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|Thursday, January 05, 2012|
BY LINDA BAKER
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.”
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.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
Reinventing capitalism. Office dumpster divers. Handprints versus carbon footprints.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy. “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON
Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.
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