It’s hard to believe but I’ve now been writing Silicon Florist for 15 years. That’s weird. I mean, really. I’ve somehow managed to write consistently from one downturn right into another. For nearly a third of my life. So at least that’s something. And now, I’ve got this celebratory tweet to show for it.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think this downturn is my fault. But it might be. Who knows? A butterfly flaps its wings and whatnot. So feel free to blame me.
Ahem. But I digress. (Honestly, I assume you’re used to that sort of thing. By now.)
You see, around this time in 2007, I got the idea stuck in my head that Portland — and maybe Oregon — needed more recognition for the increased startup activity everyone seemed to be talking about in our area. On their brand new iPhone thingamajiggers. And on their still fairly new but definitely rapidly growing Twitter activity in the Portland startup community.
But that’s the thing. They were just talking about it. Or maybe tweeting. No one was really capturing the history for posterity. And none of the aggressively humble founders were making as much noise as I thought they should be making about the awesome things that they were building.
So I thought that what we absolutely positively needed was a tech blog that focused on Portland startups. But no one was writing one. And none of the major ones were paying attention to Portland.
I wasn’t the right person to do it. But I did. I started a personal blog about the Portland startup community. Because, seriously, it’s not like I’d be doing it for the next 15 years or anything.
I had some perspective. I had been part of a previous generation of startups. Prior to the dotcom bust. And I had even spent time working in and around startups between the dotcom bust and the mortgage crisis. I thought I knew a thing or two about startups. (Honestly, the jury is still out as to whether I know jackshit about startups or not. But let’s continue to pretend, shall we…?)
But this time, the world just seemed different. And Portland just seemed different. I don’t know. Maybe I was convinced that the third time — or at least the third generation of startups I’d experienced in the Portland area — would be a charm.
Maybe it was because of the strength of the open source community in Portland. Maybe it was because cloud infrastructure was becoming a real and affordable thing. Or maybe it was because the combination of those two things meant that a handful of people were building things in a weekend that previously seemed to take a ton of time, a lot of engineers, and whole rooms full of servers.
Or maybe it was because — since we didn’t need big swaths of office space to house server rooms and engineers and we didn’t need piles of money to hire engineers and buy servers and pay leases — people were starting to build their startups in the city core rather than the suburbs.
I don’t know. Something was different. And no one else seemed to be talking about. So I thought that maybe I should.
Again, why in the hell did I think this was a good idea? Again, I honestly don’t know. I mean, I liked writing. I’ve never been terribly good at it. But I liked it. So maybe that was it.
It was an excuse to write.
Or maybe it was because I was trying to do my own startup at the time. And I realized how lonely it was. And thankless. And challenging. And soul sucking. And defeating. And maybe just maybe, I thought celebrating other folks going through the same struggle might help them keep going on their idea. Or continue to build out their product. Or find that next customer.
I wasn’t looking to write about startups on the Internet for money, mind you. I wasn’t a journalist. I hadn’t honed my craft. I wasn’t trained or educated. And I definitely wasn’t planning to be objective about anything.
Silicon Florist was meant to be purely subjective. I was rooting for the founder. And ignoring the flaws in their product or business model in favor of celebrating things that were working. Or the simple fact that they had gotten something out the door. And recognizing all of the risks they were taking by putting themselves out there by, well, recognizing them and their efforts.
And yet, folks still often think of me and this — my personal blog — as “the media.” It is what it is.
The motivation for Silicon Florist wasn’t creating a business. I mean, this is Portland. I was all about the craft and the creation. I wasn’t crazy enough to figure out financial projections or a target market. Nor did I really want to. I just wanted to celebrate other folks who were taking crazy risks. Or building wacky products. And I wanted to do it for me. And for them.
Silicon Florist was simply my way of contributing to what I saw happening. I wasn’t a hacker or an engineer. I couldn’t contribute to open source projects. But I could, at least, open source my marketing communications skills in support of those amazing and creative folks I saw building awesome things. Because they could.
And that tiny insignificant effort somehow struck a chord. And became slightly less insignificant. And it helped amplify things happening around here. And it led to other things. And still other things.
And I honestly don’t even really know why.
All I know is that I sat down in front of a computer and babbled about some stuff. And people were kind enough to read it. And to send me more stuff about which to babble.
And then 15 years had gone by. And here we are.
So now, I think it’s time for a bit of a break. Maybe that’s the Silicon Florist thing I do for myself…? A sabbatical of sorts. Or maybe just some time to not feel like I need to be finding stuff to post every day. Or being concerned that I haven’t posted anything all week.
Long story short, when your mentors tell you that you need a break, I, for one, think you should listen to them.
There, there. Buck up, little camper. And turn that frown upside down.
I’m fairly confident that you won’t miss any critical news. Malia Spencer at the Portland Business Journal has done a phenomenal job of keeping all of us up to date on newsworthy stories in the Portland startup community. You might miss a few random things, here and there. Things that are interesting or odd but not really newsworthy.
But if anything, I’m pretty sure all of us could probably use a little less news, these days.
Now mind you, there are still folks posting jobs. And events happening. And interesting stories popping. So I’ll keep doing the Friday newsletter. I’m just going to take a break from blogging for a bit.
And again, from that largely self imposed obligation to do that blogging. Obviously, it’s habitual now. But that doesn’t mitigate the daily stress of wondering what the hell I’m going to pull out of my ass for a Silicon Florist post, every day.
When a professor takes a sabbatical, they’re often obligated to write. So I’m going to be contrary and do the opposite.
After a break, I’ll probably be back. But I might not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ If a blog post is posted in the forest and no one is there to read it… as they say.
And who knows? Maybe this sabbatical will provide the opportunity for new voices to step up and share their perspectives about this new generation of the Portland startup community and the creative folks building things here. Maybe the lack of my ongoing blather will create space. And oxygen. And sunlight for others. That would certainly be welcome. And needed. And nice.
So I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that to happen. Since those fingers won’t be busy typing.
Previous Silicon Florist birthday posts
Birthdays make you nostalgic? Me too! So if you feel like wallowing in that nostalgia with me, please have at it. Here are a bunch of old birthday posts from yesteryear.
- Silicon Florist is two today. What a short strange trip it’s been.
- Time for big kid pants: Silicon Florist is three years old
- Four years and seven hours ago… Silicon Florist is four
- Half a decade later: Thank you for putting up with bad grammar, ridiculously long headlines, haphazard posting schedules, and an all too rosy view of the Portland startup scene
- Six years of Silicon Florist (or How a poorly written blog with ridiculously long headlines somehow spawns awesome things like PIE, TechFestNW, and Oregon Story Board)
- Golden birthday: It’s August 7 and Silicon Florist turned seven years old today
- Silicon Florist is eight. And eight is great. Or something. And stuff.
- Nine years of nonsense: Silicon Florist completes another year of assaulting the English language
- The more things change, the more they stay the same: 10 years of Silicon Florist babbling about the Portland startup community
- It goes to 11: Silicon Florist is officially a tween (Fair warning: This one is really really dark. But you can skim past that if you want some interesting historical context.)
- A dozen long stemmed Rose City years: Silicon Florist is 12 years old
- Officially a teenager: Silicon Florist turns 13 years old
- Another year older, none the wiser: Silicon Florist is 14 years old