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August 28th, 2014

Hacking for the greater good: HackPDX(schools) takes place August 30


Hacking for the greater good: HackPDX(schools) takes place August 30

It’s not secret. Portland likes its hacking. It’s often focused on specific languages or technologies. But every once in a while, there’s a great opportunity to do some hacking for the betterment of our schools and towns. Such is the case with HackPDX(schools), this Saturday.

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August 27th, 2014

Portland culture club: What cultural aspects make working at AppNexus a unique experience?


Portland culture club: What cultural aspects make working at AppNexus a unique experience?

[Editor: Given that "finding talent" is at the top of everyone's collective mind, I thought it might be helpful to give you some insights into the cultures of Portland's startups and regional offices. So they can show how they're unique. And you can decide where you want to work. This is going to be a running series. Written by employees. From their perspectives.]

What cultural aspects make working at AppNexus a unique experience?

As I was first entering the start-up world, I quickly learned that “culture” was a euphemism for “stuff.” When someone asked, “what’s your culture like?” they really meant, “what kinds of beer do you stock?” or “do you guys have ping-pong or cornhole?” or “they buy you Nerf guns, right?” Over time, I became more and more embarrassed about this aspect of my chosen field; compared to the vast majority of working men and women around the world, developers have it so good, in so many ways, that bragging about how much time you spend shooting each other with foam darts seemed like the height of arrogance.

That’s not to say that I was immune to the allure of free beer and oversized versions of my childhood toys. Even as my misgivings about start-up “culture” grew, I came to expect those trappings whenever I considered a position at a new company. “If my peers have it, why shouldn’t I? It’s only fair.” It was so easy to evaluate companies on what trinkets they could give me rather than what I would actually accomplish. And while I’m obviously not blameless for that, neither were they: when the face you present the world is “keg’s right next to the Xbox!” that’s the scale they’ll judge you on.

When I first interviewed at AppNexus, the difference in tone was hard to pin down at first. There were the usual mentions of beer, family lunch, team laser tag outings, and weekly gaming nights (and I’ve enjoyed all of those in my year-and-a-half here). But the main thing people wanted to talk about was the project that would make their customers’ lives easier, or the old, crusty parts of the codebase they were working to clean up, or a new design pattern that someone had convinced the whole team to adopt. I’ve come to realize that this is no accident: we tend to attract, hire, and retain developers who care more about actually developing than the trappings of “being a developer.” Boiled down into three bullet points, that might look like this:

Learning and teaching, without ego

I’m one of the more junior developers on my team. What I have yet to learn about JavaScript and application development could literally fill a book. By contrast, many of my coworkers have been doing this for years; they have a grasp on this stuff that, for now, I can only aspire to. At another company, that disparity would be a source of frustration for them and embarrassment for me, but I’ve yet to meet one person here who responded to a question of mine with anything but enthusiasm and thoughtfulness.

Pride in our craft and serving our customers > hype, recognition, and TechCrunch

Let’s face it: AppNexus exists in a fairly non-sexy part of the startup ecosystem. We’re B2B, not consumer-facing, which means that working here won’t make you a hit at cocktail parties. Your hip artist friend probably hasn’t heard of us. You won’t find TechCrunch columnists breathlessly describing us as the Uber of anything. And it gets worse: we’re an advertising technology company. Advertising! That’s literally the worst thing ever, right? Well… sometimes. We think we can make it better. But more important, lots of other companies – LOTS – need advertising to survive, in one way or another. Whether it’s a newspaper that’s trying to stay alive via digital ad revenue, or a new coffee shop that’s trying to spread the word, or a marketing firm that knows the rock-climbing community really well, we provide tools that enable thousands of people to do their jobs better and help their companies grow.

We work hard, we ship frequently, we talk to our customers constantly. We build things that people need, and we build them well. To me, that’s way more invigorating than being the Uber of cupcakes or the Airbnb of dog-sitting.

Flexibility and choosing your own adventure

We’re a big company (and growing – see below!), but we’ve managed to avoid the bureaucracy and siloing that plagues so many tech companies once they hit a certain size. That means that switching teams to work on a different part of the codebase, tackle new business problems, meet new people, or just shake things up is that something that we allow and encourage. I’m a perfect example: I worked on a team focused on direct ad-buy deals for a year, and when I felt like I was ready for a new challenge, I switched to a team dedicated to helping publishers get the most money out of their inventory. Controlling your own destiny within a large company is a wonderful feeling.

Our culture isn’t for everyone, but if it’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place to work. And here comes the shameless recruiting plug: we’re hiring like crazy, across all kinds of positions and experience levels! Visit http://careers.appnexus.com/open-positions/ and take your pic – just about any job listed there, whether it says Portland or not, is up for discussion. [Editor: Or check the Software Engineer - Web Services or Software Engineer - User Interface positions in Portland on the Silicon Florist Job Board.]

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August 25th, 2014

Portland continues its quest to become the regional office capital of the world


Portland continues its quest to become the regional office capital of the world

Now, we all know the big names who have regional offices here. Well, the big name: Intel, whose campuses in Hillsboro contain the largest group of Intel employees, anywhere. And there’s HP and IBM and Synopsys. But a growing number of startup companies are setting up regional offices here, as well. And it shows no signs of slowing.

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August 25th, 2014

Keeping the dream of the 90s alive in Portland: RCRDBOX hearkens back to the music clubs of yesteryear


Keeping the dream of the 90s alive in Portland: RCRDBOX hearkens back to the music clubs of yesteryear

The box business model. Take a box. Shove some delightful thematically related stuff in it. And send it to subscribers once a month. There are any number of flavors of this sort of thing. But there’s still a ton of opportunity in the market. And Portland’s RCRDBOX is looking to carve out its own little part of that market.

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August 22nd, 2014

Formalizing your coffee consumption: Portland startups now have their own 1 Million Cups


Formalizing your coffee consumption: Portland startups now have their own 1 Million Cups

Like many tech outposts, the Portland startup scene is driven by a great deal of caffeine. Lots and lots of coffee. And meetings. And since that’s the idea that originally inspired the formation of 1 Million Cups, it only makes sense that that idea has finally managed to travel our way.

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August 22nd, 2014

It’s not just genius… SuperGenius and Clackamas Community College continue to collaborate on game developer academy


It’s not just genius… SuperGenius and Clackamas Community College continue to collaborate on game developer academy

It’s a common complaint. Folks need talent. But they also need talent that has applicable knowledge—not just a theoretical understanding. In order to gain that type of knowledge, however, they need opportunities to get hands on with technology. Which is what makes programs like SuperGenius Academy so awesome.

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August 21st, 2014

The weekend that was: A roundup of coverage from TechFestNW


The weekend that was: A roundup of coverage from TechFestNW

To be honest, it was kind of a blur. But a number of enterprising and perceptive journalists managed to capture chunks of TechFestNW—the annual tech event run in conjunction with MusicFestNW—highlighting some of the speakers and themes that pervaded the event, this year. I thought it might be helpful to round up some of the posts for you. All convenient like.

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August 19th, 2014

Seeing the potential: Vadio lands $2 million, fueling continued growth for its MTV-esque service


Seeing the potential: Vadio lands $2 million, fueling continued growth for its MTV-esque service

Maybe I’m dating myself here, but… MTV used to show music videos. No. I’m serious. Like all of the time. No reality shows. Just videos. Song after song after song. And it was pretty awesome. So forgive me if I get a little nostalgic with Portland startup Vadio, which is bringing that exact same kind of original MTV-esque magic to radio stations.

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August 13th, 2014

More than chump change: Portland startup PayRange continues to gain traction with customers and investors


More than chump change: Portland startup PayRange continues to gain traction with customers and investors

I don’t know if you know this but… word around the campfire is that this whole “payments” thing may be garnering a little bit of traction. So it’s nice to see that a Portland startup working on an interesting solution to the problem is gaining traction as well.

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August 12th, 2014

With a week to go, Ultra’s Violet approaches the halfway point on its Kickstarter goal


With a week to go, Ultra’s Violet approaches the halfway point on its Kickstarter goal

It’s no secret that Portland and the sun have an odd relationship. We love it and all. It just doesn’t show up that often. So when it does, it would be awesome to have a way of making the most of it—without overindulging. That’s the idea behind Ultra’s Violet, the first-ever wearable device that helps track your UV exposure and measure sun-generated vitamin D.

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August 8th, 2014

Because everyone could use a little more airhorn in their lives


Because everyone could use a little more airhorn in their lives

If there is one thing I love about Portland, it’s the fact that not every tech project needs to be about chasing funding or building a huge business. It doesn’t have to be about killing it or crushing it. Sometimes, we just do wacky shit. And that’s a good thing. Which brings me to Instant Rap Airhorn.

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August 7th, 2014

Golden birthday: It’s August 7 and Silicon Florist turned seven years old today


Golden birthday: It’s August 7 and Silicon Florist turned seven years old today

“WTF am I doing?” I often ask myself. Arrington had already long gotten out of TechCrunch at this point. And yet here I sit. Posting. Day after day. Just like I did at 2AM seven years ago. About Portland. About startups. And about what you’re doing.

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August 7th, 2014

Startup, startup. Who’s got the Portland startups? Startup PDX Challenge needs your help and PIE has new filling


Startup, startup. Who’s got the Portland startups? Startup PDX Challenge needs your help and PIE has new filling

Ah summer! Birds are singing. The sun is shining. People are out and about. And apparently the accelerators are pulling together a whole new crop of awesome startups from the Portland startup scene. This week, two startup reveals happened. PIE announced their current class. And the Startup PDX Challenge solicited your input on potential startups for their program—before Friday, August 8.

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August 6th, 2014

How science, machine learning, and augmented reality can improve your beer purchases: New Relic FutureTalk with Trace Smith


How science, machine learning, and augmented reality can improve your beer purchases: New Relic FutureTalk with Trace Smith

Now, I’m not one to overthink my beverages, adult or otherwise. But I am willing to admit that I could likely benefit from technology in that regard. I’m just not exactly sure how. Which is why I was intrigued by what Next Glass is doing: using science to recommend beer and wine to you.

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August 6th, 2014

Maybe they should call it TalentFestNW: TechFestNW holds inaugural Talent Fair


Maybe they should call it TalentFestNW: TechFestNW holds inaugural Talent Fair

Ask most startups around town about the challenges they’re experiencing and I can pretty much guarantee “finding talent” will be somewhere in the top 3. These days, it’s usually problem number one. And that’s why TechFestNW is working to help. By hosting a Talent Fair that helps Portland companies connect with local talent.

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August 5th, 2014

It’s that time of year again: TechFestNW means Portland TechCrawl 2014


It’s that time of year again: TechFestNW means Portland TechCrawl 2014

It’s beginning to border on a tradition now. For the past three years—in conjunction with TechFestNW—the folks at CrowdCompass have helped organize a progressive party among the Portland tech startup scene. They call it TechCrawl. And it’s time for the 2014 version.

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