Canadian Brain Drain: fact or fiction?

A few weeks ago, Guy Gal (@clickflickca) were having a discussion on why many Canadian startups tend to move south to New York or The Valley in order to grow and become successful.  We were lamenting the perceived fact that Canada was losing alot of smart people to our american cousins.  

I thought it was an interesting conversation that you, the Techvibes community, would like more insight on.  So I got in contact with two people who I thought would have some expertise in this area.

The first is Debbie Landa.  Debbie is the CEO of Dealmaker Media.  According to many she is the “champion of Canadian start-ups” out of San Francisco.  To her, the answer on why Canadians go south of the 49th was obvious:

It’s like asking why do actors look to Hollywood.  It’s where the largest ecosystem is.

The bigger question, Debbie insinuated, was why the “guys from the Valley” keep coming to Canada?

I don’t know the exact answer but I think this has a lot to do with it:

I think it’s interesting that after all this time they are finally paying attention to Canada, does it have to do with the Olympics? The launch of the C100 group in the Valley? Expats in the Valley encouraging more people to check out Canadian startups, or there is so much competition in the Valley and China is so far away that Canada is looking like a great middle ground with excellent valuations, talent and proximity to the US?

Seems like more questions were raised than answers.  Which is when I turned to Shobier Shobieri of helping Canadian tech start-ups develop and learn in The Valley.

According to Shobieri, he sees things a little different.  Shobieri believes that many Canadian start-ups come down to the Valley to learn and grow.  However, big success is found when they leave the Valley and return to Canada.

Shobieri cited three different companies:


According to Shobieri, “These companies and many others stated that talent was easier to get from several (Canadian) schools, funding from Government & tax relief, and cheaper lifestyle.”

What is the truth? Both Adil and Guy work for emerging Canadian start-ups. And the Canadian landscape if full of local success stories like Sprouter. So, let’s talk…

I know there are many people who read Techvibes who work for, run or have funded tech start-ups.  What are your thoughts on this discussion?  Is there a Canadian brain drain?