July 26th, 2009
Portland: Soaring unemployment and soaring numbers of young creatives continue to confound media
We seem to be a complete enigma to the media. No one can quite to put their finger on why young creatives continue to flock to Portland
even though the Oregon unemployment rate continues to soar
Still, journalist are exercising a fair amount of schadenfreude while covering the inexorable influx---by focusing on the downside of our current environment. Like the unemployment. And the hiccups and black eyes of Portland startups.
are making it into big pubs. Not for the amazing work that they did. But because---to outsiders---they seem to carry some indication that Portland isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Luke Sontag of Vidoop was featured in a recent wire story on "young creatives" that ran under The New York Times banner
, among others. (I would have quoted the AP story, but as we all know, the AP doesn't believe in linking
Within weeks after Vidoop Inc. arrived, the financial companies Sontag hoped to snag as customers were out of the market for his Internet security services. The layoffs started in November. The company, he said, was reincorporating, planning for new financing and workers.[HTML1]
In the meantime, he's plotting a company in mobile marketing with colleagues and living on savings. ''If all went to hell with this, I would not be moving,'' he said. ''I wouldn't give a flip if I had to pick up trash.''
CubeSpace gets mentioned in the same article, as does local developer and designer, Reid Beels
CubeSpace, a prominent co-working spot, failed in June. Among the company's workers is Reid Beels, 24, a free-lance Web designer and programmer. He said CubeSpace was ideal for Saturday ''code sprints,'' exercises in problem-solving that drew together otherwise independent high-tech workers.[HTML1]
These days, Beels said, he's doing his free-lance business out of coffee shops.
Oh, those crazy kids.
Maybe it's just me, but I have visions of these journalists---with a Leonard-Nimoy-esque cocked eyebrow---shaking their collective head in Vulcan assessment of Portland. Muttering a single phrase over and over. "Highly illogical."
It's clear that Portland---and the entire Silicon Forest---are attractive to talented creative people. And they're coming here in droves. Now, the onus is on us---the startup community, the city, and the state---to make something incredible happen with this influx of talent.
Otherwise, Portland just becomes a punchline.
(Image courtesy Salim Virji. Used under Creative Commons.)