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|Articles - Jan/Feb 2012|
|Thursday, January 19, 2012|
Page 3 of 5
Tripwire, Hanna Andersson and YoCream weren’t startups when they sold. They were established companies. But some of the challenges they faced ring true for a new generation: Startups are responsible for more job growth in the state than any other sector, noted Nick Fowler, CEO of Perpetua Power Source Technologies, during this past December’s Oregon Leadership Summit. Where the state falls short, he added, is securing the investment capital that allows companies to scale globally.
Scaling — and keeping — Oregon companies wasn’t always a big problem. “Thirty years ago, Oregon was home to quite a number of large companies of national or international stature,” says Jeffrey Wolfstone, another Lane Powell attorney who focuses on M&A. “Relative to the size of the population, that hasn’t kept up. In fact, it’s gone backwards.”
To be sure, globalization plays a big role in the changing corporate landscape. Yet the Oregon pattern contrasts with the dynamic in Seattle, where over the past two decades a number of scrappy startups such as Amazon and Starbucks have blossomed into international powerhouses, now standing alongside the region’s largest longstanding employers such as Boeing and Weyerhaeuser.
“Maybe it’s something in the water here,” muses Wolfstone, “A different type of ambition, or we’re more of a lifestyle city.” Or, as one Portland investor put it, Oregon is a bit lacking in the “animal instinct.” Others point to more material drivers. Oregon’s corporate tax structure favors startups because “you’re losing money,” but acts as a deterrent to growing big, says Ryan Deckert, president of the Oregon Business Association.
Unlike Seattle, Boston, San Francisco or New York, Oregon lacks a major research university — “a geographical anomaly,” says Sue Levin, a former Nike executive who in 1999 co-founded Lucy Activewear, which was sold to a Greensboro-based private equity firm in 2007.
To grow companies “you have to have brains, wealth and business savvy in significant proportions and in proximity to each other,” says Levin, who is now director of the nonprofit Stand For Children. “You do not have it in Eugene and you have it in small quantity in Portland.”
Another “unfortunate thing” is there are not enough Oregon acquirers, says Levin, adding that it takes $50 million to get to profitability in retail. “The only company in Oregon that could have bought Lucy, literally, was Nike.” Levin adds that the original objective was to take Lucy public and “build a large Oregon company,” a decision that was nixed by the company’s original Silicon Valley investors “who had pretty high expectations for return on investment.”
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
Corporate headquarters are no longer a marker of economic prowess.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Ahead of the recreational rollout, what are dispensary owners most concerned about ?
Thursday, October 08, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In an era dominated by self-promotion and marketing speak, John Bradley, CEO of R&H Construction, is a breath of fresh air.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.
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