRC, the US NSF has a lot to do with that.When I was in grad school, one of the profs explained to me that the department had lots of tuition scholarships left over and got lots of applications from outside the US, but the applicants were nearly never any good. Same situation when I was a prof. In grad school, one of my fellow students was from Israel; terrific student. He seemed to have no trouble getting here.A US world class research university is a very special thing. There are lots of them in the US and a few elsewhere. Take away Great Britain, Germany, France, and Israel, and may not have much left. Overwhelmingly, the really good stuff is already RIGHT HERE at home.Uh, there’s an example here in NYC! At NYU there’s the Courant Institute. Well, Courant was from Germany! I’m sure he was very welcome. Since then, E. Dynkin, world class mathematician, student of Kolmogorov and Gel’fand in Russia, came to the US and has long been at Cornell. I’m sure he was much more than very welcome. I heard him give a nice pure math lecture once; it was SRO; often the audience went “AH!!!!”; he was terrific.Yes, I know, I know, in NYC so far it’s still the PC thingy to do to throw month old lettuce and tomatoes at Trump. But Trump is for “merit based” immigration. I’m sure that world class pure/applied mathematicians quite easily qualify.In strong contrast, that HxB stuff is mostly a new version of slavery.

  6. awaldstein

    As someone who went to grad school in Vancouver and whose son was born in the Okanagan where i ran an apiary, I am of a like mind.I love BC with a passion. And have a fond spot for Toronto as the Sky Dome was my personal client and spent a ton of time there.But–as a market, at least in the past–they are neither indicative of acceptance South of the 49th parallel nor usually economic to be worth the effort to sell there in many cases. At least that is my experience cross a number of sectors.The government in the past has been problematic to imports and even weird things like bilingual requirements are cost prohibitive.I don’t know if these are still true but curious if someone can bring me uptodate.

    1. Erin

      Bilingual requirements aren’t weird, are they? Unexpected by an American company, maybe.

      1. awaldstein

        Point well taken and a sloppy use of words.Canada makes it hard for their consumers. I admit the population is small but the proximity, the language, the cultural affinities make it an easy smaller market to sell goods into.They make it hard for companies to sell in. The Canadian consumer suffers and there is little rationale for the change.

        1. Erin

          I don’t know about the regulations, but companies always have to do a bunch of research and market testing before moving into another country. It’s not just us.

          1. awaldstein

            All I’m saying is the restrictions make it a hard market to want to tackle.I go there often and truly love the north country.

  7. pointsnfigures

    I don’t think the wind has stopped blowing in the sail of US tech. I do think there are other boats on the water.What are the tax consequences of an American fund investing outside the US? How do US funds have to be structured, and how to non-US companies have to be structured in order to avoid international tax complications? Capital is fungible. Law and geography are not.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      > I don’t think the wind has stopped blowing in the sail of US tech.There’s plenty left to do, but for some big successes we do need some good, new ideas not easy to find. Bluntly, computer science is stuck: The simple things have been done, and for more they don’t have sufficiently powerful methodology. They are something like astronomy before Newton, biology before Darwin or before Watson and Crick.

  8. PhilipSugar

    Having gone there at least ten times a year for the last decade I will say a couple of things.Canada: Universally nice people. I can’t remember meeting an ahole, except for in Montreal. Waterloo is beautiful.Remember this: 95% live within 50 miles of U.S. and 20% live in Toronto Metro.No matter what anybody says, the result of this administration has had a chilling effect on skilled immigrants. They are fearful. It is beyond stupid. Life is not a zero sum game.We win because we get the best immigrants, and we have the most stable currency. Giving this up is plain stupid.Same for low skilled immigrants, they do the jobs that nobody else wants to do and work their ass off.There are abuses. And we should work on those edge cases, but not “throw the baby out with the bath water”

    1. sigmaalgebra

      ” skilled immigrants”? You’re joking, right? How many can code up a guaranteed O(n ln(n)) sorting algorithm, e.g., that meets the Gleason bound? How many even know what O(n ln(n)) means?IMHO, HxB immigrants without US educations are qualified for …, let me think …, right, street sweeping, except we have good machines for that. Well, maybe if they got their education at a sufficiently good US university, but in that case their tuition was paid for from taxes from US citizens who are way short of having money enough for the educations of their own children.And that whole thing was a big, ugly scam, engineered by big money to write into NSF grants the forcing requirements.Most of US STEM education and employment is a highly rigged game.I’m advanced enough that I can compete in information technology business, and win with overwhelmingly powerful core technology, with ANYONE in the world from ANYWHERE, no matter WHAT. But for essentially all US ugrad STEM field students, they are “dancing on a string held by all those big shots”.”work their ass off” Sleep on the floor, 10 to a room, get paid in cash, take the cash back with them, several $ billion a year, and live well. It’s a foreign exchange scam. US citizens can’t do that.You are really big on foreigners. Why? Hmm ….

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        So you are a graduate of the “everything I think is true School of epistemology”where the “I” pronoun specifically references only yourself.I would be right there with you if only I could get this “window of doubt” epistemological-albatross off my delusional “philosophy of science” neck.Zooming out on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems one might want to assume that formal mathematical systems are not a complete modelling of the world and the human condition ?

        1. sigmaalgebra

          The HxB situation is ugly. It’s fully intended to be a new version of slavery, and we’re already in a civil war over it, so far mostly non-violent.What I’ve seen of HxB computer people without US educations is grim. What I’ve heard of schools in the countries they mostly come from is much worse.I’m sorry about those countries and their people, but the US has done a lot, a whole lot, for a long time, to provide a good example and pass out good educations. In short, it didn’t take.The good universities are in the US and otherwise nearly all just where they long have been. And, may I have the envelope, please? Great Britain (the British Isles, Canada, Australia), Germany, France, Israel, and, I guess maybe still, Russia. Nearly all the rest are playing catch up ball or have yet to pick up the ball.Just why it’s that way, I don’t know, but I’ve lost patience. I’m not going to push that rock up that hill.I’ve lost patience. I spent too many years in Memphis not to be outraged over slavery. My parents, Dad from near Buffalo and Mom from Columbus, OH, wanted NOTHING to do with slavery. Dad took us there because the US Navy told him to. ASAP I got out. I went back for a while and became Director of Operations Research at FedEx, left for grad school, and have not been back since. I’m glad I left.If my startup works, then I’ll hire; I’ll have to. But get me a stack of bibles so that I can SWEAR never but NEVER to hire anyone but a US citizen, and I fully intend to check. I agree with Trump’s “Hire American”.

      2. Taxilla

        “How many can code up a guaranteed O(n ln(n)) sorting algorithm, e.g., that meets the Gleason bound? How many even know what O(n ln(n)) means?”I don’t think you realize that stuff like that is of little significance to a majority of software jobs. Its like saying Capt. Sully isn’t a skilled pilot because he can’t fly a F-22 Raptor.Software engineering is a vast field & skills required to work on Google’s search algorithm are different from skills required to build an algo-trading system at Goldman Sachs. Software skills (language, algorithms, etc) are only a part of your skill-set as a software developer. There’s also Domain Knowledge which is often valued much more than your software skills. If you work on an Equities Trading system, you’re more valuable to another investment bank than someone who worked at Yelp.Also, many software jobs do not involve writing ground-breaking code, but require “Domain Skills” & “System Skills” to keep things chugging along smoothly. This may sound trivial, but it takes a lot of time & effort to acquire this knowledge. Most large corporations have incredibly complex software systems, integrating with multiple internal and external software systems (often using archaic technologies). It takes months to understand what’s going on and even more time to learn how to make incremental changes, understand processes, fix bugs, suggest workarounds, address production issues, etc. Someone with this specialized knowledge & experience is more “skilled” to the corporation than some self-proclaimed rockstar who can solve arbitrary sorting algos.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Yes, but: Computational time complexity remains from important up to crucial, and I just mentioned a simple, about the simplest, classic case. And big-O notation is right at the core of computational time complexity.For the challenging problems, computing situations, etc. you described, beginning computational time complexity has to remain important.But much more is important in analyzing code: It’s true that computer science has had a tough time coming up with a dozen important theorems, but it’s too much to expect everyone to reinvent all that computer science stuff so far.E.g., some relational database software is busy, 10,000 transactions a second, and we want to back it up. So, do we have to shut it down? Well, no: We can back it up as it keeps doing its 10,000 transactions a second. Now, how the heck is that possible?Okay, you mentioned some big systems. In the past, that has been just an art, not even engineering, much less from a science. Well, there is L. Lamport with VLA+ for better design one or more levels above code. This is especially important for problems with challenging issues of concurrency — super darned tough to replicate or, thus, debug. There have been some good successes with VLA+. Lamport’s is a bright guy.Sure, simple stuff for concurrency is Dijkstra semaphores, but those are already harder than big-O notation.A good education is really expensive until consider the costs of a poor one.

      3. David C. Baker

        I meant to look up “pretentious “ for another project today but you’ve saved me the effort. 🙂

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Ah, we all make mistakes! Your opinion is that I made another one?? Maybe you are correct!!But for my claim, I qualified that to “business”. For the high end in academics or US national security, what I said is wildly false. For business, shockingly, it looks correct!Why? Commonly in business, when see an opportunity, consider taking it. Sooooo, we have the Internet to move data; we have computers to process the data; the computers will do what we tell them to do; so, for a given problem in business with some good data, what processing do we ask of the computer?Actually, I’m not exactly the Lone Ranger here: The computer science community got tired of parsing, compiling, and linking, relational database, and graphical user interfaces and decided to try to address “what processing do we ask of the computer?” To this end , computer science rediscovered regression analysis and some of its extensions, labeled that artificial intelligence (AI), got a lot of hype from the newsies, and are going wild.The AI people wanted their story told in an exciting, exaggerated way, and the newsies very much want exciting stories to tell and are eager enough to exaggerate. So, the newsies are going on and on about the “intelligent” robots, less good on their legs than a cockroach, nowhere nearly as good at learning as a kitten, nowhere nearly as smart as a beaver, nothing like a human, will take over the world!!! “Ah, the old take over the world ploy!”. Thank you Inspector Clouseau!Regression analysis is some nice applied math, somewhere 50+, 100+, years old, but there’s much more that can be done.So, now with all the AI hype, some people in business are willing to allocate bucks to try. There will be some successes but too few. Regression and its extensions are good stuff, and have been for 50+ years, but they are not nearly as good as nearly all the hype. Then, soon the AI spring of hope and the summer of hype will lead to the fall of failure and another AI winter. Then business will give up again on nearly everything in applied math.Then, again, anyone with some applied math for a business problem will have zip, zilch, and zero for competition: (A) With a few exceptions, business won’t pursue applied math projects. (B) Well qualified mathematicians in academics and US national security won’t go into business. E.g., nearly no one in business with a budget and P&L responsibility will create a slot for a mathematician and hire them.Actually, an applied mathematician in business about has to be a startup founder because everyone else in business believes, except for the current AI hype, that some applied math and a dime won’t cover a 10 cent cup of coffee.And the startup founder has to sell the results, not the math. Mostly don’t mention the math; don’t suggest that there is any math involved; keep the math protected as a “trade secret” with the corresponding code in a secure server. Well, academic and national security math people won’t like trying to be a startup founder. Net, presto, bingo, what I said is at least close to true: No competition in business.There have been successful examples:Oil Patch I: You own an oil refinery. Here is your mission, and you have to accept it. You start with all the supplies, varieties, of crude oil available to you and their prices. And you see what the prices are on the various products from naphtha to gasoline, jet fuel, lubricating oil, etc. you might sell. So, how to you run your refinery to maximize earnings?For a while, this was a hot problem in the oil patch. So, it’s an optimization problem, i.e., some applied math. The first attack, then, is the simplest one, linear programming. Then for a better attack, some non-linear programming. Uh, one of the nicer books on non-linear programming isOlvi L. Mangasarian, Nonlinear Programming, ISBN 07-039885-2.written when he was at, right, Exxon. There was long a guy in the chemical engineering department at Princeton doing this stuff. There have been at least two Texas based companies specializing in this. Rice University has been a leader in the optimization. For a while, IBM made some bucks selling high end mainframes for such work.(2) Oil Patch II: R. Garwin was at a US Presidential Science Advisors meeting sitting next to John Tukey. Garwin had long been in the nuclear physics of US national security, and Tukey was at Bell Labs and Princeton. Tukey was taking meeting notes with one hand and doing Fourier derivations with the other. Garwin asked Tukey if he, Tukey, knew something about Fourier theory that Garwin didn’t. Garwin wanted to know because he was spending too much computer time doing Fourier transforms.Well, yes, Tukey did know some things: Garwin took some of that back to IBM, and J. Cooley at IBM coded it up. It was wildly faster, O(n ln(n)) instead of O(n^2). Amazing. Actually literally “earth shaking”! It was called the fast Fourier transform (FFT).I know; I know; this big-O stuff is such a bummer. It looks like, walks like, quacks like some academic nonsense. Well, let’s get an example. Let n = 8192, uh, just to pick a number. Then typing into Google yields8192/ln(8192) = 909.119828843So, not to quibble over the small stuff, on 8192 points in time, the FFT is 1000 times faster.So, sure, US national security got interested.Back to the oil patch, you own some drilling rights on some square miles, suspect that there’s some oil down there somewhere, but know that drilling can be an expensive shot in the dark. Uh, how’d you like to have a nice 3D map of all the subsurface layers on your square miles? On a computer screen, you could rotate, zoom, pan, etc.? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? And what if I told you could get this 3D map without drilling? NOW how interested would you be? Supposed I told you that you never even had to move so much as a hand full of dirt? NOW how interested would you be? Suppose I told you we could drive our truck to your property and get your first good pictures this afternoon? How about in an hour? Would you believe 10 seconds? Now how interested are you?So, let’s see: Suppose you go outside and drop a 50 pound chunk of iron. That will make seismic needles wiggle! So, a sound wave goes down through the layers. As waves tend to do at layer boundaries, some of the wave gets reflected and some, transmitted. If you carefully receive the reflected waves, you get a convolution of the original. So, for the layers, you need to do a de-covolution. The nice way to do that is with the Fourier transform. The fast way to calculate that is the FFT. Cut to the bottom line — big bucks in the oil patch.It happened. There is now a huge literature, but there are a lot of first-cut details inEnders A. Robinson, Multichannel Time Series Analysis with Digital Computer Programs, Holden-Day.More can be done!!

      4. Russell

        I disagree. The CTO of a business I worked on was on a HxB and had great tech and people skills.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          There can be exceptions.An HxB is temporary, and his company had him as CTO? Hmm ….

    2. LE

      Canada: Universally nice people. I can’t remember meeting an ahole, except for in Montreal. Waterloo is beautiful.I really really really hate to rain on the lovefest here but even though I was always in love with Canada (for the same reasons) I ran into a situation recently that honestly soured me big time. And I know it is irrational and in no way makes sense to hold it against the country or the people. But I think there is a lesson to be learned here so I will vent it. It left that much of a bad taste in my mouth.We went to visit Banff which is just kick ass beautiful. Honestly way nicer than any national park that I have been in the US. The hotel was great, the flight in was great the airport was great all out of the park. Even the wifi was fast at the hotel. Then one day we decide to go up to see the glaciers. Big open empty roads. On the way back there was a speed trap. Funny thing was we saw the speed trap on the way up. We were just discussing it on the way back (so we could slow down) and wham we got caught in it. It is a trap because if you look on google maps streetview you can see how they placed the sign right before you go around the corner. They are their to nab you. Tourists in particular. Like some small town on the way down to Florida.Anyway the local (whatever they are called with the mountie cap) pulls us over and there is literally a line of people all having the same experience. Ok it’s a trap, no big deal buyer beware. However the cop was a 100% total nasty asshole. Nothing like getting nabbed in the US. When I tried to talk he just cut me off and said something like ‘I was going to cut you a break but now I am not’. Totally rattled me. At the end he gives me the ticket ($357 CAD) and tells me that I have until December to pay for it and I can show up in court (yeah right) and contest if I want. And I am lucky because if he wanted to he could impound the car and throw me in jail (or something like that). My wife is thinking we won’t get into the country again or will be arrested at the border if we don’t pay and try to re-enter.So I am super pissed off but figure I will pay the ticket. When I get home I study the ticket and find out that it doesn’t even have the location of the speeding just a general pre-printed area that had to be about 40 miles from where he caught us. Further it didn’t have my drivers license number on it either. Just name and address in the US.So I decide to wait. No notice in the mail. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Never heard from them again. Potential revenue gain $357 CAD. Cost of postage approx $1 CAD. Seems like they should send out a few notices? Losers!I guess the point I am trying to make is this. What exactly is the reason to piss off people who are coming to your country to spend money if you aren’t even going to design a system where you maximize the revenue you are trying to get from them? Why create a disincentive to do so? All they had to do was send a few scary letters and I (and others) would probably cough up the money. And why be an asshole to boot? Poor management and supervision. Honestly how much of government (in either country) has such sucky people.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        It seems that government is really strong in Canada. Maybe is comparatively short on voter feedback.There can be worse highway police scams in the US.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Get nabbed in Newark, DE. Miles over squared plus 30%. Speed traps at bottom of steep hill that goes from 50mph to 25mph.Your negotiating style does not work when you are not in a position of power. I know. Yup. Sucks you are not in a position of power, but when you are not, putting your head down and saying sorry works almost every time.

        1. LE

          I wasn’t negotiating or even trying to though. And I don’t think normally it pays to admit things. Why? As an example in another case there was a cop on the hill NJ Tpke (exit 8). He pulled us over and tried to get me to admit to speeding. I didn’t. I said I wasn’t speeding. So he just gave us a warning. Why? Because he had no proof. Was at night and he wasn’t shooting radar from his location. And we saw him go down the hill as well and fly after us. So how would he know we were speeding? So if I admitted (I think he said we were going 85) anything he would have a basis for the ticket. [1] Cop in the township near where I am now regularly sits on the side of the road shoulder on blind overpass and pulls people over. But I have research the laws in the State. A cop can’t sit on the shoulder and give people tickets as a practice. Why? Because he can’t sit there unless he has stopped someone and then he can obviously. It’s no different that you or me. If we have a valid reason we can stop in the shoulder. But we can’t stop there for any other reason or we get a ticket. Cop is no different. It’s a safety hazard to sit in the shoulder unless an emergency or bonafide reason. And waiting for speeders is not.One thing though I once got a valid ticket for slamming into someone in the front that stopped short. I wrote a letter to the judge and cited the law which said something about outside events being an exception (like if a bird flies in your car and you are distracted as opposed to not paying attention). The judge bought it and killed the ticket. And I didn’t even have to go to court. I did it all by mail. This is how most battles are won. Don’t be lazy. Do the research and your homework and find or exploit an angle that the other side is to busy to dispute and it’s easier for them to agree and give you what you want.[1] I’ve seen that technique with shady township tax collectors (I have to come up with a name for this). They send out super official notices saying that you owe $80,000 in back taxes for the township vig. Completely made up number. “Your sales are 10,000,000 so…” The idea is your admin assistant (or ‘mr small business owner guy’) freaks out and says ‘we don’t owe that we owe $1000’. So point is they don’t know what you owe at all. So they overinflate to get you to do the work that they should be doing. This happened in a PA town where I had an office once. I ignored the notices for years. I figured if they were that shady they should lose everything. And you know what. They did. I never paid a cent of what was owed. I ‘told them’ I knew they were screwing people and that I would expose them. I didn’t actually say that. As always I implied it in other ways. It was a third party that was hired by the township. They get a percentage of the take. And they skim their fee off the top. And the township losers bless this. So screw them.

    3. LE

      Same for low skilled immigrants, they do the jobs that nobody else wants to do and work their ass off.I will disagree with you on this. They do the ‘jobs that nobody wants’ because the level of pay has been depressed because there is a supply of people that will do the work so cheaply because they are from these, sorry, ‘shithole’ countries and are desperate.If those people weren’t here to do those jobs then they would pay more and then people would gladly do them.Remember I had mentioned that back in the 70’s my dad had to pay exorbitant rates for labor at the NY Coliseum (home of the NY Gift Show) very high union labor rates. And every job was a specific title. You needed union carpenters to assmeble shelving (even if not wood) you needed union electricians to run extension cords. The only exception was you could (or he got away with) having your own employees do the work if they were there. But otherwise you couldn’t bring any non-union labor into the building. And on top of that you had to pay off the union boss (maybe that is how he got away with it I don’t remember I was a kid). The labor cost was high enough that my dad was able to save money and put workers up in hotels. What does that tell you?Don’t you think that there was local labor in NYC that would have gladly done that work for less than union rates? Without paying for hotels and meals?Do you think that the mexicans that cut our lawn at home are paid as well as they should be for that ‘shitty’ work? They aren’t.The lawn work in our area goes for cheap wages. And if there was not the cheap labor (willing to work under the table or for very little) it would cost us more. That is why everyone looks the other way.Clearing snow (done by people who live here) is incredibly expensive you have no idea how much we pay for that because it’s done by a different type of person.No question that there are very few jobs that if wages increased people here would not do. It’s like real estate. If it isn’t selling it’s because the price is wrong. There is a buyer at every price level.

    4. JamesHRH

      There are assholes in Canada.Come on now.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Sure, but very few. I would go to this place in St. Catherine’s on my way from Toronto and Buffalo. Every time I came in it was like a long lost friend returned.

  9. Rob Underwood

    On the topic of Canada, today is the big national “Hacker Gal” hackathon. See… to follow what’s going on around the country. Fellow commenters –> I’m sure they’d appreciated an RT or mention if you want to cheer the girls on.(The hackathon is conducted on the Codesters platform — disclaimer that Codesters is a client of mine)

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      RT’d 🙂

  10. Elliot Goldstein

    Read an inspiring interview this morning from CEO of Vidyard, Canadian company.

  11. Jeff Hohner

    Thank you for the kind comments Fred. There are a lot of great things going on here – you can just feel it. Glad you and your team are a part of it.

  12. jefftala

    Do Fred or anyone else have thoughts about American VCs leading early rounds (pre-Seed, Seed, Series A) for Canadian companies? Someone mentioned to me recently that they will likely prefer to have a Canadian lead investor to have local “boots on the ground” that have a closer relationship with the portfolio company.Is that generally the case?

    1. Francois Royer Mireault

      Hey neighbour, good to see I’m not the only Montrealer addicted to AVC 😉

      1. jefftala

        First B&M, now AVC. Pretty sure you must be stalking me.

  13. Ana Milicevic

    I’ve been bullish on Canada for a long time and have been advising friends and mentees looking for a new country to go there. It’s easy to settle there, the path to citizenship is quick, and, since many are refugees after years of temporary status in the US in spite of grad schools, great jobs, and in some cases decades invested, all report the friendliness and openness of the country as a major draw (and stark contrast to the US immigration system).One thing makes me even more bullish about Canada in the long run: its social structures (most importantly universal healthcare, affordable & available childcare, and excellent public education) are more in line with the way work is transforming. That is not a trivial moat.

  14. DJL

    Good blog post, eh.I love Canada (and living right on the border went there many, many times.) I don’t agree with the immigrant assessment nor the fact that Canada is suddenly more attractive than the US. I don’t think the number support that. But glad to see their tech sector going strong.

  15. John Pepper

    En route from Boston to SF last night I couldn’t help but notice Toronto’s beautiful city lights sprawling from east to west along Lake Ontario and then of course north.. and thinking about the Highway 400 leading up to my favorite place in the world, Georgian Bay. I’m not sure about the details of this post related to tailwinds, immigration advantages, etc… but I think there is something generally special about Canada that is only beginning to matter in the modern, evolving, and hopefully more compassionate, world of business. I can see cries of naiveté in response to this – guilty as charged.

  16. Chimpwithcans

    Canada to me – Tim Horton’s and Whistler – I have never had a better holiday than my honeymoon on the slopes and hiking the wilderness. Holy moly what a place to escape. As a business destination? No clue. Ask me one about Africa.

  17. Salt Shaker

    Addd in hockey and Tim Horton’s and you’ve got yourself a commercial.CA is awesome. A lot to like, especially relative to our own madness. Many Canucks think we’re crazy, and w/ reason.Quick funny story: My sister-in-law is Canadian, so my nieces and nephew have dual citizenship (US & Canada). One niece, who now lives in Vancouver, recently had an interview as a gov’t “merchandiser” overseeing marijuana regs in BC, which I think is about to legalize rec usage.Interviewer: “What kind of pot do you smoke?” Niece: “I don’t smoke.” (which is true)Interviewer: “Right, but if it WAS legal what kind would you smoke?” Niece: “But I don’t smoke.”Interviewer: “Hmmm, okay, next Q”She didn’t get the gig.

  18. Salt Shaker

    We’ve visited a big chunk of Canada (Nova Scotia, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Vancouver). Even went camping for a week in Northern Ontario. Great places to visit, especially when dollar is strong! We flew up from NYC to Montreal quite often for weekend getaways (my wife affectionately calls it “poor man’s Paris.”) Tip: Cheap Jet Blue flights from NYC to Burlington VT, 1+ hr drive to Montreal.

  19. daryn

    About 10 years ago, I worked for a startup that was founded in Victoria and kept its HQ there for the tax credit and legacy reasons, but had moved most of its operations in Seattle. Talent pool was one of the main reasons, particularly around more senior hires and management. Victoria is not a big city though, and much may have changed in 10 years (and the plus side was that there was a lot less competition for the talent that was there).I love Vancouver. Amazon just announced a big expansion of their office there and Kenmore Air just launched direct float plane service from downtown Seattle to downtown Vancouver, so I think we’ll see a lot more presence of American tech companies there.By the way, I’ll be there in a couple weeks on a panel at the BC Tech Summit, if anyone wants to meet up for a beverage.

  20. Elliot Goldstein

    Inspiring interview from CEO of Vidyard, Canadian company…

  21. Mario Cantin

    It’s also the birth place of Ethereum

    1. jason wright

      Gavin Wood is in London.

  22. Evan Van Ness

    You should come by Edcon if you’re in Toronto.

  23. Erin

    And if you’re bullish on sunshine, set up your offices in Saskatchewan for 2318 hours of annual sunshine as opposed to 2066 hours in Toronto. (And 10-minute commutes and friendly people.)

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Interesting. Any major downsides?

      1. Erin

        Distance from major city centres and a cold (but dry!) winter.I’ll move east one day, but I’ll miss the easy living and access to green space here.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Thanks, sounds good. Green space is something I like, both because having partly grown up in it, and just because 🙂

  24. jellymind

    As a founder in Toronto, Canada, whose recently done a 3x/2x in SaaS, I can unequivocally say:- Retention is far superior (we haven’t lost an engineer in 3 years in Waterloo)- Costs are much cheaper so we don’t have to over-inflate valuation by leading earlier rounds that create mis-aligned expectations- We get to run “Series B” stage ARR on seed funding which makes it attractive to senior hires as we command more control of our business – We spend more time on product and customers rather than recruiting because of the pool of talent

    1. PhilipSugar

      This isn’t because of Canada. This is because you are not in Silicon Valley/Alley.Haven’t lost one in over a decade.See my comment above.

    2. JamesHRH

      KW6 should scare he bejesus out of SV.

  25. jason wright

    “I love Canada. It’s a kindler gentler more welcoming version of the US.”…Is this the same ‘California’ of Silicon Valley, web tech, and all its billionaires?BROKEN SYSTEM.’Internet We’.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Very depressing. The worst poblaciones in Santiago look much better than that.When I see people living like this I feel ashamed to be part of a society that has grown so numb and oblivious. Its the failure of social systems plus the evil effects of drug addiction in most cases.Thanks Jason.

    2. LE

      Orange County is Southern California not Northern California. Besides that, the point of the video is to try and say that it’s as a result of being a sanctuary city. Which is true. I hope the residents there are happy given how it impacts them personally. Sure we should just let everyone in that has a bad time in their country with crime etc. Great when people who are not impacted support all sorts of social issues since it causes pain for someone else and not them or if for them in some nominal way.(Assumes video is correct I don’t know anything about it other than what I read on the youtube page)

      1. jason wright

        i don’t think it is faked. it’s not MSM content creationism.there’s been mutterings of California wanting to become an independent sovereign state. I assume that would not result in a North California and a separate South California (and K-Pax should not encourage such a divisive idea). Sacramento would, i assume, remain the capital for all, even for the tent people of Orange County. That looks far worse that the tent cities i’ve seen for refugees. The US has 25% of the world’s wealth, but what % of its citizens share in that wealth? It’s a broken system, and not just the US system.

  26. Lawrence Brass

    What is the best route from NYC or Boston to Toronto, to drive?From a tourist-explorer point of view.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Have you tried asking Wolfram Alpha? I haven’t used it much, so not sure if it can answer what is somewhat of a qualitative question such as this one by you, just suggesting it as an idea :)There was a lot of hype about it when it first came out, and of course, no software can answer everything about life ( not even 42 :), no matter what the (sometimes vested-interested) AI / ML h(i|y)p(e)sters might say, but still may be worth a check.

  27. Vasudev Ram

    In the context of this post and comments on it about immigration, I’ll just leave a few links here (as an example), related to my late uncle, Dr. Raja Parasuraman, of George Mason University, and of the Catholic University of America before that.He was an immigrant from India, decades ago, studied after high school first in the UK, got his degrees despite various hardships, then went to the US and spent the rest of his life there as a professor and researcher, contributing not just to that country but to worldwide knowledge.Over his career, he obtained several research grants worth millions of dollars from US institutions and the US government, and used them to do productive research along with his research students in his labs.He was near the top of his specialized field, and created what might be a new field too, neuroergonomics. He passed away a few years ago.RIP, Raja.He was not unique, of course. There were and are literally thousands or more of others like him.Here are the links:https://www.dignitymemorial

    1. PhilipSugar

      People like him are why we need to welcome gifted minds. I will only say one other thing, we need to provide spouses/partners of these great people the ability to contribute to our economy as well. Yes, contribute. Not a zero sum game, their contribution improves everyone.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Good point. Yes, if the spouses are not allowed to contribute, the two of them may choose another country where both can.

        1. PhilipSugar

          It’s a really serious problem. Again, it’s working to lowest common. If they let a spouse work maybe it’s not really a marriage.I have two real life examples that have jaded my view on the whole process.My brother married another professor. She literally wrote the book on decoding genomics. Wrote the book. PhD Math from University of Paris. Yeah Sorbonne.She wanted to get her green card but it was after 9/11. She really did not want to get it through my brother, but sometimes, you do what you have to do.I got put down as a reference. They asked me how did I know they were an actual couple? Down to the point of ok, you stay with them and say they sleep in the same room, but do they really sleep together? How demeaning, how humiliating. That just shows attitude. How do you ask that question to me?Second was a woman who was a great tester for us. Her husband got transferred from India for Citibank and is now SVP of IT so she had to move and leave. But during the interview I said: Why this big employment gap? I assumed she might say kids and that is totally fine with me, some of our best employees come roaring back into the workplace energized and motivated after taking care of family commitments. “I couldn’t get a work Visa, it was really depressing just sitting at home” Think of the talent that got wasted over those three years. Masters in math, great mind, awesome work ethic. Just wasted.

          1. Vasudev Ram

            Wow, shocking stories. A pity that such rules exist.

  28. damiansen

    Saying that canada is gentler than the US sounds better than saying that its the US that is _____

  29. John Lyotier

    As a Canadian tech founder, when we looked at if we could pull off our vision for a connected world with a mobile mesh network, we looked at where in the world the talent lived (and asked if we could attract it to Canada’s west coast). It turns out that the highest concentration of networking, mobile and distributed systems talent was right here in our own backyard. Nearly 15-20 years ago the Canadian government asked industry, what it wanted graduates to look like. And RIM, Nortel, 360Networks and the like answered with a request for what we now have. The govt then worked with academia to build comp sci and engineering students who had certain skills and core understanding. But when the graduates (undergrad, masters, PhDs) started to come out, many of the incumbent players were no longer hiring or no longer around.We, and many other decentralized and mobile companies are now benefiting from those decisions made as the dotcom era was imploding. While progress and government support may seem slow at times, the impact of good policies and decisions is felt for generations.

  30. Jeremy Robinson

    I’ve been coaching leaders in Canada for the past five years- primarily in the pharma space. My experience confirms everything you write about Canada, Fred. Better retention. Better employee engagement. Less assholes per square mile. More enlightened diversity policies. Non- toxic immigration policy. I’m hoping that Canada can start to rub off on our US way of life following our next US election cycle. We shall see…..

  31. moeadham

    A few other niceties about Canada:- Less Litigious cultureIn Canada, as you become more of a target, you don’t deal with as many patent/securities trolls as you would in the US.- Small cap IPO’s are a thingThe TSXV and CSE have a healthy IPO market for small caps (~100M). We actually have some decent exits below Unicorn level here. There is an exit strategy.- HealthcareStartups don’t have to waste time and money on Health insurance. Huge cost saver during early seed.

  32. William Mougayar

    Yes the government subsidies are interesting, but they can be excessive, and are a waste, based on how they are managed. Government support doesn’t move the needle at the micro level that much. Many of these programs suck the air out of the system. I would rather take a tax break if I deserve it, than see my tax money getting spread around with no results. Canada still has too much government interference. In Ontario, they still control the liquor and the hydro, and overall, they let the 3 telco thiefs monopolize the market with outrageous prices.

    1. Mark Essel

      Props to lower taxes. I’m getting beat up as a consultant (x2 social security tax in the US) with my tax rate closing on 50%

    2. moeadham

      Work is being done to shine light on the tech subsidies:https://explorecatena.comWhile cutting back on subsidies might sound like a way to cut waste, in the grand scheme of things, they don’t move the needle at all in terms of discretionary spending. Most of these subsidies go to directly pay engineering salaries, which are high-tax paying, so the funding is circular.I suspect there are other areas of waste that could have a more direct impact on taxes.

  33. jedd

    Canada is not more welcoming. You can’t even get into Canada if you have a DWI in the USA. That’s how strict Canada is. Actually, any arrest and you will not get in.