We’ve heard about a few layoffs in the last weeks. Gilt Groupe dramatically cut 10% of their staff, including at least one member of the Portland development team. We’ve also had word of employees recently cut from CrowdCompass and Site9.
Hiring and layoffs at tech companies tend to be cyclical, like many things, but companies also like to obscure their current status. The Silicon Florist job board is full of posts right now from the latest crop of incubator graduates and other startups, but we’ve seen plenty of tech companies with open jobs on their websites and a hiring freeze in place.
Outside of Portland, Yahoo just canned Flickr’s top-tier customer support team in the Bay Area, and Microsoft is slashing 200 jobs from their marketing division, mostly in Seattle. Regular churn, or something else? In the week that all anyone wants to talk about is Facebook’s IPO, where are we on this boom/bust cycle?
We’ve been quiet here because, well, we’ve been really busy.
Meanwhile, someone went to the trouble of copying all our content and impersonating us over at Silicon Lumberjack. We have no idea who did this, though we suspect it was Robert Wagner or someone trolling him.
But now the blog has disappeared and been replaced with this mysterious note:
We always thought being the Silicon Lumberjack was a little like being Spartacus (I am Spartacus! No, I am Spartacus), though hopefully without the mass crucifixion at the end.
To that end, you may enjoy checking out the apparent fork of this site at http://siliconlumberjack.com/ (with accompanying new Twitter account and Gmail address, hmm), which appears to have imported all of our old content. However, despite their reports to the contrary, you can rest assured that Team Lumberjack is still here and has not given up posting. We’ll be back with more commentary as soon as we think of something new to say about PIE, technology journalism, the SAO, and/or the many local startups that seem doomed by bad management.
Robert Wagner, on the other hand, has announced he’s quitting All Things Critical after about a month, possibly leaving the site in the hands of the people who started Portland Tech Insider (a site that never quite got off the ground).
Tips, rants, and idle gossip are always welcome at email@example.com or directed to @silumberjack on Twitter.
Some of the things we write about get better, or at least different.
The SAO may or may not have forced Matt Nees to quit, but either way you can apply for his job. We encourage each and every one of you to consider sending in a resume (it can’t hurt, right?). No word on the pay, though.
Last but not least, we’re thrilled that some of you consider this criticism thing to be a meme. That means you too can give it a try. See something that’s not working? Call it out. (Bonus game: play “spot the embezzler” commenting in the discussion in that last link.)
Seriously, though, we’re glad to see these discussions taking place. The point isn’t to have negativity for its own sake. It’s that the Portland technology industry pretends to be one happy unified family when it’s not. We have groups and individuals whose actions are completely in conflict with the needs of everyone else. We have companies that abuse their employees while continuing to receive glowing profiles in the newspaper. All this has been swept under the carpet because people are afraid to speak out. Isn’t it time we did something about that?
Last week, Robert Wagner launched All Things Critical, a new blog about technology in Portland. The site kicks off with an entertaining look at former SAO president Matt Nees’ job hunt, and some commentary on the Silicon Florist/PIE conflict of interest discussion. We wish Wagner the best of luck.
Now that the first round of seed funding recipients has been announced, there’s still a couple of things we’re interested in finding out.
1) How much is the administrative fee Bridge City Ventures is receiving to run this, and is it comparable to other incubators or investment funds? (We think this is an important question, given the public funds that are supporting PSF.)
2) One of the repeated criticisms we’ve heard of the local funding environment is that investors play it safe, and don’t want to take the risks that lead to greater rewards. How conservative or adventurous is the choice of these companies? Does public funding play a role in deciding how much risk to take on? And, as one of our commenters asked, are they funding enough companies each round to beat the odds?
Rumor has it @macforce is going out of business. Closing doors next week. So sad if true. My fav mac store w/ mini Apple history museum. :-(
@grigs Confirmed. So sad; they’re clearing out the store for a final sale. Staff seem shocked. Loved their service all these years.
[Here’s a guest post submitted by one of our readers.]
After sitting on cash for a year, and having cash in hand for next year, the Portland Seed Fund announced their first crop of investments. No one knows how much they invested but if it’s eight companies at 25K each, that’s 200K leaving the fund with around 2 million dollars sitting dormant (or going to overhead?). [So far as we know, this is the case. Mike Rogoway at the Oregonian has been looking into what the overhead costs are, but has not reported any details yet.—ed]
Let’s look at the first crop of eight and think about what it means for Portland. I know a few of these founders and they’re all nice people and very smart and I hope it works out for them.
1. 4-Tell.com, personalized recommendations. Very competitive field to break into or out of.
2. Audioname. Video signatures never worked. Audio signatures seem about 5-8 years late to the game.
3. Geoloqi. We all love Geoloqi. Didn’t they just take in $350K yesterday! Why would they dilute themselves with this fund? And weren’t the fund rules you couldn’t shop other investment at the same time?
4. Homeschool Snowboarding (Snowboarding Outerwear). Maybe they have something for a quick exit if one of the big guys like their gear. No jobs for us here.
5. Hively. Selling “customer feedback” platforms is really competitive and time consuming. I hope the money goes to get a great marketing team together.
6. InvestorInMe (Investor Tool Matching). I thought we were in a recession? Can anyone afford to invest their heart right now?
7. Vizify (Resume Tracking). Don’t we all use Linkedin?
8. Zinofile (Comic book opportunities?) Most news says the comics business is in trouble.
The description of this venture is too vague to say much. I hope there are some winners that come out of this group but nothing really grabs my attention as a venture that will create jobs or build up over time to achieve revenue. Nothing looks like it will increase the profile of Portland in attracting more businesses and investment.
Mainly I don’t see any job creation coming from these companies and I thought that’s what our public funds were to encourage? It would be interesting to see a list of those who were cut from the program. Too bad there isn’t an Angel.co for Portland or Portland/Seattle. That would have been a good investment.
[Thanks, anonymous reader! Do you have something you want to talk about? Leave a comment, submit a post, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Ken Westin comments:
The Portland tech scene is so small and everyone knows each other to the point it is almost incestuous. Frankly I don’t think we need more local coverage, we pat ourselves on the back enough, what we need is coverage outside of Portland as a whole. If only there were an organization, or association even that focused on the software industry here in Oregon, that could focus on bolstering our presence outside the vortex of Portlandia.
Yes, if only…
We’ve been receiving comments about Rick Turoczy having a conflict of interest between his new job as general manager of PIE, and his work on Silicon Florist. Certainly, it seems reasonable that local startups who don’t participate in the new incubator would be nervous that they won’t still receive the same publicity and attention. On the other hand, Turoczy has never claimed that the Florist’s role was to be anything but a cheerleader, so his lack of interest in criticism may help keep things fair.
This concern also highlights the continued shortage of people stepping into leadership roles—how is it, four years after Silicon Florist started, that there still isn’t another news source for the local startup scene that comes anywhere near providing the same level of attention and discussion? Why isn’t PDX11 actively working to fix that? It’s a little hard to ask Turoczy to step down from his first project when we can’t point to anyone who might step up and replace him.