Author Archive

The Silicon Valley Engineers Who Get Paid Millions To Do Nothing

Friday, August 11th, 2017

It’s a well-known secret in Silicon Valley: Big tech companies employ “resters and vesters”; employees who collect full pay and stock without having to do much — or any — actual work.

Though it might sound like an administrative error — employees who have, for whatever reason, fallen through the cracks — there are a few very good reasons why companies allow employees to “rest and vest,” according to former “coasters” interviewed by Business Insider.

Keeping Top Talent Away From Competitors

Some tech companies use “rest and vest” jobs as a way to claim top talent and keep it away from the competition, according to Manny Medina, a former Microsoft executive.

At Microsoft, he saw how the tech giant locked up talent in fields like AI, robotics and quantum computing.

“You keep engineering talent but also you prevent a competitor from having it, and that’s very valuable,” he told Business Insider. “It’s a defensive measure.”

Buying Silence

“Rest and vest” can be used as a way to buy an employee’s silence about the problems facing a project before they depart a company.

“Everyone knew I had a big mouth and would speak out,” said a former “rest and vest” Facebook engineer. “He figured, ‘Hey, it costs us next to nothing keep this person happy for six months.'”

Like a paid period of transition, employees can use “rest and vest” time to cool off and start looking for other work.

Hanging Onto The Most Effective Employees

Some employees can simply do more in a shorter period of time. “10x engineers,” for example, are supposedly 10 times more effective than other engineers, or so the legend goes.

“They might know where the bodies are buried on some project, be called in as a last resort to debug a project, or they are known as a great pinch hitter,” said the former Facebook engineer.

Though “resting and vesting” can be beneficial to companies, it can kill the careers of employees, especially those “working” on long-term research projects, according to an engineer at X, run by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Engineers can spend years “never shipping anything.”

Toronto Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum: Space for #RadicalGenerosity

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The Toronto Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum 2017 took a disruptive approach to the entrepreneurial conference model. Instead of talking heads doling out advice, #TWEF17 was about women entrepreneurs entering into a conversation.

SheEO founder Vicki Saunders has a direct explanation for #TWEF17’s invigorating approach. “Why repeat old approaches in a completely disrupted world? It’s time for new approaches, from large-scale economic ones to even in the way we run conferences. We’re creating an open, generous environment, one that isn’t telling entrepreneurs what they need to do: it’s building a conversation.”

Part of that conversation was the remarkable mid-conference #RadicalGenerosity session, where women entrepreneurs approached the mic to explain what their enterprise needed: And hands all over the room shot up to offer the exact help that each speaker was asking for.

“At most conferences, you’ve got the experts onstage, and then someone in the audience asks a question or makes a point that resonates perfectly with you—then you never get a chance to speak to that person,” says Saunders. “Our #RadicalGenerosity session addresses that. We find that female entrepreneurs often keep their businesses smaller because they don’t ask for help, they don’t put themselves out there.” The session (and SheEO’s upcoming app) creates a safe space for contact between women who can help each other.

The standing-room only success of the event points to another exciting aspect of Toronto Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum 2017: the city itself. “Toronto right now is so exciting for entrepreneurs,” says Saunders. “It’s a city that gives you permission to get out there and go for it. And for women entrepreneurs, who start businesses at twice the pace of men, we’re saying that there’s no need to replicate what guys are doing: what women are doing is working.”

The Cascadia Innovation Corridor: B.C. Tech’s Ecosystem Advantage

Monday, May 15th, 2017

The tech sector is taking off on Canada’s West Coast and accumulating a growing number of accolades. Vancouver recently passed Toronto as Canada’s top startup ecosystem, according to Startup Genome, and the city’s global influence is growing.

The strength of B.C.’s tech sector is no accident. There are three big advantages of doing business in B.C., according to Ernst & Young’s B.C. technology sector leader Richard Mockett:

1) A ‘Really Strong’ Ecosystem

“[BC has] some of the world’s leading companies…spending a lot of time and money in B.C., establishing real, sizeable operations,” says Mockett.

Those companies introduce a lot of talent, money and innovation to the region.

2) Socio-Economic Benefits

“There’s some favourable government initiatives and policies that enable new businesses,” says Mockett. “There’s a really strong focus on diversity and inclusiveness, which is so fundamental when you’re working in an industry that is based on new ways of thinking and doing things.

“There’s also world class education organizations and a deep talent pool which is just going to get deeper and broader in the short term.”

3) Collaborative Opportunities Between B.C. and Washington State

“There’s synergies between both province and state there to really grow a technology supercluster (The Cascadia Innovation Corridor) that could compete with the other big technology clusters around the world,” says Mockett.

Closing Canada’s Tech Skills Gap: Teach Youth to Code

Monday, May 1st, 2017

220,000 workers needed: That’s how vast Canada’s tech skills gap could be by 2020, according to Canadian government and industry experts.

If that gap isn’t closed, many tech companies will be forced to look for opportunities outside the country, Waveform CEO Kirk Simpson recently told CBC News.

“If we can find the talent somewhere else, we might open a second location in the U.S. market or in a European market,” he said. “And those jobs will not go to Canadians.”

Teaching young people to code and harness the power of cognitive computing could be the solution. Cognitive is, “beyond doubt,” our future, says Tanmay Bakshi, a 13-year-old developer, coding advocate and IBM Cloud champion.

“If we can get the youth involved in this technology, we’ll be creating more job opportunities for them. They’ll have (a better) chance of getting a better job in the AI field.”

Bakshi is certainly doing his part.

He hopes to personally assist 100,000 aspiring coders through keynotes speeches, his YouTube channel and his new book Hello Swift: iOS Programming for Kids and Other Beginners.

B.C. Entrepreneurs Get a Big Boost From Tech Heavyweights

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Drawn by favorable government policies, a deep talent pool backed by world-class educational institutions and proximity to Silicon Valley, Vancouver has lured some of the world’s largest technology companies.

The arrival of these tech heavyweights has unleashed a ripple effect boosting startups in Vancouver and the rest of B.C. as expertise and capital flow from these newcomers, according to Ernst & Young’s B.C. technology sector leader Richard Mockett.

Successful entrepreneurs are regularly teaming up to provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with guidance and funding.

“What that does is creates a sort of cluster effect,” says Mockett. “There’s a lot of entrepreneurs spending a lot of time, capital, and experience in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs… It’s just phenomenal to see the energy, the passion, the whole community is bringing to B.C.”

Wanted: Cybersecurity Experts To Fill Canadian IT Skills Gap

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

From smart fridges to apps that control your room temperature, connected devices are redefining what’s possible when it comes to home and domestic technology. But they’re also spawning new cybersecurity threats: that same life-improving Internet of Things (IoT) device could turn deadly if taken over by a remote intruder.

It’s a scary reality, but these fears also represent an opportunity for a new generation of computer engineers to tackle emerging security challenges in an ever-changing industry.

However, Canada is facing a severe skills gap in IT-related cybersecurity jobs, especially as the number of job-seekers declines despite an abundance of opportunities. More needs to be done to encourage people to develop these skills, and panelists at the BC Tech Summit offered their thoughts on solutions.


Tyson Macaulay of BAE Systems and Keith Cerny of ACL underlined the need for more post-secondary degree programs with a greater focus on cybersecurity. While some Toronto schools are focused on filling the gap, schools and institutes from across the country are encouraged to follow suit.


A significant part of the problem — especially with IoT products — is that not enough people realize the risks of their connected devices, said Absolute Software’s Jo-Ann Smith, another BC Tech panelist. The solution to this problem may start at home, where children could be brought up with a stronger knowledge of online threats.

With a solid understanding in cybersecurity, both kids and parents would be equipped to make better choices about which devices to allow into their homes. Further, fostering an early interest in connected devices with youths could lead to many more IoT and cybersecurity professionals in the future.

With automation — including machine learning and artificial intelligence — the cause of much debate for employment experts, cybersecurity looks to be one field that will need many more human workers long into the future.

World First: IBM Researchers Store Data On a Single Atom

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

IBM researchers have read and written data to a magnet consisting of just one atom for the first time ever. The company’s research results, published in Nature, prove that “the experiment truly creates a lasting, stored magnetic state in a single atom that can be detected indirectly,” TechCrunch reports.

“Magnetic bits lie at the heart of hard-disk drives, tape and next-generation magnetic memory,” said Christopher Lutz, lead nanoscience researcher at IBM Research Almaden in San Jose, California.

“We conducted this research to understand what happens when you shrink technology down to the most fundamental extreme — the atomic scale.”

Although right now the product is pure research, the density of atomic-level storage could substantially alter our relationship with data.

You can already fit your entire music library onto a storage device the size of a penny. IBM’s technique would allow you to fit 26 million songs — Apple’s entire music catalog — onto the same area.

In the future, this development could have significant implications for everything from personal devices and business records to artificial intelligence.

Vancouver is a VR and AR Hub of the Future

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

In the global technology race, successful cities are constantly searching for fresh ways to innovate and grow new startups. One of the emerging hot spots is the field of virtual and augmented reality, where the city of Vancouver is aiming to position itself as the up-and-coming global hub.

Here are three advantages that could turn Vancouver’s dreams of becoming a virtual juggernaut into reality:


With a stable of legendary video game studios and top mobile game developers, Vancouver has built a solid reputation as a center for digital creativity. But its film production and VFX communities also set Vancouver apart: local film studios have created many of the jaw-dropping set-pieces in recent Hollywood blockbusters, with some receiving Academy Award nominations for their work. Given the intersections of film in VR and AR, the outstanding talent pipeline that has made these entertainment studios successful is sure to play a huge role in fostering local startups.


From sea to sky, Vancouver has always enjoyed spectacular scenery. But its prime location is close enough to key innovation hubs like Silicon Valley — and even exploding digital markets like China — give Vancouver a clear advantage as VR startups seek new investors and begin launching in foreign markets. Its status as North America’s “gateway” to Asia has also attracted a diverse student population drawn to local universities and colleges seen as leaders in developing digital talent.

Ecosystem Support

Governments are now realizing the region’s VR and AR potential. The province of British Columbia announced new tax credits at the BC Tech Summit for companies that are making VR and AR entertainment. Local VR and AR talent is also teaming up to launch a center of excellence to collaborate and help startups scale more quickly.

With this depth of talent, along with an attitude of camaraderie and support in the local ecosystem, Vancouver is a sure bet to be a veritable hub of cutting-edge virtual reality entertainment.

Innovator Insights from the #BCTech Summit

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Lots of amazing things happen when you pack 5,000 people in a conference hall to talk about technology innovation and entrepreneurship.

This week the #BCTech Summit took over Vancouver to celebrate the province’s exploding tech sector and the timing couldn’t have been better. The Global Startup Ecosystem Report named Vancouver Canada’s leading tech startup ecosystem — surpassing Toronto and Waterloo.

Here are some of the top trends and our favourite moments from innovators we spoke to:

Advice from a 13-year-old developer:

How one of the largest mobile handset makers in the world is driving Canadian tech R&D:

BC’s opportunity to become the #cleantech capital of the world:

How blockchain is transforming banks:

But for the blockchain ecosystem to be truly disruptive, it needs more developers:

And one of the most amazing stories we heard centered around IBM Watson’s role in cancer treatment:

IBM and Maersk Team Up to Bring Blockchain Tech to the Shipping Industry

Monday, March 13th, 2017

In the shipping industry, where a single container can go through dozens of people and organizations, effective record-keeping is crucial. IBM and Maersk are now collaborating to help shipping companies manage their massive paper trail with blockchain. Digitizing the shipping records process using blockchain technology is a move that could increase transparency and security in record-keeping, and potentially save the industry billions of dollars.

Several trading partners, government authorities and logistics companies are participating in the pilot, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“We believe that this new supply chain solution will be a transformative technology with the potential to completely disrupt and change the way global trade is done,” said Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Industry Platforms, IBM.

IBM and Maersk expect to have the industry-wide system available later this year.