Microsoft Doubles Down on Vancouver


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Microsoft |BCBusiness
Image by: Jacob Parry
Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announces a new Microsoft facility for B.C., flanked by company officials and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Software giant plans new engineering office that will double its Vancouver headcount

Bookended by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and B.C. jobs minister Shirley Bond, Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy announced at a press conference Thursday that the company will open a new office by late 2015 in downtown Vancouver. 

Located in a space above the Pacific Centre the software and services engineering office, dubbed the “Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre,” will double Microsoft’s workforce in Vancouver, as it adds 400 new positions.

"This is incredible news for our city. Microsoft has made the wise choice of scaling up here in Vancouver, and supporting our growing economy," said Gregor Robertson in a press conference at the company's game development office in Yaletown. "The excellence center is a broader opportunity for the city to shine."

Similar to Microsoft’s development centre in Richmond, the new office will focus on software and services engineering for products such as Office 365, Exchange, Skype and Bing, amongst others.

Microsoft has pegged its investment at $90 million annually, citing a study conducted by Ernst & Young LLP. According to that study, the investment will generate $181.4 million per year in direct and indirect economic growth. When asked, Robertson and Bond confirmed that the government offered no incentives or tax breaks in drawing the company to the city.

Following similar engineering offices opened up over the past two years in Vancouver—first Facebook, then Twitter and Amazon—Microsoft’s presence in B.C. goes back to 2007, when it launched the Microsoft Canada Development Centre in Richmond. That engineering office, which plays a role in architecting systems, developing code and testing software, together with a local gaming studio, employs approximately 300.

While its software development operation has remained relatively steady over the last five years, its gaming operations have been a bit more turbulent.

In December, the company shut down its game design studio in Victoria, leaving at least 30 local employees out of work. However Microsoft has also ramped up its gaming studio in Vancouver, Black Tusk Studios, since it opened in 2012.

Microsoft is also touting a new skills training program called “Foundry Vancouver,” that will open around 50 paid internships in to local students, to work in various engineering and design roles.

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