When you name business publications in the Portland area, the Portland Business Journal is likely right up there at the top. It tends to be the go-to resource for small businesses here in town. And, for the past 8 years, Aliza Earnshaw has been working the local beat, writing about what’s happening in Portland.
Well, you write about enough small tech businesses and startups long enough and suddenly you want to join them.
Which is exactly what happened with Aliza. She’s announced that she is joining AboutUs as the Editor-in-Chief for the burgeoning “Wikipedia of Web sites.”
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Aliza over the years in my various corporate communications roles—like MedicaLogic and ProSight. I’m looking forward to seeing how she leverages her impressive journalistic chops in this new role.
Aliza’s last day at PBJ will be tomorrow. She begins at AboutUs, next month.
Your first writing job at the new gig, Aliza? Building out your AboutUs page, of course.
Yesterday, we ended the first year of Portland Lunch 2.0 at the place it all began in February 2008, AboutUs.
I didn’t get a very official count at either event, but I think we went from about 50 at the first Lunch 2.0 to well over a 100 yesterday. I saw a lot of familiar faces, along with new ones.
Aside from opening up their sweet renovated warehouse office space to us, AboutUs provided chotchkies (cell phone charms featuring the universal edit button and AboutUs buttons), grub and cupcakes as big as a fist. They had a projector broadcasting a stream of their pageviews, which attracted a lot of attention; Lunch 2.0 still is a pretty geeky crowd after all.
Case in point, someone suggested that we watch the list to see if there were repeat IPs, but this quickly made me dizzy and disoriented.
Another nice touch was the arrangement of cinema displays (color me jealous) along the western wall of the office that read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUNCH 2.0”.
We skipped the talkie-talkie this time. Everyone was happily chatting around the office, which is kinda the point. No need to interrupt everyone to listen to me mumble, and AboutUs had all their people mingling and answering questions about what they do.
Big thanks to the whole AboutUs crew for hosting, especially to Steven for organizing.
Likewise, thanks to Aaron Hockley who provided excellent photos of the event. All photos in the post are by Aaron and used under Creative Commons. Incidentally, check out Aaron’s Lunch 2.0 – Portland set on Flickr; it provides a great history of the event. Aaron has been to nearly all the Lunch 2.0s, and he usually has his camera to document the festivities. His photos also pop up on Flickr widget on lunch20.com, the home of the original Bay Area chapter because of how awesome they are. OK, it’s also because they’re tagged “lunch2.0”.
Anyway, let’s peer into the future of Portland Lunch 2.0’s second year.
It’s been nearly a year since AboutUs hosted the first Portland Lunch 2.0 back in late February 2008, and we’ll be back there again this Wednesday, February 11.
The last year has been busy, in a good way, for the AboutUs crew. Since we lunched with them last, they’ve been busy raising money, no easy feat in this economy, and staying atop the Portland Startup Index.
I’m looking forward to checking in with the gang and with all of you, natch. You are coming, right? What better way to kick off what Bram has dubbed the “Busiest Day in Portland Tech“. He would know.
So, it’s settled. Just please make sure you RSVP over on Upcoming so they know how much food to get and drop a comment there if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
It’s been a year now, with ten Lunches 2.0. Or is it Lunch 2.0s? Rick will know.
MioWorks needs a place to host their lunch. I guess their tiny office can’t hold 100+ people for lunch. So, if you have suggestions about where they could host, drop a comment, or noodle on it and wait for the official announcement.
Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. I hope we can keep the Lunch 2.0 train rolling this year. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.
It’s always impressive when a Portland company lands funding, but given the current economic conditions, this is especially welcome news.
Quoting heavily from my post on ReadWriteWeb:
How does a small startup secure capital in such turbulent economic times? Being profitable helps – something AboutUs achieved by mid-year 2008. The company is forecasting continued growth, this year. Ray King, CEO, said the company is targeting $5 million in revenue for 2009. The primary source remains advertising, but the online marketing services AboutUs sells – including content creation and custom page development – continue to gain traction.
Another reason for investor confidence? The staff. AboutUs holds a special place in the world of wiki as the employer of Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki, and they continue to attract new talent. They recently hired a number of new employees, including CFO Jack Williamson. King hopes to use the new funding to increase the size of the company to around 50 employees by the end of 2009, up from its current staff of 32.
Lunch 2.0 Portland began at the end of February 2008 at AboutUs. Since then, we’ve had nine, and our first trip to the ‘burbs at the new OTBC digs will make it an even ten.
Fittingly, AboutUs has agreed to host their second Lunch 2.0, as luck would have it, right around the Portland chapter’s first anniversary on February 11, 2009. OK, so it wasn’t luck, I planned it that way, with Steven Walling‘s help.Even though it’s contrived, you’ll want to come by and hang with the AboutUs crew. Here comes the skinny:
“The companies presenting at the conference represent some of the most innovative and creative companies from across the Northwest,” said John Hull, chair of the OEN Venture Northwest 2008 and managing director at OVP Venture Partners. “Some of these companies are seeking their first institutional venture financing while others have already received first rounds of capital from top-tier venture firms. In total, this list of companies represents well the broad spectrum of investment opportunities that flourish in our region”
Not only that, but I’m happy to report that there are some Web startups—and at least one open-source-focused company—on the list.
And four out of 14 isn’t bad.
So which of the Silicon Florist crowd got a nod to present?
OEN’s Venture Northwest is the premier forum for new and emerging investment opportunities in exciting companies from Oregon, Washington, and throughout the Pacific Northwest. This annual conference draws institutional investors and investment bankers from across the western US who are interested in the emerging companies that the Northwest has to offer. Companies that have presented at Venture Oregon have raised over $1.3 billion in venture capital since 1996 and over $68 million in angel investment.
As home to Ward Cunningham, father of the wiki, Portland has a special place in the world of wiki. And, of course, we’ve also got AboutUs here—Ward’s current employer—which holds the promise to be one of the leading wikis in the world.
So when something momentous happens with wikis, it affects Portland. And today’s announcement definitely fits the bill.
What is the Universal Edit Button? Well, you know how we’ve all become conditioned to look for the little RSS chiclet as an indicator that an RSS feed is available? This is that same idea—only it’s an icon that indicates a page is editable.
The Universal Editing Button (UEB) will allow a web surfer to more quickly recognize when a site may be edited. It will be a convenience to web surfers who are already inclined to contribute, and an invitation to those who have yet to discover the thrill of building a common resource. As this kind of public editing becomes more commonplace, the button may become regarded as a badge of honor. It may serve as an incentive to encourage companies and site developers to add publicly-editable components to their sites, in order to have the UEB displayed for their sites.
Leave it to people in the wiki market to know how to collaborate. Nearly 20 different wiki providers have teamed up to offer a new Firefox extension that will notify users whenever they are on a page that is publicly editable, using a standard icon that sits in the same place the RSS autodiscovery icon appears. Clicking on the icon… will take you to that page’s editing interface.
Again, I think this is a huge step forward in wiki collaboration and its great to see. But what I remain even more impressed by? The speed at which this whole thing took place. And the collaboration that helped them achieve it.
I think there are any number of open-source and open-specification pursuits that could stand to learn from this.
It’s the 15th of the month again. And that means its time to update the Techvibes Portland Start-up Index. While there was neither much movement this month—the top 4 remain in the same positions as last month, with AboutUs retaining the #1 spot—nor, apparently, any new sites added to the index, I do find it interesting that two of the most newsworthy companies in the area, Jive and SplashCast, have actually dropped down the list one and two spots, respectively.
Given that the list changes month to month, here’s the ranking, for historical reference. To see the metrics and movement, please visit Techvibes. And, as always, I offer this with the “fruit salad” caveat: This is a very apples and oranges comparison, in terms of companies and products. The other caveat that bears mentioning is that widget- and mobile-based tools often report far lower Alexa and Compete numbers than Web-based services.
Portland-based AboutUs, the wiki that has rapidly become the de facto source for company Web site information, has announced three new service offerings that promise to improve the promotional nature and the utility of AboutUs services. Not to mention, help the AboutUs bottom line.
The new services include:
Monitor any page on AboutUs for free. Now, anyone (you don’t even have to have an account) can monitor any wiki page on the AboutUs site for changes. Think of it like Google Alerts for your Web site profile.
Hire an AboutUs expert to design your presence. Sure, the beauty of wikis (wiki? wikia?) is that they can be edited on the fly. But, let’s be honest, that doesn’t always make for the prettiest presentation. To help solve this problem, AboutUs is now offering a premium services package that includes in-house design and personalized wiki coaching for a one-time fee of $99.
Sponsor a collection of pages. AboutUs is also introducing the option of sponsoring a collection of links on a given topic—they refer to these landing pages as “portals”—that aggregate business listings and functionality like calendaring and maps for cities around the world and industry verticals. Obviously, my favorite portal page is the Portland Tech Portal. Although I must admit, I’m quite fond of the Portland Tech Blogs page, as well.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the AboutUs announcement is the level of traffic (emphasis is mine) these guys are generating. And the types of revenues to which that traffic may lead.
Though AboutUs is a collaborative project built together by people from around the world, it needs none the less to be economically viable. Advertising revenue from 5 million monthly unique visitors to the site and Portal level sponsorships are already coming in. The new products launching today should lead to a further, substantial increase in site traffic and company revenue.
Clearly it’s working based on the traffic they are receiving. I like the options they are offering to monetize the site past AdSense and the monitoring could help clear up sticky edits quickly. Again, this relies on a business even knowing there is an AboutUs page about them.
AboutUs is a wiki whose goal is to create a free and valuable Internet resource containing information both about websites and other community created topics/information. The site was pre-populated with information about many different websites and thousands of updates are now being made by people each day. For more information on AboutUs, see its AboutUs page.
We’re quite excited about the new look. As we discussed the other day, the leaf logo and the NewSkin are intended to reflect the alive and growing AboutUs community, and make us feel wholesome and rooted in the whole world. We’re happy with this direction for the community and are glad you’ve joined us.
To see the new skin in action (it is out of BETA and has replaced the default skin), visit AboutUs.