Save CubeSpace

Well, this is the last thing I expected on this Frenetic Friday. But it seems that arguably the de facto hub of the Portland startup tech scene, CubeSpace, is unfortunately in dire straits.

While we’re still not clear on the specifics dollar amounts involved in the situation, it is clear that the folks at CubeSpace are facing eviction.

The very short story is this: Tuesday we were served with a subpoena from our landlord, US Bank, for court order to effectively evict us from our space for non-payment of rent since March. If a judge grants them this action, we will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy, both on behalf of CubeSpace, and almost certainly personally as well. Our court date is Wednesday, and there is a holiday weekend between, which shortens an already tight timeline. We continue to try to work out a solution which is amenable to US Bank and which is workable for us. Based on our efforts to negotiate a solution over the past 10 months, US Bank has made it clear that they are not very interested in our survival.

Needless to say, the prospect of this cuts to the very heart of the our community. In my perspective, no one single organization has done more to facilitate the community.

Clearly US Bank taking the opportunity to serve these papers on the Friday before a three-day weekend smells as a little funny. And it seems that pulling this maneuver means that they have something planned for that space and are simply looking for the opportunity to booth the current residents.

But regardless of that, the Portland tech community has reacted as expected. Slate Technologies has already started a “Save CubeSpace” site complete with donation button.

Our PDX has a post up—“CubeSpace needs your help“—and more to come:

Naturally, the tech community—even on the eve of a three-day holiday weekend—is rallying to the cause. Here’s information about two efforts that have emerged already.

Mike Rogoway at The Oregonian is following the story:

The twitterverse is abuzz this afternoon with word that CubeSpace, the popular Portland coworking and meetup space, is facing closure.

[UPDATE] And Mike has a story that will run in Saturday’s paper:

When word of CubeSpace’s plight hit Twitter, dozens of laments went up immediately and Portland’s twittizens went to work brainstorming ways to save the business.

In a little more than three hours, fans had contributed nearly $2,000 dollars in donations, with hundreds more pledged in support. It’s a remarkable gesture on behalf of a for-profit business.

And KGW’s Stephanie Stricklen is working to get the US Bank side of the story:

@stephstricklen on CubeSpace

What’s more, folks from every edge of Twitter are working to spread the word with #savecubespace.

Without CubeSpace, I’d argue that the Portland startup tech community wouldn’t be where it is today. What might not have happened? BarCamp Portland, WordCamp Portland, Side Project to Startup, Open Source Bridge, Silicon Florist Lunch 2.0, and hundreds of user group meetings.

So what can you do? Read the posts, donate if you feel inclined, and please stay tuned for additional information. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

  1. Yes … there is such a discussion. I even contributed some of Seth Godin’s wisdom in a comment. I was referring to suggestions on *this* blog about such matters as what kind of business entity CubeSpace should be, whether they should move to a smaller space, etc.

    The laws on these matters are complicated, and getting more so because of the numerous initiatives coming from Washington and elsewhere in response to the economic situation. *That* part that needs to be in professional hands, not in the hands of unqualified well-wishers.

    So … by all means, participate in the brainstorming on the SaveCubeSpace blog. There are probably better tools for such things than a WordPress blog, such as Mind Maps and Dialogue Mapping (http://borasky-research.net/?q=node/15), but the community here knows WordPress, so that’s what it’s going to be.

  2. For those who do not want to “butt out” there is an open discussion post here for CubeSpace business model.


  3. As you probably know by now, David and Eva are discussing the financial matters with *licensed professionals*, and I believe it is in everyone’s best interests for those *without* such credentials to butt out. I support CubeSpace and firmly believe that a viable model can and will be found.

    The energy of the community appears to be overwhelmingly behind CubeSpace, and I trust in the “Win-Win” principle of negotiations. I am willing to contribute my time *in those areas where I am qualified*. I’ve signed up to do two one-day courses in those areas. But I am not an attorney, an accountant, or a journalist. So I’m willing to leave those areas to the professionals, and I think we should all do the same.

  4. Devil's Advocate May 24, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Just a suggestion. Why not convert CubeSpace to a non-profit entity? From a business perspective it makes sense as it appears you are currently not making any money. You can get some tax relief, accept donations and even apply for grants etc.It may also help with U.S. Bank as they may be more willing to provide lower rent to a non-profit vs. a for profit biz. I think OTBC and PSBA work on this model, maybe find a way to work with them, a more communal effort may help here.

    My main point was that the immediate donations may get CubeSpace out of triage, but won’t fix the underlying condition. Instead of being reactionary it is better to be strategic to find a way to get through the next year. Just my unsolicited opinion.

  5. The Portland Tech Community wishes to help because, WE WANT TO, not because WE HAVE TO. David and Eva and CubeSpacePdx has given us so much more than just being a buisness. As recently coming back to the Portland area, I have been able to meet and collaborate with so many like minds and as well meet some great friends.

    We enjoy helping and understand that this is a tough economy, but feel there is a way to pull out of it. If we just stand and do nothing and let business fail all around us, the economy is just going to keep falling.

    I understand we can’t save them all, but one who truly gives back to the community deserves to stick around.

    Thank you Eva and David – CubeSpacePdx

    I hope to help in any way I can.

  6. There are a number of things that make CubeSpace more than just another business that’s hurting.

    CubeSpace has helped shape the Portland Tech Community into what it is today. Without Eva and David, where would WordCamp, BarCamp, or any of the various user groups be held? How many startups have started their journey at cubespace?

    I for one know the benefit of a place like this, and would hate to see such a prominent venue for Portland tech entrepreneurs go under.

  7. I would like to respond to Devil’s Advocate. For those who don’t know me, I along with Eva Schweber own CubeSpace.

    In general, I think I agree with Devils Advocate on most counts. Eva and I did not intend to ask the community for money. We threw out the idea that additional investors might help us stay afloat. We didn’t necessarily see it as likely. We certainly never considered asking for donations. But others did. Slate Technology put up a site asking for donations on our behalf. Torfino auctions put up an auction on our behalf.

    I agree that there are issues with people “donating” to a for-profit business. I agree that there are questions about whether we’ll be able to make a go of it moving forward.

    Eva and I are, in fact, more comfortable with people pledging money to CubeSpace/us than we are with donations at the moment. We’d like to figure out what plans we have with pledged money and then give people the opportunity to give or not depending on how they feel about our plan. That’s not how this is working, though.

    People are donating because they feel like we’ve provided value in the past and want us to continue to provide this value in the future. We are humbled by this, daunted by it, and trying to figure out which way is up.

    We are so appreciative to this community, even as we feel undeserving of what you all are offering us.

  8. Devil's Advocate May 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Isn’t CubeSpace a privately held company? There are a lot of other similar type businesses in Portland that are not asking for donations. We are all hurting, businesses are folding daily and people are losing their jobs. What is CubeSpace providing that other similar organizations that are non-profit aren’t? When they are doing better will they be giving this money back? Three months without being able to pay rent indicates an issue with the business plan and business decisions. What are the plans moving forward? If they get the money to pay back rent how are they going to pay the rent moving forward? Sorry I just think there are better places to donate money to right now.

  9. I’ve offered up a small way that folks can help CubeSpace and also end up with a nice framed Portland photo.

  10. thanks for posting this and providing some guidance on what can be done to help. since i joined to portland tech scene cubespace has certainly been a big part of what i’ve come to know. it would be horrible to see cubespace go away.

  11. Maybe this will be an opportunity to take advantage of the current commercial real estate market and get a better location and/or cheaper space.

  12. Here’s a link to the online auction to raise money: https://cubespace.tofinoauctions.com/rentparty09/

    I’ve donated a month of web ads.

  13. Excellent Nate. Thanks. I had wondered if the http://savecubespacepdx.com/ was legit as it does not have any text guaranteeing where the funds will go and seems questionable. I want to help but was not sure if this was the way to go. Since I trust you I know they’re cool and I’ll send a donation over when I get home tonight. I love CubeSpace and those two have done more for the FOSS community and other communities in PDX than anyone else. They are at the heart of so much.

  14. In a day and age when we’re bailing out banks and car companies, working to help a company that has directly contributed to our community and culture seems like a no brainer.

  15. CubeSpace also hosted CyborgCamp.

    Thanks for sending out the call.

  16. Thanks for covering the story and adding in those links to the donation site. Slate Technologies started at Cube Space, we would hate to see it go. 🙂

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