SAO throws a party

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Friday, May 04, 2012

 

BY LINDA BAKER

SoftwareParty_BlogIn the past six months, the Software Association of Oregon has been trying to shed its stodgy image and become more relevant to the increasingly vibrant — and youthful — high-tech startup community. If last night’s 2012 Member Recognition Gala & Industry Awards is any indication, the organization is well on the way to winning a few hearts and minds.

Held in the exposed-beam warehouse space of the Left Bank Annex, the Gala affair was less an endurance test of ponderous speeches than a  cocktail party with fun, smart and interesting people.  Although the Gala was billed as a first annual event, a few attendees told me they had attended some iteration of the event in previous years. “But it wasn’t like this. It wasn’t as good.”

At worst, the gala was a victim of its own success.  With only a smattering of tables, the standup crowd made such a din that it was virtually impossible to hear the few speeches that did mark the occasion, leaving SAO president Skip Newberry looking a bit like a mime during his opening address and compelling Mohan Nair, Chief Innovation Officer at Cambia Health Solutions, to cut his keynote short by 15 minutes and instead deliver what he claimed was an impromptu rendition of "When I Fall in Love" with the Cleveland High School Jazz Band.

I might also suggest that SAO rethink a few of their award categories, namely, the “Most Awards in a Year Award,” and the “Company Producing the Biggest Impact in the Shortest Period of Time Award.”

Here are a few of the guests with whom I mixed and mingled:

• Michael Gray, chief technology officer for GlobeSherpa, a “mobile ticketing” startup, with an app for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry that lets users purchase and use transit tickets — bus, light rail, trains, waterway — with a click of the button. A member of the Portland Seed Fund's second class of start ups, GlobeSherpa aims to bring "sanity to mobility” in a fractured U.S. transit market, said Gray. The company expects to perform a beta test of the app in June in four yet-to-be named cities. Here’s hoping one of them is Portland, where fumbling for change on TriMet feels so 20th century.

• Aimee Fahey,  recruiter for Puppet Labs, who is on a mission to fill 15 new positions, from systems administrators to software developers. The  company, which had 40 employees last year, will have 100 when the hiring spree is over.  “We’re big enough that we provide a career path but still have the startup feel,” Fahey said.

•  Zachary Hudson, an 18-year-old Amity High School senior and  Techstart Student Technologist of the Year, who told me about his senior project: a 16-inch quadcopter flying robot that uses four propellers controlled independently by a microprocessor and gyro to stabilize and fly. "We've demonstrated proof of concept," Hudson said, handing me his business card.

Hudson might be considered part of an SAO gala education theme, if one could say there was a theme.  After initially failing to make his voice heard, Newberry did succeed in silencing the crowd so he could discuss the “importance of education.” Noting that his own kids are going to be competing for jobs with kids all over the country, as well as in China and India, Newberry called on guests to invest time and money in local schools and community programs.  “Now is the time," he said.

Set against a backdrop of never-ending budget cuts in Portland public schools, Newberry’s call to arms was a welcome if somber contribution to an otherwise sparkling upbeat celebration of the region’s tech community.

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Outlier
0 #1 Sounds FamiliarOutlier 2012-05-14 21:06:44
Our town also has great press, enthusiastic companies, and emerging ideas. The latest round of changes at SAO will bring some new energy but education seems like a big bite considering the state of things.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

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?


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

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


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

Labor Pains

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Thinking about starting an internship program? Be careful. Navigating unpaid internships can be tricky.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS