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On The Scene: The future of M&A

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On the Scene
Thursday, August 27, 2009

The turnout was small at Intel Capital’s Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro, but the topic at hand was a massive one. Sixteen people sat in on a panel discussion this week called “Mergers and Acquisitions: Navigating the M&A Landscape,” helmed by three professionals well traveled in M&A territory.

The discussion was part of this year’s Silicon Forest Technology and Financial Forum (formerly two separate events), and as the panelists shared their unique perspectives on M&A today, there was no denying that technology transactions have hit rough waters in this economy. Is there an end in sight to the bleak picture? It’s hard to tell.

Although Intel is looking at some expansion areas, including graphics and visual computing, its M&A director, John Zdrodowski, said the company’s general financial discipline over the past few years — the belt-tightening and restructuring done in response to the downturn — is here to stay. Budgets at Intel are tight and head counts are flat, so any acquisitions the company makes have to make absolute financial sense. And Intel is also cutting back on divestitures. “That’s mostly behind us,” Zdrodowski said. “There may be some in the future, but fewer than past years.”

 

On The Scene: Sharpening your SEO edge

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On the Scene
Friday, August 21, 2009

“If you’re not doing it, your competition is, and you’re going to be left in the dust." When someone tells you that, you'd better sit up and take notes.

That was among the parting bits of advice from Colleen Wright, an expert in SEO and owner of the Search Engine Academy of Oregon. About 30 people – mostly self-employed – settled into the air-conditioned comfort of the MacForce training center in southeast Portland this week for a workshop with Wright. The issue at hand: How to effectively use SEO for your website to market your business.

While the workshop was free, implementing SEO methods into a website operation usually isn’t. Yet Wright said that people are still increasing their budgets for SEO, according to research from Forrester, and about 73% of merchants are making optimization a top priority.

 

On The Scene: Businesses try on Twitter

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On the Scene
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

People from all walks of business packed a casual luncheon Tuesday on the second floor of Portland's Bridgeport Brewpub + Bakery. Business cards were swapped left and right, but the focus of the lunch had more to do with the laptops and smart phones lying on the tables than straight-up networking.

The Oregon chapter of the American Marketing Association was holding a “Tweetshop," a workshop designed to help companies use Twitter to its fullest potential. On hand to school the eager learners were digital strategists David Veneski of Intel and Alex Williams of eROI.

The stats brought up during the workshop spoke volumes about the astounding growth of Twitter this year: The site jumped over 131 percent in unique visitors from February to March and reached 23 million unique visitors in June, surpassing the mighty New York Times website and catching up to CNN.com. With such a large user base, networking is easy; Veneski talked about connections he made simply by following people on Twitter. “It’s pretty interesting," Veneski said. "You get access to people you normally wouldn't be able to [reach].” Plus, with users frequently "re-tweeting" other people's posts, Veneski said information can quickly go viral no matter how big your follower base is.

 

On The Scene: Keeping the mug half full

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On the Scene
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

With the summer sun shining high over Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, throngs of people milled about the grounds in flip-flops and sunglasses holding froth-filled mugs. I was at the 22nd annual Oregon Brewers Festival, curious to find out if people were still willing to spend their hard-earned cash on craft beers.

While admission to the event was free, visitors instead purchased a taster package ranging from $10 to $50 for beer samples or full drinks. But for those in attendance, it was clear that money was no object in their quest to sample the 80 brews available under the wide, roomy tents. Beers from across the country were represented at the festival, but from the conversations I had, a passion for local brews and sharing it with others is what’s keeping the beer economy from running dry, at least in Oregon.

“There’s a real love of the craft brew,” said Ken Baer, co-founder of Portland startup Taplister.com, who was at the festival promoting the company. “‘Craft’ is a perfect word for it. I think people also want to have that sense of community, and in Portland, it seems like the level of pride is going up.”

 
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