Month: February 2009

Y Combinator founder likes Portland’s potential for startups

Can Portland become a startup hub? It’s a question that we discuss time and time again.

We have the hackers, but can we attract the right kind of investors? Can we create a startup environment that meshes with the Portland—and Silicon Forest—culture? Can we build a sustainable startup engine?

I believe we can and I know I’m not alone in that regard.

Now, Paul Graham, founder of the well-known early stage startup incubator Y Combinator, has provided another vote of confidence for the Rose City. In a post entitled “Can You Buy a Silicon Valley? Maybe.” he proposes a way to fund and retain startups “for a particular city.”

It’s an interesting argument. But what I found most interesting was this (emphasis is mine):

How well this scheme worked would depend on the city. There are some towns, like Portland, that would be easy to turn into startup hubs, and others, like Detroit, where it would really be an uphill battle. So be honest with yourself about the sort of town you have before you try this.

So now, it’s not just obvious to us, anymore. It’s obvious to the outside world, as well.

It seems like there’s an opportunity here. And we shouldn’t squander it.

(Hat tip Elia Freedman)

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for February 28

Speed Dating at OTBC, February 28

The 21 ideas being pitched during the Speed Dating session at OTBC.

(tags: otbc beaverton oregon startups speeddating events)

Welcome home to a new…

Our PDX Network launches an advice column, featuring @endlessmonkeys with helpful advice.

(tags: portland oregon ourpdx advice endlessmonkeys)

Talking SXSW at Beer and Blog / Strange Love Live on March 6

Via Shizzow “First, we’re going to spend some time at Beer and Blog from 4pm – 7pm to talk about how Portlanders can keep in touch at SXSW and find the best parties. I’ll even share one of my secrets about parties at SXSW. Hint: the big parties suck. After Beer and Blog, we will be gracing the Strange Love Live couch again to talk about SXSW and Shizzow.”

(tags: portland oregon shizzow events sxsw beerandblog strangelovelive sll beer blog)

DEMO: How new technology makes us more productive

Via VentureBeat “Jive Software, meanwhile, helps big-name corporate like Nike and John Deere collaborate within a company, with partners, and with customers using Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, and forums. (The Sequoia-backed company has also been integrating with other applications and offering tools that make it easier to use its software even when you’re out of the office.)”

(tags: portland oregon jive demo venturebeat)

Tagalus Tag Sprint

Via Tagalus “Here’s the deal – I’m asking you guys to define as many as possible – yours, other peoples, tags you’ve seen, tags you’ve used, tags you’ve never used, tags you think should exist – it’s up to you! Also, if you like the service, perhaps consider tweeting about it and pointing your followers toward the site?”

(tags: portland oregon tagalus tagsprint tagging tags twitter hashtag)

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for February 27

OAuth Issues

John Nastos writes “OAuth is meant to address these security concerns by allowing users to authenticate with Twitter and then give permissions to certain applications to access their account. I won’t go into an entire example here, because the point of this point is to address some concerns I have with the inner workings, rather than describe the whole process. This also means, that from here on out, this will get pretty techie/geeky/insider.”

(tags: oauth insight twitter portland oregon johnnastos combotweet)

Online Community Management Roundtable at the BLNW ‘09 Blog Pavilion, with Dawn Foster and Marshall Kirkpatrick

Luke Lefler writes “Fresh out of the digital tinder box and into your analog hearth, a warm and sparking round-table discussion at the Blog Pavilion at Business Leader NW 2009. Dawn Foster and Marshall Kirkpatrick elucidate, Alex H. Williams moderates, we aggregate.”

(tags: portland oregon dawnfoster marshallk marshallkirkpatrick geekygirldawn events alexhwilliams podcasts blnw)

Farewell February, Bring On March

Via Beer and Blog Portland “It’s been a whirlwind year, with the last Friday of February fast approaching. And honestly? After brainstorming with my Beer and Blog buddies to plan March’s fun, I can barely wait to tell you what we have in store. But I’ll only tell you a little, for now. You’ll have to wait for more details until Friday, when we meet once again at the Green Dragon for happy hour.”

(tags: portland oregon beerandblog beer blog bloggers meetup events)

Introducing FastFigures Mobile for iPhone and iPod Touch

Elia Freedman writes “I’m very proud to announce the release of FastFigures Mobile, our first iPhone/iPod Touch application and the first release of our companion to FastFigures Online. FastFigures Mobile runs on iPhone and iPod Touch devices without requiring an Internet connection. FastFigures modernizes the calculator.”

(tags: beaverton oregon iphone apps applications fastfigures)

Open Source Bridge: Calling all open source citizens

[Full disclosure: I am on the volunteer committee helping to organize Open Source Bridge.]

Open Source BridgeAs many of you know, OSCON will be held in San Jose, this year. And RailsConf will be in Las Vegas. That left Portland—arguably the de facto hub of all things open source-y—strangely devoid of a major open source conference until Linux Plumbers Conference in September.

And that just didn’t seem right. So Audrey Eschright and Selena Deckelmann decided to do something about it. And they got a bunch of other volunteers together who wanted to help. That became Open Source Bridge.

You see, if there’s one thing I love about Portland, it’s our entrepreneurial spirit. We weren’t just going to sit around and cry in our microbrewed beers about it. We Portlanders are going to figure out how to do something else. We’ll show them.

And true to form, here’s Open Source Bridge, a new grassroots-organized open-source-developer-oriented conference that’s slated to be held in Portland, next summer.

Fast forward to today and that dream has officially become a reality. Registration is now open for Open Source Bridge.

Costs? You can attend the three-day conference—June 17-19—for $175. But you have to act quickly. That early bird rate expires on April 1. And if you’re coming from out of town—heck if you’re coming from Beaverton—you can get a room at the Hilton for $139/night.

Why would you stay at the Hilton? Four words my friend. Well, actually one number and three words: 24-hour hacker lounge.

Personally, it’s been an incredible experience, thus far, working with the amazing people volunteering to pull this off. Open Source Bridge is a different kind of conference. And it’s yet another incredible event that’s going to put Portland on the map.

Different how? It’s about open source culture for developers. It’s about being open source citizens:

We’re planning a conference that will connect developers across projects, across languages, across backgrounds to learn from each other. We want people to experience something beyond “how to use tool X” or “why databases keel over when you do Y” (even though those topics are important, making up our tools and trade, and will be a central part of the conference content). We’d like to share what open source means to us, what it offers, where we struggle, and why we do this day in and day out, even when we’re not paid for it.

Hopefully, you’ll put up with me continuing to blather on about it. Because I think it’s yet another example of the Portland community doing things in a very Portland-y way and—as usual—wildly succeeding.

I’m hoping to see you there.


REMINDER: Communit.as launch party, tonight

Communit.asIt’s always good to see new Silicon Forest based products being launched—especially when there’s a launch party involved. So, don’t forget that Communit.as will be unveiling their product, tonight.

What’s Communit.as? According to the founders, it’s an “open source web application that provides a foundation for building custom community and social network sites.”

That’s about all I’ve got, because I haven’t seen it yet, either.

Oh okay. Here are some other details:

There are certain core features any community or social network site needs: user accounts, access control, database abstraction, template rendering and a few other essentials. While you could certainly build these things from scratch every time you build a site, this seems like kind of a waste of effort to us. With that in mind we set out to create a reusable, upgradeable foundation that can shave the first few weeks of development off of any custom community site.

“Custom” is really the operative word there. Communit.as is generally intended for building sites with lots of custom functionality. Instead starting with the functionality we think you want and forcing you to hack the crap out of it, we take care of the tedious stuff and give you a great set of tools for adding your own features. If you want a generic blog or a social network that does everything out of the box, there are better solutions for those things.

This isn’t to say you don’t get a running application out of the box. You do. We provide a simple and robust installer that will have you up and running in minutes.

So if you’re intrigued, make sure to show up at CubeSpace, this evening from 6-8. There will be drinks, snacks, and demos galore.

For more information, visit the Communit.as launch party on Upcoming or Calagator.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for February 26

Startups in 13 Sentences

Paul Graham writes “One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it’s better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be? When I made the list there turned out to be 13”

(tags: startups advice entrepreneurship paulgraham tips)

iterasiLite, updated browser support and Web-based Import Bookmarks

Via Iterasi “Today we are releasing a new product – iterasiLite for Firefox – as well as updates for our clients to the latest browser releases, and a Web-based Import Bookmarks tool.”

(tags: portland oregon iterasi firefox iterasilite)

Social Media Club PDX Event Recap

Via Social Media Club PDX “Wow. What an amazing turnout for our very first event. We had nearly 100 people crammed into a room that was certainly not meant to hold that many. It was great to see so many people interested in learning and sharing ideas about social media. Despite some technical difficulties we experienced, there was some interesting debate and great conversation.”

(tags: portland pdx socialmediaclub social media events)

Versionista offers public revision history of DrudgeReport.com

Via Versionista “To help document the role of online news stories in the election, and beyond, Versionista now lets users sift through edit histories of the Drudge Report for the past several months. Users can view side-by-side comparisons, visually transformed to show what has been added and deleted from one revision to the next.”

(tags: portland oregon versionista news)

Harvey Mathews leaves Software Association of Oregon (SAO) [UPDATED]


Mike Rogoway at The Oregonian‘s Silicon Forest blog has posted on the news as well:

My understanding then was that Mathews was looking for a more involved, engaged board — and that he got it. He’s since recruited new board members, boosted membership and sponsorship, started a health care plan for SAO member companies, and helped create interest groups and social networks within the organization.

I haven’t heard back from Mathews himself, so for the moment at least the reasons for his sudden departure will remain a little mysterious.


Harvey’s departure has been confirmed. Here’s the press release:


Portland, Ore. – February 25, 2009 – The Software Association of Oregon (SAO), the primary trade organization for Oregon industry driven by software, announced today that its president, Harvey Mathews, has resigned. The organization’s board and Mathews are working together to identify potential candidates to fill the role.

Over the past decade, the software industry has evolved dramatically. Once a minor tool for many businesses and consumers, software now drives both much of our economy and personal lives from financial services and environmental sustainability to online social networking and mobile communications. Differing views of the SAO’s role in the continuing evolution of the software industry between Mr. Mathews and the Board have resulted in Mathews’ decision to step down.

“The SAO’s board is tremendously thankful for Harvey’s vision and leadership,” said Michael Phillips, chairman of the SAO board and partner of David Wright Tremaine LLP. “He has increased significantly membership and sponsors in the past year alone, created new special interest groups such as the Clean Tech Alliance, and developed a new health care program for members. His contributions have been invaluable.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my experience working with the Oregon technology community, from large software companies to impassioned entrepreneur-developers,” said Mathews. “It is my belief that the next great period of innovation and economic development will be powered by software, and the SAO is the organization to lead the effort in the Northwest.”


I’m hearing a number of reports that Harvey Mathews has resigned his role as president at the Software Association of Oregon (SAO). As of this posting, he’s still listed on the SAO staff page. But given what has happened before, I’m inclined to believe it.

Harvey Mathews leaves SAO

I’ve been a big fan of what Harvey’s been trying to do at SAO, especially as it applies to the small and micro startups that I try to cover here on Silicon Florist.

If this rumor is true, I’m sad to see him go. But I remain hopeful that he’ll resurface in another role.

I have a call into Harvey about this. I’ll let you know when I find out more or when other information surfaces.


Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for February 25

iPhorest plants trees virtually and physically : Super Eco

Sarah Gilbert writes “The team at iPhactory is making that happen with its new iPhorest app, announced (but not yet launched) at TED. A joint venture between Raven Zachary, iPhactory and the Conservation Fund, iPhorest will plant a tree on your iPhone as the Conservation Fund plants a honest-to-gosh real tree in one of its renewal projects, beginning with a vulnerable wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast. As your tree grows on your phone, you can send seeds to other phones and begin a forest, err, phorest.”

(tags: portland oregon iphorest iphone sarahgilbert ravenme ravenzachary)

Zapproved Add-in for Microsoft® Outlook® 2007 Now Available!

Via Zapproved “Since the launch of our beta, Outlook integration has been one of the most requested features from our users. They have wanted to have the ability to create proposals without leaving their email client since they would often begin an email and realize that they were actually meaning to send a proposal.”

(tags: portland oregon zapproved news)

Digital Divide: The Future of Communications and Work

Via KBOO Community Radio “This month, The Digital Divide looks at ways people are putting communications back in the hands of the community and how technology is shaping the future of how we work.”

(tags: portland oregon radio brampitoyo ambercase caseorganic kboo)

GadgetTrak Awarded Patent

Via the GadgetTrak blog “GadgetTrak Inc. the leading innovator of theft recovery and data protection technology for mobile devices, today announced it has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) entitled Portable Host-Pluggable Appliance Tracking System, U.S. Patent No. 7,496,201. The subject of the patent deals with tracking stolen portable electronic devices such as external hard drives, MP3 players, flash drives, digital cameras and others when connected to a PC.”

(tags: portland oregon gadgettrak patent news)

Show and Tell PDX – March 3rd at Substance World HQ

Via Substance “Substance and Pinch, along with the Flash PDX User Group, invite you to an evening of show and tell. We know that you have been working diligently on the next big thing, so we want to give you the opportunity to brag about it a bit. So on Tuesday, March 3rd at 6:30 pm, at Substance, we will be hosting an event where you can come and share what you’ve been working on.”

(tags: portland oregon events showandtell substance pinch)

PDX Pre-SXSW Party Part Two: The Unofficial Version

Dawn Foster writes “We had a great pre-sxsw party here in Portland on January 19 organized by the official staff of the sxsw interactive event. We had such a great time, that we decided to do a community organized, unofficial party exactly one week before the big event in Austin.”

(tags: portland oregon sxsw dawnfoster geekygirldawn events beerandblog)

GadgetTrak and WeoGeo make OEN Angel Oregon final round

I’m happy to report that GadgetTrak and WeoGeo have been selected for the final round of OEN Angel Oregon 2009 competition, “the nation’s premier investor/entrepreneur matchmaking event.”

That puts the two companies in the running for a first place prize of $150,000 or a second prize of $75,000.

For those of you who haven’t yet encountered these two cool Portland companies, GadgetTrak is “the company that turns your stolen electronic devices into a sentient Neighborhood Watch for nabbing thieves.” While WeoGeo “supplies surveyors, engineers, cartographers, and scientists with the ability to conveniently store, search, and exchange global mapping and geo-content.”

So who is the competition? The Biotech/CleanTech track features DesignMedix and Tau Science Corporation and the Consumer track features Glide Cycle (I could not stop watching their demo video… something strangely mesmerizing about it) and Wicked Quick.

There are also 20 other companies who get to fly through a one minute elevator pitch—but unfortunately I don’t have their names, yet.

Now, I’m hoping the tech folks can do us proud. We’re still trying to recover from 2008, when Angel Oregon selected an apparel company as the winner.

The Angel Oregon 2009 event will be held March 12 at the Governor Hotel. For more information, see OEN Angel Oregon 2009 on Upcoming or Calagator.




OTBC: So, you start up here often?

OTBCFor many “side project” entrepreneurs, the most difficult part of getting an idea off the ground—and out of the garage or basement—is finding that business partner that complements their skillset.

Business people with good ideas can write all the business plans they want, but they’ll eventually need a developer. And developers can crank all the code they want, but eventually they’ll need some way of approaching the market or getting more funding. But how are they supposed to find one another?

Enter OTBC startup speed dating.

After some networking time, we’ll have each idea person looking for a team give 2 or 3 minute elevator pitch, have each of them head to their own corner of the room, and let people circulate around to check out the startups that sound interesting to them.

The first speed dating event will be held Saturday, February 28 from 1 – 4PM at the OTBC (located in The Round in Beaverton, right on the MAX line). Best of all? It’s all free.

If you’d like to give folks a little pre-briefing on your startup turn-ons and turn-offs, give them some more details your idea. Word around the campfire is that at least 10 startups will be participating. Details on those startups will be listed this week.

For more information, see the OTBC post, Upcoming, or Meetup. And of course, I will mention that OTBC speed dating is on Calagator, too. (Because I heart Calagator.)