Canadian Manufacturing

CEO of Ottawa start-up Shopify says U.S. travel ban is a talent boom for Canada

by Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press   

Canadian Manufacturing
Human Resources Operations Regulation Technology / IIoT Public Sector

Tobias Lutke, who founded Shopify in 2004 says his company and others are benefiting because "The Americans are doing a really great job of uninviting" talented workers

OTTAWA—It’s a great time for Canadian startups to attract top talent from south of the border as the U.S. government is creating an unwelcoming environment, the chief executive of Shopify says.

“The Americans are doing a really great job of uninviting a lot of kinds of people who otherwise would go there,” said Tobias Lutke, who founded the e-commerce platform firm in 2004.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office in January, he’s signed a number of controversial executive orders, including a ban on travel to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim countries, and other measures, such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Lutke said Shopify has been receiving many more applications from job seekers in the U.S. than before the 2016 presidential election.


“I think it’s as good right now as it ever has been,” he said of Shopify and other tech companies’ ability to bring talent up north.

Previously, Shopify had to court talent for years to develop a relationship and convince potential employees to move to Canada, he said, but now it’s receiving unsolicited applications from all over the U.S.

Lutke, who has criticized Canadian government policy in the past for seemingly hampering firms’ ability to attract international workers, said Ottawa is creating good awareness around Canada’s value of multiculturalism.

Shopify provides services to more than 377,500 merchants from about 175 countries as the end of 2016, according to its most recent annual report.


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