Reconsidering Direct Leap

I’ve mentioned Direct Leap before, as some of you will remember.  Recently, Simon Rowland of Direct Leap has posted to the comment threads in previous posts and sent me a few emails to try and share his side of the story, and I’ve been doing some re-examination of what I know, what others have said, and what I’ve said, and it seems worth trying again to be as clear as I can.  It’s hard to be really clear in this scenario, because I don’t know much and what I’ve heard is both suspect and confidential.

What I Know
Nothing.  I haven’t worked with Direct Leap or Simon personally.  I’ve heard several stories from both sides now, and I don’t have anywhere near enough evidence to form an opinion, let alone suggest that the matter is clear.

What I’ve Heard
I have heard a caution from more than one source that claims to have had dealings with Direct Leap that didn’t go well.  Each of these sources has talked to me claiming that they hope I can protect others from going through the same.  It’s motivated by that desire that I’ve been moved to talk about a subject about which I know nothing.

Simon Rowlands, acting on behalf of Direct Leap, argues, as you might expect, that these sources aren’t to be trusted and may be suspect in motive.  Perhaps more interestingly, I’ve also heard from another unrelated source that it’s not black and white and that there’s enough blame to go around, and that potential sources might also have axes to grind.

What I’ve Said
Mostly, I’ve just tried to communicate that I’ve heard some things that give me pause, and that if you’re considering working with Direct Leap, you should do your research.  I’ve used a lot more words than that, but I hope that’s what it comes down to.

It’s true that everyone in this mess is probably biased in some way, the more so the more directly they’re connected.  Even though I’m not connected in any tangible way, I’m trying to err on the side of the candidate, since that’s really why I’m talking about Tech Jobs in Toronto.  That is itself a bias, though, and one that factors into my willingness to say anything at all, but also something to bear in mind when considering Direct Leap.

What Does That All Mean?
Not a lot.  This is the breakdown, as I see it:

  • I’ve heard some negative things thrown towards Direct Leap and towards people who once worked for direct leap in some way.
  • I don’t have any evidence or first-hand knowledge with which to confirm or deny the things I’ve heard.
  • Business relationships can be complicated and messy, particularly when things go wrong.
  • Most of the people involved in this discussion has a bias and an agenda, even if they don’t mean to.

What am I not suggesting?

  • That I recommended that anyone should definitely work for, or not work for, Direct Leap.
  • That Direct Leap is a good or bad employer.

What am I suggesting?

  • Anyone considering working for Direct Leap should try and do research before getting too involved.
  • Talk to your friends, put out feelers and find out what you can.
  • Talk to the company, talk to past employees and contractors, if you can find them.
  • Frankly, that’s the same advice I’d give you about any company you’re considering working for.

I’m not sure I can be any more clear than that.  As always, I’m happy for Friends and Foes of Direct Leap to get their words in edgewise below, because my opinion, even when I don’t have one, is not the only word in the subject.  Similarly, if you have a question that I can answer, I’ll give it a crack.

I’m also going to go back over what I’d written previously and make sure I haven’t erred to much in one direction or another, but I consider this to be the most complete statement on the subject anyway.


5 Responses to Reconsidering Direct Leap

  1. Belizea by the Beach says:


    OMG. What have you printed here or in your previous post that shows any concrete defence of Direct Leap?? Here is another blogger’s take on him: Clearly, we are able to read President Rowland’s quotation, as if he has been given the opportunity to speak for himself. Um, where specifically are yours?

    As a onetime consultant with the company, I know that President Rowland displays large amounts of trust. (1) There was someone who threatened President Rowland and tried to steal money from the company. Instead of charging this individual, Direct Leap’s advisory board recommended that he be fired. Needless to say, this individual was not happy and promptly began rather loudly bad-mouthing the company. (2) There was another hire, a onetime personal friend of Rowland’s, who was flown all the way up here from the southern part of the U.S. Unfortunately, he apparently misrepresented himself on his resume, and was let go because of it. (3) Last year, there was a flurry of hirings when several contracts came through at the same time (with some clients acting only at the very last minute). These were rush contracts supplanted with some workers who would have been temporary anyway. Otherwise, certainly, not every hire works out. Does this mean that as a wise CEO, President Rowland should have just kept these people on indefinitely anyway? And, what of his staff who has been loyal to him since the beginning? Did you get a chance to speak with any of them?

    You even go so far as to complain about their convenient Queen&Spad location, and state that a company claiming to prefer charitable organizations as clients is probably suspect at best. WTH?? How is this responsible advice to your readers? Why not just research it yourself as opposed to ongoing speculation?

    One can only imagine the absolute PLETHORA of entrepreneurs who have had to go through some growing pains towards success. Thankfully, most of us have had opportunities to grow without publicly being non-objectively written about by blogs like this one. And please don’t tell me otherwise. No fool reading your two posts would believe that you are objective.

  2. First of all, thanks for posting another point of view. I’d much rather people with an opinion speak out for themselves, letting me stay out of it. I think that’s my primary takeaway. I’m fine with people sharing their concerns about a company, and doing so here, but I’d prefer not to be quite so enmired in describing any concerns about situation for which I have no facts.

    There seem to be some confusion here. I’m not claiming to defending direct leap. I’d been given some warnings by one, and then another source, and it seemed that if I were going to point candidates to a company, I should also warn of concerns that were raised. After talking with Simon over email, I came to believe that I’d gone too far in representing a situation about which I had only one side of the story. So I wrote this post to clarify.

    I think if I were to do it again, I’d simply urge those with an opinion to post a comment of their own, and I should probably do my best to give the company an opportunity to respond by letting them know as well, I agree. I won’t suggest that Direct Leap should have acted differently, because I wasn’t involved, I don’t know the whole story. It’s possible that one party is at fault, or that there’s a series of miscommunications and errors on both sides, I don’t know.

    As far as the other concerns: the location, the nature of their profit stream — those are the normal concerns of job-hunters regularly featured here, and aren’t targeted at Direct Leap any more directly than at any other company’s jobs that I comment on here. If you read some of the other postings, you’ll see they are similar.

    I can’t claim to be objective; nobody is. My emphasis is on helping people find interesting technology jobs in toronto and read between the lines of job postings so that they are forearmed with some useful questions with which to probe a prospective employer.

    So, for instance, if I were intervewing at Direct Leap, and I know that they do a lot of work for non-profits, I would want to better understand their profit stream and profit model, because that would have an impact on my future with the company. Similarly, if I were interested in working in the banking sector, I’d want to understand their exposure to the sub-prime crisis, and how they’re working through the current difficult conditions. By sharing some of those questions, I hope to help candidates with the difficult decisions they face. That’s all. By aiming to help the candidates, that create a sort of bias for the candidate and against the company, although where possible I also like to highlight companies and jobs that I find interesting.

    And by looking for what interests me and worries me, I’m absolutely exposing my own biases. There are some candidates who’d have a different set of concerns, and they need to understand that. That’s one of the reasons I list the criteria I use to evaluate. However, I don’t have an axe to grind. I don’t hate some companies or do “PR” for other companies.

    In any case; it doesn’t sound like you’re interested in a discussion, you’d just like to rant, so i’ll leave you to it. If you’d like to discuss, feel free to reply or contact me by email, always willing to listen to another point of view.

  3. Belizea says:


    Thank you for your prompt response.

    I didn’t see a discussion; I saw someone who hadn’t gone out of his way to inform himself the way I felt he should have, however, I do know what it’s like to be challenged on objectivity. This means that we all have to learn how to deal adequately with different sides of a situation–or else have had lawsuits suggested to us if we did/do not.

    My point is not that you “didn’t defend” the company; it was that you weren’t objective when you wrote about it. I think we’ve both made our respective points on this topic. You especially, by mentioning that it was just two “sources” out of all the ones who have come and gone for this particular organization, and that if you had to do it over again, you would have handled the situation differently.

    I only brought up the location because you said it wasn’t the easiest to get to, that’s it’s quite the “trek” from the subjway. I wondered how you could possibly know where we’re all located (I personally love the location) not to mention why anyone who must use the subway would walk from it all the way to Queen&Spad(!). It makes so much more sense to take the streetcar–especially in this horridly cold weather. No biggie now, but why would you not have investigated this further before mentioning it to readers? This is JMHO.

  4. If the same situation arises again, I’ll handle it differently. I don’t know that you’d agree with how I choose to handle it, but you can let me know if and when.

    I’d still argue that I’m not trying to be objective here; this is definitely about having an opinion, and having an opinion tends to require you to not be absolutely objective. That said, there’s a balance to be made.

    The location is one where we’re going to have to agree to disagree — I feel well-informed here. I worked at Queen/Duncan, King/Spadina and lived on the subway and in the west. The Spadina streetcar, at rush hour, is crowded and slow. The subway is more crowded and slow than it once was, but it’s still the route that I think a lot of people would end up choosing. The Queen/King/Dundas cars are basically useless for that kind of distance, as they’re also crowded and slow. Given the choice, I always chose to walk from University except in the coldest weather. I like many things about the area, but convenience and ease of access during Toronto rush hour is not one of them. Your mileage might vary, of course.

    I absolutely don’t know where the Direct Leap employees are located, nor where the potential candidates are located. That’s why I’ve tended to try and water down the location comments by placing them in YMMV, or otherwise. In the most recent postings, i’ve given location its own section to make that less of a “judgement.” That said, given the wide array of potential places people might be coming from, I can speculate about the average opinion, and the average ease of the commute. Each candidate will ultimately have to make their own judgement call about the commute, as they will about the opportunity and the company.

  5. Belizea says:

    I believe we both agree that an opinion should be informed as opposed to speculative. I believe that we also agree that the disconnect here came because what was written wasn’t viewed as negatively leaning. And I fully understand the difficulty in separating oneself from one’s writing. I step away from mine for awhile before pushing send or submit.

    The King streetcar is exTremely fast. I looove taking it. The slowest part of the trip–between York and Spadina–is well worth the avoidance of Queen, Dundas or Spadina streetcars (which are to be avoided at All costs), but not slow enough to avoid taking the fast King car altogether. I look forward to the commute.

    Then, the walk up from King&Spad to Queen&Spad is nothing. Even running it takes under 2 minutes. Admittedly, I also enjoy the area’s restaurants, shops, galleries and other services.

    The actual building where DL is located includes much of The Centre For Social Innovation. It’s hard to be negative in such a happy, helpful and dedicated environment.

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