Category: Portland

SXSW 2008: Silicon Forest contingent making the sojourn to Austin

It’s hard to believe that the annual geek pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, is almost upon us. That’s right, it’s time for SXSW 2008. The geeky portion of the event, SXSW interactive, begins on Friday, March 7 and runs until Tuesday, March 11.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of Portland and Silicon Forest folks who make the journey down to the event on a regular basis. This year is no different. There’s even a breakfast get-together for Oregon folks organized by Portland Web Innovators.

With all of the folks in attendance, I thought it might be valuable to have a list of what companies and what folks will be down in Austin. (If you don’t appear and would like to be listed, please comment, and I’ll work on updating the list.)

Silicon Forest companies down at SXSW include:

As far as individuals headed down that way, I know of:

This list is by no means complete. Just what I know.

I mean, there are also a ton of Portland people from the creative industry headed down to SXSW. I lost count of the number of Wieden + Kennedy folks making the trip.

So, again, if you’re going down to Austin and you’d like people to know, post to the comments and I’ll continue to update this post.

And for all of you back home in Oregon, please stay tuned to SIlicon Florist for updates on the Silicon Forest contingent and their participation in SXSW. Or feel free to follow me on Twitter. There are sure to be some cool things happening.

Showdango: Find and promote Webinars

I like Webinars, Webcasts, and online presentations as much as the next guy, but it’s rare that I attend one without having randomly stumbled upon the opportunity.Well, all that may change with Showdango, a Portland-based startup that aims to be your source for finding Webinars.

Showdango’s community-driven Webinar index also provides RSS feeds and the ability to automagically add an event to Google Calendar and/or iCal (the GCal and iCal links are included in the RSS feeds to boot).How did Showdango come about?

It all began with a webinar that we attended by Seth Godin. We were so inspired by Seth’s webinar that we decided to look for other webinars, and that is when, regretfully, we found out that there weren’t any good resources for webinars… until now. showdango is the world’s first webinar index, and our vision is to provide a valuable resource that anyone can use to share, view, and track webinars. We hope that you will help us spread the word about showdango.

Showdango was build by CartoSoft, a small geospatial startup based out of Portland, Oregon. The company’s mission is to extend the reach of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to a broader audience through the use of Internet Mapping Solutions.For more information, see the Showdango post on the CartoSoft blog. Or to try it for yourself, visit Showdango.

OEN announces the winner of Angel Oregon (and it’s not a tech company)

I just received the official announcement from Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) naming the winner of the Angel Oregon competition. [Update: Who won the elevator pitch competition? Steve Morris has your answer over on Oregon Startups.]

And unfortunately, for me, the winner is an apparel company. (Upside? They have a blog.)

Well, that doesn’t really fit the Web startup flavor of Silicon Florist, so I’m going to cover the runners-up, instead. Because, honestly, these two finalists have the most potential of becoming regulars here on the Silicon Florist:

  • OsoEco, the first online community that allows consumers to shop and research green products and services with friends, interests groups and consumers
  • Revelation, a software company that optimizes qualitative market research, enabling companies to develop and harness rich understanding of customer experiences, behaviors and needs at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional research techniques

OsoEco and Revelation each received $57,500 investment awards for winning the Sustainability Investment and Technology/Biotech tracks, respectively.

“The entrepreneurs participation in the investor presentation coaching and exhaustive due diligence process really helped them to articulate their business plan and demonstrate the potential return for investors,” said, Bob Ward, Angel Oregon chair. “Angel Oregon is attracting really high caliber companies. Couple that with value of the exposure and the experience that competing companies get, and the value proposition of the event is pretty compelling for Oregon’s economy.”

For more information on the Angel Oregon program, visit OEN.

MIXr: First mobile social networking app with Silverlight touchscreen UI

MIXr Mood Switcher

Today, Portland-based StepChange Group took the stage at MIX08 to demonstrate a groundbreaking new application: the world’s first gesture-driven, Microsoft-Silverlight powered user interface on a mobile device.

The data-driven touchscreen interface, dubbed MIXr, runs in the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 environment, and was a proof-of-concept to showcase the functionality of these cutting edge development environments for the MIX audience.

“It was lots of fun—though nerve-wracking—to have our team sharing the stage with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie,” said StepChange’s Kevin Tate.

Aside from the Portland angle, why is this newsworthy?

In my opinion, the release of the MIXr application is important for two specific reasons.

First, it proves the viability of Silverlight as an environment for delivering rich mobile applications. And, on a day when the use of these types of technologies in the mobile environment is being rejected by a major player, that’s a pretty big win.

Second, it gives us a glimpse into the future of social networking.

Unlike many of today’s “social networks on mobile devices,” the MIXr application, developed by StepChange in partnership with San Francisco’s Stimulant, demonstrates how the future of social networking may transition to your mobile device.

In other words, this isn’t a “m.” mobile view into an existing social network application; it is the social network application:

[MIXr] uses real-time user updates to track the mood and status of clubs and venues—and helps friends to connect and coordinate with one another during a night out.

It aggregates user ratings, such as a venue’s mood, line length, and music, and uses interactive data visualization to make it easy to figure out what’s hot and what’s not.

“Rich mobile applications are going to quickly change the way we use the Web everyday,” said Tate. “We’re focused on creating applications that leverage the powerful advantages of location, personalization and communication that the mobile environment provides – and have chosen Silverlight as our platform because of its portability and performance.”

For more information on MIXr and developing rich mobile applications using Silverlight, see Stimulant’s post on the MIXr release and StepChange’s announcement on the MIX08 Keynote.

Jive Software selects new digs

Jive Software, the rapidly growing young linchpin of the Portland tech startup renaissance, has been hinting for some time that it was getting a bit too big for its britches building. And with its need to hire showing no signs of slowing, it became clear that a move was inevitable. So, the search began.

Only one question remained: Where to go?

Well, now, that question has been answered as well. The winner? The Federal Reserve Building on SW Stark and SW 9th.

And according to the Daily Journal of Commerce, Jive’s buying up some room to grow:

When the dust settles, Jive will occupy three floors of the building: the current third and fourth floors, and a fifth floor, with a penthouse and more than 37,000 square feet of office space, that’s being added as part of the remodel.

Early reports point to the Jive employees being taken with the new location—or at least the thought of getting some more space. They’ve already affectionately dubbed the new locale “Club Fed.”

And while Jive relieves some growing pains, the rest of the Portland tech community may benefit, as well. Jive is well-known for taking a leading role in hosting Portland tech events and helping to foster (pun intended) a more cohesive tech community, here in town. No doubt, this new space will lend itself more readily to more of the same.

Vocal Nation takes political news in slide

Vocal NationI was recently introduced to Portland-based Vocal Nation, a service that is part feed reader, part social political-news system.

Okay, I hear you. Any time the term “social news” is bandied about, the phrase “Digg clone” immediately jumps to mind.

But, let’s not jump there so quickly. I think Vocal Nation has a specific application and some interesting functionality that make it worthy of a second look, and potentially a strong niche showing.

And I’m not alone in that thinking. Kristen Nicole at Mashable, who has reviewed the tool previously, described Vocal Nation this way:

In an effort to differentiate itself from Digg, Digg clones and the Digg voting system all together, Vocal Nation’s new feature helps set it apart in two primary ways: an automated submission process and a sliding scale used for voting.

The “automated submission process” is Vocal Nation’s feed-slurping feature. Point Vocal Nation at an RSS feed and it will consume the details, automatically feeding articles into the voting system. Not only does it make the current set of articles available to the Vocal Nation community for voting, it keeps track of the feed and continues to update Vocal Nation as the feed updates.

As an example, here’s the Silicon Florist on Vocal Nation.

While Vocal Nation can handle any site’s RSS feed, it becomes truly useful when it’s handling news on politics. And, that’s where Vocal Nation’s second voting slider comes into play. With that slider, the service encourages users to provide feedback on each article’s political disposition. Is it conservative? Liberal? Neutral?

And that news arena is where Vocal Nation could really shine. With the number of political blogs in Oregon, alone, Vocal Nation could prove to be a key to navigating the girth of coverage that is sure to overwhelm us until November. And likely after.

When you combine those submission and voting features with its pleasant UI and some subtle AJAX transitions, the Vocal Nation site merits a second look.

For more information or to try the service yourself, visit Vocal Nation.

Guest Editorial: Scott Kveton

[Editor’s note: Continuing the Silicon Florist’s guest editorial series, we welcome Scott Kveton, a well-known force-of-nature in the Portland technology community. And, as you’ll see, the de facto Chamber of Commerce for the Portland startup scene.]
Made in Oregon

Image courtesy Modified Enzyme under Creative Commons

Falling in love with Portland again and again

Last week was amazing. I spent most of it with Luke Sontag here in Portland, meeting with folks, spreading the good word about Vidoop and generally being in the city.

Having grown up in-and-around Portland, it’s always fun to see the reaction to everything-that-is-Portland from someone who doesn’t live here. (Oh, and the weather we had last week didn’t hurt either.)

I got a chance to talk a little bit about this at Ignite Portland 2, but I’ll say it again: This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn. Even more, I think Chris Logan had it right: it’s time for Portland to step up and take its place.

There has been some talk about how “if you don’t live in the Bay Area and you’re in tech, you’re basically a wuss.”

So be it. The very last thing I want is for Portland to turn into the Bay Area or Seattle. I want it to be Portland. I want other cities to be saying “wouldn’t it be great if we were more like Portland?” I simply want Portland to come into its own in tech, in the arts, sustainability, green, etc.

But, how do we get to that point?

Well, it takes a bunch of us, it takes some time and, ironically, the city does most of the work for you.

For the past couple of years, I’ve made it a point to try to help people who are considering a move to Portland. I’ve spent countless days taking people around the city, introducing them to others in the city, and generally trying to give them a “locals’ view” of the city.

Now, the tour I take folks on covers a bit of ground and I’m seeking some input on the route. A couple of places I go to:

  • Tour of SW waterfront area with gondola love
  • Sellwood district (possibly for lunch, definitely for dinner at Saburo’s if it’s a weekday night)
  • SE towards 78th or so … Marshall has been kind enough to meet me more than once at the Bipartisan Cafe… soooo PDX
  • Alberta or Killingsworth… I used to live at Billy Reed’s at the turn of the century and I can’t believe how much it’s all changed since then
  • Pearl District for coffee (Caffe Umbria is amazing) or drinks (the Vault or even the Clyde Commons)
  • NW on 21st or 23rd… just too much to do, to eat, to see

Where would you take a touring visitor to get a taste of Portland from a local’s point-of-view? Bear in mind, I’m not looking for just a tech-person view on this. I’m all about diversity here.

The key to all of this, and the thing that I keep in mind at all times, is serendipity. Yeah, yeah, I know. Hard to quantify, huh? Well, I’m not the cheerleader type unless I really, really believe in it. Portland I can believe in. This city, the people, the places. It’s easy.

If you’re not predisposed to drink the PDX Kool-aid, then you’re probably not the type of person I’d want here anyway. And, if you’ve ended up in my Inbox or with my phone number, odds are, there’s a reason.

I’ll put this out there; if you have a friend or colleague that is thinking about making the move to Portland I’ll offer up my time for coffee or even the full-fledged tour to introduce them to the city and the people I know. It’s just the right thing to do. And, I’d challenge you to do the same.

Again, it’s not about trying to make Portland something it’s not… it’s about embracing serendipity and helping Portland realize its potential.

P.S. – first round is always on me … 🙂

Scott Kveton is a digital identity promoter, open source advocate, and Chairman of the OpenID Foundation. He has worked at Amazon, RuleSpace.com, JanRain, and MyStrands, and founded the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University. He is a regular speaker on the topic of identity and open source. Kveton currently serves as the Vice President of Open Platforms for Vidoop, a company he recently wooed to the Silicon Forest.

Silicon Florist gets some sprucing

While it may not be obvious to those of you reading the feed, the Silicon Florist site has undergone some long-overdue “sprucing up” over the weekend.

Call me crazy, but it seemed like it was time to step away from the slightly tweaked default template. Because quite frankly, gentle reader, you’re worth it.

Obviously, as with all new digs, we’re still working out some of the kinks (like resurrecting the OpenID comment log-in). So your patience is appreciated. As is your feedback. We tried to implement this quickly, over the weekend. And we’ll continue to iron out the rough spots over time.

Before you start lobbing critiques (and I do appreciate the critiques), I’d encourage you to first lob congrats at Justin Kistner of Metafluence, whose Conversation theme for WordPress and design recommendations served as the foundation for the Silicon Florist redesign.

Word around the campfire is that a few other folks are already using the Conversation theme—or are preparing to implement it soon. And, I can see why. I’m still learning my way around it, but I’m really liking it so far.

A heartfelt, “Thank you,” Justin, for offering this theme up for use, sweating through the tweaking over the weekend, adding some incredibly nice features to the blog, and—last but not least—putting up with my nitpicking. I cannot thank you enough.

Hopefully, all of you will like this new direction as much as I do. I mean, I can only read my own stuff so much. So keeping you readers around—and happy—is of utmost importance.

And please, rest assured, that despite the snazzy new look, the writing around here remains fair to middling, as always. 😉

I’m looking forward to your feedback.

So, that’s that. Enough navel gazing. Without further ado, we now return you to your regularly scheduled Silicon Forest startup news, already in progress.

paidContent and mocoNews mobilized by FreeRange

Portland-based FreeRange Communications has announced a partnership with ContentNext Media that will have FreeRange designing and delivering mobile versions of paidContent and mocoNews, currently the 439th and 4,146th most authoritative blogs in the world according to Technorati.

Justifiably classified as “must reads” by FreeRange CEO Jon Maroney, the mobile content for paidContent and mocoNews will be available at http://paid.mwap.at and http://moco.mwap.at, respectively.

Why FreeRange?

“The FreeRange platform gives our readers the latest breaking news with an attractive interface and quick load time,” said Ted Rupp, Director of Business Development at ContentNext. “FreeRange app’s vastly improve the mobile web experience, and provide an excellent outlet for sponsors as well.”

ContentNext chose FreeRange for two specific reasons. First, the FreeRange system updates feeds and content in the background, ensuring that the content is always updated and accessible—even if the phone is out of tower range. Second—and perhaps more importantly—the FreeRange mobile widgets are designed to run on practically all mobile systems, ensuring the widest reader base possible for the ContentNext sites.

And straight from the paidContent post:

The key benefits: all four feeds from our four sites are in one place, and are updated in real time so you get the freshest news. You can view the feeds at your leisure, even when you’re offline. Also, it can serve as your default mobile RSS reader, as you can add your own feeds and even your local weather. The app works on the majority of mobile devices with a data connection besides BlackBerry.

For more information on the ContentNext partnership, see the FreeRange release.

FreeRange Communications enables media companies and consumer brands to deliver their content and advertising to mobile phones in a way that is fast and easy to read. The FreeRange Mobile Publishing Platform allows publishers to have mobile widgets that work on nearly all mobile phones, extending their business models and content to mobile phone screens around the world. For more information on FreeRange and its mobile services, visit FreeRange.

Meet: SEMpdx Searchfest 2008 is March 10

Just like developers’ language- and framework-specific gatherings, there are other tangential practices and events that can play an important role for Web startups, blogs, and the like, here in Portland.

One of those tangential practices is search-engine marketing (SEM). And Portland is one of the leading cities for professionals who are exploring and extending the white-hat techniques of this oft-maligned marketing communications practice.

So, it makes sense that Portland also plays host to one of the premiere national events for SEM, SEMpdx Searchfest.

This year’s event, SEMpdx Searchfest 2008, to be held March 10 at the Oregon Zoo, will consist of:

[A] full-day search engine marketing conference featuring multiple learning sessions and expert panels to help you leverage search engine marketing (SEM) in your organization. Whether you are an SEM professional, work in an advertising agency or part of an in-house marketing department, SearchFest 2008 will connect you with the leading thinkers and practioners in SEM today.

I’ve also been advised that the event has taken a decidedly strategic turn, designed to help folks understand the benefits of adopting—and strategies for incorporating—search engine marketing into the broader strategies for the business.

Sound interesting? You’re can still get the early-bird discount if you register before March 1. And if you want an additional discount of $40, the Silicon Florist is happy to comply:

How to get the discount:

  1. Register for SearchFest at http://www.searchfest.org
  2. Enter the code SEMBD in the “Coupons/Gift Certificates” text box and click “Add.” (This is at step 3 of the shopping cart)
  3. Enjoy your day at SearchFest

For more information, visit SEMpdx. Interested in attending? Or, take the opportunity to register for SEMpdx Searchfest 2008.

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