Research In Motion has watched its market value plunge 95% in four short years. In even less time, its workforce shrank from nearly 20,000 to less than 10,000.
In its prime, RIM was an anchor tenant in Waterloo’s tech startup ecosystem—sort of like Apple or Google in Silicon Valley. But its collapse has created a mass of debris. That debris comes in the form of talent. And local startups are all too happy to clean up the mess.
RIM helped spur Waterloo into one of Canada’s hottest startup hubs. Now that the community is self-supporting, RIM’s demise has thus far actually benefitted the city, some believe.
“Overall, RIM’s decline is good and healthy for the startup ecosystem,” Jevon MacDonald told Canadian Business recently. The 29-year-old serial entrepreneur founded GoInstant and sold it to Salesforce this year for $70 million.
“It unlocks a lot of talent for startups and frees backs who had been locked up in RIM to support those startups,” he explained. He added that RIM’s gradual demise is extra beneficial: “Waterloo is lucky that the blow-up is taking a longer period,” he suggests, because if it happened all at once, supply would outstrip demand, and talent would fan out of the area.
Local startups are so hungry for this talent they’re like stealthy vultures: Jevon admits that GoInstant has a “secret RIM recruiting program,” adding that “we’re probably not the only ones.”