ITWC Morning Briefing, July 23, 2020 – Talking tech jobs with Lighthouse Labs CEO

To keep up with the firehose of news and press releases, we’ve decided to deliver some extra news to you on the side every Monday and Thursday morning. Some of it is an extension of our own reporting that didn’t make its way into a story, while others might be content we’ve bookmarked for later reading and thought of sharing with you. We’re doing a similar thing at Channel Daily News – check it out here. You can also view our previous ITWC Morning Briefing here. Today’s briefing is delivered by ITWC editorial director Alex Coop.

What you need to know, right now

It’s what you need to know right now in the world of IT and tech – ’nuff said.


Today is our Top Women in Cyber Security event! Earlier this year, ITWC and WISECRA reached out to the technology community and asked for nominations of individuals who deserved to be recognized as one of the Top Women in Cyber Security. The response was overwhelming. In 90 days we had more than 170 nominations for Canadian women who worked in cybersecurity across a wide variety of organizations. There were nominations for CISOs, company founders, professors, directors, and women holding numerous specialty positions in both the public and private sectors. Today’s 75-minute interactive event will feature short video profiles of the women named to the honour roll, a panel discussion exploring ways to get more women involved in cybersecurity, an opportunity to download related white papers, and the chance to visit sponsor breakout rooms for conversation. You can still register to view the event. If you haven’t registered, you still can by clicking here!


Microsoft announced its fiscal fourth-quarter 2020 earnings July 22. All of Microsoft’s main segments saw revenue growth ex-currency of 8 per cent at least. Productivity and business processes, a segment that includes cloud-based Office and Dynamics 365, saw revenues climb only 8 per cent versus 17 per cent this time last year. Microsoft saw a 9 per cent spike in intelligent cloud revenues. But even this number fell below last year’s 21 per cent growth rate. Last quarter’s figure was better at 29 per cent.


A 1-on-1 with Jeremy Shaki, CEO of Lighthouse Labs

It was a little touch and go during the month of May, but the latest data from coding bootcamp Lighthouse Labs suggests Canadian organizations have gotten over the remote work scramble and are ready to hire developers again. This, of course, is based on a small sample size of data, admits Lighthouse Labs CEO Jeremy Shaki. But when you consider Lighthouse is likely responsible for pumping out more developer talent than any other incubator in Canada – except for Waterloo he says – the data is worth considering.

Lighthouse Labs CEO Jeremy Shaki.

The report, which details hiring and salary trends for Lighthouse Labs graduates before and after COVID was labelled a pandemic, sheds light on how the demand for tech workers has shifted. Key stats include:

  • Toronto has seen more tech hires than Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa, but falls behind Vancouver.
  • The average salary for new tech hires between March – June 2020 is $53,264. This is on par with pre-COVID salaries.
  • The demand for tech workers spiked in April as companies moved their operations online, but declined in May, before rising again in June.

“Vancouver started the uptick a little earlier than everyone else,” Shaki said, referring to entry-level hires. The numbers show that employers are still feeling the effects of the economic shift, he explains, and while a few hiring freezes have been lifted, there’s still a great deal of vulnerability. It was nice to see average salaries remain steady since last year when the country hit new highs around talent retention, he adds, as Toronto tied Boston as the top spot for “paycheck growth rate” among tech workers.

Sadly Canada is still way behind compared to the U.S. San Francisco tech workers, for example, currently make an average of what equates to $189,000 Canadian per year. And while they do have to contend with a freighting higher cost of living, the city has been the highest paying market for tech workers, with salaries up 2 per cent in the last year, for the past four years.

Lighthouse’s report also sheds some light on last year’s employment rate for graduates of the Bootcamp, and while the results continue to impress – their employment rate within a 180-day job seeking cycle is 95 per cent – the story is in the details, Shaki suggests.

“When we’re talking about ‘entry-level developers, the average age group is 25-32, so you actually get a lot of people with professional experience. so while they’re entering the entry-level development space, they’re not entry-level professionals,” he explained. “When we talk about the need for digital skills, the value of having people who understand business or the pro workspace and then also get skills as being developers, that value prop is more significant now.

“Everyone talks about non-developers needing technical skills, but there’s more conversation now around the technical people needing professional skills and how soft skills are an equally important element in this hiring landscape. We’ve heard this a lot.”


In case you missed it

The recent news that we maybe didn’t get to yet, or it’s the news we’ve reported on and feel is worth resurfacing. Sometimes we’ll also feature awesome stories from other publications.

On Tuesday, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, along with data protection and privacy authorities from around the world, published an open letter to video teleconferencing companies reminding them of their “obligations to comply with the law and handle people’s personal information responsibly.” Security and privacy-by-design were bullets number one and two in the open letter.


Alexa Live is a free virtual event for Alexa skill builders, device makers, and business leaders. It kicked off this week. Here are some of the announcements so far:

  • APL for Audio (beta) includes new audio mixing capabilities that let you build audio and soundscapes into your Alexa skills. You can mix audio with Alexa speech and mix multiple voices with sound effects and sync your visuals with audio clips that respond to customer inputs.
  • Web API for Games: Use web technologies and tools (e.g. Canvas 2D, WebAudio, WebGL, JavaScript, and CSS) to build interactive voice-controlled gaming experiences for Echo Show and select Fire TV devices with the Web API for Games (GA).
  • Alexa for Apps: Alexa for Apps (preview) allows you to combine Alexa skills with iOS and Android mobile apps.


Twitter released an updated statement regarding that nasty data breach from last week. The social media giant quelled fears around other accounts being compromised by confirming that the damage was contained to the 130 accounts Twitter had already confirmed were compromised. Here is Twitter’s full statement from Wednesday:

 For the 130 accounts that were targeted, here is what we know as of today.

  • Attackers were not able to view previous account passwords, as those are not stored in plain text or available through the tools used in the attack.
  • Attackers were able to view personal information including email addresses and phone numbers, which are displayed to some users of our internal support tools.
  • In cases where an account was taken over by the attacker, they may have been able to view additional information. Our forensic investigation of these activities is still ongoing.

We believe that for up to 36 of the 130 targeted accounts, the attackers accessed the DM inbox, including 1 elected official in the Netherlands. To date, we have no indication that any other former or current elected official had their DMs accessed. [Added on July 22, 2020]


Adobe, IBM and Red Hat have entered into a group hug – I mean partnership. In a July 21 blog post, Adobe explained the intent of the alliance is to help brands manage and deliver their content and assets within any hybrid cloud environment – from multiple public clouds to on-premises data centres. The news also means that Adobe Experience Manager 6.5 will run on Red Hat OpenShift. Adobe says a webcast Aug. 4 will shed more details about the announcement. IBM also wrote about it here.


From Business Insider – Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt is working to launch a university that would rival Stanford and MIT and funnel tech workers into government work [FULL STORY]

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is leading a federal initiative to launch a university that would train a new generation of tech workers for the government, according to a OneZero report. The school, named the US Digital Service Academy, looks to rival Stanford and MIT, two established tech talent pools.


From IT World Canada – Canadian story publishing site acknowledges improper access to users’ personal information [FULL STORY]

A Toronto-based story publishing site says someone may have “improperly accessed” personal information about its users, including their email addresses and dates of birth.


From Channel Daily News – Microsoft Inspire 2020: Azure Lighthouse updates, expanded partnerships and new playbooks [FULL STORY]

Microsoft’s top channel-focused executives on Tuesday echoed themselves from last year, telling partners during Microsoft Inspire that the next 12 months will be a crucial period for both partners and customers as they further transition to cloud solutions and managed services. But as COVID-19 maintains a grip on the world forcing businesses to modernize or risk losing everything, the message hit a little harder this time.


From IT Business Canada – Consumers have never been more suspicious, but it’s also a great time for marketers to experiment, experts say [FULL STORY]

Among growing tensions with Facebook and TikTok, marketing spending is giving advertisers opportunities to try something new, says Stacy DeBroff, founder of Influence Central, a social media and digital marketing company. First is the powerful alternative of influencers. “Influencers prove a powerful driver of consumer shopper marketing,” she said. 

Bookmarks of the week

A few bookmarked Tweets that we think are worth sharing with you.

Strong lineup of panelists talking about an important subject. Mark you calendars for Aug. 19.



May this photoshopped image of Mark Zuckerberg haunt your dreams forever – or provide you with unlimited laughs.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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