Sponsored by Oregon Business

Internet search grows in Bend

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Thursday, January 05, 2012


Like Leo Tolstoy, I’ve never been a fan of the “great man” theory of history, in which lone, albeit powerful, individuals — i.e. Napoleon — are considered the primary drivers of historical events.

Still, open-mindedness is a virtue. And when I heard about the history of the search marketing industry and how it gained a foothold in Bend, all narrative threads did seem to lead back to one man.  That would be John Audette, an Internet pioneer who founded a Portland company called Multi-Media Marketing Group (MMG) in 1994, moved it to Bend in 1997, and is widely credited for coining the phrase “search engine optimization.”

I happened across the Central Oregon-search connection a few weeks ago while interviewing Adam Audette — son of John — for an Oregon Business feature story. His father’s company “seeded a lot of talent,” said Audette junior, whose own Bend-based search company, AudetteMedia, was acquired last summer by RKG, a Virginia-based online marketing firm.

At least two other search companies of national stature call Bend home: Global Strategies International, and G5. The latter was recently named one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, with revenue growth of 2,111% from 2006 to 2010. There are also a handful of smaller search companies and consultants in town, including Derrick Wheeler, a former MMG employee who continues to work from Bend as Microsoft’s search engine specialist.

It’s a good industry to be in. Seemingly recession proof, the ever-evolving search marketing sector keeps moving along at double-digit growth rates. Spending in the North American Search Engine Marketing sector reached $16.6 billion in 2010, up 14 percent from the year before, according to SEMPO, a Massachusetts-based trade association.

Based on job volume, New York is driving that growth, with Los Angeles a close second. Enter the mavericks in Bend, which ”is very much a hotbed considering its size and that it isn’t a major market,” says Jeremy Sanchez, CEO of Global Strategies International. I had called Sanchez to get his perspective on the Bend-search connection, only to discover that Sanchez had also worked for MMG and John Audette —“before Google was even a search-engine company.”
Marshall Simmons, SEO director for the New York Times, is yet another MMG protégé.

Sanchez did invoke the name of another “renowned industry figure:” Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, whom Audette hired in the late 1990s to train people in Central Oregon. Audette’s innovation was to conceive of search as a marketing service, said Sanchez.  Sullivan’s focus was how search engines as operating systems “really work.”

Today, Audette senior is reportedly launching another company offering Internet services to the nonprofit sector. And as search expands into social media and onto mobile platforms, Bend companies continue to grow.  RKG, for example, recently signed a lease on a new 10,000-square-foot Bend warehouse—tripling the size of its existing footprint.

Labor and infrastructure costs are lower in Bend than major cities, said RKG chief executive George Michie, adding that the central Oregon town has other advantages—namely, employee retention. “We like the model of a small town where people like to grow roots and stay.”

Like Tolstoy said:  broader social, economic and geographical factors are at least as important as a single great man, or woman, in determining the course of human events. Then again, the Audette factor is clearly the main reason why one small Oregon town has so much search.  Says Sanchez: “It all ties back to one individual.”

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.



Adam Audette
+1 #1 The Bend SEO legacyAdam Audette 2012-01-05 11:44:43
Linda, nicely done piece. Thank you for this, hopefully it will be of interest to the Bend and Oregon community who may not be aware of what a hotbed of search Bend has become.

I would also point people to http://www.historyofseo.org/ which was put together by Mark Knowles of PixelSilk / Smartz.com (another great Bend search and web development company). There's a lot of history about folks who were influential in the early days, many of which have roots here in Bend.

Thanks again.

Quote | Report to administrator
John Audette
0 #2 FounderJohn Audette 2012-05-02 05:34:45
Just saw this - thanks for the nice mention Linda.

Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

The Love Boat

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vigor’s values don’t stop at truth. Walk into a company office, conference room or on any shipyard site and you’ll most likely see a poster inscribed with the words “Truth. Responsibility. Evolution. Love.” Otherwise known as TREL, Vigor’s culture code and the prominence it is accorded can be a bit surprising to the unsuspecting shipyard visitor.


Make the business case, governor

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 05, 2015
aoikatebrownthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Gov. Kate Brown delivered the keynote speech at the Associated Oregon Industries annual policy forum yesterday.  Speaking to a Republican-aligned audience of about 100 business and public policy leaders, the governor was out of her comfort zone.


Seven questions about mandatory sick leave

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
102815-contributedthumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Many employers have questions about what mandatory sick leave means for their company. Take a look at the top 7 questions Oregon employers are asking.


Roll On

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The myth of a freight-dependent economy.


The cover story

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015

I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.


Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02