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City of Vancouver makes Hootsuite an offer too good to refuse: Stay here, lease-to-own one of our buildings

November 23rd, 2012 · 50 Comments

As posted everywhere yesterday, the City of Vancouver announced it has made a deal with social-media darling Hootsuite, which was expanding rapidly and desperately needed space, to sell it one of the city’s former police buildings on the yearly-payment plan.

It’s a strong sign from the city about how much it will do to support local businesses, in order to get them to stay as they grow. When I spoke to him, Mayor Robertson acknowledged that’s not possible with every business. The city lost the Stanley Park Brewery to Surrey as it expanded, because no one could find a space for the bigger operation. It also lost Happy Planet, the company the mayor helped found, to Burnaby a few years ago, he noted. But he sounded pretty determined to do anything the city could to keep businesses when possible.

My story in the Globe adds a bit more context to all this. (As any story should, mutter journalism instructors everywhere.)

According to the commercial broker  I talked to for this story, Hootsuite should be paying somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1 million a year (33,000 square feet times about $30 per square foot per year) for this. What they are actually paying, we don’t know yet except for the city’s assurances that the company will pay “market rent.”

I did check with a very knowledgeable senior planner about whether there was any issue with Hootsuite moving into an industrial-zoned area. I was told that if there was a non-conforming use before (which the police station was), that is often allowed to continue unless there’s a big gap between when one tenant moves out and the next moves in.

But the broker said the whole issue of what used is allowed in industrial zones has been a crazy one for tech companies. Sometimes a city clerk will not allowed an existing use to be continued on with a new tenant. Sometimes, s/he will. Sometimes it ends up in the mayor’s office. Hootsuite was being allowed to operate in its Railtown located, which is actually an M2 industrial zoning, because it is classified as a software manufacturer. But some other tech companies won’t be allowed to move in there, because they don’t have the same classification.

Categories: Uncategorized

50 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ned // Nov 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Another corporate welfare move from Vision Vancouver. What does that mean? Are they so desperate? Hootsuite… LOL, did these guys ever turned a profit, or they grow and get subsidies on the premise that one day… they might?
    What a farce.

  • 2 neil21 // Nov 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Great last paragraph, showing the urgent need for zoning reform. Sack the city clerk, get our wordy use-based code replaced with a form-based one that lets the market decide what happens behind closed doors. Designate special zones if we really need to protect certain industries.

  • 3 Tiktaalik // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I think this was a good move. Obviously the best solution to the problem is to reform the way the zoning works to make it easier for tech companies to make use of industrial land (which is what the city is already working on it sounds like), but if they needed to act quickly to keep an anchor company in town it’s worth doing so.

    Vancouver really doesn’t have much and these anchor companies generate investment and create other companies. Seattle has Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Filson, Amazon etc…… Vancouver has…??? Hootsuite is a young company, and I’m not saying that they’ll end up being an Amazon, but they could end up providing the early employment, mentorship and funding to someone who does found a future major company. It’s worth trying to keep them in town.

  • 4 Tiktaalik // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Someone will probably bring up that Microsoft is in Redmond and Boeing in Everett, but Starbucks, Amazon and Filson are still in Seattle proper so I think the overall argument I’m trying to make is still valid (Seattle proper also has a major Facebook and Google office).

  • 5 Terry M // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:52 am

    A very good deal on real estate, thank you very much. Ned @1 the only profi they’ll see is when they’ll sell the RE 10 years from now, about five after they’ve vacated the premises… :-)

  • 6 rf // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

    There’s a catch 22 here. Hootsuite may be private now but it’s pretty safe to say that if they were to go public today they would be valued at at least $300 million (estimated value, by the Globe and Mail article back in May, was $500mil. That was before Facebook fell by 40% and it’s still worth $50bil today).

    I have no problem with the city accomodating as far as zoning and making un-utilized space available for rent/revenue.

    I do have a problem with the rent being below market, if it is.

    If it’s below market, it’s simply a tax payer funded subsidy for some future multi-millionaires.

    It’s really not cool if Vision is willing to subsidize a company just because it’s cool (in their view).

    People would cry foul if we were subsidizing office space for Goldcorp or Canfor.

  • 7 Andrew Browne // Nov 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    There is zero evidence provided by anyone that Hootsuite is paying anything other than fair market rent, so let’s stop pretending it’s the case until we receive information to the contrary!

  • 8 Bill Lee // Nov 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Police, the Integrated Service, also had 219 West 7th Avenue, on the other west corner of Rogers Park for many years.
    Usual street cameras, anonymous doors.

  • 9 Bill Lee // Nov 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    The Hootsuite incentives reminds me of the Twitter/Zynga (Farmville) threats to move out of San Francisco City last year unless they got tax incentive.
    Zygna laid off another 5% of the workers last month, and is worth little more than cash-on-hand according to one evaluation.

    Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite doesn’t tweet much about the lease-to-buy deal of the square doughnut other than shorter coffee lineups
    https://twitter.com/invoker

    [ I had a bit more on the Zynga and Twitter threats under the vertical greenhouse discussion not in abeyance in Madame Bula's back rooms ]

  • 10 Bill Lee // Nov 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    “I did check with a very knowledgeable senior planner about whether there was any issue with Hootsuite moving into an industrial-zoned area. I was told that if there was a non-conforming use before (which the police station was), that is often allowed to continue unless there’s a big gap between when one tenant moves out and the next moves in.”

    Which is how they killed many of the small grocery stores among houses for non-conforming.
    Marche St. Georges revived its site. 4393 St. George at the corner of 28th with a store after being an non-conforming art shoppe for a while.
    http://www.marchestgeorge.com/

    We need non-conforming to the new “green” “local” etc. trends.

  • 11 Bill Lee // Nov 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Speaking of “Railtown” the east of Gastown former industrial and artists’ garret area,
    “Published Friday, Nov. 23 2012, 2:43 PM EST
    Globe and Mail. Reuters. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. plans to relocate much of its head office from downtown Calgary, union officials and a source close to the company said….”

  • 12 Joe Just Joe // Nov 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    This is the problem with deals like this. The details can’t be released and the public is left to assume. Is it at market rates? What premium are they paying for the right to purchase? What is that purchase price and when can it be exceriese? Too many questions that wouldn’t matter if it were a private deal but because it’s city asset we all want to know. I’d like to assume the dedal is above board and at market rates, that’s not to say I don’t have my doubts though.
    I do not like any level of government picking winners/losers, the sooner we get rid of business subsidies the better off we’ll all be.

  • 13 waltyss // Nov 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    @Joe Just Joe. There is no reason why, once the deal is finalized, someone including Ms. Bula could not file an FOI request and get most if not all of the contract. Certainly, most if not all fo the terms and the rent being paid would be releasable.
    There is a natural and legitimate scepticism about deals like this and it would be nice to have a clear, transparent policy. Unfortunately, this is often the name of the game to keep businesses around. Moreover, these types of transactions tend to be one offs and do not easily lend themselves to a cookie cutter policy. It is why it is therefore important to have the actual process transparent and also to make sure that in this transaction the COV is not picking one company as a winner at the expense of a competitor.

  • 14 Frances Bula // Nov 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    @waltsyss. Sadly, an FOI will likely not get us the answer. Why? Section 21 of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, which has stood between me and many a number I would like to know. The information can only be released if the third party agrees. Here’s the relevant section.

    Disclosure harmful to business interests of a third party
    21 (1) The head of a public body must refuse to disclose to an applicant information

    (a) that would reveal
    (i) trade secrets of a third party, or
    (ii) commercial, financial, labour relations, scientific or technical information of or about a third party,
    (b) that is supplied, implicitly or explicitly, in confidence, and
    (c) the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to
    (i) harm significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the negotiating position of the third party,
    (ii) result in similar information no longer being supplied to the public body when it is in the public interest that similar information continue to be supplied,
    (iii) result in undue financial loss or gain to any person or organization, or
    (iv) reveal information supplied to, or the report of, an arbitrator, mediator, labour relations officer or other person or body appointed to resolve or inquire into a labour relations dispute.
    (2) The head of a public body must refuse to disclose to an applicant information that was obtained on a tax return or gathered for the purpose of determining tax liability or collecting a tax.
    (3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if
    (a) the third party consents to the disclosure, or
    (b) the information is in a record that is in the custody or control of the archives of the government of British Columbia or the archives of a public body and that has been in existence for 50 or more years.

  • 15 Trish French // Nov 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I agree with issues rf has raised. City properties are owned by the tax payers through the Property Endowment Fund, and part of the revenues go to City operating budget each year. Normally city property would have to go to tender if being sold or leased, so there would be competitive bids and the taxpayers would get the best return on their investment. This is a special deal for one company. There’s no sound policy basis for this. This company could be bought out by a larger tech company, and have its operations moved. The tech sector is fickle.

    Tech is also no more important than any other growing sector (e.g. education) for the City’s economy.

    As for “losing businesses”, we want a good share of jobs in Vancouver, but surely we’ve noticed that Vancouverites work in Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey, just as residents from there work in Vancouver.

  • 16 Mira // Nov 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Trish #15 writes:
    “This is a special deal for one company. There’s no sound policy basis for this. This company could be bought out by a larger tech company, and have its operations moved. The tech sector is fickle.”
    That’s exactly right.
    The way City of Vancouver conducts business these days is EXACTLY the way Vision Vancouver operates. Party interests first, city interests second.
    This is another type of green-washing, or shall I call it BS-ing?
    By the time a FOI is submitted the deal is old, damage is done. Hoosuite as a business model is as strong and durable as an ice sculpture.
    Again, Vancouver gets what they deserve.

  • 17 Randy Chatterjee // Nov 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    What does it say about the affordability or business-friendliness of a city that it must “sweeten the pot” for a local company just to stay in place…where they already are?

    World class cities ATTRACT businesses, and need never resort to bribing them.

    If Vancouver has the right tax policies in place, affordable space for business and its employees, a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, well- and appropriately-educated and eager artisans and technicians, and the leadership to promote local commerce, no bribe is necessary.

    Vancouver has a limited, if existent, capacity to subsidize anyone, and certainly not every local business which might now come cap in hand hoping to feed at the public trough.

    Public funds or assets must be spent openly and accountably to attract ALL forms of business in or from outside the city, equally and indiscriminately. anything less smacks of favouritism, corporatism, neo-liberalism, or simply the old-boy network.

    This deal– apparently done with a public asset, real property–must be publicized and reviewed for fairness, equity, and legality.

  • 18 Silly Season // Nov 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    This is a most intriguing post and I am enjoying all the comments. Everyone sounding like sleuths!

    Policy, subsidy, money, security.
    Politics, hi tech, low finance, no surety.

    Pretty much got everything. :-)

  • 19 IdleWild // Nov 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    toot sweet, say no more.

  • 20 Chris Keam // Nov 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    “This company could be bought out by a larger tech company, and have its operations moved. The tech sector is fickle.”

    If we take Ryan Holmes at his word (and I see no reason not to), then it seems unlikely.

    http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leadership/the-lunch/sell-out-no-thanks-hootsuite-founder-ryan-holmes-wants-a-legacy/article2234196/?service=mobile

    Hootsuite is an excellent product IMO. I use it daily, gladly paid to upgrade to the very affordable ‘pro’ version for the additional features and training modules offered, and because it’s a utility type of product, rather than a destination a la Facebook/Twitter/Google+, they can keep adding social networks to their functionality, and barring some seismic shift in the technology, they are well positioned to adapt and evolve with the market. I wish them success.

  • 21 brilliant // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    @Trish French-why be surprised? This is exactly how Vision has handled development with willy nilly spot rezoning.

  • 22 Richard // Nov 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Well, if the software business doesn’t work for them, they could always develop condos called the Hoot Suites.

  • 23 waltyss // Nov 24, 2012 at 12:30 am

    @Frances Bula @14: I am familiar with section 21 of FOIPPA. While some parts of a contract may be deleted if supplied in confidence and would reveal trade secrets, the lease price is not supplied but negotiated and is certainly not a trade secret.
    There may be some details of a contract that are (hard to see what they might be in a case like this), but if COV denied access, I would file an application with the Privacy Commissioner.
    The only problem is that our wonderful provincial government so starves the Privacy Commissioners office of funds that it takes forever to get to the bottom line. Unfortunately, for that reason when dealing with a government of whatever stripe, one has to be diligent and patient.

  • 24 gman // Nov 24, 2012 at 1:25 am

    If the futures so bright and Vancouver is so wonderful why would they need any kind of subsidy.Sink or swim.

  • 25 gman // Nov 24, 2012 at 1:44 am

    This is like Gregor is playing the market with our money and giving a leg up to try and guaranty his bet,too bad for the rest of the entrepreneurs that might come along.

  • 26 Chris Keam // Nov 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Sometimes I think Canada’s motto should be:

    “Let’s bad mouth a winner”

    It’s this attitude that’s (IMHO) a big reason why this huge country is largely irrelevant on the world stage except as the resource storehouse for other countries with populations less eager to sh*t on anyone who builds their own success. It’s why Canada in all likelihood, will eventually be subsumed by either the USA or China (maybe Russia if they get their act together).

    Let’s hope Hootsuite doesn’t figure out there’s a country that welcomes hard work and winners just a few hours drive away, or we can kiss another Made-in-Canada success story good-bye.

  • 27 Frank Ducote // Nov 24, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I am happy to see city council strive to protect jobs in the city and, by doing so, enhance overall prosperity, especially among a younger age group.

    Having said that, here’s the big caveat in this one instance – this sounds like an office -like business. For good reason, offce uses are not generally welcomed in industrial zones except as an ancillary or secondary use to a principal use, like producing, distributing or repairing things (PDR for short). San Francisco, as one example, has been cracking down on office uses, including high- tech ones, in its fragile and limited PDR zones.

    For ths reason I would not like to see a wider expansion of this kind of primary use in the already sensitive Mount Pleasant industrial area, as it, like residential uses, can outbid PDR users.

    Now, if Hootsuite actually made stuff…

  • 28 brilliant // Nov 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    @Richard 22-just when I thought you had no sense of humour. Well played!

  • 29 Bill McCreery // Nov 25, 2012 at 12:36 am

    It seems the title of this item should be “Sometimes …”.

    Is this not yet another indictment of Vision Vancouver’s inept and Neanderthal management and planning policies.

  • 30 Chris Keam // Nov 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

    @Frank:

    I understand the need for industrial zones close to town, but I’m wondering what kind of industrial usages the surrounding businesses and residents would countenance? We’re talking a block off Main St, in a neighbourhood that’s now largely restaurants, retail, and condos. I can’t help but imagine that this is exciting news for all the restaurants and retail in the area, and the walk-to-work proximity of nearby condos would seem like a good fit. It’s an awfully busy part of town and I suspect shipping electrons rather than physical goods is a much better match for the nature of the area, rather than a company that might require lots of commercial vehicle access etc.

  • 31 Bill McCreery // Nov 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Perhaps your argument would have some validity Chris if the “Permitted Uses” in the area plan and zoning bylaw were updated by this Council before yet another spot rezoning is run through the process. I do not envy planning staff these days. There are no rules. Anything goes.

  • 32 Chris Keam // Nov 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Starting to get out of my depth when it comes to zoning rules and regulations, but according to Fabula’s article, this is a continuation of an existing exception:

    “Although the building is in an industrial zone, it has a grandfathered permission to be used for commercial purposes because of its previous use as a police office.”

    So, I guess the question is when was that original exception granted and under which Council did it occur?

  • 33 F.H.Leghorn // Nov 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    @Keam: No-one “builds their own success”. In most cases they need other people’s capital and skills but, most importantly, they need customers. We don’t have many customers in this country. Sadly, most of them are too smart to pay for an app that allows them to measure exactly how much time they are wasting on “social media”.

  • 34 Chris Keam // Nov 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Good thing Hootsuite has a free option then I guess. 3 million users as of last January, with 39% of them in the U.S. It almost sounds like you haven’t done any basic research before sharing your ‘wisdom’. Let me help:

    http://blog.hootsuite.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/3million-infographic-lg.jpg

    Made anything I’ve heard of Leghorn?

  • 35 Bill McCreery // Nov 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    CK 32,
    If you’re referring to my 31, my comments are connected somewhat to Frances’ reference to “grandfathering”. However, the main point is that the whole definition and practice of what are or are not industrial uses urgently needs re-examination. You get law offices in industrial buildings when supposedly there is a shortage of industrial land. As well in this discussion, what are industrial uses and jobs in a post industrial age? What kind of industrial land is needed in a city like Vancouver? Is Vancouver to be a blue, white or open collar city? How much of each?

  • 36 F.H.Leghorn // Nov 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    3 million times zero is still zero. facebook has a billion users but it still doesn’t mean anything. Social media are nothing more than another outlet for advertising, usually advertising for ideas or opinions rather than things, in other words more empty talk. Only a very few people (outside politics or the news media) are paid to talk and nobody is paid to listen. This is not an industry. a pastime maybe.
    Believing what Hootsuite says about itself doesn’t even come close to research. At best it’s a referral.

  • 37 Glissando Remmy // Nov 26, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thought of The Night

    “What F.H.Leghorn said at Thirty-six!”

    #Facebook and its half-sisters and brothers are the biggest affront to democracy.
    I don’t even have to explain myself. This shall be a journey in self-awareness for all of you who want to discover the new meanings of “social-media”.

    “… A Pastime maybe.”
    “… 3 million times zero is still zero”
    “… nobody is paid to listen”
    “… At best it’s a referral”

    Boy, I wish I’d said that!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    PS.

    BTW…
    “Although the building is in an industrial zone, it has a ‘grandfathered permission’ to be used for commercial purposes because of its previous use as a Police Office.”
    “Police” … it’s a public service, a public good, a service that received a helping hand from the City it Protects, not a Hootsuite… a Private Business, that protects only … their owners. Period.
    Someone needs to have their “Police – Adjective” explained…

  • 38 Chris Keam // Nov 26, 2012 at 7:48 am

    “Social media are nothing more than another outlet for advertising, usually advertising for ideas or opinions rather than things, in other words more empty talk.”

    Yep, nobody ever made any money increasing the ability of ideas to circulate. Clearly a non-starter. Oh, wait. It’s pretty much a common thread throughout history.

  • 39 Chris Keam // Nov 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

    “Believing what Hootsuite says about itself doesn’t even come close to research.”

    Basic research. I hear the WSJ does it.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2012/03/29/hootsuite-takes-a-little-cash-off-the-table-to-de-risk-aims-for-bigger-game/

  • 40 F.H.Leghorn // Nov 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    WSJ=Rupert Murdoch. They built up Kenneth Lay and Enron all the way down the toilet, providing alibis even after criminal convictions. Before that they were the house organ for the military-industrial complex and the oil industry (more or less the same thing).

  • 41 Chris Keam // Nov 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Look, are you disputing the facts or not? Pretty sure ‘billionaire tyrant’ Rupert Murdoch has bigger fish to fry than a Vancouver software company.

    http://www.viddler.com/v/fd49c387

  • 42 Bill Lee // Nov 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite has a little piece in the Sun on lack of capital but also lack of predatory competition here in Silicon Rain Forest….

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/bc2035/Vancouver+venture+capital+brains+bucks/7611032/story.html

    You might also skim a puff piece with numbers on local startup weaknesses at huffingtonpost.ca/john-f-gray/vancouver-startups-launch-academy-demo-day_b_2178280.html

  • 43 IanS // Nov 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    IMO, I have no difficulty with the city taking steps to make Vancouver more attractive to companies. Clearly, we want to be competitive with other jurisdictions.

    However, I’m not sure that the efforts should be made on a company by company basis. If Hootsuite did get an “offer too good to refuse”, that might amount to an unfortunate precedent (will other companies expect such treatment).

  • 44 teririch // Nov 26, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Scratching my head here – didn’t Lululemon also get some sort of deal via the city? Some sort of subsidized rent or lease option?

    On another note: I was reading about the class action lawsuit lodged by the original purchasers of units at the Olympic Village – the ones that didn’t get the 30+ % discounts….. I guess the $50M lawsuit will be considering whether the ‘City’ is or acted as a ‘land developer’.

  • 45 Bill Lee // Apr 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    by Lynda Steele & Sandra Hermiston, CTV British Columbia
    Published Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:30PM PDT
    Last Updated Thursday, April 4, 2013 8:30PM PDT

    Vancouver-based social media giant HootSuite unveiled its new offices Thursday, complete with yoga studio, nap rooms and free wine and beer on tap on Fridays.
    The dog-friendly, open concept space is in an old police building on East 8th Avenue in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The $1-million renovation includes a 24-hour gym, yoga studio, log benches, pup tents for meeting spaces and picnic tables. The nap room is decorated with calming images and blankets so the company’s “owls” can take a quick power nap.
    In Pictures: A photo tour of the HootSuite office
    Related Stories
    Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes talks about his social media company
    Become virtually indispensible to potential employers

    Vancouver-based digital media giant HootSuite unveiled its new Vancouver office to journalists on April 4, 2013. The dog-friendly, open concept space includes a yoga studio, 24-hour gym, log benches, pup tents for meeting spaces, picnic tables, and nap room, complete with calming images and blankets so the company’s “owls” can take a quick power nap. Photos courtesy of HootSuite.
    The company moved from its Railtown digs, which it opened in 2008, to make room for more staff.
    Read more: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/nap-room-beer-on-tap-inside-hootsuite-s-new-vancouver-digs-1.1224427

  • 46 mike0123 // Apr 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Hootsuite has recently posted unpaid internship positions in apparent violation of the BC Employment Standards Act.

    “My internships are (almost) always non-paid. Opinions throughout the industry differ on this point, but it’s your choice to make.”- Dave Olson, Community Marketing Director of HootSuite.com, Aug. 8, 2011

    Unpaid work has become common in Vancouver for young adults with university degrees. Unpaid work under the guise of internship hasn’t gotten much attention in the local media, despite it having become common. There has been some coverage in the Globe about the lack of opportunity and difficulty job market for young adults. In the meantime, it is being covered on reddit:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/vancouver/comments/1bqytv/hootsuite_is_hiring_unpaid_interns_this_is/

  • 47 Bill Lee // Apr 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    HootSuite to review unpaid intern policy after barrage of criticism. By Justine Hunter
    The Globe and Mail
    Published Sunday, Apr. 07 2013, 11:30 PM EDT
    Last updated Monday, Apr. 08 2013, 7:35 AM EDT

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/hootsuite-to-review-unpaid-intern-policy-after-barrage-of-criticism/article10839746/

    The Vancouver-based digital media company HootSuite has never been shy about its practice of hiring unpaid interns. But a barrage of criticism – over social-media channels, naturally – has forced the firm to reconsider its reliance on wage-less workers.

    An April 5 posting on Reddit, a social news website, suggested that the company is breaking the law.

    ….Under B.C.’s Employment Standards Act, which applies to non-union workers, employees must be paid at least the minimum wage (currently $10.25 per hour), and an intern performing duties and responsibilities that would normally be assigned to an employee must be paid the same wages and benefits that an employee would collect.

    The provincial law defines an internship as “on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide a person with practical experience.” But if they are doing work, they need to be treated as an employee. The intern positions currently offered at HootSuite include “affiliate marketing,” “strategic accounts analyst” and “social media coach.”

    In a six-page sample contract posted online, with the signatory’s name blanked out, it appears the company sought to have its interns waive any rights to compensation, while at the same time demanding ownership of any content they create. HootSuite is named as the “exclusive owner of the deliverables and of all other results of the services and of all intellectual property rights,” it states, while “the intern shall have no claim against the company … for vacation pay, sick leave, retirement benefits, social security, workers’ compensation, health or disability benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, or employee benefits of any kind.” The contract adds: “As full compensation for the services rendered … the company shall pay the intern the sum of $0 with total payment not to exceed this amount.”

    In his statement, Mr. Holmes maintained the “overwhelming majority” of his company’s interns and employees enjoy their jobs.

  • 48 MB // Apr 13, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Yet another example of Mayor Moonbeam & COV Vision Council’s abuse of power & authority and ongoing lack of transparency. Municipal Gov’t should not be picking favourites with business – it should be managing & maintaining the city works & it’s property FOR citizens, rather than ruling over it with their party’s agenda(s). Where does it stop?

  • 49 Bill Lee // Jul 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Hmm.
    (And the interns are paid? However are those numbers good enough to buy their own building in Burnaby? )

    HootSuite enjoys record second-quarter revenue growth of 300%

    [ PHOTO Ryan Holmes, CEO, HootSuite ]
    By Emma Crawford
    Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:00am PST
    Vancouver’s HootSuite achieved record revenue growth of 300% in 2013′s second quarter compared with the same period last year, the social media management organization announced this morning.
    The company said it now has more than seven million users, after announcing it had hit six million in the first quarter of the year and five million in October 2012.
    “Companies are getting more sophisticated in the ways they’re using social media across the organizations – whether they’re engaging with their customers through their marketing, sales or support and service departments,” said HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes.
    “By equipping them with a single, secure and scalable solution to organize their social processes, we’re empowering them to connect, inform and succeed like never before.”
    HootSuite launched Thai and Russian language support during the quarter, which the company said brings its fully translated dashboard languages to 15.
    ecrawford@biv.com
    @EmmaCrawfordBIV

  • 50 Bill Lee // Aug 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Can’t afford a new building in Vancouver, so City “gives” them one?

    Home> Report on Business> Small Business> Growth> Going Global
    Social Media
    Vancouver’s Hootsuite secures $165-million in huge funding deal
    by OMAR EL AKKAD
    The Globe and Mail
    Published Thursday, Aug. 01 2013, 2:48 PM EDT
    Last updated Thursday, Aug. 01 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/going-global/hootsuite-secures-165-million-in-huge-funding-deal/article13555362

    HootSuite, the social-media analytics and software firm, has completed one of the largest rounds of venture capital funding in Canadian history.
    The Vancouver-based company has secured $165-million in capital, it announced on Thursday. The round was led by New York-based Insight Venture Partners, whose previous investment targets include crowdsourcing startup IndieGogo and online retailer Newegg. The round is also being backed by Accel Partners – an early Facebook investor – and OMERS Ventures, an arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. All three firms will now have members on the HootSuite board of directors.
    HootSuite claims the venture funding round is the largest ever for a Canadian software company. “HootSuite’s goal is to empower people and brands to reach global markets using social media – to help them connect, inform, and succeed like never before,” Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite said in a statement announcing the funding.
    “This capital gives us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision around the world.”

    [ My emphasis. First comment in Globe was by romare at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2013
    "I trust this means they'll be able to afford to pay all future interns " ]

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