I caught the original news for this in a Skype back channel yesterday, and have had a few people email me links about this since. For those of you who missed it, Microsoft has announced that it will be opening a Vancouver office to attract Canadian talent and to sidestep some of the immigration problems it has had in the past:
Microsoft Corp. has ratcheted up the pressure on the U.S. government to boost the number of foreign worker visas it gets by announcing plans for a new software development centre in Vancouver.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said yesterday it plans to open the centre this fall in the Greater Vancouver Area, about 2? hours from its headquarters, but an exact location had not yet been chosen. Microsoft also had not decided what product lines the initial staff of 200 would be working on, nor what the cost of the centre would be.
The company has long been pressuring U.S. immigration officials to increase the number of foreign workers it can employ in the United States. The U.S. government typically issues about 85,000 visas annually to foreign workers with specialized skills and warned in April there would be a shortage this year.
Most people don’t know that there is a really active web 2.0 community here in Vancouver, something that Boris Mann and the guys over at Bryght should be very proud of. Boris actually did an interview yesterday for Global TV, and has commented extensively on what he thinks of the move by Microsoft. Also check out Dave Olson’s day-job blog for some comments from him as well.
I personally think it’s really great for this city. As a former grad from the University of British Columbia, I have always been disappointed by the lack of opportunities close to home here in British Columbia. After university, I was basically forced to either head out east to Ottawa and take part in the dot-com boom back then, or head south to the Silicon Valley area. I have never really understood why Vancouver, despite being one of the nicest places to live in the world, has had such a poor high-tech reputation. I would hope that if this move were successful for Microsoft that other big players would also follow and set up shop here north of the border.
I also think it’s great in that it places additional pressure on existing software companies in the city to remain competitive so as not to lose any talent.