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Score one for open-source jobs

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Ben Jacklet
Monday, June 22, 2009
An open source software company called Reductive Labs is coming to Portland with $2 million in venture capital and plans to create 10 jobs in the immediate future. The jobs are welcome, as is the trend behind them.

Reductive Labs specializes in open source software. Its main product, Puppet, helps organizations manage their networks. And according to Mike Rogoway’s Silicon Forest blog, the founders are a pair of Reed graduates who couldn’t wait to set up shop in Portland.

Which brings me to the trend. Portland has been hyped for some time as a Mecca of sorts for innovations with open source software, which has the advantage of releasing individuals and companies from the bonds of constantly paying for the latest Microsoft update. Most famously, Linus Torvalds, the great Linux guru, lives and works here. Oregon’s independent streak and open source software are a natural fit, and there are plenty of smart people out there passionate about putting it to work for the greater good. But for all the hype around open source and the mystique regarding Torvalds, real companies creating real jobs have been slow to develop.

That may be changing. And that trend could merge quite nicely with a broader one. I’m talking about the counter-cyclical success that dozens of small-to-medium Portland-area tech firms are experiencing. Scroll down the Portland Business Journal’s list of the fastest growing private companies, and you’ll find plenty of tech companies with 20 or 30 employees steadily creating jobs. Some of them, such as Monsoon, ID Experts and Smarsh, are growing like crazy, handing out bonuses rather than pink slips.

Money isn’t exactly pouring into Oregon’s small tech companies given the state of financial markets. But it’s worth emphasizing that Reductive’s money came from investors, rather than taxpayers. That makes the deal even sweeter.



Ben J
0 #1 Nokia eying OregonBen J 2009-06-24 12:38:42
Speaking of open source jobs, the new alliance between Finnish cell phone giant Nokia and Intel has great potential. The rumor is that Nokia is considering setting up in Oregon. That would make sense, given Intel's powerful R and D presence in Hillsboro. One local veteran of the open source scene tells me Nokia has its eyes on Oregon because "this is where the talent is."

Whether the rumors will lead to jobs remains to be seen.
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