• 13
  • February

Waterloo Region Record covers our report

Some fun news to share: the Waterloo Region Record featured an article about our recent research project.

The article really focuses on the snippet of research I showed in Growing Pains: that tech companies in Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, and the surrounding region, seem to hit a series of growth plateaus that slow their scaling.

Terry (the article’s author, who covers technology-related stories for The Record) and I spoke for 20-30 minutes on Friday; our convo actually covered a wide range of topics, so I was genuinely curious about what would make it into the article.

One thing Terry’s been trying to pin down is the number of tech employees in the region. I agreed to look at my numbers and see what I could do, although it’s quite a difficult question to answer (I touch on it a bit in the report’s methodology, but the snippet below conveys the complexity). A few minutes after our call, here’s what I sent Terry:

Regarding the local tech employees: all I can do is to muddy the waters a bit, which may or may not be useful as a data point for you. If we ignore OpenText and BlackBerry, then my data suggests that locally headquartered companies employ around 12,000 people – again, not all of whom actually work in the region. In many cases, the majority certainly will, but, as a counterpoint, in Sandvine’s heyday only about a third of our global team were actually in KW. And, to be clear, I’m not counting companies headquartered outside the region, so no Googles, EAs, Squares, AGFAs, GHDs, TrustWaves, or even SportLogiqs, RoadMunks, and so on. A much larger team with a much larger budget might be able to dive more deeply into the topic, but it’s beyond my capacity at the moment.

My guess is that if one used a reasonably broad definition of “tech” – so, include industrial engineering, engineering consulting, etc.– then one could easily get into the 25,000 neighbourhood.

I’m all about transparency and well-qualified data; that way, people know how to interpret what they’re reading.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my chat with Terry, I’m grateful that he found the story interesting enough to run, and I hope it’s spurred people to think about the local tech scene and what might be causing our companies to stall.

About that photo…

Here’s how Wednesday went down… I was meeting up with a friend from out of town in the morning, in downtown (Kitchener). While we’re having coffee, I received an email that the Record wanted a photo to run with the article (coming out later that day); they suggested a shot of me, at my desk, with a computer. Naturally, I have no such thing: posed are for the bourgeois! OK, so I announce to my friend that we’re gonna have to go to my house because I need to clean up my desk. He’s cool with that (we were also part of a larger lunch group meeting up later).

So we rush back up to my house (North-East Waterloo). Oh, and it’s precipitating icy death this whole time…basically no one else is on the roads (but fortunately my car is aaaaaamaaaaazing in winter).

We get home, and my friend catches up with my wife (Nicole), as we’re all former colleagues. I rush downstairs to move invoices, receipts, cables, notes, and the like, from my desk. Then I go upstairs and change.

I figure, let’s just send them a shot, in case the icy death raining from the sky prevents a photographer from trekking up to our place.

Nicole takes this shot, which I personally think is solid! Plus, it’s full of delightful Easter eggs.

Ultimately, we weren’t able to find a time that worked (crazy day), so they ran with a ‘headshot’ pulled from the pic above.