Right after the U.S. election last year, Mike Tippett saw an opportunity. He'd been talking to his friends in Silicon Valley and they were nervous about the newly elected president's attitude toward immigration.
"Many of the start-ups and technology companies in the States and across the globe are made up of people who are not necessary from that country," Tippett says. Almost half of all American start-ups were actually founded by immigrants.
When Donald Trump took office, American tech companies worried that getting international employees work visas in the U.S. would get a lot harder. But Tippett had a solution to offer them: move to Vancouver. Vancouver's tech industry has been growing for years now, with companies like Amazon, Slack, Microsoft and SAP all with large headquarters there. It's a quick flight from San Francisco, and a two-hour drive from Seattle. It's in the same time zone with the same language. Labor is also cheaper.
Tippett predicted there would be a surge of tech workers looking for an alternative to America. He founded the company True North, which helps tech workers move to Canada, get incorporated, deal with all the tax and other legal and immigration issues.
"We say, come on up! It's a great opportunity for Vancouver and Canada generally," he says, laughing. Tippett says Silicon Valley is still the place to be. But each high-skilled worker who moves to Canada is America's loss.
"America used to be this place where you could go and have some assurances that you could live the American dream, you can be successful, you're not going to get kicked out, and it was a safe place to be," he says. "I think that notion has been largely shattered. Whereas Canada has gone the other direction and said, 'We are that place, and you can come here; you're not gonna kicked out.' "