It’s no secret that one of the many reasons I started Silicon Florist was to get more people interested in what you’re doing.
Yes you, you silly goose.
You’re inventing incredibly cool stuff. You’re bending Web and mobile technology to your will. You’re taking risks. And you’re trying to build companies that will help Oregon and the Silicon Forest thrive.
Without a doubt, my favorite “they’re a Silicon Forest company?!!?” startup is Portland-based SurveyMonkey, the nearly ubiquitous Web-based survey service. It’s one of those local success stories of which everyone seems to have heard—even though they don’t realize they’re Portland-based.
Goldberg will be based in Menlo Park, where SurveyMonkey is opening a new office. (Goldberg’s wife Sheryl Sandberg is COO of Facebook.) The company is also holding on to its Portland headquarters, where Ryan and Chris Finley will work.
Hopefully, with someone else on board to help guide the company, Ryan and Chris will finally find some free time to spend with their Portland fans (hint, hint 😉 ).
Todd MacLean, a Director at Bain Capital Ventures [one of the group of investors in SurveyMonkey] said, “We are extremely excited to partner with Dave Goldberg, a dynamic entrepreneur who we believe is ideally suited to lead the next phase of the company’s growth. We believe our experience with low-touch, viral software models will be an asset in supporting Dave and the team of talented professionals at SurveyMonkey as they grow the business. In addition, we have great affinity and respect for Spectrum, having co-invested with them in the past, and look forward to a great partnership on the Board of SurveyMonkey.”
Lately, I’ve had more and more folks asking me for my “business card.” However, what they’re really asking for, I believe, isn’t my business card. Rather, it’s my side project card. That is, they’re seeking contact information for Silicon Florist.
Since no one ever asks for my side project card, I’m going to punt and pretend that they really want Silicon Florist cards.
But see, here’s the thing. Slapping the Silicon Florist logotype on the back of the card seems a little gratuitous and over-the-top to me. It also strikes me as a complete waste of good real estate.
So I came up with this idea: Why don’t you send me your logo and your URL and I’ll gratuitously slap THAT on the back of my side project business cards?
Because truly, this isn’t about me. It’s about you.
Get to it, you startup type you. First come, first served. I’ve got 100 available image options for the cards I’m getting printed. If I get 100 submissions, you’ll appear on the back of one card. If I get fewer than 100 submissions, you’ll be on the back of more cards.
Who qualifies? Here’s your checklist:
Do you have a Web-, open-source-, or mobile-focused event, startup, or side project located somewhere in the Silicon Forest?
Does it have a logotype or mark associated with it?
We all know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But what may not be as obvious is that when the going gets tough, the really super awesome tough realize that other folks need some help. And entrepreneurs reach out to help their would-be peers—especially here in the Silicon Forest.
That’s exactly what’s happening with Beaverton-based EasyStreet, one of the original Internet providers here in town. Today, they announced that they’re stepping up to help other startups during these less than satisfactory economic times with their “EasyStreet Stimulus Package for Entrepreneurs.”
Are you an innovator? Entrepreneur? Head of a skunkworks project inside an established enterprise? Let EasyStreet giving innovation a jump-start with free data center and Internet services for qualified Oregon startups through September 30, 2009.
What’s that? Free hosting and email accounts?
But wait. There’s more. Entrepreneurs can also qualify for a free Clear Wireless modem thingamajig if they sign a two year Wi-MAX aggreement.
Best of all? No binding contracts. Well, from EasyStreet, anyway.
“Tough times are great times for entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are great for the Oregon economy,” said EasyStreet President & CEO, Rich Bader in announcing the stimulus program. “As the economic downturn was being felt here earlier this year, we asked, ‘What can EasyStreet do to best help boost innovation here in Oregon?’”
How does an entrepreneur qualify? All you have to do is apply through one of the partnering organizations that are helping EasyStreet promote the stimulus package.
And they’re names we all know. Well mostly anyway. I mean, one organization just changed its name, so you might not know them. But you know them. If you know what I mean.
So maybe you’re a startup looking to save a little cash. Or maybe you’ve been forced to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams a little more quickly than you expected. Or maybe you simply just need that little push to get your project rolling. Whatever the case, EasyStreet is waiting to help.
Now, you have absolutely no excuse to avoid starting that project. You know the one. The timing is right. And as our old Portland friend Tom Peterson used to say “Free is a very good price.”
Stearns is also currently a Software Architect Contractor at the Public Library of Science and a Principal at The Thomas Eliot Company (a Sole Proprietorship). Previously he was a Software Engineer at Open Source Applications Foundation and a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. Earlier in his career he was a Senior Engineer at Apple.
The Taptu team is growing quickly to support our growth as a business; we now officially have a new team member to our US team. You’ll be reading much more from Jason in the near future, as he covers the perspective of a mobile guy in the American market. Join me in welcoming him to the team!
I’ve spent the last few days in Austin, TX, at SXSW Interactive, the annual gathering of some of the best and brightest Web types sharing their experience and ideas.
But it’s not all about the presentations. Truly, it’s all about proximity. Because every presenter, every leading thinker, and every attendee have plenty of time to talk with one another over meals or over a beer.
Suffice it to say, if you’re looking to get the chance to chat with the folks who are influencing the Web, this is a target rich environment.
This year, I went to SXSW with the intention of learning more about other entrepreneurial communities. To uncover ways that other metropolitan areas were trying to make their communities stronger in order to capitalize on the talent of creative developers.
I managed to make some great connections and learn a thing or two. Here’s what I took away from the conversations.
Portland is not a special snowflake
It’s no secret that I think we’ve got a phenomenal Web, mobile, and open source community. I think the mix we’ve got is special. And there’s little doubt that I think we have the single most amazing technology community anywhere.
But I also admit that I may be a little biased.
Still, for all the love I have for Portland, we’re not unique in our struggles to foster an entrepreneurial community that helps the brilliant people of the Silicon Forest earn a living doing something that they love.
There are communities all over the US trying to make this work. Some of them are taking steps similar to Portland. Some of them are coming up with new ways to deal with the solution. Folks from Asheville, NC, are finding ways to fund projects with government dollars. Boulder is running a series of Ignites that are continuing to draw the community together time and time again. People in Houston and Kansas City are using coworking spaces to get members of the community working together and sharing ideas. DC is using things like Tech Cocktail to help facilitate connections—and the tech scene is getting the opportunity to advise the local government on issues. And the guys at Silicon Prairie News are pulling in some amazing speakers for Big Omaha, an event that will help solidify their entrepreneurial community.
I’m hoping to spend more time with these folks over the coming months, visiting their communities, learning more about what they’re doing, and sharing more about what Portland is doing.
Funding for Portland projects must come from investors in Portland
Another conversation that repeated itself throughout the conference was the discussion about how to fund an entrepreneurial environment. And time and time again it came back to one simple point: for funding to work, it has to be local.
Now this works one of two ways. You either make your locality where the money is—by moving to the Valley for example—or you find local money to fund your project, local angels to invest in startups, and local funds to support larger investments.
You heard me right. Yes, yes. It surprised me, too.
I didn’t intentionally go to the conference to learn about the entrepreneurial environment in China. But as I began to learn more and more about it, I realized that the Portland startup scene had a great deal in common with the Chinese startup environment.
They’re building phenomenal products in China that none of us know about. They’re pushing technology in ways that rival or eclipse our ability to deploy it. China is perceived to have a wealth of development talent that outside companies want to tap. They’re attracting more and more entrepreneurs who see China as a land of opportunity. And the Chinese want to do business—but they want to do it on their terms.
Sounds pretty familiar to me.
Portland can succeed in Portland’s own way
Finally, the overarching theme of the conference sounded eerily similar to something I’ve tried to champion in Portland: Work hard at doing what you love and you will succeed.
There are a number of folks from Portland and the Silicon Forest headed down to Austin, Texas, this week for SXSW. And while I’ve heard about a number of those folks anecdotally, I thought it might be helpful for all of us if we compiled a definitive list of Twitter accounts, so you can keep tabs on who’s doing what.
(Of course, to keep tabs on who’s doing what where you’ll want to sign up for Shizzow, too.)
So here’s who I have so far. Please comment if I missed you, if I missed someone you know is going, if you just signed up for a Twitter account, or if I added you thinking you were going but you’re not. I’ll make sure to update the post as comments dictate.
The current list of Twitter accounts for Portland or Silicon Forest attendees at SXSW includes:
Today, the traditional lines dividing “creatives” and “developers” is becoming exceedingly blurry. And I, for one, welcome that blurriness.
I mean, all of those folks are creative (and always have been). Because some of these folks whom you would traditionally throw in the realm of non-creatives—aside from being brilliant and creative developers—are also amazing photographers, knitters, designers, and writers.
Likewise, there are any number of drool-worthy graphic designers who have stepped into the realm of development. To finely craft their own CSS. Or churn out application code that would make traditional “developers” swoon.
Long story short, “creatives,” in my opinion, is a nonsensical moniker. The concept of creative is completely outdated. An unnecessary silo.
We’re all creative, people. All of us. (Well, except for me. I largely just regurgitate stuff I hear.)
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t even see that soapbox. I just happened to step up there.
Long relegated to the world of graphic design, I believe that the term “creatives” covers a much broader spectrum of creative professionals, like Web app and mobile app developers, for example. Like bloggers. Like Web designers. Like wiki developers. Like so many other technology pursuits that require a great deal of creativity.
So, when I see documents designed to speak for the “creatives” in the Oregon, I think it’s really important that you’re involved. Because you’re doing amazing work. And you’re—in many ways—leading Portland and the Silicon Forest.
Oregon Creative Industries (OCI) is a trade association being created to provide a voice for Oregon’s Creative Economy participants, working to champion sustainable economic growth for the sector.
Why do I think you should review this effort?
Well, for one thing it’s going to affect you. For another, it’s an effort in which a number of people we know and love have been involved, including Legion of Tech, DevGroup NW, and Social Media Club of Portland. And finally, because I know there are a big chunk of readers out there—incredibly talented creative developers—who live in the part of the Silicon Forest that isn’t Portland proper. So when people around Portland start talking about things for “Oregon,” I start getting a bit edgy. Then I start thinking that more of Oregon needs to be involved. To, you know, speak for Oregon.
So what are you commenting on?
I’m glad you asked.
After several months and hundreds of volunteer hours reaching out and listening to the community, OCI recently published a draft document for public comment that defines the Creative Industries economic cluster in Oregon and proposes several objectives and initiatives for sustaining and growing Oregon’s creative economy.
The document outlines a number of benefits of the creative industry, including:
Creative Industries provide Innovation strength. In an ever-increasing global economy, one comparative advantage we have is our ability to innovate. Successful innovation comes about by commercial use of new ideas as a result of market and technology know-how, coupled with design and creative talent. This ultimately delivers new or enhanced products, processes or services that increase individual business profits, which contribute to the overall health of our region’s economy. Knowledge generation and sharing is the key to fueling Cluster growth and competitiveness and this can be achieved by the uptake of innovation through the Creative Industries Cluster.
Now, it’s in your hands. The document is a rough draft. And it could use your input. It could use input from all of us. Because while it’s a good start, it could use fine tuning. Hence the call for public comment.
If you choose to comment on this document, I’d encourage you to focus on the following areas:
Recent Accomplishments for the Cluster Organization
Please download the document, review it, edit it, and submit your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you don’t agree with the basis of the document—arguing for the formation of a trade organization—I’d still encourage you to read it and comment.
In fact, I’d especially encourage you to participate in the public comment if you disagree.
Whatever your opinion, comment. And please feel free to cc: email@example.com. I’d love to see your thoughts.
Once I’ve formulated my response, I’ll be publishing my comments here. And with your permission, I’d be happy to include yours so that we can publish a joint response to the public comment.
It’s always good to see new Silicon Forest based products being launched—especially when there’s a launch party involved. So, don’t forget that Communit.as will be unveiling their product, tonight.
What’s Communit.as? According to the founders, it’s an “open source web application that provides a foundation for building custom community and social network sites.”
That’s about all I’ve got, because I haven’t seen it yet, either.
Oh okay. Here are some other details:
There are certain core features any community or social network site needs: user accounts, access control, database abstraction, template rendering and a few other essentials. While you could certainly build these things from scratch every time you build a site, this seems like kind of a waste of effort to us. With that in mind we set out to create a reusable, upgradeable foundation that can shave the first few weeks of development off of any custom community site.
“Custom” is really the operative word there. Communit.as is generally intended for building sites with lots of custom functionality. Instead starting with the functionality we think you want and forcing you to hack the crap out of it, we take care of the tedious stuff and give you a great set of tools for adding your own features. If you want a generic blog or a social network that does everything out of the box, there are better solutions for those things.
This isn’t to say you don’t get a running application out of the box. You do. We provide a simple and robust installer that will have you up and running in minutes.
So if you’re intrigued, make sure to show up at CubeSpace, this evening from 6-8. There will be drinks, snacks, and demos galore.
So, it’s getting to be about that time. You know. End of the year. Time to start thinking about next year. ‘Tis the season of recaps and predictions.
I’m working on a little “Predictions for Portland 2009″project with a couple of other folks. Of course, the entire Silicon Forest is fair game, too. I just couldn’t stand breaking up that alliteration with factual information.
Given that you’ve got some insight and ideas in this regard, I wanted to invite you to contribute your two cents. You do know what’s going to happen, don’t you?
Well okay then.
All you have to do is comment below with your predictions for the Silicon Forest tech scene next year. Are things going to be dire? Are they going to improve? Who will be the shining stars? Who will rise from the ashes? Who will be the new new media darlings in the coming year?
Easy as that. I might need to follow up with you on your contribution to the discussion.