June 30th, 2009

They’re in Oregon? 17+ projects that don’t get the Silicon Forest cred they deserve

They’re in Oregon? 17+ projects that don’t get the Silicon Forest cred they deserve

While a number of the folks in the Portland tech community spend time getting together on a regular basis at things like Beer and Blog and Ignite Portland, there are still any number of wildly successful startups, blogs, and companies here in town that rarely get the Oregon cred they so richly deserve.

They’re doing good work. They’re garnering national—and sometimes international—recognition. And they deserve all the Silicon Forest love we can dish out.

So who are they? Let’s take a look. (Listed by the number of times people looked at me with incredulity when I told them they were headquartered in Oregon.)

1) Metafilter

One of the first—and easily still the best community blogs around—Metafilter is run by Matt Haughey who describes his location at Portland-ish.

Metafilter is a weblog that anyone can contribute a link or a comment to. A typical weblog is one person posting their thoughts on the unique things they find on the web. This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members.

2) SurveyMonkey

Arguably, the premier survey tool on the Web. I’m always amazed at how many people know about SurveyMonkey—and how few of them know that it’s headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Started in 1999, SurveyMonkey is an online survey tool that enables people of all experience levels to create their own surveys quickly and easily. Every day, SurveyMonkey gives thousands of people the feedback they need to make more informed decisions, including more than 80% of the Fortune 100. SurveyMonkey’s offices are located in Portland, Oregon USA.

3) Eleven Wireless

If you’ve used wifi in a hotel, it’s likely you’ve used Eleven Wireless. And if you’ve ever been to NedSpace you’ve likely met the founder of Eleven, Josh Friedman.

Eleven Wireless has been providing high quality software and services to leading hotel properties in the United States and around the world for more than seven years.

4) Panic

People talk about Portland being a Mac town. But it’s surprising how few folks know that Panic—makers of some of the most beautiful and useful products for the Mac—are right here in town.

When you’re a small software house, you pretty much work in vacuum. So, when Apple chooses your software out of an avalanche of entries to receive not one, but two Apple Design Awards, there’s not much you can do besides pretty much totally freak out. And boy, did we ever.

5) Parent hacks

Who knew that one of the best parenting sites around was here in Portland? Well not enough of you, clearly. So Parent hacks made the list.

Parent Hacks is a collaborative website that collects and publishes parents’ tips, recommendations, workarounds, and bits of wisdom – their hacks – in a single pot so we can all partake. Here’s the stuff that would have been left out of the instruction manual…if there were one.

6) Digital Trends

What if I told you that there was a gadget blog here in town that got upwards of two million visitors a month? Well, Digital Trends is such a gadget blog—and they’rein the US Bank Tower.

Digital Trends helps people make the most of the hi-tech lifestyle by providing sneak peeks, one-of-a-kind reviews, editorials and news about trendsetting consumer technology products and services. By focusing on products that incorporate style along with cutting edge functionality, Digital Trends has become an indispensable resource for people who embrace the best of what technology can offer.

7) ExpressionEngine

Did you know that one of the most popular content management systems around is out of Bend, Oregon? That’s right. EllisLab brings us on ExpressionEngine, a flexible and customizable CMS designed to help folks make the most out of their Web presence with the least amount of effort.

ExpressionEngine is a flexible, feature-rich content management system that empowers thousands of individuals, organizations, and companies around the world to easily manage their website.

8) CodeIgniter

ExpressionEngine is followed immediately by CodeIgniter, another project out of EllisLab in Bend. What’s CodeIgniter? Well, if you’re a PHP coder, it’s a framework that—in EllisLab’s words—is going to help you “kick ass.” Need something more than that. Oh okay. How about this?

CodeIgniter is a powerful PHP framework with a very small footprint, built for PHP coders who need a simple and elegant toolkit to create full-featured web applications. If you’re a developer who lives in the real world of shared hosting accounts and clients with deadlines, and if you’re tired of ponderously large and thoroughly undocumented frameworks

9) fmyi

Chicago has Basecamp. Us? We’ve got fmyi, a service that helps teams collaborate by facilitating thoughts and discussions—especially as they apply to creativity and innovation.

FMYI [For MY Innovation] is an online workspace you can use to bring your team together to store and share information securely with each other. Each person gets their own social networking-style profile page, and each team can have a page too. Then, anyone can create a workspace page to post messages, share files, add links, set tasks, and more.

10) Discogs

If you’re ever looking for information on random music—or mainstream music for that matter—look no further than Portland. Discogs has got a huge reference library of practically any album you can recall.

According to Wikipedia:

Discogs, short for discographies, is a website and database of information about music recordings, including commercial releases, promotional releases, and bootleg or off-label releases. The Discogs servers, currently hosted under the domain name discogs.com, are owned by Zink Media, Inc., and are located in Portland, Oregon, USA. Discogs is one of the largest online databases of electronic music releases and is believed to be the largest online database of releases on vinyl media. Across all genres and formats, 1.5 million releases are catalogued, featuring listings for nearly 1.25 million artists and over 125,000 labels. The site has around 200,000 visitors a day.

11) Get Rich Slowly

This may just be me, but I have to imagine that I’m not the only one of the 65,000 subscribers who didn’t realize that Get Rich Slowly was a Portland blog.

Get Rich Slowly — recently named most inspiring money blog by Money magazine — is devoted to sensible personal finance. You will not find any get-rich-quick schemes here. Nor will you find multi-level marketing fads or hot stock tips. I am not pitching any product or book. Instead, you’ll find daily information about personal finance and related topics.

12) COLOURlovers

Now, I’ve managed to cover COLOURlovers a few times, but there are still those instances where I mention them as a “Portland company” in passing and get quizzical looks.

Does it come as any surprise that a design community focused on color theory would be from Portland?

COLOURlovers is a resource that monitors and influences color trends. COLOURlovers gives the people who use color – whether for ad campaigns, product design, or in architectural specification – a place to check out a world of color, compare color palettes, submit news and comments, and read color related articles and interviews.

13) Clicky

Portland is a Web analytics town (see below), so it should come as no surprise that we’ve got a number of analytics tools here. But did you know that super simple yet super powerful Clicky was an Oregon company?

Real time data lets you react to changes in your traffic as they occur. For example, if you had an article that hit the front page of a popular site like digg.com, you would see the traffic spike in Clicky immediately, along with links back to the sources sending you the traffic. Knowing this, you could make changes to your site or to the article itself to take advantage of the situation.

14) One Inch Round

While they’re not a tech company per se, One Inch Round plays an important role in the tech community: giving us cool buttons that we can use as tchotchkes. Plus, if you’re in Portland, you can always save on shipping costs by picking up your pins at their shop. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about these folks.

Since 2000, One Inch Round has been “sending buttons ’round the planet” providing superior quality custom button manufacturing services to the masses. From the expert designer to the pixel impaired, our intuitive website lets every customer enjoy the most convenient online customized buttons ordering experience. We back that with good old fashioned customer service. If you call, you’ll get a human on the other end, and a friendly one at that.

15) Second Story

This one is an oldie but a goodie. Regardless of your opinions of Flash, one of the most successful and humane implementers of Flash is right here in Portland: Second Story.

Since 1994, Second Story has conceptualized, designed, and developed interactive media experiences in diverse formats that enchant, inform, and entertain—pioneering ever more effective ways to inspire wonder and connect audiences to ideas and information.

16) TeamSnap

I’ve heard that one of Portland’s per-capita claims is more recreational league sports teams per capita than anywhere in the US. If that’s true, it makes sense that TeamSnap, a service that helps you manage your rec league teams is from Portland.

The idea for TeamSnap began in 2002 when Sparkplug Creative Director Matt Triplett agreed (or was it condemned?) to be the manager of his soccer team. Quickly, the problems with keeping his team on track became apparent — too many emails back and forth, too many Excel spreadsheets, and too much frustration. It was at that point that Matt decided that there had to be a better way. So he spent several weeks putting together a very rough version of what is now TeamSnap. It was so successful with his team that he realized the TeamSnap concept could really take off.

17) Webtrends

Up until a few months ago, Webtrends was much higher on the list. But thanks to their re-engaging with the Portland tech community, more and more folks recognize them as an awesome Portland company.

But our love of numbers hasn’t blinded us to their limitations, their ability to sometimes obscure the truth when viewed in isolation or used incorrectly. That’s why we founded the web analytics industry in 1993: To help organizations like yours uncover the truth within the numbers generated by your web site and other business systems.

Bonus: Companies with an Oregon footprint

And then there are those companies who have a substantial footprint in Portland—or whom we adopt as our own regardless of how many employees they have in town.

And I’m sure I’ve missed some

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to recognizing famous Oregon companies out in the wild. So if I’ve missed any obvious ones, please let me know.

(Image courtesy Modified Enzyme. Used under Creative Commons.)

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32 Responses to “They’re in Oregon? 17+ projects that don’t get the Silicon Forest cred they deserve”

  1. Nice post! (I knew 10 out of 17.) I look forward to discovering even more.

  2. Jason Harris says:

    Taptu, everyone’s favorite mobile search engine, is based in UK, but I’m their Community Manager – based right here in River City!


  3. Mark Lawler says:

    All great mentions Rick! Nice to see them get some coverage here.

    Okay, but I couldn’t resist the invitation to toot the horn for a couple of others that I think fly under the radar here in town as well

    First I’ll toot our own horn: Sabrix… Founded right here in PDX by some local folks out of Tektronix. Our tax solutions manage over $1.7 trillion in transactions for companies of all sizes – from small businesses to Global 2000 leaders like Shell and Cicso. Leading through 2008 we’ve had a 329% revenue growth – so we are growing rapidly and have a staff around 200; the majority located right here in Lake Oswego.

    EthicsPoint, led by David Childers and crew. Profitable SaaS provider that leads their market and had over 487.5% compounded growth in 2008 and over 120 employees based on their recent Inc Fastest Growing Companies win. Rumor is that it was self funded by angels and didn’t have to raise VC monies. Very nice!

    I’m sure there are many others that have managed to stay hidden out there as well. You may have started a shout out with this posting… :O)


  4. Selma says:

    Interesting that you would mention just one advertising agency, instead of all of them.

  5. Team RWW Loves Portland!

  6. You skipped Mozilla Foundation at OSU and Linux through Mr. Torvalds, not to mention that the inventor of the Wiki is a Portlander. Those are, may I dare say, a slight bit bigger than a few on the list.

  7. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Elia Thanks! Glad to hear that I don’t use the “Ward Cunningham is from Portland” card too much. ;)

  8. rachel petersen says:

    I had NO idea that ColourLovers was from Portland – I think it’s the ‘u’ that threw me off, plus the fact that I just bought some ColourLovers cards on moo.com. Fun post.

  9. Jeff says:


  10. James says:

    Don’t forget Prolifq (www.prolifiq.net). Really cool one-to-one marketing SaaS tool with major customers like Cisco.

  11. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Jeff GarageGames is a great addition!

    @James Prolifiq is an awesome add, as well.

    Very much appreciated.

  12. Jeff says:

    Are we staying in the web tech space or no? If you are reaching beyond, I have a few more.

  13. Todd Kenefsky says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention GadgetTrak

  14. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Jeff I’m staying in the Web/Mobile/Open Source space, but that doesn’t mean you have to do that. And now you’ve gone and piqued our curiosity, so feel free to add!

    Thanks, again. ;)

  15. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Todd Kenefsky I was trying to highlight some folks whom I rarely mention, if at all. I try to cover GadgetTrak on a regular basis. Based on your comment, maybe I should cover them more often. ;)

  16. Jeff says:

    I was thinking Kryptiq for one….they don’t get near enough love in the forest!

  17. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Jeff Kryptiq is another good one. I missed both the -iq ones. :)

    And I thought of another I left off the “Oregon presence” list: Eclipse Foundation. http://www.eclipse.org/org/foundation/contact.php

  18. Rick,

    Thank you for being such a great advocate for our technology community. Keep it up, it is much appreciated.

    - Jascha

  19. RobertWagner says:

    It’s my own strong personal opinion that without Panic’s wonderful and extraordinarily useful software (i.e. Coda) I wouldn’t be in business today. Now if only they’d re-stock those t-shirts in their online store again so that I could resume my second job as a walking-talking billboard for their wares.

    Excellent list all the way around. I read things like this and I recall exactly why I love living here.

  20. Ken Westin says:

    I think we need an event in Oregon like TechCrunch 50, where all of these companies can show off their stuff in meat space. Might be good to have it extend beyond Tech, there are some pretty great startups in the area. It would be neat to have some of the top startups that have product and generating revenue in Oregon all in one place to showing off their stuff.

  21. Cory Huff says:

    Hey Ken (and Rick, and everyone else),

    I don’t know if we count as a startup anymore (in business 7 years), but Netbiz.com is in the Search Engine Marketing game with 230 employees and 4 offices, all in the Tigard/Tualatin area.

    I think having a space where everyone could show off their stuff would be awesome. Combine it with an annual event and it could be very cool. Go PDX!!

  22. Another interesting connection is StackOverflow.com which has a Corvallis team member, Geoff Dalgas, and is hosted in Corvallis I believe too. One of the fastest growing sites on the web.

  23. BJ Clark says:

    New Relic is a big name in the rails (and soon java) industry as a purveyor of fine application performance monitoring software. Most of the big rails apps use New Relic to monitor their apps. They have an office in Portland.

    The guys that make the Lighthouse (lighthouseapp.com) work for ENTP (rails consulting company) here in Portland. Lighthouse is also pretty popular in the rails world.

  24. Justin Yuen says:

    Thanks for the shout out Rick! Basecamp who?

    Love the idea of having an event to celebrate startups, and empower others to get theirs going too. Count me in to help out! We could have it at http://www.leftbankproject.com – although I’m a little biased since we’re a tenant =)

  25. Ian Bell says:

    Thanks for the mention, what a great list of companies!

  26. Dan Blaker says:

    One of the guys behind SMITH magazine (best known for the insanely popular Six-Word Memoirs project–which has generated at least two real physical books) is based right here in Portland. That guy, Tim Barkow is also one of the creative forces behind Compete to Conserve and a bunch of other neat projects.

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  29. [...] SurveyMonkey—the nearly ubiquitous go-to service for online surveys—is one of those companies. You know, the ones who are quietly successful. Who don’t make much ruckus. And who—prior to its sale to a private equity consortium in April 2009—just happened to be headquartered in Portland, Oregon. [...]

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