Category: Oregon

Jive Clearspace 2.0 is named “2.0” for a reason

Big news day for Portland-based Jive Software. They just announced the release of Clearspace 2.0, the release of whole-new, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up Web site, and the acquisition of Jotlet, a calendaring and scheduling tool that will be built into future versions of Clearspace.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Clearspace 2.0 and its new feature set on Friday. And I must admit, it’s an impressive step forward for the product and the company as they continue to assert their position in the realm of “enterprise collaboration.”

For more information on the release, I’d recommend reading Sam Lawrence’s overview of the new Clearspace features.

And, as I’m probably not the best person to comment on the comparative feature/functionality of the tool in regards to the market at large, I would highly recommend Marshall Kirkpatrick’s ReadWriteWeb write-up on the Clearspace 2.0. I noticed that Anthony Ha at VentureBeat took a liking to the new Clearspace project management features. And, for additional insight, TechCrunch’s Mark Hendrickson has covered the Jive news.

That should give you plenty of insight from folks much wiser than I. So, let’s get to that upon which I do feel comfortable commenting….

Honestly, what I found most interesting about my conversation with Jive and the demonstrations of their new feature set were the types comparisons I kept making. And they weren’t the kind of comparisons you’d think that I would be making while watching the demonstration of a piece of enterprise collaboration software.

“The front page reminds me a lot of Netvibes.”

“That river of information is a lot like FriendFeed or Facebook.”

“That works a lot like 37 signals’ Basecamp.”

“Oh, like Google Docs or Writeboard?”

Fact of the matter is that, throughout the demo, I threw out so many “that’s kinda like…” or “that reminds me of…” references to other Web 2.0 products that it suddenly became excruciatingly obvious to me why Clearspace 2.0 is version, well, 2.0. Because Jive has worked to incorporate the types of features and functionality that echo some of today’s most popular Web 2.0 tools.

Now, I know a number of you are starting to heave a big “So what?” sigh, but bear with me. Because there is something important happening here.

Those of us who live and breathe this Web 2.0 stuff or who are lucky enough to work in small thoughtful organizations that leverage these types of tools are in the vast minority. I’d argue that 99.9% of the population has no idea that this stuff exists.

What’s more, if you’re in a larger organization and successfully running something like Basecamp within your department? You’re a complete anomaly. Smart. But anomalous nonetheless.

Large organizations have things Microsoft SharePoint—or worse. They don’t tend to have access to collaborative tools like this. And that’s what makes this such an interesting release to me.

Marshall touches on this, as well, albeit more eloquently:

[T]hose of us who take things like startpages, News Feeds and Jabber seriously outside the enterprise get some solid validation from Jive and its customers.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. (That’s why I just quoted him.)

It will be interesting to see how Jive’s target market—the Fortune 500 companies who deploy this type of solution to thousands of users—respond to the type of functionality that we—as users of Web 2.0 tools for business—have come to expect.

And it will be even more interesting to see how the Web 2.0 crowd responds to this kind of validation.

Silicon Florist internship challenge

A week ago, I went off on a little rant about the sorry state of Oregon’s technology and education mix. And how I hoped that all of us startup types could use our creativity to figure out how to fix the problem.

Well, much to my surprise, nearly 30 people jumped into the comments, a number of folks contacted me on Twitter, and a bunch of emails came rolling into my inbox.

And while all of this was inspiring, it suddenly meant that I actually needed to do something.

The problem is a big one. And we’re not going to solve it tomorrow. But if we take small steps, we’ll get there.

But, we need to get the ball rolling. And quickly.

So I’m happy to report that I think I’ve come up with one of those small steps. I think.

I was going to announce this on Tuesday, but given the date, I was concerned about the announcement being perceived as a joke. And then I saw the hubbub about April 3 being Good People Day. And that seemed like the perfect day to announce the idea.

You let me know if this sounds feasible and we’ll go from there.

The Silicon Florist Internship Challenge

Summer break is right around the corner. And at the same time, most of the startups to whom I’m speaking are crunching on more work than ever.

Let’s see, underly busy people and overly busy people. What could we do with some of those smart kids and some of those startups needing help?

That’s right. Internships.

Just think. What if you had had the opportunity as a high-school or college student to shadow an entrepreneur like you? What if you had had the opportunity to learn some of the secrets of business or coding or planning or writing or whatever? How cool would that have been? How much better prepared would you have been to do what you’re doing now?

I think the value to the students is pretty obvious.

So, I’m suggesting that we all work to take on some interns this summer. Could be paid. Could be just a learning and experience kind of thing.

I don’t really care how you structure the compensation arrangement. I just want to see you do it.

Set up an internship. Make it 6 weeks or so. Get a few kids to spend 5-10 hours a week learning about your work.

You can do it. I know you can.

Oh, I hear you. “That seems like a lot of work. What—besides warm fuzzies—is in it for me?”

Well, you get some help doing some of your work for one thing. You get a fresh viewpoint, for another. You have to explain what you do and why you do it to someone else. You get to validate your reasoning. You get to teach. And, perhaps best of all, you get someone who actually wants to listen to you blather on and on about your project.

But, I’ll also work to throw in some other benefits. I’m not exactly sure what they are yet. But every company that volunteers to participate in the Silicon Florist Internship Challenge will receive something along the lines of:

  • A dedicated Silicon Florist article featuring your company and your internship program. Maybe I even let your interns post some entries about why your startup is so cool.
  • A mention in the press release I plan to put out when I pitch this program to the traditional media and schools. As well as my help flacking that release and your company to the best of my abilities.
  • A free post on the Silicon Florist Gig board to advertise your internship, and just for good measure, I’ll throw in a free job posting for use whenever you like. (I know that your company is going to be growing.)
  • Some cool Web graphic that helps you promote your participation in the program.
  • My promise to promote your internship opportunity, to help you find the candidates to get it filled, and to continue to support your program throughout the summer.
  • Oh, and of course, there will have to be some Silicon Florist swag.

… and probably some other things that folks more creative than me will suggest. As I said, I haven’t really thought through your fabulous prize package, yet. But I will.

So what’s next?

Well, first, you need to tell me if this is even a good idea. I’m going to work to hire a couple of interns this summer, one way or the other. But I’d like you to join in the fun. If you think it might work.

Second, I need you to let me know in some way that you’re interested in doing this. And there are a variety of ways to do that: comment below, send me a message on Twitter, or drop me an email.

And while I’m really interested in seeing what the small Web startups and individuals are capable of doing, I’ll more than welcome the big tech companies around town if they want to join in on the fun.

I just need to know if you’re up to the challenge. We can discuss specifics later.

So let me know, as quickly as possible. We’ll plan on doing the heavy outreach and promotion of the program and its participants on May 1, 2008. That gives you a few weeks to get your ducks in a row. And it will give me a couple of weeks to help formalize the internship guidelines.

I’m looking forward to this. I hope you’ll join me. This could be really good for both the kids and companies of Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Bend, Vancouver—the entire Silicon Forest—in a number of ways.

Let’s get going on this.

Sidecar: Ridiculously easy feedback widget for products, blogs

[HTML1]A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to get a glimpse of Sidecar, a new widget from Portland-based widget wizards StepChange Group. The product is currently running in a small private beta with a couple of other Portland-based companies, Sandy and one other.

Sidecar, at its very most basic, is a simple survey widget. It was developed—with product managers in mind—as a way to make it easy for developers to embed surveys and feedback mechanisms within the interface of the Web-based apps they’re developing. The widget was specifically targeted at gathering feedback during the oft-cryptic and hectic “beta testing” cycle that every product experiences.

But, as we walked through the demo, I immediately saw the opportunity for it to do more. Much more.

I couldn’t help but think of all of its potential as a feedback mechanism, a means of managing context sensitive help, a supplemental page-ranking system (think “contextual Digg“), and—last but not least—the means for you (yes, you!) to truly engage in conversations with your users in a format that is easy for them and valuable for you.

That’s a lot to cram into a little widget. But I’m definitely seeing the potential. Even in this beta version.

So of course I piped up with, “You know, I could really see this being useful on my blog. Or any blog for that matter. Blogs get feedback via comments. But that’s post-by-post feedback. I could really use this to assess the impact of Silicon Florist, as a whole.”

So, I continued to beg and plead. (I could almost hear the engineering team cursing me.) And luckily, I was invited to the private beta. Then I saw Greg Rau’s presentation at Startupalooza, and I was convinced that I better get this thing deployed sooner rather than later. So, now, you can see the Sidecar widget running right now, over at the top of the Silicon Florist sidebar.

Feel free to bang on it.

Click to see the Sidecar admin screen fullsizeSidecar is simple. Ridiculously so. And that’s the best compliment I can give it. It took me less than five minutes to build that Silicon Florist widget—and that was with the not-ready-for-prime-time admin panel. The same thoughtful simplicity that informed the design of the widget interface clearly permeates the widget configuration tools, as well. (I’ve provided a screenshot of the beta admin screen for reference.)

There are a bevy of reports and dashboards, as well: feedback, pages, users, and widget-use metrics. But I can’t say much about those until there is actually some data from the widget.

The only downside to Sidecar, at this point, is the installation, which is still a bit geeky. Not overly geeky mind you, but it requires mucking with code. And while that will have little to no impact on the Web-app developer adoption, it may curtail adoption with a broader market. I’ll be interested to see how StepChange puts its simplicity-smarts into making the widget installation (WordPress widget or plugin, for example) as simple as widget creation and management.

I don’t have any word as to when the Sidecar beta goes from private to public beta, but I will be continuing to provide feedback to the StepChange team on issues I encounter and the features I would like to see. If you’d like to chime in, you have two ways: commenting on this post or, preferably, using the widget (hint, hint).

For more information on the widget, visit Sidecar. For more on the people behind Sidecar, visit StepChange.[

Vidoop secures Michael Richardson

The recently founded Portland Vidoop office, headed up by Scott Kveton, continues to make waves in the local tech startup scene. This time, Vidoop has announced that local Reed-schooled Python-magician Michael Richardson has signed on as part of the Portland team.

You may know Richardson as the coding muscle behind such hits as “Pulse of PDX” and “Tweetpeek.” He’s also a regular at Portland’s weekly Beer and Blog gatherings. And just an all-around scary-intelligent coding type.

According to the Vidoop blog:

Michael will be a software developer in the ever-growing Portland office working on OpenID, distributed social networking and other “open web” related initiatives.

For more on Richardson, read the Vidoop post announcing his hiring. For more information on Vidoop and its technology, visit Vidoop.

Grabb.it redesigns, incorporates personal MP3 tumblogs

Portland-based Grabb.it, the service which has the potential to help catalog Web-based MP3s for music lovers everywhere, picked a rather inauspicious date to release a new version of the Grabb.it site. But they’re not fooling around.

The new site now enables anyone to create tumblog posts based on the MP3s they grab.

Grabb.it is the group music blog where anyone can contribute. Sign up to create your own personal mp3 blog about songs you love and to send your posts to services like Tumblr, Blogger and Facebook.

This new feature holds promise, both as a way of allowing users to easily create reviews of the tunes in their respective libraries and—hopefully—as a means of increasing the reach and promotion of the Grabb.it service to active tumblog and Facebook types.

What’s a “tumblog“? I’m glad you asked. According to Wikipedia:

A tumblelog (or tlog) is a variation of a blog that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, tumblelogs are frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences while providing little or no commentary.

Other noticeable changes to the Grabb.it site include a highly simplified UI and a very slick, intelligent bread-crumb trail.

For more on the MP3-finding service and its new tumblogging capabilities, visit Grabb.it.

Portland Web Innovators: Five reason to attend

[Editor: Given the wealth of cool events happening in Portland on any given night, I thought it might be beneficial to have the people who drive these get-togethers give you their take on the events. “Why should you attend [whatever]?” So, with that, I introduce a new Silicon Florist series: Five Reasons]

Portland Web Innovators

Adam DuVander gives us five reasons we should all consider attending Portland Web Innovators.

  • You enjoy topics that are a mixture of tech, design, and business.
  • You like to learn about new projects and find collaborators
  • You love building on the web, no matter what your job title is or what technology you use.
  • You think about what can happen tomorrow, not what can’t happen today
  • You want to learn from a live collaborative discussion between passionate people.

Sound like you? Well you’re in luck. Because the next Portland Web Innovators get-together is this week, Tuesday (April Fools’!) Wednesday, April 2 at ISITE Design beginning at 7 PM. Entitled “Publishing Platform Wars!” the gathering will provide the opportunity to join the pdxwi types—the real users of these publishing systems—as they compare site publishing tools like Drupal, Bend-based ExpressionEngine, and WordPress.

To RSVP, visit Portland Web Innovators on Upcoming. For more information, visit (the spiffy new!) Portland Web Innovators.

InnoTech Oregon 2008: Too much good stuff

InnoTechI’ve been watching the InnoTech Oregon Conference grow into its own over the past five years. And while I was always close to attending (I think I may have even registered, last year), I never quite found the time to make it.

This year, I’m making time to attend.

I’ve always found InnoTech interesting because of its variety. Traditional business and cutting-edge technology. Green tech and CIOs. Non-profits and eMarketing. To me, it has the opportunity to be one of the few annual tech events that truly helps start and continue conversations among the different groups that work and live in Portland and the surrounding areas. Be those groups factions of the same business or complementary businesses working together.

In fact, there’s so much happening at the conference, I’m going to have to break it into multiple blog posts.

But I wanted to start with this. The folks at InnoTech have offered a 25% discount to all of you Silicon Florist readers. So, if you’re considering attending, please take advantage of it:

Discounted InnoTech Oregon Conference & Exhibits Pass includes Breakfast Presentation with Don Tapscott, Author, WIKINOMICS, at the reduced rate of $45.00 per person ($60.00 per person standard price.) Click to select INNOTECH GENERAL REGISTRATION and enter Discount Code SIL45D to confirm your place at the breakfast.

There is literally a busload of interesting speakers at this thing. But I wanted to highlight some of the Silicon Forest startup types, especially, like:

Look for more information from me as we get closer to the actual event. But if this post has piqued your curiosity, please take advantage of the “SIL45D” discount code at registration.

For more information, visit InnoTech Oregon.

GoLife Mobile: Chatting with James Whitley, CEO (Part 2)

Last week, I published the first part of my interview with GoLife Mobile’s CEO, James Whitley. That post focused on the discussions of the GoLife Mobile Vadowerx framework. Now, I’d like to touch on our discussions about Portland, it’s culture, and the potential it holds to become something extraordinary.

(As an aside, it was a pleasant surprise to run into James at Startupalooza. “Where’s part 2?” he asked. Right here, Mr. Whitley. Right here.)

Portland as a venue for startups

I’m always interested to get anyone’s take on Portland. But it’s especially interesting talking to people who are running businesses here. They often have a multitude of things that they love about Portland, but there are still those little perturbing issues that keep the environment from seeming “too perfect.”

Luckily, those perturbing issues are generally issues that are surmountable. That’s why I’m always happy to help people get those issues out on the table.

Whitley did.

And as I began to question him on his reasons—“Why Portland?”, “What does this area offer?”, and the like—his affection for the area was palpable. And his deep ties in the region only further that affection.

But what I got most from Whitley was not his impressions of the past—it was his enthusiasm for the potential here in Portland, for today and for the future.

“I would put the talent in this town up against talent anywhere else,” said Whitley. “The Valley, Back East, anywhere. The people here are exceptional.”

And, in Whitley’s opinion, that talent is not in limited supply.

“There is a ton of talent here in the Portland area,” he said. “I am always talking to people with whom I would like to work. I don’t think many people realize the sheer wealth of talent we have here.”

So, if we’re so talented, I asked, egotistically and presumptuously lumping myself in with the “exceptional talent” here in the Portland area, why aren’t we seeing more growth? Why aren’t we seeing more startups taking root?

And that’s when we get to those problems. Those issues that are holding Portland back from achieving its extraordinary position. Those problems that we have the opportunity to fix.

“Portland has a problem with being a classic underachiever,” said Whitley. “So much talent. So much promise. But we’re not capitalizing on it.”

In staunch agreement, I asked for further details.

“We’re always hearing how we’re ‘not as good as whomever,'” he continued. “And unfortunately, I think many people have begun to believe that. I don’t. But I think some people do.”

And in Whitley’s opinion, that stance is only exacerbated by another problem: finding sources of funding.

While a number of Silicon Forest startups have seen continued confidence in follow-on funding as of late—MyStrands, Jive, iovation, and SplashCast, to name a few—the prospect of early funding remains a bit of an enigma for Portland companies.

“Portland is lacking is terms of early startup funding,” Whitley said. “There really isn’t a good network for seeding smaller companies, at this point. We could use some people working to fix that because it would really help the town as a whole.”

And that lack of early stage funding, coupled with the underachiever mindset, is tending to suppress the vigor that is bubbling just below the surface. Tends to prevent us here in the Silicon Forest from realizing our potential.

“There are a number of incredibly intelligent people working jobs that aren’t even intellectually stimulating, let alone challenging,” said Whitley. “Simply because they haven’t found the opportunity and funding to pursue their passion.”

I’m sure Whitley would agree, that we’re on the cusp of something big.

No doubt, GoLife Mobile and Whitley could have a very big role to play in that growth and success. And our realizing the potential of the talent in this area.

I’m looking forward to being part of that change.

Interesting Silicon Forest gigs this week

The Silicon Florist Gig board has started to, well, blossom. And I’m getting some good feedback for improvements, already.

Here are some interesting gigs that have been posted:

  • Rails Developer at Planet Argon
    “Enthusiasm for the web as a medium of communication and interaction is key. Ideal candidates should also honor best practices such as healthy dialogue, refactoring, TDD/BDD, and version control.”
  • Interactive Strategist at Wieden + Kennedy
    “The Strategist will be expected to lead projects that may include brand activation, immersive brand experiences and innovative applications of technology to provide solutions for our clients’ business challenges.”
  • Software Engineer at Jive Software
    “Our challenge is finding someone who has some experience with Java and development, but who also enjoys interacting with customers to understand the technical challenges they face and how to make our products work with their systems. This isn’t a customer-service or sales role, but calls for someone who is interested in coding, learning our systems and growing into more senior roles with a growing company.”
  • QA Engineer at Tripwire
    “We need a Software QA engineer to be a key contributor on our team testing the market leading IT configuration audit and control software tool-set. You will exercise the software with the goal of identifying potential problems early in the software development life-cycle and assist in all aspects of the testing and quality assurance process.”
  • Web Developer at WeoGeo
    “Our applications use Ruby on Rails on the server side and JavaScript/Ajax on the front end. Ideally you already have strong skills and experience in both of these areas so you can get up to speed quickly.”
  • Web Application Developer at Intrigo
    “Intrigo makes web applications nearly exclusively. Over half of our client base is made up of startup companies so you’ll be working on some of the more innovative and interesting projects out there. We are continually testing the limits of standard web technologies and we push them in interesting ways.”

For the entire list of jobs, visit the Silicon Florist Gig board. Interested in posting an open position? It’s only $50 for a two-week posting.

Startupalooza launches 1,000 conversations

StartupaloozaWell it’s official. The first Startupalooza is in the books.

Designed to be a “more business-oriented BarCampy unconference,” the event more than fulfilled its goal. And, in so doing, completed a successful trifecta for the Portland Legion of Tech, adding Startupalooza as an equal among the successful BarCamp Portland and Ignite Portland events.

The best part, in my opinion? The new voices. And hearing new stories from the old ones.

In a town where you tend to run in very small and similar circles, Startupalooza both introduced new voices into the conversation—like the Garage Games guys from Eugene and the soon-to-be-a-Portland-fixture Intrigo team—and drew well-known, yet not-oft-seen types out of the woodwork to both observe—and participate.

Prior to the event, the primary coordinator and Legion of Tech Treasurer, Todd Kenefsky, intimated to me that he had some concerns about the lack of networking time built into the schedule. But guess what happens when you put a bunch of intelligent and entrepreneurial people in a room together? Those conversations just start to happen. In the audience. In the cubes behind the presentation area. In the lunchroom. In the hallway (which served as a bit of an echo chamber at times).

Every minute of the event was a time for networking. And for learning. And for sharing.

And, from the looks of things, everyone is still recovering from all of that energy concentrated in one place. Because posts about the event have been few and far between. Here’s some of the coverage I’ve been able to track, so far (if you have a wrap-up post that I’ve missed, please leave a comment, and I’ll add it to the list):

  • Scott Kveton “Startupalooza or Bust!”
    “All in all I was amazed at the vibrance of the Portland startup scene … clearly there is something here, clearly we’re just starting to pick up the pace here … I can’t imagine anywhere else on earth I’d rather be working and living.”
  • Bram Pitoyo “Startupalooza”
    “If learning from and having conversations with Portland’s greatest innovators (and, in some cases, even luminaries) for a whole day failed to excite your mind to want to create something bigger than yourself (a startup, collaborative, group, side project, community activity, etc.), I don’t know what else will.”
  • Michael Sigler “Startupalooza”
    “It’s obvious I moved to the right town. The collaborative spirit here is awesome. There is so much to take part in and everyone is eager for feedback and participation. Though it was still mostly a sausage-fest, it was good to see a number of women in the audience. I was also pleasantly surprised by the range of ages represented.”
  • Paul Biggs “Startupalooza and #drunkgeeking”
    “While I very much enjoyed learning about some really cool new projects in PDX, as is the case with most structured events, the most rewarding part for me was all the side conversations buzzing in hallways and nearby bars. It’s all about the people!”
  • Gabriel Aldamiz-echevarria “Taste sharing for web personalization”
    “So when we were asked to talk at Startupalooza (a really cool Portland tech event, put together by Todd Kenefsky and the Legion of Tech) we decided this should be the topic of our talk: taste sharing for web personalization… something which is of extreme importance for MyStrands and the entire recommender industry.”
  • John Poelstra “Superb Startupalooza”
    “Of late I’ve been trying to get more involved in the local tech scene where I live. On Saturday I went to check out Startupalooza and had no idea what to expect. It was superb in every respect. The facilities at CubeSpace were great and all the presentations and speakers were excellent. I wish I could have stayed for the whole thing!”
  • Joanna Kane “Startupalooza a high-tech hit”
    “The crowd in attendance ranged from those with decade-long entrepreneurial careers to wide-eyed observers hoping to absorb tips and tools to get their new ideas off the ground. The energy in the room was palpable, conversations were animated, and new ideas were being generated as fast as they were being shared. If I had to pick one theme for the day, it would be the common interest in making life easier through technology, coupled with making technology accessible for anybody and everybody.”
  • Flickr photos tagged “Startupalooza” (Please note, Aaron Hockley was hauling around two rigs for 7 hours, snapping almost 400 shots. It’s going to take a little while for him to comb through them, but they’re coming.)

If you missed the event, Legion of Tech was working to record the entire thing. Hopefully, we’ll all soon be able to have a listen, post processing. I, for one, am curious as to what I actually said while I was up there.

%d bloggers like this: