Month: August 2008

Tell OTBC where to go

OTBCOur friends over at the Open Technology Business Center (OTBC) are getting the itch to move.

But before they go and do anything rash, they want to make sure it’s the right move. So, like any good socially minded organization, they’re asking you for your help.

Why the move? Well, OTBC wants to be even more involved in the startup community—and they want to make it easier for all of us to participate in their programs.

But they have one minor issue: they receive funding from the city of Beaverton and, as such, they must remain within the Beaverton city limits.

So what options do they have? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Stay where they are
  2. The Round in Beaverton
  3. Allen and 217

Why not take a couple of seconds and tell OTBC where to go? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

OTBC provides coaching for and hosts events for high-tech entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for August 06

An Email Address Is A Person, Too?

From the ma.gnolia blog “Recently, there’s been a grassroots effort to enable email addresses as OpenIDs using a protocol called Email Address to URL Translation (EAUT). Using EAUT, sites that let people sign in with OpenID (called relying parties) can accept email addresses in the OpenID url field, and go out to their email address provider and try to find the OpenID associated with that email address.”

Developer Preview: Identity In The Browser – IDIB | The Vidoop Blog

Via the Vidoop blog “So today we’re excited to offer a preliminary look at the Developer Preview release of our identity in the browser Firefox extension called IDIB. We’re releasing this as open source and looking forward to beginning an ongoing dialogue to determine what this functionality should look like and how it should behave. And above all, how it can begin to make OpenID more user-friendly and account-driven activities on the web more secure.”

Mashups: Firefox May Go OAuth, Twitter Apps To Stop Asking for Your Password – ReadWriteWeb

Marshall Kirkpatrick writes “As of this afternoon there’s a developer preview of a browser-based OpenID implementation for Firefox (thanks Vidoop!) so we hope that an OAuth implementation for Firefox could be a complimentary project.”

Sizing up Oregon’s startup scene – Silicon Forest – The Oregonian – OregonLive.com

Mike Rogoway writes “Chuck Sheketoff from the Oregon Center for Public Policy wrote to challenge my wording in today’s story on Voyager Capital’s new Portland office.”

Iovation Names Former Novell VP to Board

Via Northwest Innovation “Iovation, a publisher of online fraud and abuse prevention software, reported Wednesday that it has appointed former Novell executive Chris Stone to its board of directors. “

Can We Bring BlogHer to Portland? at Fast Wonder Blog: Consulting, Online Communities, and Social Media

Dawn Foster writes “With rumors of OSCON moving to the Bay Area, it would be great to see BlogHer come to Portland! All you need to do to bring BlogHer to Portland is to vote!”

Platial News and Neogeography: They Like Us! They Like Us!

Via the Platial blog “We are extremely honored and flattered to see ourselves on the iTunes app store ‘Staff Favorites’ list today. Wow!”

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for August 05

 

Hazelnut Tech Talk Episode 5 | An Interview with Toonlet

From the Oak Hazelnut blog “Our fifth episode features Craig Schwartz from toonlet, wherein we talked about how the web bubble burst helped form FooCamp, why San Fransiscans are dastardly good at spotting werewolfs, history and future of the button, BlackBerry camp, ribs breakage due to excessive laughter, online comic that shares the same spirit with SPORE, and text adventures built on HyperCard.”

CD Baby sold to NJ-based company | Our PDX Network

From Our PDX “Yesterday, Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, posted on his blog that the company was being sold to Disc Makers. This seems to be the final step in Sivers’ transition that started over a year ago when he announced he hadn’t been involved in the day-to-day at CD Baby for months.” (Hat tip Nino Marchetti)

WebTrends CFO moves to Jive – Silicon Forest

Mike Rogoway writes “I don’t know anything about LeBlanc’s motivations for moving, but when someone leaves an established company for a young, promising one, it’s sometimes emblematic of a generational shift within a local industry.”

Tantalizing hints from Voyager Capital’s Portland office – Silicon Forest – The Oregonian – OregonLive.com

Mike Rogoway is on a roll. Another great post and the promise of more information in tomorrow’s dead-tree edition of The Oregonian. Mike writes “Among the forces that attracted Voyager to Oregon, they said, is that startups and entrepreneurs are increasingly moving to Portland from the East Coast, Silicon Valley and elsewhere. The migrants are attracted by the city’s base of high-tech talent, its low cost of doing business (at least relative to Seattle and the Bay Area), and by our months and months of clouds and rain. (What they said, actually, was ‘quality of life.’)”

Enterprise UI Summit

Jive Software hosts the Enterprise UI Summit in Aspen. “The Enterprise UI Summit is an exclusive, invitation-only event for the most innovative UI and UX designers and big companies in the world. The event is a think tank meant to address ‘the UI for the Enterprise.’ It will host top UI and UX Designers as well as big companies like SAP, Adobe, Google and more. This small group will share trends, standards, problems and ideas on how to drive a wholly new level of employee engagement through positive UI experience.”

BlogHer ’09 to be held in Portland, Oregon

Well, okay. Maybe I’m jumping the gun. But BlogHer ’09 could be held in Portland. It could be, that is, if you exercise your right to vote.

Elisa Camahort writes:

I’ve heard a lot of rumbling out there wondering where BlogHer ’09 will be. Well, just like last year, we’re going to poll the community. We included the below poll in the post-conference survey for attendees, but we want to make sure those of you who didn’t attend can also weigh in.

That’s right, the premiere event for women bloggers is asking you to help choose where BlogHer will be held in July of 2009. And I can’t think of any better spot than Portland.

Why?

  1. Portland is home to a number of phenomenal women bloggers
  2. Weather in July is pretty good
  3. Portland’s a great city for hosting these kinds of events
  4. Portland is home to a bunch of brilliant women bloggers
  5. And we’ve got some really talented women bloggers here, too

So what do you have to do to make this dream a reality? Vote! Female blogger or otherwise. Vote, and let’s see if we can bring BlogHer to the Rose City next year.

(Hat tip Jeff Martens)

Ten things to think about before pursuing funding for your startup

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend “Lunch with a VC” hosted by Carolynn Duncan of FundingUniverse and Epic Ventures. Carolynn took the time to field questions from a number of Portland startups and consultants on what it really takes to get a venture capitalist interested in investing in your company.

(If you’re interested in all the gory details about wooing a VC, Carolynn has a great post called “Checklists: What kind of funding are you eligible for?“)

I thought I’d hit the high points, to help you get your head around what it’s going to take.

Think about these 10 things before you think about pursuing outside funding for your startup

  1. Have you really solved a problem? Just because you see a problem doesn’t mean you’re the person to solve the problem. It’s far easier to criticize existing solutions than it is to invent your own solution. And even if you do invent a solution to that problem, there’s no guarantee that that’s a business.
  2. Are you mentally prepared? Pursuing VC funding isn’t about self esteem. It’s about business. If you want someone to review what you’re doing and give you positive feedback, Silicon Florist may be a better candidate than a VC. A VC isn’t here to build you up or inflate your ego. A VC is here to figure out how you’re going to make money so that the investment firm can make money.
  3. Are you ready for the oversight? Angels invest their own money. VCs invest other people’s money. As such, they’re going to have different types of involvement. And different kinds of goals. What kind of involvement and what kind of goals? Read on, gentle reader. Read on.
  4. Can you deliver on the promise? Angels look for incremental gains. VCs look for exponential gain. But, rest assured, when it comes to investing, everyone’s goal is to make money. Angels are looking to invest time and money to get more money than they had. VCs are looking to invest far larger sums to make an exponential amount on their investment. Why? To make up the for the other crappy companies they picked that are failing to return anything.
  5. Can you give up control? Angels are going to want more control because it’s their money. Why? Well, VCs invest other people’s money. Angels invest their own money. While both of those parties are going to be extremely interested in what you’re doing with their money, it’s highly likely that the Angel is going to be more involved—because Angels will be especially interested in keeping an eye on their personal money.
  6. Can you tell the story of the money? The old adage hold true: It takes money to get money. As a rule, VCs don’t fund ideas. They generally fund things that are already making money. For VCs, an investment is an accelerator. They invest money in order to help the company make more money faster. Not making money yet? A VC might not be the right target.
  7. Are you ready to make the VC pitch? To an investor, the “product” the investor is buying is the business. Not the actual product that the company sells. If you’re thinking of pitching a VC, don’t do the usual “show up and throw up” product demo of features and functionality. Give the potential investor a pitch on your business, moreso than that the product, itself.
  8. Are you planning ahead or are you too late? Always pursue funding before you get desperate. Why? Well, two reasons. First, no one likes the stench of desperation. And second, it takes 3-6 months to do the due diligence on the deal before you can get stuff going. Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin the conversation. Better yet, begin the conversation before you need anything, at all. Work on your pitch and test drive it.
  9. Are you ready to play the numbers game? How much of the final entity do you want to own? Take this into consideration… do you want to own 100% of a $1 million company, or do you want to own 51% of a $500 million company? If additional investment is going to make for an exponentially larger pie, then it might be wise to take a cut of the bigger pie, rather than try to horde the smaller pie. Angels and VC are interested in helping you build that bigger pie, so that everyone wins.
  10. Are you foregoing a “great” funded company in favor of a “good” company that you control? A dead company doesn’t help anyone. The longer you can reasonably put off funding, the better off you will be. But don’t kill your company to retain control (see #9). If garnering additional funding ensures the fulfillment of your idea—even at a loss of control—funding may be the way to go. Bootstrap what you can, but not if it means the loss of your pursuits.

And that’s what I took away. But as always, that’s the high-level. For the deep dive, see Carolynn’s post.

Hopefully this overview helps. Interested in getting more feedback or answering different questions? Carolynn is planning to do this on a regular basis, here in Portland.

It would be great to have you at one of the future events.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for August 04

The Open Web Foundation, with Scott Kveton

From the Bungee Connect Developer blog “The Open Web Foundation was announced at OSCON 2008. Created by and endorsed by numerous highly influential individuals and organizations, the Open Web Foundation has also been received with a fair amount of skepticism. We speak to Scott Kveton, one of the key people involved in the organization’s establishment to learn more about the organization’s purpose, goals and near term objectives.”

Notes from a Mobile Encounter with James Whitley of GoLifeMobile | Hazelnut Tech Talk

Amber Case captures an interesting discussion with James Whitley, CEO of GoLife Mobile.

Personal Telco, your 15 minutes of fame await… « Our new mind

Pete Forsyth writes “I think Personal Telco needs a new ‘elevator pitch.’ Their web site, any printed materials, any contact with the press, etc. should reflect a very clear, very simple message: ‘our work brings you free wireless, and we’d love you to pitch in a little and help us deliver more free wireless.'”

TeachStreet expands into Portland | Our PDX Network

PAgent writes “Last time I looked, we were well into the 21st century. I hardly expect to see up-and-coming new dot-coms any more, much less any that are actually getting funding. Nevertheless, TeachStreet, an ‘instructional network and search engine’ has acquired $2.25 million in capital from the Madrona Venture Group this year. And now it’s coming to Portland.”

TeachStreet Expands: Helps You Find Local Teachers and Classes – ReadWriteWeb

Frederic Lardinois writes “Teachstreet today announced that it has expanded the reach of its network from Seattle, WA, to Portland, OR. TeachStreet is a marketplace where teachers can list classes they offer and allows them to connect with prospective students. The range of classes offered by teachers on the site range from bike maintenance to herpetology, with a good dose of various crafts, yoga, and music lessons thrown in for good measure. Right now, the site features close to 55,000 different classes and instructors.”

Lunch 2.0 at the Art Institute of Portland

Hot on the heels of SplashCast’s possibly haunted Lunch 2.0 announcement, comes another Lunch 2.0. I told you I had a busy Friday.

The Art Institute of Portland will be opening its doors for Lunch 2.0 on October 15, just over a week after their Fall term begins. It’s in the Pearl, right across the street from the Portland Armory.

Big thanks to Bram Pitoyo for making this happen. Did you know he is a graduate of the Art Institute, as is Lunch 2.0 veteran Gaia Borgias Brown? I’m sure there are others you follow on Twitter who will be happy to return to the hallowed halls.

OK, the skinny:

aiipdx.pngHostsArt Institute of Portland

Where: 1122 NW Davis, Portland, OR, 97209

When: October 15, 2008 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM

RSVP on Upcoming

Thanks to Allena Baker and Lulu Hoeller for securing a gigantic space for this Lunch 2.0. Bring your friends and colleagues and look forward to learning something new about the Art Institute, meeting some new people and seeing your old Twitter pals. Oh, and check out the exhibit on your way in or out or both.

One last programming note, I’ve spoken to a few potential hosts who were interested in September and/or October lunches. Fear not, there’s no clause in the Lunch 2.0 bylaws requiring no more than one event per month.

So, we can work around the upcoming lunches, no worries, or we can look ahead to November.

Lots of lunches coming up, so here’s the quick and dirty schedule:

SplashCast to Host Lunch 2.0, Friendly Ghosts Invited

Last Friday I signed up two more Lunch 2.0 hosts at two very cool places in Portland.

First, SplashCast wants to show off its new(ish) office space in Old Town, and not just any building in Old Town, the old Merchant Hotel.

You know, the same building that Old Town Pizza inhabits, directly above the infamous Portland Shanghai Tunnels, the haunted one. That building.

While the Merchant’s old lobby is the home to OTP now, SplashCast is up on the third floor, presumably occupying space that once was one or two guest rooms way back in the day. Kim Ramage has done a great job fixing up the space, and she’s eager to have you all come by for some lunch. So, now the skinny:

splashcast.jpgHosts: SplashCast

Where: 226 NW Davis, 3rd Floor, Portland, OR, 97209 (we’ll have signs and spirit hosts to guide you)

When: September 17, 2008 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM

RSVP on Upcoming

The space isn’t huge, so the RSVP if you’re definitely coming. We’ll turn off the list at 60 or so; if you’re not sure, decide on that day and cruise by later. The crowd generally thins out after 1:00 PM as people head back to work.

As always, if you want to nom veggie or vegan, add a comment on the Upcoming event indicating your culinary desires.

In case you missed it, Rick is celebrating his first birthday as the Silicon Florist with a Lunch 2.0 on August 13 at CubeSpace. RSVP for that event here, and stay tuned for another Lunch 2.0 announcement for October.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for August 01

6 Y Combinator Startups I Would Have Invested In Back Then

Dharmesh Shah writes “I have been tracking Y Combinator (a new kind of venture firm for early, early stage startups) for several years. They have a distinctive approach to the early-stage funding process and have funded some interesting companies. YC is in the news again because of Google’s recent acquisition of Omnisio, a YC investment.”

Silicon Swings and Silicon Roundabouts

Via the Test blog “ather than point out that the idea is not a new one, or shoot it down in flames, I thought I’d look at the idea from three perspectives – the people who might need a Tech-Hub, the people who might run it, and the people who might fund it. In my experience, its the overlaps and (more importantly) the differences between the needs of these three groups that most schemes like this don’t plan for, and find difficult to accommodate.” (Hat tip Michael Richardson)

Online Community Presentations

Dawn Foster writes “I’ve been doing a few presentations about online communities recently, and I finally got around to uploading a few of them to SlideShare. I thought people might be interested in seeing them.”

Portland 501 Tech Club/Net Tuesday: eNonprofit Benchmarks

An Analysis of Online Messaging, Fundraising and Advocacy Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations at AboutUs on August 26.

Startup: Vital signs of a young regional company

Vancouver-based Iterasi gets the startup spotlight in The Oregonian this week. “A personal Web archive that allows people to save Web pages on Iterasi’s server. The personal accounts can be searched and shared with others.”

Lots of Monkey business

My favorite “That’s a Portland company?” startup, SurveyMonkey, gets covered by the Portland Business Journal. “Their Pearl District office may be festooned with stuffed monkey dolls, a string of monkey lights, even a monkey-face door mat. But Chris and Ryan Finley aren’t monkeying around.”

Welcome to South by Southwest 2009

One, two, three… take advantage of the unique industry convergence at SXSW 2009. Maximize your experience by registering now.

Vidoop launches Skunk Works 2.0

Vidoop Skunk Works 2.0In the midst of World War II—likely a bit before all of our times—Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) funded a highly creative group of engineers, focused on developing the next generation of aircraft. Shrouded in secrecy, the project turned out concepts that continue to influence the aircraft at which we still marvel today.

And which, with all likelihood, continues to secretly burn the midnight oil constructing concept craft that will provide the transport of tomorrow.

The project, according to Wikipedia’s entry, was affectionately dubbed the “Skunk Works,” after a popular comic of the day:

The term “Skunk Works” came from the Al Capp comic strip Li’l Abner, which was popular in the 1940s. In the comic, the “Skonk Works” was a backwoods still operated by Big Barnsmell, known as the “inside man at the Skonk Works”. In his secret facility, he made “kickapoo joy juice” by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering vat.

So why the history lesson? Did I change the blog focus to have more of a Lost Oregon vibe?

No. But, tarry a moment longer, gentle reader. Bear with me. Please allow me to explain.

Why, in the name of all things AJAX-y, would I ever try to equate this sort of old-school aircraft engineering concept with anything occurring in the Web 2.0 world of today?

Because, I’ve long held the opinion that Portland-based Vidoop—with its hires like Scott Kveton and Chris Messina coupled with its continued incubation of some very cutting edge projects—is well on its way to creating Skunk Works 2.0.

And Kveton and Messina aren’t alone. Vidoop has hired up a laundry list of talent. A list that bled Tulsa dry and caused them to look for other markets. And now, they’ve been hiring a very intelligent group of folks here in Portland.

But what Vidoop is doing with those people is as interesting as any of the projects on which they’re working.

You see, Vidoop is giving them space. Giving them free reign. Giving them autonomy. And allowing them to be creative. Or to continue the creative works that they may have been pursuing elsewhere.

Only they’re giving them more resources with which to work.

And today, they formalized that ad hoc effort of the last 4-6 months a bit more with the announcement of Vidoop Labs.

Still not making the Skunk Works connections? Well, the intuitive leap becomes far less difficult when you consider this little snippet (also from the Wikipedia “Skunk Works” entry):

[Skunk Works was an] organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.

Ah ha! Now, it’s starting to work.

I mean, what better way to describe Vidoop’s early focus on OpenID, its adoption of the DiSo efforts, and its funding the development of efforts like Emailtoid and EAUT (Yute!).

Vidoop is clearly pursuing something unique. A Skunk Works of its own. A development organization that pushes the envelope for the Open Web. That dreams up what could be. That lives free of the bureaucracy that tends to hamper more thoughtful and progressive projects. That seeks to fund and feed those projects that may not otherwise get the care and feeding they deserve.

And that’s happening right here in Portland.

And with the launch of Vidoop Labs, the Vidoop folks have begun formalize an umbrella for the projects already underway:

Today we are launching Vidoop Labs as a central place where we will be showcasing existing and future technology projects that we believe will help take the Internet and its users to a better place. Since most of these projects are open source in nature, I’d like to encourage everyone to get some code on their hands. We are all in this together!

Now, granted, one major difference between the original Skunk Works and Vidoop Labs is the veil of secrecy. Vidoop Labs is churning quickly and fairly transparently, if the Emailtoid to EAUT progression is any indication.

And I expect that trend to continue.

Not to get all Pollyanna, but man, what a great experiment.

Get a bunch of smart people in a room. And let them create. Let them do what they do best. And see what comes of it.

Not knowing, at the outset, what you’re going to get. But having utmost confidence that the team will deliver something creative, well engineered, and valuable.

If that’s not the kind of work I’d like to see happening in Portland, I don’t know what is.

Interested in more information on the rocket surgery occurring in your own backyard? Take a look at Vidoop Labs, with its sections for Emailtoid, EAUT, DiSo, and the inevitable “coming soon.”

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