Archive for the 'Portland start-ups' Category

Hulu, Facebook and SplashCast: Being too early doesn’t pay the bills, but it beats a stick in the eye

September 23, 2011

SplashCast's SocialTV Product

At SplashCast, we pioneered a concept that we called “SocialTV” (I actually believe we coined the term for what it’s worth).

Well over two years ago, we created Facebook apps with social features focused on over 20 popular television shows. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld covered the product: Online TV Social, It Is All About The Chatter.

Splashcast Media, which has created apps for about 20 different TV shows, two weeks ago introduced a new feature called Chatter into its embedded video players. For instance on Facebook it has apps for The Simpsons, The Office, Family Guy, and more. Once you install each app, you can watch episodes of the show, many of them streamed through Hulu. SplashCast tells me that it is getting about 7 million monthly video views from one million unique viewers across all of its apps, with Hulu videos being the fastest growing proportion of that. Read the rest of this entry »

Software Industry Attitudes in Portland – Thoughts on the PDC Study

May 5, 2010

The PDC just released the results of its software industry survey.  Here is the full presentation.  The survey is a good start, but ultimately generates more questions than answers.  Many observations are made.  By far the biggest one is that software companies in Portland are very, very small.  This fact actually skews several of the other findings.

That Portland’s software companies are small, is not a surprise.  Far from it.  Those of us who deal with local tech companies (outside of the more traditional world of chips, screens and such) directly know this.  Seeing the data, however, really makes it sink in.

A full 49% of responding companies have less than 25 employees.  On the other end of the scale, only 9% have more than 500 employees.  Size matters.  Arguably, several other findings in the study are directly related. Read the rest of this entry »

I had a great time participating on the OEN pubtalk panel

April 19, 2010

Here’s a link to the OEN’s blog post covering the event: OEN Pubtalk on April 14.

Link to piece in OregonBusiness here.

Here was my homework.

This was a good opportunity to give back to the entrepreneurial community in terms of sharing the wins, losses, good, and bad.  The questions from the audience were very thoughtful.  We all share the same goal of putting Portland more squarely on the startup map.

Here’s an idea for Mayor Sam Adams and PDC

April 15, 2010

NedSpace in Downtown Portland

The Wall Street Journal points out today that there is a growing number of Bay Area tech workers telecommuting from Portland. The combination of Portland’s attractiveness and the acceptance of telecommuting is driving the trend.

Now it is getting more practical for people to live in the Pacific Northwest and continue working for Bay Area-based companies, as more employers loosen their telecommuting policies. Technology also is making it easier to stay connected all the time, and travel between San Francisco and cities to the north has become more convenient, though hard data on Bay Area transplants to the Northwest who retain their local jobs are hard to come by.

In other words, there are a lot of smart, educated people who happen to be gainfully employed (with Bay Area salaries) who want to live in Portland.  That’s great.  The Mayor and the PDC should jump all over this. Read the rest of this entry »

Third Party Platforms – Building on Thin Ice

April 13, 2010

Twitter announced that it will be launching its own application.  It’s a smart move for Twitter for a host of reasons.  Unfortunately, the move doesn’t bode well for the TweetDecks of the world (i.e., companies that have been building a business on the Twitter platform).

This story has repeated itself over and over again in a variety of ways and contexts.  For example, building a business on the Facebook platform is a scary proposition.  Facebook has repeatedly changed the rules for application developers, and will continue to do so.  iPhone/iPad application developers are likewise subject to the whims of The Apple.  Even if platform changes don’t drive you out of business, they certainly make it hard to plan (which ultimately impacts the value of a business). Read the rest of this entry »

Portland Startup Observations Through the SplashCast Lens

March 27, 2010

I agreed to participate on an Oregon Entrepreneurs Network panel discussing the demise of my old company, SplashCast (SplashCast – What Happened?).  This morning I received a reminder email and thought that I should do a bit of prep work. As my homework I created an advice list (of sorts) for entrepreneurs in Portland. 

Here’s my list. It’s a bit loose and in no particular order.

1. In Portland, bootstrapping should be considered financing option #1. When it comes to financing your company, consider bootstrapping options first.  Very simply, it remains quite difficult to raise money in Portland (relative to Seattle, Bay Area and LA).  There has been a lot of discussion about the reasons (which gets a bit tiresome).  The reality is that it’s relatively more difficult here.

Bootstrapping usually means moving more slowly, but raising money takes tons of time and focus too.  Furthermore, the cost of launching a new product continues to decrease.  in 2010, a very small team can do a lot. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Portland on the map

February 12, 2010

Josh Friedman wrote a nice “In My Opinion” piece in the Oregonian entitled “Getting on the map as a hub for startups.” While agreeing with the fact that Oregon is the West Coast laggard in venture capital, he argues that the bigger issue is the lack of angel, or seed, funding.

This caused me to reflect a bit on the three startups that I’ve been involved with.  The first two were based in California.  The latest was in Portland.

There was no lack of financing for the California based companies, either angel or venture capital level.  Times were different in the late 90’s and early 00’s, of course.  However, there is simply more access to capital outside of Oregon. The first startup raised $70M.  The second raised even more, and ended up going public. Read the rest of this entry »

New JanRain office in progress

January 4, 2010

OK, not the most scenic shot.  Nice new space for them.  Congrats on the move.

Portland startup scene 2009: Ups, downs and uptick in vibrancy

January 3, 2010

From the Oregonian’s Top Tech Stories of 2009:

Startups: Networked together with social media, Portland entrepreneurs defied the recession and infused Oregon’s notoriously lackluster startup scene with new vibrancy. There were setbacks: some promising venture-backed startups, including SplashCast and Ambric, failed this year, while the popular eastside coworking center CubeSpace also went under. But many other businesses launched, and Portland attracted new offices for prominent out-of-state venture capitalists.

Rise of Angels in Consumer Internet Space

December 29, 2009

This is a must read post related from Bill Burnham discussing the heightened role that angel investors are playing in the consumer internet startup world.

Here’s what he sees happening.  VCs are concluding that its very difficult (very, very difficult) to identify early winners.  Therefore, it makes sense to wait to see and watch for the next Twitter, Facebook, etc. to emerge.  At the same time, VCs are becoming larger.  They need to make larger investments and are, therefore, happy to wait for the winners to emerge (even though that means investing at higher valuations).  VC partners are personally content with this situation because they are sitting on more funds under management (i.e., collecting more management fees).

At the same time, technology has become cheap (really, really cheap).  Very small teams of entrepreneurs can build version 1.0 products for little more than sweat.  Given this, there are a lot more “projects” happening.  Some of these projects might become businesses.  This situation makes the VC’s “wait and watch” approach appear even more rational.  High tech is becoming cheap tech (question: if tech is this “easy” is it really “tech” at this point?).  Angel investment is far better suited for backing early stage efforts that will either succeed or fail fast.

At first glance, this would seem to be a good development for markets like Portland, where there are relatively few established VCs.  However, it may be more of a negative given that Portland lacks an established community of successful entrepreneurs in the consumer internet space (relative to Silicon Valley, LA, NY).  It’s my impression that it’s relatively more important for angels to be located close to their investments.