Waterloo’s tech ecosystem is known for growing innovative companies.
This is the home of Faire, a retail scale-up that FastCompany recently called the world’s most innovative retail company. This is the home of ApplyBoard, an edtech company valued at $4 billion that has rapidly become a leading international voice in education access. This is the home of BlackBerry, D2L and OpenText, too.
But, Waterloo is also a magnet for tech companies looking to grow. It might be about our talent – the University of Waterloo is one of the world’s best and biggest tech schools – or our ecosystem. It might be about cost advantages, research support or a combination of these factors.
As a result, our community is also home to many California-based companies, including some of the world’s largest tech companies and major international brands.
Here are 8 well-known California-based tech companies growing in Waterloo:
Let’s start with one of the world’s largest companies. Google has had a Waterloo presence for a decade, and they’ve never stopped growing the local workforce. They currently have about 1,400 people working in their beautiful local office, which serves as the company’s Canadian engineering headquarters and is a short walk to Communitech, Velocity and the future Waterloo Region Transit Hub. An ongoing expansion – including a new 11-storey, 130,000 square foot building – will bring local capacity to 3,000 workers.
Square has had a presence in Waterloo since at least 2014, with the expressed purpose in recruiting top talent. One notable former Waterloo-based Square employee is Marcelo Cortes, who co-founded Faire, a retail tech company valued at $12+ billion.
" The engineering talent we find in Waterloo is the best of the best. "
A newer arrival, MasterClass was fresh off a $225 million Series F raise when they decided to join the Waterloo tech ecosystem. This isn’t just any tech office, though. MasterClass intends to grow the Waterloo office into a peer engineering headquarters to their existing headquarters in San Francisco.
“The Waterloo tech ecosystem has incredible talent, a collaborative community and the space for MasterClass to scale our platform, technology and products to meet the needs of our global consumer base,” says Matt Elgie, the company’s Canadian Head of Engineering. “We’re excited to invest in Canada’s talent with our newest engineering headquarters in Waterloo.”
This fintech company made a unique arrival in Waterloo – it acquired an existing workforce. Just weeks before Carta joined the Waterloo ecosystem, pioneering messaging company Kik announced that it would pivot to focus on cryptocurrency, which would require a staff reduction. Carta saw the opportunity to acquire a skilled and experienced team to build the foundation of their first Canadian office – the company’s “next great R&D centre.”
The Oracle NetSuite story is a bit complicated. It started when cloud services company NetSuite acquired Waterloo-based TribeHR in 2013. Three years later, Oracle acquired NetSuite to access the company’s cloud and human resources products. Today, the Waterloo office of Oracle NetSuite continues to grow in the downtown Kitchener area.
One of the most recognizable brands in consumer computing, McAfee has had an office in Waterloo for a long time, with nearly 200 people working here. The company is located in an area that has quickly become an epicentre for security tech companies, with eSentire and Arctic Wolf – two Waterloo-based tech unicorns – within a short walk. Waterloo has a long history of security innovation – it’s what BlackBerry is known for – and McAfee is an important part of our ecosystem going forward.
Shortly before coming to Waterloo, Enlighted was acquired by Siemens, which both expanded their market potential and added pressure to accelerate product development. The result: an exhaustive search to find a location with ample talent and a proven ability to create and develop new products. They ended up in Waterloo, where they can take advantage of the University of Waterloo’s incredible tech programs and the #1 small tech talent market in North America.
Last but not least, Turntide Technologies – an industrial technology innovator – also joined the Waterloo ecosystem during the COVID-19 pandemic and they’ve grown the Waterloo team quickly. With Global Head of Technology and Innovation Richard Hellinga as the local lead, it’s clear that the company has big plans for our community.