#PDX11: Conversation about VC, investing and trends in the Portland

I wanted to continue talking about the perceptions stemming from the “quality of life” versus “financial success” juxtapositon from this slide:

A friend pointed out that maybe this issue is being framed in the wrong way for “outsiders”. If we’re going to pitch people on Portland being the best place to build a startup, values are certainly part of the equation, but what do investors want to know?

Maybe problem is similar to the process of gentrification… And as far as Portland’s software scene is concerned, we’re out of the blight, well into the “artists and weirdos make a home” phase and maybe just about to transition into “developers buy up a lot of land and artists start moving on” phase. But capital investment is in companies rather than land.

Maybe the story we as a city need to tell is that we want early adopter investors and more “artists and weirdos” who are passionate about what they do.

It’s a tough analogy, because we don’t have the same geographical or physical world indicators. When gentrification occurs, there aren’t always clear signs in the beginning. But as the process unfolds, people physically move in and out of a tight geographical area.

To put a spotlight on what’s going on with the tech industry, we need for some better indicators! Have a look at the employment graphs like the Oregon tech job employment indicator:

I don’t think it tells the whole story. There are also indicators about VC, but again, I don’t think it is capturing the nature of what is happening in Portland.

To start, I’m interested in a finer-grained look at the jobs associated with small software and IT firms. I’m not sure if there’s a way to pull that data out of what is typically tracked, but I’m going to try.

What indicators do you think we should be tracking?

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  1. I believe that the draw of Portland for software developers includes a number of factors, one is quality of life in general, another is the creativity and willingness to try new things that drives people here, the last is the quality of the software people that live here and their willingness to share their expertise so others can grow and become better developers.

    A big question is what type of indicators you might put together to measure these things. How do you measure quality over quantity? Some metrics might be people’s participation in events and user groups. Another might be participation in open source projects.

    The influence of people from Portland in the software industry would be another good indicator. You might measure that by looking at blogs and printed articles about developers here, another might be social network influence. Also, looking at the number of companies that have branch offices in Portland so they could keep the talent that was moving here would be interesting, or how many people that live here commit to more global or regional projects.

    It would also be interesting to see how many developers that visit Portland would be interested in moving here with the right circumstances.

    Hope some of this might help.