It goes to 11: Silicon Florist is officially a tween

I’m tired, Portland. For any number of reasons. But mostly because — after more than a decade of writing this blog on a weekly basis — this community still feels like it needs a ton of work. You must be tired, too. Because you have all made a ridiculous amount of progress against any number of odds. And you’ve created and innovated and persevered. But there’s still so much more to do. And not a lot of help to do it.

I’m tired. But I’m tired for you. It shouldn’t have to be this hard.

I’m sorry. These posts tend to be a lot more chipper. And celebratory. They tend to be upbeat and positive. But I just can’t get there this year.

This year, it’s just felt difficult. And tiring. Not rewarding. Not progressive. Not innovative. Tiring.

So rather than paint it as something else, I thought I’d just let you know. That I’m tired. And feeling pretty defeated. And I know that you’re feeling that way, too.

But I think it’s important to realize, that even in that feeling of defeat, there are those bright spots. And that’s where we have to focus.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since I registered the Silicon Florist URL — Silicon Forest was taken — and started writing about all of the amazing projects I was seeing. Back then, they weren’t even companies. They were just projects. Or blog posts. Or events.

And I still hadn’t figured out my voice at that point. I was often critical. Snarky. Derisive. It was a voice I had pulled over from previous blogging efforts. But I soon discovered that wasn’t the tone that we needed. Instead, the community needed to be built up. It needed a confidence boost. It needed positivity.

And since hitting upon that voice, I’ve tried to remain as positive as I can. But granted, at times, I still get stuff stuck in my craw. Or get to feeling down and defeated. But it takes quite a great deal to prevent me from seeing the positive side of what you and other Portland startups are trying to do.

Because I believe in you. And I want you to keep doing what you’re doing.

I’m still surprised that this effort even struck a chord. That people kept reading. And that folks continued to share what they were building with me. I’m still amazed by that. Every single day.

I’d been working in the startup community a dozen years before I even started Silicon Florist. And now, I’ve been working on Silicon Florist for nearly that long. Which is like an eon in Internet time. To appreciate how long, maybe it would be helpful to provide some context.

Just how long ago was 2007? Here are some milestones:

  • Jive Software was six years old, but it had only been in Portland for about three years. It would take another four years for it to IPO. Today, it no longer exists, here.
  • The dotcom bust was a mere six years behind us, at this point.
  • Puppet, then called Reductive Labs, was a couple of years old. It wouldn’t relocate to Portland until a couple of years later.
  • Elemental was founded in Portland two years before I started the blog.
  • Oregon Venture Fund, then the Oregon Angel Fund, would be founded the same year as Silicon Florist. Today, their IRR is significantly better than this blog’s.
  • Zapproved would be founded the following year.
  • The mortgage crisis and RIP Good Times would be the following year.
  • Simple still wouldn’t be founded for another two years. It wouldn’t relocate its headquarters to Portland until 2011.
  • Cloudability and Opal would be founded four years later, in 2011.
  • … and there are plenty of other examples.
  • From a broader startup scene perspective…
    • WordPress, the platform I chose for Silicon Florist, was four years old.
    • As was Techcrunch.
    • Facebook was a little over three years old.
    • Twitter was a little over a year old.
    • Digg was still a thing. Reddit wasn’t really yet.
    • The iPhone had just been released about a week prior.
    • Y Combinator hadn’t even relocated to the Bay Area yet.
  • And who would have thunk that, eleven years after the first words were typed here, that we’d have a startup accelerator focused on manufacturing, a far cry from open source software and a throwback to our region’s roots?

We’ve come a long way, Portland. But we’ve still got a long way to go. I think we can get there. But it’s going to take work. And we’re all tired. But we can do this. I know we can. Why?

Because I believe in you.

And thanks for believing in me the past 11 years. Here’s looking forward to year 12.

Previous Silicon Florist birthday posts

And while you’re here…

For more than a decade, I’ve been writing about — and connecting dots in — the Portland startup community. But now — at a time when many of the motivations that inspired me to start Silicon Florist continue to be issues — I’ve decided that it’s time to take that decade plus of experience and do more. I’m hoping you’ll consider being among all of the amazing folks supporting this effort. But if not, no hard feelings.