Each month, the Switchboard PR team connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives informing the BC tech sector.
For December’s Connecting The Dots, Founder and Chief Communications Officer Kathleen Reid looks back on Klue’s dynamic talent search, more milestones for AbCellera, and the tech community’s inspiring flood-relief generosity in the midst of an exceptionally challenging year.
Klue’s hiring spree
From the pandemic’s trajectory to rising inflation, many questions loom large as we head into 2022. For Canadian companies, one of the most pressing questions is this: Will the so-called “Great Resignation” finally make its way to Canada?
The pandemic-fuelled job-quitting trend has led to high rates of employee turnover in the United States, especially in the tech sector. In Canada, however, the job market has remained relatively stable, which must be a relief to large tech companies given the record number of job vacancies in the sector.
For smaller tech firms that are growing quickly, however, the Great Resignation can’t arrive soon enough. Some, like Vancouver-based Klue, are cultivating unique company cultures that distinguish them from larger rivals. Fresh from an $80-million Series B Raise, the AI-powered competitive enablement platform is looking to double its existing workforce by filling nearly 50 positions. With revenue growth topping 2,400 percent over the past four years, and having just claimed a Deloitte Fast 50 Award as the 12th-fastest-growing tech firm in Canada, Klue is advancing employee benefits including enhanced learning opportunities that are not limited to job-related skills, flexibility around work schedules and family life that go beyond hybrid work-from-home models, and unlimited time for volunteering and vacations. No wonder the company claimed the “Tech Culture of the Year” title at the recent Technology Impact Awards.
Another first for AbCellera
With so many twists, turns, ups and downs over the past year, it feels like the world’s first study of an antibody treatment against COVID-19 took place years ago. But it’s only been 19 months. That treatment, discovered by Vancouver-based AbCellera in early 2020 and ultimately named Bamlanivimab (Bam), was the first monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 to reach human testing and to be authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada. In combination with other antibodies, Bam has treated hundreds of thousands of patients, preventing untold numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.
Bam made history once again at the tail end of 2021. In combination with another antibody therapy, Etesevimab, it became the first and only antibody therapy to be authorized by the FDA for emergency use in COVID-19 patients under the age of 12.
As Canadians await approval from Health Canada, and as Omicron-fueled case numbers skyrocket, it’s comforting to know that treatment options for COVID-19 extend beyond vaccines and are becoming increasingly available to anyone who needs them.
Tech-led coalition raises more than $1 million for disaster relief
Speaking of people in need, tech companies are stepping up big time as part of a coalition of B.C. businesses that has donated more than $1 million to the Red Cross for flood disaster relief.
Tech firms make up the lion’s share of the coalition’s 40 members, with Absolute Software, Alida, Allocadia, the BC Technology Association (BC Tech), Coconut Software, Copperleaf, Hootsuite, IT/IQ Tech Recruiters, Motion Metrics, Plenty of Fish, Thinkific, Traction on Demand, and Unbounce all taking part. Hootsuite even rolled out an internal matching campaign.
“I’m so proud of BC’s tech sector for contributing with speed and generosity to the essential emergency response work being done on the ground,” said Jill Tipping, CEO of BC Tech. “It’s a testament to the sense of shared purpose and community that we have here.”
The money is helping the Red Cross carry out relief, recovery, resilience, and risk reduction activities at the individual and community levels across the province, and was matched dollar-for-dollar by both the federal and provincial governments until Dec. 26. This boosted the total raised by the coalition to more than $3 million.
“No individual or community should have to face the devastating impact of the recent floods and extreme weather in British Columbia alone,” said Pat Quealey, vice-president, British Columbia and Yukon, Canadian Red Cross. “This is an incredibly challenging time for individuals, families and communities who have been impacted by flooding and extreme weather in British Columbia. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Canadian Red Cross can provide financial assistance and other supports to help meet the urgent needs of people impacted.”
To make a donation, visit the Red Cross’s British Columbia Floods & Extreme Weather Appeal webpage.
Accelerating B.C.’s tech momentum
An informal survey conducted by Switchboard has revealed that zero in 10 Vancouverites want 2022 to mirror 2021. That’s fair enough, considering the past year’s floods, heat domes, wildfires, and pandemic turbulence.
Talk to anyone involved in the city’s tech sector, however, and there’s a good chance the answer will be more positive. After all, a record-setting 14 B.C.-based tech companies achieved valuations of $1 billion or more via IPOs, financing and acquisitions in 2021. A big part of the reason for this unicorn rodeo is that more B.C. tech companies are scaling up instead of being bought out, as has been the tendency in the past. This bodes extremely well for the months and years to come, with the provincial economy needing more small and medium-sized firms to grow into foundational anchor companies.
I’m similarly confident that the new year will be one of continued rapid growth for Switchboard as we add to our team – check out our careers page here – and grow alongside the unicorns and soonicorns we serve. Nothing makes me prouder than to have joined my team in contributing to our clients’ inspiring successes, and nothing excites me more than facing the challenges of the new year with the same passion and determination that made 2021 so memorable.