There was some huge news today for the Portland startup scene. But it might not be perceived as such. Because, on the surface, it’s simply an executive hire. A pretty impressive executive hire. But a hire. You might not have even caught it. But Portland startup Cloudability announced that they had hired Bill Lynch, cofounder of Jive Software, as the vice president of products.
And that was the news. But in my mind, the story was much more than than news of new executive.
You see, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Jive Software and Bill’s career for awhile. And from my vantage, the Bill’s trajectory has this uncanny ability to foreshadow what’s coming for the Portland startup scene—time and time again.
As the cofounder of Jive Software, he helped relocate the company to Portland in search of talent to grow the company. Sounds familiar? Yeah. Well this was more than a decade ago. And they landed in a new startup accelerator in Portland, the Portland State Business Accelerator. Then Jive was one of the first Portland startups of this generation to secure significant capital—from name brand investors like Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins—outside of the Portland area. And in making hard decisions, Jive was one of the first companies to react to the “RIP Good Times” advice delivered by their investors as the mortgage crisis began to gather momentum. And, of course, Jive was the first company of this generation of Portland startups to successfully go public.
It was a great run. Fabled even.
Call me crazy, but based on where he’s been early before, I’m hopeful that Bill could again be an early indicator for another Portland trend. That Cloudability’s gain could be the first of many. And that maybe, just maybe, it portends a bunch more hires like this just waiting on the horizon.
Because that trend is what completes the cycle that makes Portland’s startup scene sustainable.
It’s a cycle of reinvestment. A cycle of reinvestment that is critical for the survival of any startup ecosystem.
Most of the time we think of that reinvestment as one of capital. Found a company, grow it into something successful, gain the financial rewards of achieving that success, and reinvest that capital in the next generation of startups.
But in founding and growing and succeeding, something more valuable that wealth is accrued. It’s knowledge. Of how to build companies. Confidence in creating successful pursuits. And more than a few scars and bruises from any number of failures and mistakes along the way. And reinvesting that—that knowledge—can be far more beneficial to today’s startups.
And if we’re truly going to make this startup scene sustainable over time. We need more of that.
So congrats to Cloudability on gaining a strong new contributor to the team. And forgive me if I’m overly hopeful that it’s yet another time that Bill is serving as an early indicator of things to come in Portland.
[Full disclosure: Cloudability is a PIE alum. I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE.]