More than just money: Lytics $35 million Series C has additional upside for the Portland startup community

As always, I’ll start this with the caveat that I promised Bill Lynch, cofounder of Jive, that I wouldn’t just write posts that celebrate funding for the sake of funding. Which is actually more work. (Thanks, Bill.) But in the long run, I’m hoping my bag-full-of-cats startup-history brain full of tangential facts and likely little known context can be helpful in providing a broader picture of why these funding events are important.

So without further ado… Here are a few reasons why I feel like the Lytics funding announcement has more upside than just capital and a growing local workforce.

Anybody remember WebTrends? There was a time where WebTrends was the dominant software company in Portland. They were early to market with Web analytics. (For you kids, they were like Google Analytics before Google bought Urchin to build Google Analytics.) Back in the early days of the Web, WebTrends was able to go public and then go through a series of other business machinations that kept them alive in a post dotcom world. But most of all, they were able to attract a lot of really interesting talent. Like the cofounders of Lytics. So while we don’t see spinoffs quite as often as we used to, our larger tech companies are still training up the talent that has the potential to be our next promising tech company. Now Lytics is likely training up that next generation of talent, as well.

A small but growing Martech cluster. Lytics, Act-On, and Opal are all establishing a significant presence here in town. And they’re providing the marketing technology platforms that marketers use to acquire and retain customers. Often with big household name brands. And when you combine that with the wealth of marketing and agency talent here in town, this starts to get really interesting.

Serial entrepreneurs finding success with their next venture. In addition to WebTrends, Lytics CEO James McDermott helped retool and sell Portland startup Storycode. That success story paved the way — and fomented the investor confidence — in his abilities and the potential for Lytics. It’s nice to see him leveraging that experience and leadership to continue to grow his latest company.

Raising more than $50 million is still a rarity. In a day and age of companies raising billions of dollars at ridiculous valuations, it’s sometimes easy to forget that successfully raising multiple rounds of funding is still a challenge for the vast majority of companies — be they in Portland or not. And raising more than $50 million in venture funding in Portland puts companies among very few peers.

It’s another market leader in our midst. Portland does platforms very well. I always refer to it as “engineers building tools for other engineers.” And sometimes those platforms become market leaders. But having a homegrown market leaders is still a rarity. Cloudability, Puppet (Yes, they relocated here but they’re still basically homegrown), Urban Airship, and Workfrom immediately jump to mind. But clearly the list isn’t very long.

I’ll noodle on this a bit more. I might have a few other things to add. But I wanted to make sure to get this out the door as quickly as possible.

For more on the announcement, read the coverage in The Oregonian or the post on the Lytics blog.

[Full disclosure: Lytics is a PIE alum. I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE.]

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