Results for: funding

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for August 01

6 Y Combinator Startups I Would Have Invested In Back Then

Dharmesh Shah writes “I have been tracking Y Combinator (a new kind of venture firm for early, early stage startups) for several years. They have a distinctive approach to the early-stage funding process and have funded some interesting companies. YC is in the news again because of Google’s recent acquisition of Omnisio, a YC investment.”

Silicon Swings and Silicon Roundabouts

Via the Test blog “ather than point out that the idea is not a new one, or shoot it down in flames, I thought I’d look at the idea from three perspectives – the people who might need a Tech-Hub, the people who might run it, and the people who might fund it. In my experience, its the overlaps and (more importantly) the differences between the needs of these three groups that most schemes like this don’t plan for, and find difficult to accommodate.” (Hat tip Michael Richardson)

Online Community Presentations

Dawn Foster writes “I’ve been doing a few presentations about online communities recently, and I finally got around to uploading a few of them to SlideShare. I thought people might be interested in seeing them.”

Portland 501 Tech Club/Net Tuesday: eNonprofit Benchmarks

An Analysis of Online Messaging, Fundraising and Advocacy Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations at AboutUs on August 26.

Startup: Vital signs of a young regional company

Vancouver-based Iterasi gets the startup spotlight in The Oregonian this week. “A personal Web archive that allows people to save Web pages on Iterasi’s server. The personal accounts can be searched and shared with others.”

Lots of Monkey business

My favorite “That’s a Portland company?” startup, SurveyMonkey, gets covered by the Portland Business Journal. “Their Pearl District office may be festooned with stuffed monkey dolls, a string of monkey lights, even a monkey-face door mat. But Chris and Ryan Finley aren’t monkeying around.”

Welcome to South by Southwest 2009

One, two, three… take advantage of the unique industry convergence at SXSW 2009. Maximize your experience by registering now.

Vidoop launches Skunk Works 2.0

Vidoop Skunk Works 2.0In the midst of World War II—likely a bit before all of our times—Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) funded a highly creative group of engineers, focused on developing the next generation of aircraft. Shrouded in secrecy, the project turned out concepts that continue to influence the aircraft at which we still marvel today.

And which, with all likelihood, continues to secretly burn the midnight oil constructing concept craft that will provide the transport of tomorrow.

The project, according to Wikipedia’s entry, was affectionately dubbed the “Skunk Works,” after a popular comic of the day:

The term “Skunk Works” came from the Al Capp comic strip Li’l Abner, which was popular in the 1940s. In the comic, the “Skonk Works” was a backwoods still operated by Big Barnsmell, known as the “inside man at the Skonk Works”. In his secret facility, he made “kickapoo joy juice” by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering vat.

So why the history lesson? Did I change the blog focus to have more of a Lost Oregon vibe?

No. But, tarry a moment longer, gentle reader. Bear with me. Please allow me to explain.

Why, in the name of all things AJAX-y, would I ever try to equate this sort of old-school aircraft engineering concept with anything occurring in the Web 2.0 world of today?

Because, I’ve long held the opinion that Portland-based Vidoop—with its hires like Scott Kveton and Chris Messina coupled with its continued incubation of some very cutting edge projects—is well on its way to creating Skunk Works 2.0.

And Kveton and Messina aren’t alone. Vidoop has hired up a laundry list of talent. A list that bled Tulsa dry and caused them to look for other markets. And now, they’ve been hiring a very intelligent group of folks here in Portland.

But what Vidoop is doing with those people is as interesting as any of the projects on which they’re working.

You see, Vidoop is giving them space. Giving them free reign. Giving them autonomy. And allowing them to be creative. Or to continue the creative works that they may have been pursuing elsewhere.

Only they’re giving them more resources with which to work.

And today, they formalized that ad hoc effort of the last 4-6 months a bit more with the announcement of Vidoop Labs.

Still not making the Skunk Works connections? Well, the intuitive leap becomes far less difficult when you consider this little snippet (also from the Wikipedia “Skunk Works” entry):

[Skunk Works was an] organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.

Ah ha! Now, it’s starting to work.

I mean, what better way to describe Vidoop’s early focus on OpenID, its adoption of the DiSo efforts, and its funding the development of efforts like Emailtoid and EAUT (Yute!).

Vidoop is clearly pursuing something unique. A Skunk Works of its own. A development organization that pushes the envelope for the Open Web. That dreams up what could be. That lives free of the bureaucracy that tends to hamper more thoughtful and progressive projects. That seeks to fund and feed those projects that may not otherwise get the care and feeding they deserve.

And that’s happening right here in Portland.

And with the launch of Vidoop Labs, the Vidoop folks have begun formalize an umbrella for the projects already underway:

Today we are launching Vidoop Labs as a central place where we will be showcasing existing and future technology projects that we believe will help take the Internet and its users to a better place. Since most of these projects are open source in nature, I’d like to encourage everyone to get some code on their hands. We are all in this together!

Now, granted, one major difference between the original Skunk Works and Vidoop Labs is the veil of secrecy. Vidoop Labs is churning quickly and fairly transparently, if the Emailtoid to EAUT progression is any indication.

And I expect that trend to continue.

Not to get all Pollyanna, but man, what a great experiment.

Get a bunch of smart people in a room. And let them create. Let them do what they do best. And see what comes of it.

Not knowing, at the outset, what you’re going to get. But having utmost confidence that the team will deliver something creative, well engineered, and valuable.

If that’s not the kind of work I’d like to see happening in Portland, I don’t know what is.

Interested in more information on the rocket surgery occurring in your own backyard? Take a look at Vidoop Labs, with its sections for Emailtoid, EAUT, DiSo, and the inevitable “coming soon.”

Got lunch plans? Why not have “Lunch with a VC” today?

Seems like Silicon Florist has lunch on the brain as of late. What with looking for Portland Lunch 2.0 hosts and hosting a Portland Lunch 2.0 in August. So, clearly, mentioning another lunch or two won’t hurt.

Okay, let’s do that.

If you don’t have any lunch plans today, you might want to take the opportunity to swing by CubeSpace at noon to have “Lunch with a VC.”

Come hang out with Epic Ventures to learn more about VC funding. Bring questions! We’ll have 45 min. of Q&A, then head out to lunch as a group.

Carolynn Duncan of Epic Ventures will host this first-of-many-to-come event as a way of introducing herself to the Portland startup and entrepreneurial community.

Can’t make the lunch? No worries. You can still get to know Carolynn by following her on Twitter or following her blog.

And lunch isn’t all she has in mind. There will be some other capital-related activities that she’ll be kicking off in the near future as well.

For more information or to RSVP, visit Upcoming.

Elemental Technologies sparks $7.1 million investment

Now, I don’t usually write about traditional software companies. But it seemed like this one definitely deserved it.

Portland-based Elemental Technologies has secured more than $7 million in its first round of funding.

Okay. So what’s being funded and why am I writing about it?

Utilizing general purpose, programmable “off-the-shelf” graphics processing units (GPUs), ETI software performs video encoding, transcoding, and filtering at unprecedented speeds while maintaining the highest video quality.

Who’s a-what-uh hunh? Okay. Maybe this will help:

[This technology] allows consumers to format their media up to 10 times faster than existing solutions.

Ah ha! Now you’re talking.

With the growing popularity of services like Seesmic, Vimeo (Portland connection), and Viddler—oh and that little site called YouTube—it’s obvious that video is very much a part of our future existence in the Web world. And while any number of companies have come up with ways to deliver that video content on the Web, there always seems to be one major sticking point to widespread adoption: Encoding video content for posting is excruciatingly slow.

To be successful, we’re going to have to be able to encode and upload video as quickly as we can download it. And Elemental may just be able to deliver.

According to NewTeeVee:

The first product out from Elemental is consumer oriented, will arrive sometime before September and is expected to cost between $30 and $100, depending on the features. The software will allow consumers to take HD inputs such as a Blu-ray disc or homemade HD video and rip it to a computer, iPod or other device five to 10 times faster than existing technologies using the CPU.

No doubt, the infusion of cash will go a long way in promoting this offering—and ensuring that development continues.

Industry-leaders General Catalyst Partners of Boston, Massachusetts and Voyager Capital of Seattle, Washington co-led this $7.1M investment. Mike Rogoway of The Oregonian and the Silicon Forest blog notes:

In Oregon’s venture capital community, [Elemental]’s new investment represents the second big funding round this month. Last week, NexPlanar Corp., a small semiconductor company that recently moved to Hillsboro, announced it had raised $14.5 million in venture capital.

And let’s hope that greases the skids for other Silicon Forest startups looking for some backing.

For more information on the funding, see the Elemental press release on the investment. For more on the company and its technology, visit Elemental Technologies.

SplashCast lures MySpace exec, goes Hollywood (literally)

Portland-based SplashCast, a service that has become one of the entertainment industry’s favorite ways to create immersive advertisements for social networks and Web sites, has finally gone Hollywood by luring a MySpace executive to the company.

Today, SplashCast announced the launch of its Los Angeles office with the hiring of Tim Lane from MySpace—not to be confused with Tom from MySpace, who is everybody’s friend.

According to the release, the hiring and expansion was sparked by the traction the company has seen in the entertainment industry, especially with regards to MySpace where SplashCast currently owns the lion’s share of top music apps:

SplashCast’s Los Angeles-based office will open later this summer. This expansion reflects the company’s recent successes in helping major brands reach social network site users. According to statistics presented on the MySpace music application directory more SplashCast music applications in general have been shared and installed on individual MySpace pages than any other artist-specific applications across the entire MySpace application platform.

As far as Lane’s role goes, he will be heading up the SplashCast sales team and helping manage the company’s continued—and apparently aggressive—expansion plans. Which will likely be fueled by SplashCast’s funding, announced earlier this year:

Lane will be responsible for managing SplashCast’s sales team based out of the company’s new Los Angeles sales office scheduled to open later this summer. In his new position, Lane will be responsible for managing SplashCast’s US based sales team out of the company’s new Los Angeles office and opening offices throughout New York, Chicago and San Francisco within the coming months.

Given this continued interaction with companies outside of Portland, one would begin to wonder if SplashCast was long for our Portland climes.

Well, okay, I wonder.

Not that it completely allays my fears, but one thing that might point to them sticking around Portland is the fact that they’ve recently graduated from the Portland State Business Accelerator to their own digs in Old Town.

Time will tell if the draw to a more big-media hub is in the works, or if the LA office will simply remain a satellite for this Portland-based company.

For more information on SplashCast, see the SplashCast release on the expansion and the new hire.

Vidoop Troop #3: Portland by way of Tulsa

Well, it’s happened quickly, but it’s been fun. As Vidoop has brought various groups of employees up for a tour of their new hometown, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting Vidoop Troops one, two, and—after this Friday’s Beer and Blog—three.

After that, all that’s left is actually getting them moved up here. And that, my friends, is going to a-whole-nother adventure.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got new Vidoopers to meet and welcome to the Rose City.

Who? I’m glad you asked.

Nick Davis, Founding Software Developer

What? I’m involved in several projects, but tend to focus on designing and developing authentication solutions. I also work on some information security related things when not writing code.

How? Raised in Southeast Oklahoma (Spiro), I moved to Tulsa for college and have been here ever since. I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science at the University of Tulsa, and did research in secure operating systems (SE Linux) while at TU. I joined Vidoop as a founding member in March 2006. Outside of work, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, reading, video games, biking, working out, and movies (especially sci-fi/cyberpunk). Recently, I got married to a wonderful girl named Adrienne, who manages to put up with my various technology obsessions (still trying to get her on Twitter 🙂 )

Links? Nick on Myvidoop, Nick on Twitter, Kernel trap, Bruce Schneier’s blog, FreeSCI

Questions about Portland?

  • Good neighborhoods to live for young married couples?
  • Good biking trails in and around the city?
  • What are the best “weird Portland” places that are unique to the city, and what things must I do/see to have the whole Portland experience?
  • What is the best seafood restaurant in the city?

Rachel Garrette, Marketing + Copy Writer

What? I write and edit copy, assist in the development/maintenance of our websites, create and maintain marketing videos as well as other marketing material, work with vendors, etc.

How? Born and bred in Oklahoma, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in Journalism / Broadcast and Electronic Media. After college, I worked for a couple of years as a video editor at the largest independent sports production company in the U.S., serving clients such as ESPN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Sports Net, Discovery, Major League Soccer, and many more. One fateful night in 2006, I met Luke Sontag at a concert. He pitched what then seemed like only an outlandish idea, and it soon came to fruition in the form of Vidoop. A year later, I finally joined the wild ride.

I enjoy music, art, traveling, history, puppies and fireworks (though not fireworks in, on, or under puppies). My favorite food is cereal. I love a good estate sale. I despise banana flavored taffy, and I’m the clumsiest person you’ll meet. I have an astute adolescent sense of humor eloquently coupled with a love for corny jokes. My Boston Terrier, Henry, can’t wait to explore Portland’s parks.

Links? FreeIndie.com, @rachelpalooza

Questions about Portland?

  • I’m having trouble finding a rental property in the NW district that accepts dogs. What gives?! Any suggestions?
  • Where is the best place to go for a run outdoors?
  • Where is the best place to hear live music outdoors?
  • What is the best place to get your hair cut?

Adam Kuert, Lead Web Developer

What? Attend a meeting, write some code, upgrade a server, accidentally delete a vital directory, restore from backup…you know, the usual life of a web dev.

How? Got a degree in Computer Science; realized programming was slightly more complicated than TI-83 BASIC. Ran my own company from 2 years, escaped to find job security, found… another startup. When I’m not coding, you can find me on the soccer field pretending I didn’t get cut from the team in High School. I Lived in Kenya for 18 years and I’m hoping Portland weather is just like Kenya’s: when it’s not raining…it’s perfect.

Links? http://adam.kuert.net

Questions about Portland?

  • Is the weather really as great as hear? Or does everyone trudges through the rest of the year just waiting for summer to return? [Editor: Truth be known, it’s really more of a “slog” than “trudge.”]
  • Do people actually ‘ski or go to the beach only 90 minutes away’ or is that just a sales pitch for getting people like me to move? [Editor: We have a beach 90 minutes away? Oh wait. I mean, yes.]

Steven Osborn, Founding Software Developer

What? I built the first prototype of our ImageShield technology and since then I’ve worked on nearly every project conceived at Vidoop. Currently working on alien browser plug-in technology to take over the world.

How? I’ve lived in the Tulsa area most of my life, excluding a short tour to Afghanistan. I previously worked for a healthcare software company developing web applications. I’m involved in just about every technology group in Tulsa including Tulsa PHP, Python, Ruby, and even .NET and Java which means I have access to more free pizza than any human can safely consume in their lifetime. Some technologies I’m currently excited about: Django, Python, Android and Mercurial.

Links? Steven’s Blog, Steven’s Twitter, Steven’s LinkedIn

Questions about Portland?

  • I have a 18mo son who was born 16 weeks premature. Does Oregon offer a program similar to SoonerStart? (They send out therapists on a regular basis to check up on his progress regularly free of charge.)
  • Are there any outstanding childcare facilities?
  • What are your favorite fun weekend family activities?

John Whitlock, Software Developer

What? Lead of the RecognitionAUTH team, making the backend service that runs myVidoop faster and smarter, then packaging it for licensees. I think in Python, write C++, and study software management.

How? I was raised in Arnold, just south of St. Louis. I begged for a computer, then a Borland C++ compiler, and spent my allowance on programming books. I got an electrical engineering degree from the University of Tulsa, because I wanted to dive one level deeper into computers. However, code mistakes are less painful than electrical mistakes, so I put away the soldering iron and stuck with programming. I worked for 8 years at a flight simulation company, helping to make pilot training simulators and learning
more Fortran than I ever wanted. When my company started to dissolve, I was surprised to find a web startup in our own backyard.

My wife Jennifer is a research librarian, advocating for new technologies to support the information needs of customers. She is also the Foundation Center Coordinator, helping local non-profits find funding. Our daughter Ainsley recently turned four, and confuses Austin and Portland.

Links? Ambient Librarian, John @ Twitter, CppUnit Wiki, ConfIdent Technologies Software Development Kit

Questions about Portland?

  • Where are the good, affordable, all-day child care centers / pre-schools?
  • Was is the difference between Austin and Portland? [Editor: We have better beer. Our parks feature green grass as opposed to dead yellow grass. And our birds know to quiet down at night.]
  • Are earthquakes a problem? Is there something we tornado-dodgers should do to prepare?
  • Can someone please babysit for Corin so that Sleater-Kinney can put out another album?

How can I meet Vidoop Troop #3?

Well, the place to meet and greet the past two troops seems as good of a place as any don’t you think? C’mon down to Beer and Blog on Friday afternoon. We’ll be back at one of our favorite haunts: the Green Dragon. That’s right. Not that other place. The Green Dragon. You know. The one where they have more than one bartender? Yeah, that one. Let me give you one more nemonic device to remember that: Green Dragon.

And no Justin Kistner, this week. And no substitute appointed.

Looking forward to seeing you and the last flight of the Vidoopers there.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for June 10

Strands Launches Plug-and-Play Recommendation Engine for eCommerce and Media

From the Strands blog “The Strands Social Recommender can be easily installed through the Strands API or by adding personalization widgets to a retailer’s site, and can be up and running in as little as 30 minutes. More than 100 online businesses have piloted the Strands Social Recommender, with many customers seeing a significant increase in sales.”

An Inside Look at Y Combinator

Josh Catone writes “3 year old seed fund Y Combinator has funded over 80 companies and seen a handful through to Series A round funding or successful exits. Given the amount of money that Y Combinator invests in each startup (in the order of $10-20k), it would be hard to classify their oft emulated model anything but a success. Though many of Y Combinator’s alumni have blogged about their experiences, what it’s like to be one of the few companies selected to live in Cambridge, MA or Mountain View, CA each year remains something of a mystery to anyone who hasn’t lived it.”

Calagator: Go Ahead and Search Us

Audrey Eschright writes “I’m behind on relaying code sprint updates, but as of yesterday we have something especially cool to announce: you can now search all events on Calagator. You’ll see a little search box in the upper left corner. Type in whatever you’re looking for, hit enter, and ta da! Search results.”

GadgetTrak featured on WebbAlert

Around 4:05

Concrete5 Blog » Welcome All Early Adopters to Concrete5!

From the Concrete5 blog “Before we get going, please try to keep in mind that this is a preview release. I can’t stress that enough! There are going to be issues with performance, stability, with some features, and probably some problems with browser compatibility. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you; far from it!”

Kryptiq connects GreenField Health with Microsoft HealthVault

From the Kryptiq press release “GreenField Health, a nationally recognized consulting group and medical clinic in Portland, Oregon, is using Connect IQ to enable patients to exchange information between their doctor’s office and their HealthVault account. This is the first live implementation of connectivity between a clinical practice and Microsoft HealthVault.”

Why Portland? After trying LA, a native returns home to the northwest

[Editor: And the “Why Portland?” series—which began with Intrigo and continued with Tim Kadlec—continues with Heather N of Strands. What’s Strands? Well, if you’d like to find out, something tells me that “Portland” may also help you get into their private BETA. Now, on with the story…]

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and Los Angeles was the last place I imagined living.

But about a year after graduating college, I was working in Santa Monica at a new social network called TagWorld, focusing on online marketing, business development and project management. And, after becoming immersed in Los Angeles tech and social media, Portland seemed even further away.

But, as TagWorld evolved into Flux (Viacom as a minority investor), I became more aware of a growing tech scene in Portland and the temptation to return grew.

Eventually, I decided my relationship with LA was coming to an end, and Portland called. Soon enough, I found myself at Strands as the new Community Manager. Strands is headquartered in Corvallis, but I have been given the opportunity to work remotely and evangelize to the Portland community, which I am very excited about.

For the past four years, Strands has been working to develop social recommender systems that can be applied to numerous verticals. After a very active 2007 ($55M raised in VC funding; $12M in sales), 2008 is the year we will be presenting this technology to the world. We are applying our recommendation technologies to three areas: personal finance, social media, and business solutions.

Though I have only begun my journey into the tech sphere of Portland, I have already noticed an interesting dichotomy with that of Los Angeles.

LA is all about competition, competition, competition

I won’t go as far to say that the tech community in Los Angeles is as cut throat as their entertainment industry, but in some cases it’s a close second. With a new NDA being drawn up every minute, companies offering the world to a person to join them and leave their current position and enemy lines being drawn between social media companies, there is a definite switch in the overall feeling of community in LA.

Of course there are some amazing start-ups and tech companies that don’t employ as aggressive tactics, but they’re a bit harder to find in LA than here in Portland.

It’s only been a few weeks and I already feel happily welcomed into the Portland tech community. Not only do people from different companies and verticals work together, but also everyone I have met has been very willing to help in whatever capacity that may be. This makes me realize that the overall sense of the Portland tech industry is much like that of the people of this city.

Portland is free of over-saturation

To me Portland is the perfect size. Not only in terms of a city but also that of tech. I am shocked to see just how much is going on in tech and social media in this town, but doubt it will ever become too much.

In LA, I worked in a three-block radius of some of the biggest tech companies in the world and that was just in Santa Monica. Though you do run into a lot of the same people and I did make some amazing relationships, it was never possible to get a stronghold on the entire tech community.

In Portland it seems everyone is connected and the close-knit environment is not only inviting, but extremely helpful in my job objective for Strands.

Portland excels at “Keeping it Real”

Los Angeles is a city full of archetypal sorts that exist nowhere else—other than our minds. Though the tech world of LA is separate from this, these models of perfection that only LA possesses occasionally bleed over.

I don’t feel that the Portland is trying to be something its not. The unrealistic idealism that floats through Los Angeles has not made its way to Portland, and I love that.

Looking forward

As much as I am now at the point of critique, I would never trade a second of my time in Los Angeles. I became immersed in a world I never would have dreamed of being a part of and now can take the experience with me.

I am very ready to submerge myself in the Portland tech community and get people as interested and excited in Strands as I am.

Have you got a “Why Portland?” story to tell? I’d love to hear it. Feel free to drop me note at siliconflorist at gmail.

The Portland Internet Effect

[Editor: Nino Marchetti, a local freelance technology writer, recently put together an article about the local Web community. And while it’s a little strange to see myself quoted in an article on my own blog, I was happy to oblige. Thanks to Nino for offering up this story.]

The Portland Internet Effect
By Nino Marchetti

What makes Portland such a hub of potential for Internet companies? Is there something in the water? Do factors like a well-established creative class, support for open source, and a lower cost of living make this a place for Web outfits to call home?

I recently set out to find answers to some of those questions. I spoke with local Web company owners, analysts, and investors. The answers vary but one thing is clear—Portland is making plenty of waves sandwiched between the tech power houses of Seattle and the Silicon Valley.

In the realm of Portland Web companies, Jive Software could arguably be considered one of the more established enterprises. Jive, which focuses on “online collaboration tools that make it easier for people to work together,” came to the local market via New York City. CEO David Hersh feels the area offers his company the right mix of things to make it easy to call this home.

“Portland has the best mix of lifestyle, business clients, and software cluster,” said Hersh. “It is less expensive and easier for us to grow a company here then in the Bay Area or Seattle.”

Hersh added Jive feels there is a good local software programmer group to draw from, but that the downside is there aren’t as many talented bodies as one might hope for—deeper pools of potential programmers exist in other markets. The local talent that is available, however, is potentially quite entrepreneurial—there is a group of Jive employees who might at some point strike out and start their own operations.

“There are plenty of opportunities,” said Hersh. “Anybody with a big vision can make it happen here.”

A smaller Web-based operation which has been trying to make it happen here is SplashCast. This company offers what vice president of business development Tom Turnbull calls a “rich media advertising and syndication platform” for media companies and brands like Sony to connect with consumers in popular social networks such as Facebook.

Turnbull, like Hersh, sees positives and negatives to Portland as a Web company cluster location. On the positive, the company loves the area for things like creativity, a growing Internet community, and less expensive house prices. He has never thought about relocating anywhere else. On the downside though, many of its clients are elsewhere.

“We pay a soft price for being in Portland,” said Turnbull. “The media companies that we partner with are not located in here. Most of the ad agencies are located in the bigger markets. Therefore, we are familiar with Jet Blue’s red eye to New York and make trips to California on a regular basis.”

Even very small Web companies are finding some success and challenges in the Portland area. One of these is Values on n. This outfit, founded in March 2006, has had some success in developing Web services which focus on “personal and small group productivity with a particular emphasis on harnessing everyone’s de-facto productivity tool: email.” This is according to company founder Rael Dornfest, who reflected on some local start up thoughts.

“By being even such a short distance from the Silicon Valley,” said Dornfest, “Portland start-ups are buffered to a certain degree from the ‘startup scene’ and so tend to spend more time thinking about building community and customer base—and, at least within the group of start-ups we know, those are viewed as fairly synonymous. There’s just something about the Portland startup gestalt that’s different—in much the same way as Portland itself feels different somehow to those who visit (and almost invariably want to stay).”

In looking at what seems to make Portland tick for Web companies, tech consultant Marshall Kirkpatrick has made some interesting observations. Kirkpatrick, who said he consults “on everything from product road mapping to site usability to social media marketing ,” has made a name for himself in the online world, writing for tech industry blogs like TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb.

“I think there’s an unusual feeling of camaraderie among startups here,” said Kirkpatrick when asked to compare Portland to other tech hotspots like San Francisco and Seattle. “It’s less nasty than San Francisco and less obscured in the shadow of a monolith than Seattle.”

Kirkpatrick highlighted that a lot of local programmers are involved in “pseudo-geekish” technologies like RSS and wikis, as well as there being a strong community of open source developers. This all adds up to a lot of “self-made Web application power users here.”

You can, of course, have local Web outfits, consultants, and others promoting the values of Portland as a tech spot on the radar, but without venture capital funding many projects remain in the garage. Portland, until late, has definitely flown under the radar in this area and one could say it still has some growing to do.

“In terms of fund raising,” said SplashCast’s Turnbull, “Portland has a bit of a bad reputation in the startup community. There are certainly fewer VCs here. That being said, we are having great success in the Portland angel investment community and are very optimistic about our future VC prospects.”

Kirkpatrick echoed Turnbull in the VC perception of Portland, saying “venture capitalists are sometimes hesitant to invest in startups based in Portland, because of the perception that this is a place you move to enjoy the quality of life—not to ruin your life giving everything you’ve got to a startup.”

Not all VCs are hesitant though about Portland Web company investment opportunities. Erik Benson, managing director of Voyager Capital, sees local outfits as offering great potential products for end users, though he also feels they “could stand to aim for a bigger scale.”

“We are enthusiastic about the level of passion and creativity that’s coming out of the Portland Web scene, particularly around Open Source and social Web technology,” said Benson. “JanRain, the leader of the OpenID movement, and Values of n, a social-Web-enabled personal assistant, are examples that highlight those areas.”

Other early investment stage firms also see Portland as potential funding grounds. One of these is Mount Hood Equity Partners, managed by Bob Wiggins.

“There are a number of companies in the Portland area I’ve looked at that I would consider quite interesting,” said Wiggins. “There’s a good pool of talent both on the engineering side and, to an extent, on the executive side as well.”

Wiggins has observed a lot of local Web companies focused on using the Internet as a tool for taking care of some kind of problem. This can range from online collaboration like Jive does to managing multiple fast food locations as a franchisee.

Also observing the Portland Web scene are analysts like Raven Zachary of The 451 Group and bloggers such as Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist. It is observers like these which can fan or quench the flames of potential hot companies with their comments.

“With this many highly-independent, intelligent people in Portland,” said Zachary, “you’re going to see a lot of startup activity here… Portland is becoming a destination for the California tech scene as they grow up and want to settle down and have a family while continuing to pursue tech.”

He also noted, realistically, Portland is not the “center of the tech universe.”

“That won’t change,” said Zachary.

Turoczy, for his part, maintains feverish coverage of local Web companies as information is passed along to him. This perhaps gives him one of the most insider views of all on what works locally and what doesn’t.

“I think the Silicon Forest—if we define the Forest as stretching from the coast over to Bend and quite a ways down south and up past Vancouver—has the potential to be a hot bed for Web startups,” said Turoczy. “I don’t think we have really realized its true potential, yet. We’ve taken steps. And I think we have a good start.”

Strands improves its net worth with NetworthIQ acquisition (Now it can be told)

Sometimes, you just have to wait to share the good news. And, Corvallis-based Strands acquiring Portland-based NetworthIQ is just one of those such deals.

Ryan Williams, the guy who has worked to make the NetworthIQ service one of the more popular personal finance management services on the Web, finally announced the news this morning, bringing to fruition the news at which he hinted long, long ago. (Looks like Ryan’s old Twitter account has been deleted, but here are a couple of my and Jason Harris’ replies to some of Ryan’s cryptic hints.)

So, now the news is out. And it’s great news for a couple of Silicon Forest startups.

News, in fact, that a number of outlets have already beat me to covering—The Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, GigaOm… oh a little blog you may have heard of called TechCrunch, which had this to say:

Just over two weeks ago Strands acquired Expensr, and now the company is announcing its acquisition of NetworthIQ. Both are personal finance applications that Strands wanted mostly for their human capital, but also for some of their technology assets. The terms of both deals were not disclosed.

Ryan provided some insight in his post entitled “Breaking the silence“:

It was just over 3 years ago that we started working on NetworthIQ. It was a bit of a bumpy ride. In the first couple months, I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it, but with a couple of high-profile press mentions we were off and running. The idea for NetworthIQ was pretty basic, apply the popular Web 2.0 principles of the time (social networking, public sharing, collective intelligence) and apply it to personal finance, something that hadn’t been done before. There was the occasional “this is the dumbest site ever” comment, but for the most part we always got great response and feedback from those that signed up, which was what kept me going.

But, as usual, I just wasn’t satisfied. So I asked Ryan if he could give me some more insight on how the deal went down and what it meant for the future. And Ryan was kind enough to share some additional thoughts on this momentous occasion.

Surprisingly, the news that took so long to make it to the public, actually came about pretty quickly.

“It’s funny, in the weeks before I was contacted by Strands, I had been scanning their jobs after the latest funding round,” said Williams. “Just to see, you know? Nothing serious. But, then I heard from them and the talks progressed pretty quickly.”

A music recommendation service and a personal finance management service would have seemed like strange bedfellows at the time. But that was because none of us knew about moneyStrands until just recently.

But Strands and Williams knew.

“It was easy to see there was a good fit with what we were doing on NetworthIQ and where Strands was going with the moneyStrands project,” he said. “In a matter of a couple weeks I was ready to come onboard.”

A Cinderella story? A side project turned full time? Absolutely.

“Since starting NetworthIQ, I was working towards being able to work on a startup full-time, but as a relatively older web entrepreneur, there were more things to worry about. I hadn’t yet reached the point of being able to drop the day job,” said Williams. “This was a chance to make that happen, and with the talented and driven Strands team, it made the decision easy.”

But, even at this moment of victory, the humble Williams downplays the whole thing.

“I know for many, it’s not the most exciting technology to be working on—personal finance tools—but I’m really drawn to building things that are useful to me personally,” he said. “And personal finance tools are what I spend a good amount of time in. Plus with the way things are going with the economy and our increasing dependence on consumer debt, I think it’s a very important area to innovate in.”

So what does the future hold for Strands and its new technology? And where is that innovation going to take place?

Unfortunately, that’s another secret for which we’ll have to wait.