A healthy forest

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014

When I first started working at Oregon Business a few years ago, I kept hearing the same stories (complaints) from tech entrepreneurs: Venture capital firms bypassed local startups in favor of those in Silicon Valley; business accelerators were few and far between; and qualified engineers were hard to come by.

In 2014 Oregon’s startup scene is still small compared to the communities in San Francisco, Boston and Seattle. Business leaders still call for more homegrown engineering Ph.D.s. Venture investment in clean tech and biotech remains sluggish.

Nevertheless, signs of a maturing cluster abound. Consider a few of the stories that came across my desk — in the space of two days in April.

  • Beaverton marketing company Act-On Software announced it had secured a $42 million venture capital round, the biggest investment captured by a local startup in more than a decade.
  • Nouvola, a cloud performance and analytics startup featured in our cover story this month, captured $256,000 from the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network’s Angel Oregon Showcase.
  • Puppet Labs, another cloud services firm, whose tools help manage data centers and other large IT networks, announced it doubled in three first-quarter metrics: jobs, bookings and customers.

Some of the broader indicators are also promising: Venture investors sunk $130.3 million into Oregon startups last year, up 5% from 2012, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Tech employment is up 3.4% compared to this time in 2013, the strongest annual growth in nearly two years, according to the Oregon Employment Department. Geographically, the Silicon Forest has spread, seeding tech clusters in Bend, Ashland and Hood River. More women and minorities are moving into the software startup fold, and a new generation of social venture startups are sprouting, as I chronicle in my article on the “fourth sector.”

Today the entrepreneurial mood across an array of technology sectors is, for the most part, buoyant. “Portland can really become a center of excellence for cloud technologies,” Nouvola co-founder Paola Moretto told reporter Peter Barnes. “We have to think big.”

Meanwhile, old growth PC companies are retooling with some success for the mobile age; in its first quarter, Intel (Oregon’s largest employer, and a breeding ground for startup entrepreneurs) reported revenue of $12.8 billion, up 1.5% from the first quarter of 2013.

In 2014, of course, technology is less an industry sector than the foundation that anchors all other industry sectors. As digital technologies multiply and diversify, Oregon’s startup ecosystem will, undoubtedly, continue to flourish.

— Linda


More Articles

Taking the lead in boosting Oregonians’ health and strengthening our economy

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 08, 2015

Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy. 


Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Political theater

Wednesday, January 07, 2015
0107-orbizplansum14-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit drew more than 1,000 people to the Oregon Convention Center yesterday.


Behind the curtain: What students should know about accreditation and rankings

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 04, 2014
120414-edurating-thumbBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?


5 companies react to lower fuel prices

The Latest
Thursday, January 15, 2015
thumb-shutterstock 233787049BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Consumers love the savings they get from low oil prices, but how has business been affected?


Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
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.


Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02