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Waterloo's Sortable uses fear of Trump to attract new hires to Canada

Waterloo, Ontario ad tech company Sortable is playing on the quite rational fear of Donald Trump in the Oval Office to lure expatriate Canadians currently working in the Bay area, or other American tech hubs, to come home to Canada.
And why not? Canadian companies have to deploy every strategy they can think of to attract talent.
“Are you thinking of moving back to Canada?” asks Sortable’s ad on Facebook and Instagram. “Sortable is looking for talented developers to join our growing team.”
“Sortable, a rapidly growing startup based in Kitchener-Waterloo, announced today its intent to offer a safe place for smart, nice people in the technology industry who are already starting to look for alternative living arrangements in anticipation of a Donald Trump presidency,” writes Sortable in a blog post. “Many Americans are fearful, with Trump leading the polls in the Republican primaries, and are considering a new adventure in the Great White North.”
Cue the Bob and Doug McKenzie/Geddy Lee theme tune.
One of the repeated motifs in the list of challenges faced by Canadian managers and CEOs of technology companies is the talent crunch, given the extreme difficulty of a) finding and b) retaining the sought after skills of developers, designers and other types of digital economy workers.
On top of getting potential talent to even consider working in Canada just based on the country’s merits, the devalued Canadian dollar further adds a 30% to 40% premium on hiring workers who were already difficult enough to attract when the dollar hovered at par only a couple of years ago.
Each city with an aspiring tech hub has its specific challenges, too, with Vancouver’s cost of living making even a seemingly high salary stretch only so far.
Unafraid to compare themselves to Trump (or Drumpf, as John Oliver would have us say), Sortable lets potential recruits know that their own rise is in some ways just as meteoric and unexpected as that of the steak/university/real estate magnate.
“Over the last year, Sortable’s popularity has followed a similar trajectory to Trump’s,” continues the company’s blog post. “We have been growing 40% month over month, and our ad engine is handling 2.5 billion ad impressions each month.”
While every election cycle as far back as anyone can remember features a parade of earnest Americans vowing that they’ll “move to Canada” if X candidate is elected, it is pretty rare to come across people who actually follow it up.
After the initial Super Tuesday primary frenzy, though, Google Data Editor Simon Rogers tweeted that the search query “how can I to move to Canada” rose 450% over a four-hour period, peaking at 1,150% by midnight, with the majority of those search queries coming from Massachusetts.
This isn’t the first time Sortable has grabbed attention through the medium of sincerity.
Shortly after emerging from beta in January, CEO Chris Reid wrote a blog post called “Why I Bought My Company Back”, describing the feeling of “selling out” he experienced after exiting his previous company, Snapsort, which he would eventually buy back to transform into Sortable.


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