How open source got its groove back

How open source got its groove back

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Puppet Labs plans to fill its Park Blocks offices with specialists in the Ruby development language.
Photo by Michael Cogliantry
Skip Newberry, an economic policy adviser in the mayor’s office [now the new president of the Software Association of Oregon], says when it comes to attracting software companies to locate in the region, “Our No. 1 asset is our talent pool of developers in the area.”

Serial entrepreneur Brian Jamison, who has been developing software and video-game products using open source since 1995, “escaped Los Angeles” and located OpenSourcery LLC here in 2004. One of its attractions, he says, is the region “is friendly for incubating technologies.”

He says the open source “spirit” pervades the region. Jamison points to the Portland-based Legions of Tech, which organizes free technology-education programs for the area, adding, “The events are geek — not marketing — oriented and are relevant to people like me who are interested in technology.”

Less formal events, such as the weekly get-togethers among those conversant in open source and beer at the Green Dragon pub, he says, “are a great way to spend an evening.”

According to Jamison, it’s natural for OSCON and other similar events, such as the Open Source Bridge Conference, to host their respective conferences here. He says it’s the right combination of enough people living here who work in open source and enough people wishing to visit Portland that help make these events worthwhile.

The venture capital community is taking its sips from the streams of the region’s open-source companies as well. Since last summer, Portland startups Puppet Labs snagged $5 million in venture money from Kleiner Perkins; ShopIgniter landed $8 million from Trinity Ventures and Madrona Venture Group; and the Collaborative Software Initiative took $3.7 million from OVP Ventures.

“It’s almost like there’s something in the water here,” Jamison says.