Recently, Mike Rogoway of The Oregonian has been working on a piece about the small Web and mobile startups here in town and the community that has grown up around them. The article—entitled “Tech Entrepreneurs Defy the Recession“—has been posted to the Web and should be in the print edition on Saturday.
It’s an expansive piece that manages to bring together views from a number of different folks from the Portland Web startup scene. Among them, David Abramowski, Ward Cunningham, Dave Hersh, Harvey Mathews, Kevin Tate, Raven Zachary, and Josh Bancroft.
“I think success is different in Portland, ” said Josh Bancroft, 32, a gadget hound who helps herd the cats for high-tech socials. “Success could mean that business is going well enough to accomplish their goals and to pay people’s paychecks, and give everybody time to go play in the park with their dog.”
“Find people who share your obsession, and find enough of them, and you’ve got success,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be Amazon.com.”
But it’s not all about fledgling startups.
Jive Software gets a nod for their having attracted capital. But more importantly, for the idea that they have run into a glass ceiling trying to build a big company in Portland:
“Portland has certain natural human resources that you can take advantage of,” [Jive CEO Dave] Hersh said. “If you want to take it to the next level, you have to go outside the city.”
And that, according to Rogoway, may very well be a ceiling which Portland is willing to leave intact—and a culture that Portland isn’t looking to change.
Within Portland’s technology community, there’s a certain reluctance to remake the city or its economy in the image of its more prosperous neighbors to the north or south. Many of Portland’s technology entrepreneurs come from elsewhere — Austin, the upper Midwest, and refugees from the Silicon Valley and the dot-com bust — drawn by the city’s low-key vibe.
For more on the perception of the Portland startup community from a few steps outside of the echo chamber, see Rogoway’s article.
To continue the conversations about the article, The Oregonian will be hosting an online chat at the Silicon Forest blog this coming Tuesday to discuss the article. You’re all encouraged to attend.