Ward Cunningham, the Beaverton programmer who invented the wiki—a website that allows collaborative editing, like Wikipedia—says tech investors have told him that Portland simply doesn’t have enough executive talent to compete with Silicon Valley.
“The way it was put to me, there wasn’t a ‘sea level’ of talent among CEOs available to venture capitalists,” says Cunningham, who now works as the chief technology officer for a startup in Los Angeles. “This can be fixed, of course. The way you learn how to be a good CEO is to run a few startups.” (Editor’s note: After the publication of this story, Cunniningham clarified that he meant “C-level,” the pool of CEO talent.)
The executives you’ll meet in the following pages are raising the sea level.
Bill Lynch (who co-founded Jive Software) comments:
Nice article, but seriously, “Sea Level”? And the correction of “CEO-level” isn’t quite accurate either because it refers to C-titled people like CMO, CEO, CTO, or other execs. And I agree with that point too - the depth of bench for those roles in Portland is slim and those leaders are really necessary to grow a company in a significant way.
I’m optimistic this talent will evolve here, it’ll just take time and successful startups.
But when that happens, will Jive’s headquarters move back? And will local reporters know enough to follow the story by then?