BCBusiness Report Card: Vancouver tech advances again

We assess how different people/things and, of course, businesses fared this week.

Credit: Flickr

We assess how different people/things and, of course, businesses fared this week

Hey, would ya look at that? Most of the grades in this version of your favourite column are actually pretty good!

As much as we have fought hard to earn the title of crusty curmudgeon (we actually have a banner in the office labelled as such), we do occasionally enjoy being nice and shedding some light on positive happenings in the province.

Of course, you shouldn’t assume that it’s always going to be like this. After all, it’s much easier to make fun of things that are a complete mess.

Congrats to the province for a good week, we guess. Just don’t get used to it.

Here’s what we thought made the grade this week (and what didn’t). 

Vancouver’s tech scene

Grade: A

The 2019 Scoring Tech Talent report from American real estate firm CBRE had some good news for Vancouver.

The city ranked No. 12 out of 50 North American markets, up 13 positions from last year. It represented the largest gain of any market in the ranking, as Vancouver has reportedly seen 42.6-percent growth in the number of tech jobs added over the past five years.  

Of course, there’s a downside to that for the actual employees. One of the main reasons the city has had success compared to others is its relatively low wages. Tech employees in Vancouver took home an average salary of $61,824. That’s about half the average salary in San Francisco ($129,718) and Seattle ($117,806).

And if you ask them, the hours aren’t particularly great either. Hopefully the industry can continue to grow as a whole. You know what they say about rising tides.

We are talking about Vancouver, after all!

Canucks Sports and Entertainment

Grade: A–

The announcement that the Vancouver Titans (Canucks Sports and Entertainment’s esports team in the Overwatch League) will be hosting live matches at Rogers Arena next year is massive news.

The team will host some of its matches over two homestand weekends to be announced later, representing a further windfall for the operating group that will surely only increase as esports continue to permeate the market.

The Titans will also have the ultimate low bar in terms of success, which should help. Just take a look around Vancouver’s sporting world right now. 

Working in the public sector

Grade: B+

Who said working for the people didn’t have its rewards? Look at all these public servants diligently doing their jobs in service of the greater good! Like the CEO of Powerex, which (checks notes)… “buys and sells wholesale electricity, natural gas and environmental energy products and services.”


Credit: Rival Technologies on Twitter

Rival Technologies could be a major player in Vancouver

Rival Technologies

Grade: B+

Is this Canada’s next tech unicorn? In any case, it’s another decent bit of news for  Vancouver’s tech industry, as Rival, the Coal Harbour-based research firm raised more than double its target in a recent funding round.

The over $8.5 million the company hauled in is a direct result of its flagship product, Chat Lab, which “rivals other sources of data by allowing you to engage your customers in seamless conversations. Instead of traditional surveys, you send chats.”  

Rival’s founder and CEO Andrew Reid also founded Vision Critical and oversees a client base that includes the NFL, A&W Canada and the Vancouver Canucks.

Here’s a recent conversation between us and A&W via text.

A&W: Thanks for visiting us! Hope to see you again!

Us: (Oh no, they totally know I stole one of their frosty mugs!)

Us: Oh, yeah, totally, totally.

Us: I definitely didn’t steal anything.

A&W: …

A&W: Please return our mug.

Us: OK.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.

Grade: C

Welcome to the calm after the storm for one of the province’s most iconic natural resources companies. 

Hopefully, it’s smoother sailing from here on out for West Fraser, which reportedly lost $17 million in the quarter ending June 30. It’s prompted the company (along with other such Canadian businesses) to expand to the American South, where it now has 21 mills.

Wildfires and the mountain pine beetle are the main causes of the drop-off, and even though the company says the hard times are over, it’s easy to see B.C.’s forestry industry continuing to timber.

Griping about transit

Grade: D

Finally, one of the province’s (and the country’s) favourite pastimes took a bit of a hit this week with the announcement that federal, provincial and municipal governments would be allocating a collective $79 million to BC Transit.

BC Transit oversees public transit outside Metro Vancouver and will receive 118 new buses in total, including 10 electric vehicles for Victoria.

Now, how’s that Broadway subway line coming?