November 5th, 2009
Unfortunately, Microsoft layoffs will affect the Portland startup and open source communities, too
When news that Don Dodge had been laid off from Microsoft started percolating yesterday, my mind immediately jumped to a rather sad conclusion. If they let Don go, I thought, then what did that mean for our own community presence here in Portland, Jason Mauer?
Unfortunately, I learned that my assumptions were correct. Jason—the developer evangelist who has served as the face of Microsoft for much of the Portland tech community—had been part of the layoff as well.
And while ill news of the Microsoft is always guaranteed to inspire a bit of grave dancing and schadenfreude, I think there are any number of reasons to take this news as a very real blow to our community, as well.
First, foremost, and most obvious, we’ve had an active member of the community hit a big setback. And that always sucks.
But to be honest, Jason’s a smart guy—and tenacious as well. I mean, you don’t ride from Portland to San Diego on a bike without some tenacity. He’ll land on his feet. And it will be interesting to see what he has planned for the future.
So what’s next for me? I’m taking off the training wheels and going into business on my own. I will be providing training and contract dev work, plus nurturing a few crazy ideas on the side. I’ll announce more as soon as the dust settles. I was reluctant to do something like this in the past, but now I feel ready for the challenge. And thanks to the severance package I received, I can actually afford to do so!
The bigger—and possibly less obvious—concern is for the camps, events, and going-on here in the tech community.
You see, while it might not have been front and center, Microsoft has been a huge supporter of the local tech scene here in Portland. And a great deal of that, no doubt, was thanks to Jason’s presence here.
Microsoft has sponsored every Code Camp and every BarCamp Portland. They were the premier sponsor of WordCamp Portland, this year. And they’ve also contributed funds to sponsor events like WhereCamp PDX, RecentChangesCamp, CloudCamp Portland, and even Ignite Portland.
Like it or not, Microsoft has been underwriting a great deal of the free stuff in which we in the Portland community have been privileged to partake. And it’s highly likely that that type of funding and sponsorship will come to an abrupt and immediate end.
At a time when sponsor burnout and tightening budgets are very real threats to already tenuous event budgets, this isn’t exactly the kind of thing that increases the confidence.
Best of luck to Jason in his new pursuits. It sucks that he has to go through this.
As for the rest of us, we better start thinking of some creative ways to fill the funding gap that this latest round of layoffs has created.
The rising tide, as they say, floats all boats. The sinking tide, unfortunately, has an equally definitive effect.