When I left Toronto in 2014 my salary was $110,000 CAD with essentially no equity. During my time in San Francisco my salary peaked at $190,000 USD with over $200,000 USD in stock each year. When I moved back to Canada in 2020 I knew I was going to take a pay cut because of this stigma that developers in Canada (or outside California for that matter) were just worth a lot less. My experience meant almost nothing when compared to where I physically resided. The Toronto based job I accepted resulted in an over 25% drop in my total compensation.
But if we take a glass half full view of the COVID-19 pandemic for a moment, it has become the great equalizer for developer salaries, particular mobile ones. As the pandemic dragged on through 2020 it became obvious that returning to the office was not happening anytime soon. Droves of Silicon Valley companies rushed to set up a Canadian presence so they could hire remote workers, who have greatly benefited from this increased competition.
I spent the first four months of 2022 looking for another job and comprised this list of all the companies that I considered. I hope that by sharing this I will empower some Canadian iOS developers to take a chance and level up their career.
Stripe is my top recommendation for three reasons.
First, their products make a lot of sense and have a lot of room to grow. Also Stripe's leadership has shown that they are willing to take big risks and expand into new frontiers.
Second, I have heard nothing but good things about their engineering culture. I know that even someone like myself with 13 years of iOS experience would still be able to learn a lot inside Stripe.
Third, their interview loop was absolutely fantastic. Easily the best that I have ever experienced. One of the chief complaints I've heard from so many iOS developers is they don't want to interview because they don't want to solve any bullshit LeetCode problems. Every single aspect of Stripe's interview loop focuses on grading what kind of iOS developer you are. I was working inside Xcode solving a variety of problems, collaborating with the interviewers, getting an idea of how I'd actually do real work inside Stripe.
They are also a global company who was into remote work before it became cool / mandatory.
Block / Square
Block / Square is a great opportunity for any iOS developer because they have a very mature engineering culture but are not afraid of taking risks.
If you are looking for a more laid back, focused team you can apply for work on the Square side of things. Get exposed to projects like Bazel and Blueprint. If you're looking for something a bit more on the cutting edge you can apply to Cash App, and even get exposed to the crypto market if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Block is also already a public traded company so your equity will be immediately liquid. And Square has had a Waterloo office setup for years so they are already very comfortable working remotely with Canadian employees.
Snap is one of those dark horses that a lot of iOS developers overlook because they probably haven't used the product. But Snap has an absolutely massive codebase and encounter more esoteric problems than you may realize. If you are interested in how iOS interacts with camera hardware you will find yourself learning a lot here. Also they have reached the size where they have a specialized mobile platform team working on developer tooling like Bazel and they are already public so your equity is immediately liquid.
I recommend that every single iOS developer apply to Snap because you could very easily find yourself enamoured with their technology stack and the opportunities it affords you.
Ramp is on this list because they have an established, successful product for which they are just spinning up their mobile team. It is rare to find a greenfield app opportunity like this so if you're interested in being part of a small four or five person team building something from scratch, definitely check out Ramp.
Personally, I believe that DoorDash is going to win the gig economy wars because they appear to be the first ones to realize that B2B is where the money is at. Their focus on the dispatching side of things rather than just food delivery is going to allow them to grow a ton. Combine that with a public stock and strong engineering culture, DoorDash is a prime learning opportunity for any iOS developer.
Obviously I am biased because I have worked at Uber (twice) but their mobile development tooling really is something else. As an iOS developer at Uber you'll be exposed to a mobile app that operates at a scale few others do.
Some would think that because I worked at Uber I have a unfettered hatred for Lyft but that could not be further from the truth. Some of my best friends work (or worked) for Lyft and their contributions to open source, specifically Bazel's support for iOS, is absolutely unparalleled.
Another one of the mobile app unicorns of the late 2000s, Airbnb has an extremely strong mobile engineering culture. They also recently updated their remote work policy to do away with location based pay bands. Airbnb may be the first company on this list where iOS developers in Toronto are paid the same as their San Francisco counterparts.
While they may now be owned by Salesforce (🤢), Slack is still growing a ton and there is a lot of work internally to build up developer tooling. You can read about their modularization effort here and here.
I will admit that I really don't know much about iOS at Reddit but they were one of the first companies to open a Canadian office during the pandemic and they appear to be growing extremely fast. Their IPO is fast approaching so it is one of those companies where the total compensation could be much higher than you realize.
If you are looking for a true homegrown company look no further than Waterloo's Faire, which could be most succinctly described as Amazon for wholesalers. Faire is on this list because of my belief that B2B is where the money is. Sure none of your family is probably ever going to use the Faire app, but a lot of businesses will and Faire is poised to make a lot of money because of that. Their mobile team is in the hyper-growth stage so if you're looking to have a big impact Faire may give that opportunity.
Pinterest is very similar to Snap in that it is probably overlooked by a lot of iOS developers because they don't use the product. Pinterest is also big into supporting Bazel (their XCode project generator XCHammer as an example) so that gets a big thumbs up in my books.
One of the OG remote first companies, 1Password is showing no signs of slowing down. I've used all of their apps for over 15 years now and know the founders personally. They are amazing people who just want to create a fun and productive work environment.
What kind of iOS developer would I be if I didn't add Apple to this list? I readily admit that the vast majority of their jobs are on-site in Sunnyvale only but the Canadian offices in Vancouver and Toronto have become more receptive to remote work. Definitely check out Apple's job board and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Meta (aka Facebook) is ubiquitous and always looking for iOS developers. I recommend everyone apply to Meta because it is good experience interviewing and you truly have absolutely no idea what sort of opportunities are available at any given time.
Netflix is lower on this list simply because of the massive dip in their valuation after reporting so many lost subscribers. But that doesn't change the fact that Netflix has a very mature, compentent engineering culture and the pandemic has finally faced them to realize the reality of remote work.
One of the darlings of the pandemic era, Shopify is moving towards React Native but they still need iOS developers to help "keep the lights on" so it may be a good opportunity for certain people. Or if you wanted to switch from iOS to React Native then I have found the perfect company for you.
I absolutely detest LeetCode but some companies still swear by it and one of those is Google. If you are looking for a place to rest and vest then definitely take advantage of this behemoth.