Just days after BlackBerry announced a $1 billion loss, 4,500 layoffs, a buy-out offer, and a canceled earnings call, Google announced that it would be opening a new engineering office in Waterloo for its subsidiary Motorola — about 10 minutes away from BlackBerry’s head office.
Need a job, BlackBerry engineers?
Google already has its most significant Canadian foothold in Waterloo, an engineering enclave where significant portions of Google Maps, Gmail, Chromebooks, and Google Calendar were built, in an old tannery building that still has the cattle walkway, plus a fireman’s pole and a slide from the top floor down.
The new Motorola office will be within walking distance, according to the Financial Post.
Clearly, this is not a coincidence. Engineers who built the world’s first big smartphone platform are going to be looking for new and exciting jobs at a company that is not dying — always a bonus — and Google wants to scoop them up.
Although BlackBerry is only now in extremis, this is not the first time the company has fueled the local tech ecosystem. Waterloo is a city of just under 100,000 that had an astonishing 500 startups in 2012, largely because of BlackBerry.
(That’s almost enough for Dave McClure, I guess.)
“Waterloo and the culture of startups there is because of RIM,” John Marshall, president and CEO of the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation, told me when I visited in April of this year. “You’ve got kids coming up who saw their parents do it.”
At the time, I said that there hasn’t really been the emergence of a BlackBerry mafia, in the sense that PayPal graduates have kickstarted whole waves of startups in Silicon Valley. This new Google office won’t do that either, but there will still be plenty of smart, talented, and young people looking for something new to do.
Expect more new startups in Waterloo this year.