Fintech Tipalti scoops up major downtown Vancouver office space as valuation hits US$8.3b

U.S. firm may have 300 workers in Bentall One tower within two years

Bentall Centre in downtown Vancouver, where workers at tech firm Tipalti are set to begin moving into this coming May | Chung Chow, BIV

Silicon Valley fintech Tipalti Inc. is putting a recent US$270-million capital infusion to work in downtown Vancouver, scooping up prominent office space as it ramps up expansion efforts.

“We're bursting at the seams. We need to find talent,” Sam Barakat, Tipalti’s chief revenue officer, said about the American firm’s latest Canadian expansion plans.

The company spent the tail end of 2021 leasing 27,000 square feet within Bentall One tower at 505 Burrard St., according to data provided to BIV by real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc.

This comes after Tipalti, best known for developing software for automating the payables process, announced plans to launch a 50-person office in Vancouver back in January 2020. It followed up almost exactly a year later, revealing it would expand its headcount to 80-90 workers by the end of 2021.

The company’s valuation now sits at US$8.3 billion following last year’s raise and that Vancouver hiring goal has since been eclipsed, with 120 workers now based at Tipalti’s current office inside the Scotia Tower at 650 West Georgia St. Those employees are set to start moving over to Bentall One by May.

“Even I didn’t anticipate this level of growth. I knew we’d grow quick but it’s exceeded my expectations,” said Vancouver-based Barakat, who oversees Tipalti’s operations in Canada.

He said the company was drawn to Canada for its access to quality talent, as well as the cost of labour and the rate of turnover compared with other jurisdictions.

The fintech also officially launched its Toronto office earlier this month with 20 workers to start.

“I could easily be telling you that we're going to have 200-300 employees in each office within two years,” Barakat told BIV. “And you and I could be having this conversation next year and I could be telling you that we're already there.”

Foot traffic in downtown Vancouver has dropped 73.9% between March 2, 2021 and January 10, 2022, according to the Avison Young Inc. Vitality Index. (The index uses anonymized cellphone location data to measure foot traffic based on city as well as industry.)

Despite the steep drop amid the pandemic, the city’s downtown ranks as the fifth-most active among North American cities measured.

“I’m busier than ever in my 25-year career,” Colin Scarlett, an executive vice-president with Colliers International Canada, told BIV last September.

It might sound counterintuitive, but Scarlett said businesses are now planning for two to four years down the line rather than assuming COVID-19 will keep workers at bay indefinitely.

“People finally have just decided, ‘You know what? We just can’t operate our business like this. We have to start thinking for the long term.’ And some of this demand is pent-up demand but a lot of it is new,” he said.

Barakat, who has opened two other offices in Vancouver for American companies prior to the Tipalti launch, said downtown’s easy accessibility for people living throughout the region was another one of the big draws for expanding in the city.

“There's this affinity to want to be central and a lot of businesses want to have that presence,” he said about demand for downtown office space. “And it might have to do with attracting talent.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton

Note: The original version of this story stated Barakat oversees Tipalti's operations in both Canada and the U.K. In fact, Barakat oversees operations in Canada, while the company recently opened a new office in the U.K.