Month: May 2008
Portland Start-up Index for May 2008: Platial debuts at 12, Frappr at 5
Techvibes has released the latest version of its Portland Start-up Index, with an interesting pair of debuts. Portland-based Platial has been added to the list, debuting at #12. What makes this interesting is that Platial-owned Frappr also debuted this month—at #5.
How did the other companies and products fare? Take a look. The usual “apples and oranges” rules apply.
- Earth Class Mail
- Jive Software
- Gone Raw
- Active Reload
- Art Face Off
- Walker Tracker
- GoLife Mobile
- Jama Software
- Box Populi
- IDP Solutions
- Collaborative Software Initiative
- Worldwide Nest
Techvibes ranks the sites, products, and companies by comparing Compete and Alexa rankings. To learn more about the metrics and the movement within the list, visit the Techvibes Portland Start-up Index for May 2008.
Strands improves its net worth with NetworthIQ acquisition (Now it can be told)
Sometimes, you just have to wait to share the good news. And, Corvallis-based Strands acquiring Portland-based NetworthIQ is just one of those such deals.
Ryan Williams, the guy who has worked to make the NetworthIQ service one of the more popular personal finance management services on the Web, finally announced the news this morning, bringing to fruition the news at which he hinted long, long ago. (Looks like Ryan’s old Twitter account has been deleted, but here are a couple of my and Jason Harris’ replies to some of Ryan’s cryptic hints.)
So, now the news is out. And it’s great news for a couple of Silicon Forest startups.
News, in fact, that a number of outlets have already beat me to covering—The Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, GigaOm… oh a little blog you may have heard of called TechCrunch, which had this to say:
Just over two weeks ago Strands acquired Expensr, and now the company is announcing its acquisition of NetworthIQ. Both are personal finance applications that Strands wanted mostly for their human capital, but also for some of their technology assets. The terms of both deals were not disclosed.
Ryan provided some insight in his post entitled “Breaking the silence“:
It was just over 3 years ago that we started working on NetworthIQ. It was a bit of a bumpy ride. In the first couple months, I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it, but with a couple of high-profile press mentions we were off and running. The idea for NetworthIQ was pretty basic, apply the popular Web 2.0 principles of the time (social networking, public sharing, collective intelligence) and apply it to personal finance, something that hadn’t been done before. There was the occasional “this is the dumbest site ever” comment, but for the most part we always got great response and feedback from those that signed up, which was what kept me going.
But, as usual, I just wasn’t satisfied. So I asked Ryan if he could give me some more insight on how the deal went down and what it meant for the future. And Ryan was kind enough to share some additional thoughts on this momentous occasion.
Surprisingly, the news that took so long to make it to the public, actually came about pretty quickly.
“It’s funny, in the weeks before I was contacted by Strands, I had been scanning their jobs after the latest funding round,” said Williams. “Just to see, you know? Nothing serious. But, then I heard from them and the talks progressed pretty quickly.”
A music recommendation service and a personal finance management service would have seemed like strange bedfellows at the time. But that was because none of us knew about moneyStrands until just recently.
But Strands and Williams knew.
“It was easy to see there was a good fit with what we were doing on NetworthIQ and where Strands was going with the moneyStrands project,” he said. “In a matter of a couple weeks I was ready to come onboard.”
A Cinderella story? A side project turned full time? Absolutely.
“Since starting NetworthIQ, I was working towards being able to work on a startup full-time, but as a relatively older web entrepreneur, there were more things to worry about. I hadn’t yet reached the point of being able to drop the day job,” said Williams. “This was a chance to make that happen, and with the talented and driven Strands team, it made the decision easy.”
But, even at this moment of victory, the humble Williams downplays the whole thing.
“I know for many, it’s not the most exciting technology to be working on—personal finance tools—but I’m really drawn to building things that are useful to me personally,” he said. “And personal finance tools are what I spend a good amount of time in. Plus with the way things are going with the economy and our increasing dependence on consumer debt, I think it’s a very important area to innovate in.”
So what does the future hold for Strands and its new technology? And where is that innovation going to take place?
Unfortunately, that’s another secret for which we’ll have to wait.
Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 14
Make a quickie comic strip – Pop Candy – USATODAY.com
Jive presents “Building communities to grow your business”
Ignite Portland 3: Get up there and present
Solutions: more than technology
Advanced Twitter Fu: Become a Master
Portland’s Fire is starved for fuel
Talking Iterasi: Save Web Pages Perfectly for Later Reference
Vote for Calagator on SourceForge
Vidoop secures Messina and Norris
The Web world—and the world of distributed social applications—is buzzing with some momentous news. And happily enough, a Portland company is right at the middle of all of the excitement.
Portland’s Vidoop, has announced that Chris Messina, aka factoryjoe, and Will Norris, of the DiSo Project have joined Vidoop as full-time employees.
Suffice it to say, this is huge.
Messina and Norris are among the most recognizable names in the Web world today. Specifically for their efforts on the next generation of social technologies—technologies that promise to transform “social networking” from its current form of “destination sites” to being part of the very fabric of the Web, itself.
Their chops are, quite frankly, legendary. So much so, in fact, that Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick admits that he expects “nothing less than magic”:
Vidoop has had a strong team of engineers from the start. As someone who’s excited about standards based identity and the innovation that open technology makes possible – I am very interested to see what Vidoop and its new additions will be able to do. Check out what the two have sought to do for some time over at the DiSo Project. Now that they are doing that work with backing and as a part of a substantial team, expect nothing less than magic.
Messina sees opportunity
So—clearly—those of us on the outside are all excited about the news, but how do the DiSo guys—the people actually in the middle of this—feel about it?
Messina posted some of his thoughts about his new gig, highlighting:
Working full time on this means that Will and I should be able to make much more progress, much more quickly, and to work with other projects and representatives from efforts like Drupal, BuddyPress and MovableType to get interop happening (eventually) between each project’s implementation.
And, he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, to provide some additional insight.
What’s your new position at Vidoop going to entail?
Well, for the most part, doing what I was already doing with DiSo, but actually focusing on it full time.
What this means is that Will and I and other project leaders will be hunkering down and working out how we’re going to architect the project to better include external contribution, to better explain what DiSo is all about and how to get involved, to explain why and how to use the core technologies that we’ll be leveraging in DiSo, and to start formulating a more coherent roadmap for the project that other platform implementations might follow along with (for example, while we’ll be focusing on WordPress and working with the BuddyPress folks, we want to see MovableType and Drupal also getting this kind of functionality and open API support).
What were some of the key reasons for your deciding to join the Vidoop team?
Well, the conversation started innocently enough, but when I met many of the Vidoop folks at SXSW, I became more generally interested in what these guys were up to. When Kveton joined up and then, along with Luke Sontag, the co-founder, offered me the chance to come work on DiSo full time, and offered me resources to make it happen, there was really no way that I could turn that down.
As I’ve gotten to know more of the Vidoop team, I really think these are world class folks ready to make an impact on the world. That they have faith in open source and open technologies and were smart enough to bring on folks like Kveton and Kevin Fox speak to that wisdom, and suggests that I’ll be working alongside folks who get it and want to do the “right thing” is equally motivating.
It also helps that Vidoop is still small and scrappy and looking to define itself as a leader generally in the secure identity space… I think that that’s going to start mean more things to more people over the next couple years, so getting in at the ground floor to help set that direction is tactically something that also appeals to me.
What problems are you most excited about helping Vidoop solve?
Well, I think there’s a gaping hole in the marketing of OpenID right now about what you can do with an OpenID, or why they’re URLs and not, for example, email addresses. Providing a salient, compelling answer to that question is one of the first things I hope to tackle, and is essentially what the DiSo Project is predicated on.
That we can also help turn Vidoop into a leading open source factory is also a nice bonus, and something that, well, I don’t think exactly happened with Flock (for contrast).
What are some of the biggest opportunities you see for Vidoop and OpenID in general?
As I mentioned, it’s kind of demonstrating what an OpenID endpoint should look like. I don’t think anyone quite has this right yet, but we’re still early.
I also think that there are A LOT of user interface problems with OpenID (Kyle Neath cited some the other day) that are inhibiting its adoption. So rather than lead with a technology and expecting people to be like, “Oh yeah! OpenID! I want one of those!” we need to address real use cases and develop opportunities where it just so happens that OpenID is the easiest and most compatible solution for the job.
That Google’s Friend Connect supports OpenID is huge, but it’s really only the first page of the next chapter. The opportunity is writing the volumes that come next.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you see for Vidoop and OpenID in general?
Well, apart from better demonstrating what OpenID is really good at, I think that there are serious issues with the mobile OpenID experience (Twauth is one approach to making it better). I think this is going to require conversations with mobile providers, but also will require a more critical consideration about what expectations are when people are using apps in a mobile context or environment.
Part of that is going to necessitate the development of human interface protocols that help people recover when OpenID fails, or when errors occur that don’t have obvious solutions. In some ways it’s about educating people about the ways in which OpenID can stumble, but also the ways in which you can recover gracefully. Frankly, hardly any discussion has materialized around those topics yet, and I think without more thought and design put to those matters, OpenID will continue to be seen as a developer or geeky tool not ready for the “masses” (i.e. people who really don’t, and shouldn’t have to, care about the background technology that makes the web work).
Will we be seeing a lot more of you around Portland?
Dude, I love the Ace Hotel and Stumptown, so I’ll definitely be spending more time up there! Seriously though, I imagine I’ll definitely be up there pretty regularly.
How long can you resist Kveton’s Portvangelist charm before you feel pressured to move up here?
Portland is definitely one of my favorite cities, and if I ever leave San Francisco, it’ll probably be where I end up next.
In fact, my half-sister used to live in Portland, and I remember when I was in college I came to visit her and her family for a week. Since her husband was a day trader, we had to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to be at the office at like 5AM so he could be trading when the east coast markets opened up at 9AM. Anyway, I decided that I’d walk around the city that morning rather than stay in the office, and I remember clearly the cool fog, the sun, walking by Powell’s and the seeing the Willamette Week in newsstands (its design was an inspiration at the time, given that I was in design school!). Anyway, my point is that I pretty well fell in love with the city that morning, so at some point, I’d definitely love to come back and stay some day!
Anything else you’d like to make sure the Portland tech community knows about this news?
Well, I’ve always been really impressed by the openness and inclusivity of the Portland crowd ever since (and even probably before) I attended BarCampPortland.
With Vidoop making Portland its new home, I think we can only expect to see more and more interesting things emerge, and continue to emerge, from the Portland tech scene. What with Ignite, Startup Weekend, BarCamps, werewolf!, all this bodes well. Oh, and if there are any passionate WordPress devs looking for a project to hack on in their spare time, DiSo is certainly looking — and imagine we’ll start doing meetups in the not-to-distant future as well… watch our Twitter account for more.
Vidoop continues to impress
Obviously, this is a huge win for Vidoop, a company which has already done an impressive job of attracting top local talent to its rapidly growing Rose City footprint. And with this move, Vidoop steps into a whole new arena: attracting leading talent from San Francisco.
“We’re excited about Chris and Will joining Vidoop,” said Scott Kveton, Vidoop’s VP of Open Platforms, another recent tech rockstar hire for Vidoop. “We’re seeing a set of open technologies are emerging to help describe the ‘digital you,’ and Chris and Will have been at the center of those discussions. These are the technologies that will really enable the Open Web.”
And it’s not just the execs. The Portland team clearly realizes the opportunity that now lays before them: helping define the future of the Web.
When I mentioned to Michael Richardson, another recent Vidoop hire, that he just happened to luck into the dream team. He concurred.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with Chris Messina and Will Norris,” said Richardson. “It’s a great chance to work with people who not only have great experience but also possess a clear vision of the upcoming open web. I look forward to working with them and the rest of the Vidoop team to make that vision a reality.”
Vidoop’s Kevin Fox sees similar potential—and opportunity—for the burgeoning Vidoop talent pool.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Chris Messina on past projects and have always found his enthusiasm and honesty refreshing,” said Fox. “His ability to form a vision, then create and galvanize a community is unmatched. I look forward to helping build communities around the great products that Chris, Will and the rest of the stellar Vidoop team create.”
Now, it’s really starting to get exciting here in Portland.
Apologies for the double links post. I’m working through some ma.gnolia issues while I’m traveling.
Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 12
This Week on Calagator
New visualization tools! | Clicky Blog
Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 12
This Week on Calagator
New visualization tools! | Clicky Blog
CallVerifID: Hi, it’s your OpenID account calling
Portland-based JanRain, arguably the leading developer for OpenID solutions, is on a roll. It seems like they just released ID Selector, and now they’ve come forward with another OpenID solution: CallVerfID.
CallVerfID allows OpenID users who login with an *.myopenid.com identity to take an extra security precaution with their login: getting a phone call.
And here’s the best part: it’s on any phone. Well, okay, any phone with buttons.
Instantly receive a call when signing into myOpenID. Simply answer and press # to authenticate. No certificates or text messages. Use any phone.
My point was: it’s not SMS messaging. It’s an actual phone call.
I even tried it with Skype and it worked flawlessly.
Since I’m always one to try to shoehorn an analogy into any situation, I’d say that CallVerifID is akin to your credit card company calling you when a strange charge request is made. It’s simply an added precaution to ensure that your credentials are being used by you, and only you.
So, why the added precaution? Do I really want to get called every time I post a blog comment?
No, of course not. But as OpenID begins to take hold, and more and more personal and business applications become available, this type of multi-factor authentication is going to become necessary. Because, at some point, there’s going to be some fairly sensitive information and access rights tied to that OpenID. Banking, travel, and shopping just to name a few.
JanRain’s solution is quite simple and elegant. And it’s easy to adopt, no matter what your technical expertise. I, for one, think this is a step in the right direction.
For more, visit JanRain’s myOpenID to learn about CallVerifID.
Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 10
Building Mobile Applications for Fun and Profit
From PDXPHP “GoLife Mobile’s Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Mounir Shita, will be presenting on VADOWERX and demonstrating how to create applications with it. Come learn more!”
The Future of the Wiki
Curt Hopkins writes “Wednesday, Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki and a member of AboutUs.org’s board, gave a presentation on the Future of the Wiki at AboutUs Towers. Sponsored by PDX Web Innovators, was well attended by a host of webby, wiki types. I asked Ward what he talked about and his response was collaborative and adaptive, not surprising considering his background and interests.”
CelleCast Merges Old, New and Social Media Into One Interactive Environment with the Launch of its User Community, CelleCast Listener Central
From the CelleCast blog “Andrew Deal, founder and CEO of CelleCast Inc. announced today the launch of its social media tools built to enhance the burgeoning user community. CelleCast Listener Central brings the popularity of sites such as MySpace and Facebook to a 490 million phones and the mobile, audio-on-demand environment. The CelleCast Listener Central page features a variety of social media tools including talkbacks, polls, playlists, top shows and user statistics and they’re available to anyone with a phone.”
We, the undersigned, want you to add OpenID logins to your respective sites. Please?