With some of the holiday season celebrations bisecting two weeks in a row, it’s been a bit of a slow end to 2019. And a couple of slow news weeks to boot. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to share some of the most popular Silicon Florist posts from the past year, if only to provide a reminder of what the community accomplished and to look forward to what’s in store for 2020.
Plus, I thought it might give you some interesting weekend reading as we ease back into the year.
Many of the top posts were job roundups from the Silicon Florist job board. (Duly noted.) But in terms of the original content, let’s start with the most read sort of general topics and then go from there…
Last Friday, the New York Times published a piece on the Zebra movement, a movement with Portland roots that highlights any number of things broken about the prevailing venture capital model and its pursuit of unicorns and calls for more rational and accessible means of funding startups.
Another Portland startup founder moves on to the next adventure: Nat Parker is leaving moovel (soon to be ReachNow)
Portland rarely sees things occur in rapid succession. Funding tends to be sporadic. Exits tend to be blips here and there. But that may be changing. Because it feels like we are starting to see a growing trend of well known Portland startup founders moving on to their next thing. The latest? Nat Parker is leaving moovel, a journey which started with his startup GlobeSherpa.
It’s no secret that the way people work is changing. Equally not a secret is the growing population of Portland. So it only stands to reason that there are any number of coworking spaces popping up and thriving around these parts. And news that a new provider was opening a Portland space inspired me to take a quick look at what was out there.
If you read one story this week, make it one written by a real reporter about the whitest city in America
(NOTE: You’re soaking in it.) Portland, by any count, is one of the least diverse cities in the United States. This is referenced anecdotally, often in hushed tones. But it’s the truth. From our state’s and city’s racist beginnings to our modern day existence, Portland is uncomfortably and homogeneously white.
The biggest tech news of the day (at least at the moment) stems from a little gaming device created by a small Portland company
I caught this news yesterday and I was like, “Yup. Typical Panic.” Typical Panic in the fact that the revered and award winning software developer had done something interesting again. Something quirky and slightly weird. Something that no one knew they needed. And the market was responding. Extremely positively.
While some startup communities seem obsessed with the random application of technology, I’ve always been impressed with the Portland startup community’s continued interest in applying technology in ways that make people’s lives better. One of those areas — for decades — has been healthcare. And now, there’s a new player in that realm, specifically around urgent care for kids. Meet Brave Care.
This is just weird. And every year it just gets more so. There’s no other way to put it. I literally had no idea that the night I scrambled out of bed and to my computer — inspired to register a new domain name, discovering that name was taken, and then tongue-firmly-in-cheek registering one that was available — would result in this. How could I? And yet, here we are. Twelve years later. And this side project just keeps going. And going. Yep, it’s still here. It’s still Silicon Florist.
It’s happened before. Many of us lived it. And if my reading list this weekend is any indication, it’s happening again. Like the days of the dotcom boom and bust, folks seem to be growing increasingly tired of the Silicon Valley way of doing business. And they’re getting fairly vocal about that disdain.
PIE, the Portland Incubator Experiment, turns 10 this year. And it’s been five years since the last PIE Demo Day, where founders from the accelerator program take the stage to share stories about the companies they’re building. But now, the clock has been reset. PIE Demo Day 2019 took place on March 14 (Pi Day, course). And the replay is already available for your weekend viewing.
Unrated Director’s Cut: Complete unedited responses from my recent Willamette Week interview on the Portland startup community
You may have seen the print edition or the online version of my interview with Willamette Week, this week. I was humbled by the opportunity to take part in this article. And it was a great way to commemorate the milestone of PIE turning a decade old and Silicon Florist turning a dozen years old. I mean, it’s not every day that your projects reach ages where you can talk about the years in euphemisms, simultaneously. Or something. And stuff.
And then there were the notable acquisitions…
There are any number of amazing Portland startups. (Clearly. That’s why I’ve been writing about them on this blog for nearly a dozen years.) But every once in a while, a startup comes along that becomes the center of gravity — the proverbial Cinderella story — for a generation of startups around here. Cloudability was very much one of those startups. And today, the denouement of that startup story begins, in the best of ways, with an exit. Cloudability has announced an agreement to be acquired by Apptio.
If you’ve been around the Portland startup community for any amount of time, you realize that many of the startups in our midst generally have a significant period of time between their founding date and when they experience a liquidity event like acquisition or private equity. (Or I guess there’s always on IPO. But seriously, who am I kidding?) Suffice it to say, “overnight success” is not a term that has much traction here.
Remember how I said that one of the issues with creating a self-sustaining ecosystem in Portland was the irregularity of liquidity events? Well, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but… we just started the third month in a row with a liquidity event. This time, it’s Janrain getting acquired by Akamai.
Another week, another Portland startup acquisition. This one for nearly half a billion dollars. All in cash.
There has been a recent spate of acquisitions here in Portland. Some Portland companies acquiring. Some Portland companies getting acquired. This is one of the latter. With recent Portland transplant Twistlock getting acquired for $410 million.
And the talk of fundraising. Or lack thereof.
Fundraising is hard enough. Let’s encourage the State of Oregon not to make it harder. Before noon on June 6, 2019.
Fundraising is hard. I think that’s something on which all of us can agree. Constructing grammatically correct sentences even if they seem awkward? No. Oxford commas? Probably not. But agreeing that fundraising is a grind? Yes. Definitely. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a company looking for a loan, a startup chasing venture capital, a VC chasing LPs… even an employee looking to get their budget approved. It’s all difficult.
In some industries, the idea of “closing” can be the worst possible outcome. But in the world of startups, closing is often a very good thing. And the latest news from the Portland Seed Fund is no different. The Portland Business Journal just revealed that PSF has just closed their third fund to the tune of $13.9 million.
One of the issues with the current state of the Portland startup community is the negative of a positive. The positive? Formerly early stage funds have found success, returned multiples on invested capital, matured, raised larger funds, and are now writing larger checks for Seed and Series A rounds.
Plus an increase in the amount of Blockchain activity in town.
Adding to the local startup accelerator ledger: Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio announces inaugural class
There’s a new class of startups in a new accelerator. The Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio housed at R/GA in Portland has announced their first class of companies.
Like many shiny new tech objects, Portland was drawn into crypto early. From experimentation with the Blockchain to Dogecoin. And then, as is our particular wont, we seemed to grow bored of that exploration before it truly matured into a market. But not everyone moved on so quickly. Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange backed by the Winklevoss twins, has quietly had an ongoing presence here for years. And now, it looks like they’re ramping up to grow that footprint.
And perhaps the most appropriate one on which to end and a great way to begin 2020 (even if it is out of order page view wise)…
While the Portland startup community does its best to be incredibly collaborative and welcoming, we’re not always so good with communicating how best to engage with the community. And that can be a tad bit frustrating for folks who are looking to help — and even more frustrating for those who are looking for help.
So I thought I would take a couple of minutes here at the start of the year to help document a few resources that may be helpful as you work to get more connected to the Portland startup community.
So there are — pun intended — the top 20 stories as we enter 2020. And with that, I’m eagerly looking forward to exploring this new year within the Portland startup community with you. See you when I see you.