While it’s not exactly clear what’s happening, CubeSpace—the local co-working space that has served as the communal campfire for the Portland tech community—is hinting at a potential last minute rescue. “Not dead yet,” said the CubeSpace folks via their Twitter account. “Having serious conversations re:@CubeSpacePDX return!” Read More
I’m unofficially dubbing tonight “awards night” for the Pacific Northwest tech scene, given that we had two competing awards shows—Oregon Tech Awards and the Seattle 2.0 Awards—handing out statuettes to impressive tech companies all up and down the Pacific coast.
For the Oregon Tech Awards, two Silicon Florist regulars managed to walk away with top honors. Jive Software was named the Emerging Company of the Year and GadgetTrak was named Cool Product of the Year. The only downside was that Ontier—another one on whom I try to keep an eye—was also in the running for Cool Product. Read More
This evening, I had the honor to take a little walk down memory lane with the folks at Portland Web Innovators as we took a little time to reflect of the cool accomplishments of the Portland Web and Open Source startup community over the last 12 months.
It was kind of like signing yearbooks. A lot of nostalgia and a lot of kind words. And—of course—a lot of tweets.
I wanted to thank everyone who took time out of their schedules to come hang out and chat about our past and our future. And to those who took the opportunity to hang out online.
Here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve got at this point. I’ll add more as it rolls in, and as always, your comments are welcome.
Thanks so much to Bram Pitoyo for streaming this video and moderating the chat room. (NOTE: There’s a bit of a hiccup at about 90 seconds into the presentation. If you wait, it comes back. Or you can click into the timeline to kickstart the video again.)
I’m holding a contest. Count how many times I say “amazing” during this presentation and post it in the comments. You could win… um… I don’t know. Something.
We managed to accumulate quite a few tweets. You’ll be happy to hear that I managed to resist the urge to tweet during the presentation.
Sites I mentioned
- Urban Grind
- Green Dragon
- Legion of Tech
- Beer and Blog
- Portland Lunch 2.0
- Portland Web Innovators
- BarCamp Portland
- Portland Startup Weekend
- Side Project to Startup
- WordCamp PDX
- WhereCamp PDX
- Ignite Portland
- Open Source Bridge
- Open Tech Space
- Corvallis Beer and Blog
- Strange Love Live
- Chris O’Rourke’s Great Portland Interview Experiment
- Bacon Geek
- Portland on Fire
- KGW’s Stephanie Stricklen on Twitter
- KGW The Square on Twitter
And some folks have already taken the time to post about the event:
- State of Portland Tech – Web Innovators Live Stream and Event Recap
“Rick Turoczy (Silicon Florist) lead a discussion about the Portland tech scene heading into 2009. Where are we now, how did we get here and where do we want to go?”
- Portland Tech Community
“Over the last year, I’ve written several emails to people moving here describing different events to attend and at those events introduced people new to the area to others in the Portland Tech Community. Despite the fact that I had found myself doing that multiple times, I never really thought about it as a need. I just considered it some ways part of being a good host for the town I grew up in…. But there is a clear need. If someone doesn’t know to ask or whom to ask, they may never find their connection.”
- The Year in Retrospect, the Year to Come
“One of the things Rick declined to do was talk much about the ‘why’ – what’s the secret sauce that makes the Portland tech community a community and not some loose aggregation of companies and coders? Why is there such a drive to connect here, while other communities with equal opportunities just don’t work as hard? And most importantly, why is community so important to Portlanders, and what are local companies of all types and from all industries doing to connect and generate a sustainable economics through close attention to community members, the locality, the exigent needs of the people? What does innovation look like in tough circumstances?”
We’ve been lucky enough to develop a tightly knit community with the “Web oriented” folks here in town—those startups that focus on Web technologies, Twitter types, bloggers—all of us brought together by a common interest in technology and the potential it holds for Portland.
As lucky as I feel to be a part of that community, there are times when that community starts asking questions that the participants are unable to answer. Questions about business or funding or more established technology companies.
But here’s the thing: there’s a wealth of information like that in other tech communities here in town. And there are organizations that have those groups of people talking.
So why not get everyone talking together?
That’s the idea behind Thrive PDX, an attempt to get more people talking and sharing ideas about how we can all work together to ensure Portland continues to shine throughout any economic condition.
Dawn Foster describes the idea behind Thrive PDX far better than I could:
For some reason, it seems to me like there is this wall between these two groups of people, and it doesn’t feel healthy to me. I’ve been working with the SAO for months (way before we even suspected that we were heading into times of economic uncertainty) to find ways to break down this wall and get these two groups of people together. With the economy taking a hit, we decided that now was the time to do something about it. We felt a real need to get these two groups of people together to find ways to help each other through tough times. Our ultimate goal is to have Portland emerge out of the downturn with a technology industry that is stronger than ever.
If you’re feeling the same way, I’d highly encourage you to join us on Tuesday, November 11, at Kells. Maybe bring someone along who’s never been to one of the tech events in town? Maybe you could tell some friends in more traditional tech pursuits? Or maybe you could just show up and talk to some people to whom you don’t usually talk?
To get an idea of who’s coming—and a visual example of the divide we’re attempting to bridge—take a look at the Upcoming RSVP and the SAO RSVP. It looks like we’re going to have a good cross-section of folks there. And it would be great to have you as part of that mix.
I was just going to link to this. And then I thought better of it.
“A link?” I thought. “This is traditional media taking notice and giving credit where credit is due. This needs more than a link.”
So, I give you this piece from my former college classmate, Mike Rogoway over at The Oregonian entitled “Oregon losing high-tech jobs—with more bad news to come.”
A steady drumbeat of cutbacks in Oregon’s high-tech sector has reduced the number of technology jobs in the state to its lowest point in nearly three years.
Wait a second. Where’s the positivity? Where’s the “credit where credit is due”?
Well, that comes at the end of the article. From which I’ll judiciously quote (passage emphasis is mine, not Mike’s):
Oregon’s tech industry has one distinct bright spot: software.
Long the weakest link in Oregon’s technology economy, software has emerged strongly over the past few years—spurred by a vibrant community of open source software developers and Web services companies that require little investment capital to get started.
Software jobs are up 12 percent during the past two years, and now number 9,500. Although still a relatively tiny part of the overall state economy—which numbers more than 1.7 million jobs altogether—software is the fastest growing part of the high-tech sector and one of a small number of industries that is defying the broader economic slowdown.
Much of the activity is concentrated in Portland’s Old Town, home to a cluster of companies that develop software for the Internet. Examples include password-protection technology from Oklahoma transplant Vidoop, and collaboration tools from Jive Software.
“We’re just this wonderful hotbed of open source, brew-your-own-softwareville,” said Harvey Mathews of the Software Association of Oregon. “It’s a tight community, so we all help each other out. Which isn’t the case in lots of other industries.”
Can I get a “w00t!!!1!”? This is exactly the kind of thing we want to see. The kind of recognition you deserve. And the reason I continue to relentlessly document all the cool things you’re doing.
You’re making it happen. And you’re blowing the curve.
And for that, you need to congratulate yourselves, Portland and Silicon Forest startups. You deserve it.
Keep up the good work. Stay focused. And keep working to on that code.
I’ll be sure to let everyone else know: they ain’t seen nothing yet.
Last Friday was podcast day for me. And for as nervous as I was, I think they turned out pretty well. No doubt thanks to the talented people actually managing the whole podcast thing and me just having to spout off every now and again.
So, I thought I’d share the links, in case you were interested in listening.
Jim Zemlin, Raven Zachary, Audrey Eschright, and I had the opportunity to chat about open source and the open source scene in Portland. Topics include OSCON, how we all use open source software and may not even know it, corporate adoption of open source, Portland’s culture as a complement to the open source community, open-source rockets, and NTEN.
Cami Kaos and Dr. Normal invited me over for a tech edition of Strange Love Live (if you’re not watching/listening, you should be). And we were lucky enough to command a live studio audience as well, featuring Michelle Anderson (mediachick), Amber Case (caseorganic), Bram Pitoyo, and Kelly Guimont (verso). Topics included the reasoning behind Silicon Florist, the Portland tech scene, Vidoop, Intrigo, OSCON, the Open Web Foundation, and more.
[Update] If you’re interested in streaming the podcasts—instead of downloading them—Cami Kaos has posted the streaming audio files to her blog.
Once the serious Strange Love stuff is done, the cameras keep rolling for the #afterhours discussion. We continued talking about some of the tech topics, discussed my sleeping habits (or lack thereof), talked about and lightsaber-ed with the iPhone, made some tech predictions including hinting at Marshall Kirkpatrick‘s upcoming internet brain implant venture, thanked our luck stars for OurPDX, introduced folks to Planet PDX, talked about upcoming guest Melissa Lion, and got into a pretty serious bidding war for sponsoring Strange Love Live.
So… what do you think?
Suffice it to say, this was a trial by fire for me and audio. So I’d love to hear feedback as to a) whether I was intelligible at all and b) if I was intelligible, if you’d be interested in more podcasts from yours truly.
Looking forward to your feedback.
If you’ve had the opportunity to attend any Portland tech events over the past year or so, it’s highly likely that you’ve come in contact with some of the handiwork of Dawn Foster. Chair of the Legion of Tech and a staunch advocate of the Portland startup tech and unconference scene, Dawn’s influence has been a critical ingredient in BarCamp Portland, Ignite Portland, the Legion of Tech Happy Hours, Portland Lunch 2.0, any number of Jive Software events, Portland is Awesome… the list goes on and on.
And now that Dawn has announced that she’s leaving Jive, some of that magic touch is for hire:
Recently, I’ve seen a number of companies struggling with how to get more savvy about social media and interacting with online communities. My focus will be on providing consulting services to help guide companies in developing a comprehensive social media and community engagement strategy. I will help companies engage with their community both online and offline to help generate buzz around their products. I can also help companies find, monitor, and respond to what others are saying about them online.
No doubt, Dawn’s expertise will be highly sought. I’m looking forward to her continued success on the other side of the desk and would like to, again, congratulate her on this exciting new endeavor.
While a good number of us here in Portland tend to interact on Twitter or via blog comments or at events, it’s rare that we’re all in the same place at the same time. So getting a comprehensive picture of the “Portland tech community” has been difficult, at best.
So what do geeks do to solve that problem? We employ technology.
Audrey Eschright has put together a Legion of Tech survey that will give us a view into the Portland tech community, in terms of the demographics and general foci of the folks living and working here in the Portland community.
It’s goals, according to Audrey, are pretty straightforward: get some semblance of an idea about who we are and what it is we do.
If you’re in Portland, and involved with any kind of technology activities for work or fun, please go to http://moourl.com/lotsurvey. The more responses, the better, since we want to see the breadth of our community, and whether Legion of Tech events are on your calendar. Tell your friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
If you consider yourself part of the Portland tech community—or if you’d like to be part of the Portland tech community—please take a few moments to walk through the Portland tech community survey.
I’ll make sure to highlight the results in a future post.
A few weeks back, I wrote a rant about the abysmal state of Oregon’s tech education in which I encouraged anyone in tech—but especially those folks at startups—to consider his/her potential role in helping to resolve the issues currently plaguing our educational system.
Talk, as they say, is cheap.
So how can we act?
Well, admittedly, this is an awfully big problem, but to wax—and perhaps unintentionally slaughter—more platitudes, the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.
And, I’m proud to say that we, as a burgeoning collective, have already taken two:
- Oregon Tech & Education is an online discussion group designed to gather interested parties, encourage discussion, and facilitate action. If you are at all interested in helping, participating, or just watching what’s happening. I encourage you to join. Even if you just lurk. And I encourage you to invite the teachers and administrators in your life to join, as well.
- Silicon Florist internship/mentorship challenge is a call to all Silicon-Forest-based startups to consider offering a summer internship for high school or college students in your area. No one knows more about what you do than you. And teaching someone who knows nothing about what you do could be one of the most rewarding things you ever accomplish as an entrepreneur. If you’re interested—not even yet to the “willing to participate” phase, just interested—please throw your hat into the ring as one of the participating startups.
From time to time, I’ll keep you posted on these steps, and other steps that the resourceful folks of the Silicon Forest are taking to resolve this issue.
I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish.
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.