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|Articles - July 2011|
|Wednesday, June 22, 2011|
Page 5 of 8Innovations in green data storage, proximity gizmos and SEO
Not far from the parking lot where the boys from 10 Barrel play whiffle ball on sunny days, a newly remodeled, unmarked building is cooling down in the high desert air. It is Central Oregon’s latest data farm, and from the parking lot it doesn’t look like much. You can’t see the solar panels from here, the Dutch-designed low-energy cooling system, the cylindrical “man-trap” portal that allows a visitor to enter the facility only after displaying the correct biometric information.
Leonard Weitman, BendBroadband’s vice president of technical operations, meets me by the entrance, where smooth jazz is piping into a lobby with bright white floors. Weitman joined BendBroadband in March 2010 and directed a $16 million remodel of a former warehouse into a secure center for storing confidential data. The building is called the Vault, and while it is nowhere near as large as the new Facebook data center 35 miles away in Prineville, it represents a new opportunity for Central Oregon in general and BendBroadband in particular. The company added 50 jobs over the past year to grow from the 29th-largest to the 19th-largest business in Central Oregon.
As a “co-location” facility the Vault can serve hospitals, financial institutions and telecommunications companies from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C., storing data in an area with minimal seismic risks. “It’s a growing business, and not many of these facilities are considered environmentally friendly,” says Weitman.
As he leads me through a facility packed with security cameras and elaborate power redundancy systems, Weitman says BendBroadband pursued a strategy similar to that of Intel: invest during the downturn to put the company in a stronger position for recovery. The company needed a new operations center anyhow, so combining that upgrade with a foray into a new business made sense. The “green” nature of the facility helps it stand out, and also supports a growing sector in Oregon. The solar panels were built in Hillsboro by SolarWorld, installed by Bend-based Sunlight Solar, and run through invertors made just a few blocks away from the Vault by Advanced Energy Systems (formerly PV-Powered).
Weitman says the plan is to expand the center once the completed portion is 60% full. BendBroadband also owns an adjacent property for future development.
A few miles away in the Northwest hills, the world headquarters of another Bend-based technology company, Proxense, shares little in common with the Vault. Founder John Giobbi works from a home office with some computers and a phone, a big window facing out on the valley and a flight simulator for honing his piloting skills.
Giobbi came to Bend from Chicago, where he worked for a large corporation that did very well. “I was in a position where we could live where we wanted to,” he says. “I wanted to get out of Chicago. And I love it here in Bend.” He bought a home with a view in 2001 and started planning his next career move. The Napster phenomenon of consumers pilfering content online, upending the music industry, caught his attention, and he decided to pursue a technological solution involving a wireless device able to grant — or block — a computer user’s access to protected content.
The more he thought about the concept, the more he liked it. He decided to take a long-term approach. “I spent four and a half years filing patents,” he says. Once he had compiled a “good portfolio of patents,” he licensed the technology to the gambling giant Bally in Las Vegas. That deal brought in revenue that enabled him to hire top talent. After a national search he selected David Brown, a senior chief engineer from XM radio who had just finished creating a global satellite radio system. Giobbi hired away some of the top engineers from XM and set them up in South Florida, near XM headquarters, flying from Oregon to Florida quarterly to check in on their progress.
While his team was building the technology in Florida, Giobbi was raising money in Bend. He started with hospitals. Doctors and nurses log in and out of computers hundreds of times daily to protect patient information, and eliminating that monotonous step through automation was an obvious time-saver that Giobbi was convinced would sell itself. Much of the $8.5 million he raised in addition to $1.5 million of his own money came from Bend-area physicians. “Raising money in 2008, 2009 and 2010 was not a fun thing,” he says. “But we did it. We closed the round.”
Now the business is on the cusp. Most of Proxense’s 35 jobs are located in Florida, but Giobbi says he plans to establish headquarters in Bend to grow the company to about 100 jobs over the coming year. He says he’s already exploring possible applications in retail and finance, including a new type of credit card.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER
Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF
An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
By MEGHAN NOLT
VIDEO: Revamping a Classic — an iconic eatery stays relevant in a changing marketplace.
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While the Bend City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area.