Meta not counting Vancouver out of hiring plans after announcing Toronto office

Facebook parent plans to hire 2,500 workers over five years

A woman donning VR goggles to interact in the metaverse | Kilito Chan-Getty Images

Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. (Nasdaq:FB) is remaining somewhat mum on any specific hiring plans for Vancouver or the rest of B.C. after announcing Tuesday it was launching a new office in Toronto.

Meta will be building out an engineering hub in Canada that will serve as home base for up to 2,500 workers within the next five years.

A mix of remote and in-office workers will be hired.

Facebook already has an office in downtown Vancouver but it’s unclear what designs its parent company has for the city following Tuesday’s announcement.

When asked by BIV if Meta had any specific plans for tapping remote workers on the West Coast for the new hub, spokeswoman Marlee Socket in an email “a high number of roles will have the option of working remotely across Canada.”

She added that the company does not currently have any set targets for hiring remote workers in particular regions.

Meanwhile, Meta also revealed it’s delivering grants of $30,000 to 17 research labs across Canada, including three in B.C.

Those grants are aimed at boosting innovations within the metaverse – an evolution of the internet, whereby immersive digital worlds take the place of staring at 2D screens for everyday interactions such as shopping or hanging out with friends. 

Don a pair of VR goggles or hold up a smartphone to one’s eye-line and users can chat with their real estate agent in real time while touring a digital twin of a home on the market, among other activities.

“Vancouver, actually, I would say is ahead of the curve when it comes to being part of the industry,” Matt Burns, founder and chief innovation officer of BentoHR, told BIV last year.

He previously organized the Global HR Summit in 2020 that saw all 60 speakers don Oculus Quest headsets to engage with audiences in an artificially rendered environment.

While the VR/AR Association’s Vancouver chapter estimates the city is the world’s second-largest VR hub with about 200 firms based here, Burns said “we’re a little bit slower to adopt technological changes than markets like Toronto or New York or San Francisco. But I think that’s going to shift because we have such a strong presence of the technology here, which is rare in the worldwide landscape.”

Despite adoption being potentially slower on the West Coast, Vancouver’s historical mix of gaming, visual effects and animation studios means the city will be among the global leaders for developing applications.

Burns said there are still notable barriers to entry for businesses getting on board with the metaverse, such as the perceived high cost of the hardware involved.

A top-of-the-line headset such as Meta Platforms’ Oculus Quest 2 goes for US$300. But corporate giants like Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Inc. (Nasdaq:AMNZ) are forking up the capital to invest in training workers in artificial worlds rather than in person.