Social stability and economic prosperity are two reasons why skilled workers and tech giants are flocking to Canada to set up shop and advance their positions in the global marketplace. Toronto and Vancouver have turned into major technology hubs in recent years, and Montreal has earned a reputation as the artificial intelligence capital of North America.
But besides the huge companies like Facebook and Google who have set up offices in the Great White North, you might be surprised to know just how many big name tech companies are actually based in Canada. You might not recognize every name on this list, but there’s no doubt that Canadians are playing an increasingly important role in the global tech sector.
Tech firms in Toronto
1. ecobee, founded in 2007, is a home automation company that produces smart thermostats, designed to work with touch screens and in conjunction with an app on your smart phone. With an ecobee thermostat, you can control the climate of your home or office remotely and with unsurpassed precision. Products from ecobee integrate easily with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and a wide variety of other smart technologies.
2. FreshBooks is a popular online, cloud based accounting system. With about 250 employees and annual revenues around $50 million, FreshBooks is not exactly a tech giant, but their product is widely used. My wife really enjoys their recurring billing system which she set up for some of her ongoing graphic design clients.
3. Happiify is the maker of a popular app that provides users with instant matching of health and happy living products, services and information needs. Happiify is owned by the TORSTAR Corporation, a newspaper and book publishing company with over 4,000 employees.
4. Top Hat is a fast-growing software company specializing in education products that help students and instructors engage better, before, during and after class. Founded by a pair of engineers in 2009, the small private company has grown exponentially. More than 750 universities around the world are now using Top Hat software to provide a richer and more effective learning experience.
Tech firms in Montreal
5. Unsplash has quickly become the leading the source for stock photos in the internet. If you’re writing an article or building an ad, and you don’t have the time or money to fly around the world taking ward-winning pictures, Unsplash is there. Some designers and web developers might be capable of taking their own spectacular photos, but for the rest of us there’s Unsplash. No longer do you have to pay top dollar for copyrighted work from Getty Images. If onscreen resolution is all you need, Unsplash has an astonishing selection of beautiful photos, for public or private use, absolutely free. And what’s more, their website has no advertising. So how do they make their money? As it happens, Crew.com created Unsplash which has become Crew’s number source of leads. And as a referral source, Crew and Unsplash have created a win-win situation for everyone.
6. Lightspeed POS is a point-of-sale and e-commerce software provider providing small and medium sized retail and restaurant businesses with point of sale solutions. The publicly owned company has been helping retailers with their bookkeeping and inventory control since 2005. More than 25,000 businesses in over 100 countries use Lightspeed software, and this industry leader now has more than 700 employees.
7. Element AI Founded in late 2016, Element AI is one of the fastest growing young companies in Canada. The up and coming vanguard of artificial intelligence raised over $100 million in venture capital from Silicon Valley in its first round of fundraising in 2017. The company will be launching its first line of decision-making automation products in 2019. Among other projects, Element has a high profile partnership with the port of Montreal where they are assisting with trucking times and delivery logistics.
Tech firms in Vancouver
8. Hootsuite A real household name in the online marketing world, Hootsuite has been helping businesses and individuals to manage and streamline their social media marketing activities since 2008. By allowing users to coordinate multiple social media platforms and schedule posts days or weeks in advance, Hootsuite saves users time while enabling them to enact a more cohesive social media strategy. Today the company has more than 1000 employees and more than 16 million users.
9. Flickr, the wildly popular image hosting service, is now based in San Francisco, although they originated in Vancouver. Ludicorp launched the website service in 2004, but there have been several changes in ownership since then. SmugMug acquired the company in 2018 in a deal said to be worth about $22 million. Flicker currently has over 90 million monthly users.
10. Blockstream is a small but fast-growing company in the exciting field of blockchain technology. Their cryptocurrency software aims to make the use of Bitcoin safer and easier. Founded in 2014, the company has already raised more than $76 million in venture capital. They have between 50 and 100 employees.
11. Slack Technology is another American company that formed in Vancouver. Many of the same core members of Ludicorp, who brought us Flickr, founded Slack in 2009. At that time they called themselves Tiny Speck. In 2013 they released their cloud-based tools for team collaboration and organization, which went huge. Today they are headquartered in San Francisco. The company has over 1000 employees and is valued at around $5 billion. Did you know that Slack is actually an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”?
Whether you’re moving to Canada and looking for work, or simply wanting to support businesses based in the great land of Canada, this list will get you started. While we wanted to draw your attention to some of the better known technology companies based in Canada, this directory is anything but comprehensive. There are actually hundreds of tech companies in Canada, with new start-ups launching every week, and big multinationals setting up offices in Canada all the time.
To learn more about how Canadian immigration policy is making it easier to conduct international business, check out our articles on Moving to Canada as a Freelancer and Moving to Canada as an Entrepreneur.
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Photo Credit: Zia Syed (Unsplash)