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Vancouver steps up as next tech hot spot

Posted October 10, 2013

If you follow the money, the Northwest’s hottest startup is now 140 miles north of Seattle. Called HootSuite, it’s a 370-employee company at the heart of a resurgent startup community in Vancouver.

In August, HootSuite raised an eye-popping $165 million from venture capitalists who backed Facebook and Twitter. That’s 20 times more than the average Northwest startup raised last year and more that most Silicon Valley companies ever see.

HootSuite is in a thriving category. It makes tools that companies around the world are using to manage their presence on social networks.

But there may be another reason investors showed up at its Canada-chic offices this past summer, bearing truckloads of cash.

In tech circles, Canada is a hot new destination, despite the troubles of its beloved BlackBerry. Generous tax benefits and flexible immigration rules have long been a draw, but a bigger attraction now is Canada’s relatively abundant supply of engineers, available for a fraction of the salaries that engineers demand in Silicon Valley.

This may lead to tension between homegrown ventures and the U.S. companies setting up satellite offices north of the border, but for now it’s an enviable situation.

In British Columbia, tech is growing faster than the region’s traditional forestry, mining and energy industries, and now employs more people – more than 80,000 at 8,900 companies, including at least 350 active startups.

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