Another day, another tech giant makes a major commitment to Toronto.
With CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in town, Uber announced plans to invest approximately $154 million (200 million Canadian) in a new engineering hub and expansion of its self-driving car operations in the Canadian city. When all is said and done, Uber will have about 500 tech employees in Toronto, more than double its current workforce there.
Uber is announcing its biggest commitment to Canada ever – $200M, a new engineering hub in Toronto, and growing our headcount to over 500 (more than 2x today) over the next couple of years. Great win for Canada + city of Toronto, which has an amazing and growing tech ecosystem.
— Rob Khazzam (@rkhazzam) September 13, 2018
Toronto is having a bit of a moment on the global tech stage. Just this week, Microsoft announced plans to invest $570 million in new 132,000-square-foot Canadian headquarters facility in Toronto that is under construction and will be ready in 2020.
Google sister company Sidewalk Labs is developing a plan to create an innovation district on the Toronto waterfront as a proof-of-concept for technologists who believe they can improve urban planning. Google plans to relocate its Canadian headquarters to Toronto as part of that initiative.
Meanwhile, Amazon is considering Toronto for its second headquarters. It’s the only city outside of the U.S. to land on Amazon’s short list of 20 finalists for HQ2, a $5 billion project that promises to bring 50,000 jobs to the winning locale.
Expanding in Toronto gives these tech companies access to a deep talent pool. A July report from real estate services company CBRE ranked Toronto as No. 4 for tech talent out of 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Over 240,000 workers comprise Toronto’s tech talent pool, a 51 percent increase since 2012, according to the report. The Canadian city is No. 1 when it comes to “brain gain” according to CBRE. In other words, tech workers educated in Toronto tend to stay there after graduating.
The commitment from Uber is also a sign that it’s not giving up on its self-driving ambitions. The company pulled autonomous cars off roads in test markets in March in Toronto, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Tempe, Ariz., after a woman was struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle and later died.
In addition to self-driving vehicles, Uber is investing in alternatives to the car. Uber has its JUMP bikeshare program, and it teamed up with Lime to get its electric scooters on the Uber app in some areas. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Khosrowshahi hinted at even grander ambitions like Uber bus and train service.
“We need to move beyond the car as being the main urban transportation mechanism. I believe a revolution is coming,” he said. “We really want Uber to be the one-stop shop for mobility in any city.”