My recent op-ed published about Portland and startups

I was featured in the Portland Business Journal last Friday! I wrote an essay on startups and the experiences of women in the Portland tech community that have caused me to not refer women into startups for jobs unless the startups are run by fellow PyLadies.

Some excerpts:

It takes more than one CEO’s alleged behavior to cause 56 percent of women to leave technology related fields by mid-career, according to a Harvard Business Review study. That’s twice the rate that men leave the tech industry.

After all, 63 percent of women in STEM industries (science, technology engineering and math) have experienced sexual harassment, according to a 2008 study.

I can’t recommend that women work for startups in Portland.

Startup funders should keep holding executives accountable. Company cultures grow from the seeds planted by their leaders.

These companies need [qualified HR, skilled with workforce diversity issues], and our tech leaders should demand it.

Read the whole thing at the Portland Business Journal’s site!

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in Portland, April 21, 11-3pm, P-I-E

We’re hosting an Edit-a-thon in Portland this Saturday. Join us!

Selena and Pete invite you to a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon! Join us and the Portland wiki community as we dive into editing the biggest, most fascinating, and most collaborative encyclopedia in human history. This informal event will help you get your bearings, create an account, and start hacking in this decade-old project.

Never edited a web page? Never fear! We will give you a background/overview of how things work, and suggest some easy first-timer edits. Or, if you’re an old hand, please join us and share your valuable knowledge!
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Summer’s finally here: Plans and more plans

I’ve been pretty busy since I left PgCon. Emma is gearing up for a pretty awesome API release, and I’m working on a bit of tricky migration code.

I’ve also got a number of upcoming talks to suss out:

And, then August off from the conference circuit, and a trip to Chicago for Postgres Open. And I’ve agreed to MC for another great event coming to Portland this fall.

So, I’ve got a busy few weeks ahead preparing for such great conferences coming here to Portland.

Otherwise, chickens are laying eggs regularly, I’ve got a delicious looking crop of cherries developing in the front yard, and maybe some strawberries if the sun lasts for a few days. For the moment, I’m taking it easy today, reading a few books and relaxing in warmth that Portland has deserved for quite a few months now.


Photo courtesy of roome via Flickr

This year is so nuts for having conferences in Portland, OR

UPDATED! Just added Open Gov West! Rearranged, and just listing these all in order now. And added #140Conf in Vancouver, WA. It’s close enough. 🙂 And just added Digital Journalism Portland.

For real.

This summer belongs to the nerds, geeks and hackers. I can’t believe that Portland’s tech scene got no love from Portlandia this year. Thank heavens they got a second season!

I did some research, and found TWENTY distinct conferences happening from now through November in the Portland area.

Anyway, there’s a sweet new service that you might not have heard of called Lanyrd, and a quick search over there revealed 20 conferences.

And over the next few days, several people suggested a few more:

  1. Agile Open Northwest 2011, 8-9 February 2011
  2. SearchFest 2011, 23rd February 2011
  3. Python Software Foundation Sprint, Feb 26th
  4. PDX11 Civic Hacking Unconference, April 1-2, 2011 (Plans are coming together now.. so pencil it in!)
  5. Innotech, April 21, 2011
  6. TEDxPortland, April 30, 2011
  7. JSConf US 2011, 2nd–3rd May 2011 (Rumors of crazy fun abound for this, also a party open to the public. Epic!)
  8. NodeConf 2011, 5th May 2011
  9. Open Gov West, 13-14 May 2011
  10. Digital Journalism Portland, 14th May 2011
  11. #140Conf Northwest, 19th May 2011
  12. WebVisions 2011, 25th–27th May 2011
  13. World Domination Summit, 4th–5th June 2011
  14. HotStorage ’11, 14th June 2011 (Third workshop on hot topics in storage!)
  15. USENIX ATC ’11, 15th–17th June 2011 (USENIX’s annual technical conference)
  16. WebApps ’11, 15th–16th June 2011 (Second annual conference from USENIX on webapps!)
  17. Open Source Bridge 2011, 21st–24th June 2011 (Third year! CFP still open!)
  18. IndieWebCamp, 25th–26th June 2011
  19. OSCON 2011, 25th–29th July 2011 (Back in Portland, Again! And @gorthx is on the committee!)
  20. Community Leadership Summit 2011, 23rd–24th July 2011
  21. Vida Vegan Blog Conference, 26th–28th August 2011 (Blogger conference for vegans! Crazy!)
  22. DjangoCon US 2011, 6th–8th September 2011 (Organizer recently relocated to Portland!)
  23. Pacific NW Drupal Summit, October 14-16, 2011
  24. SPLASH 2011, 22nd–27th October 2011
  25. Onward! 2011, 22nd–27th October 2011 (@al3x is on the committee for this!)
  26. Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011, 9th–12th November 2011

Sources: Lanyrd, Plancast, Calagator and the comments.

What other geekery did I miss? Let me know in the comments.


Here are the conferences without dates:

Event organizers: spaces to have tech events or conferences in Portland

I’ve been asked more than a couple times about places to have events in Portland.

When you google for ‘event spaces portland, or’ you don’t get anything that I’d call useful.

So here’s the list that I’ve compiled:

East Side:

West Side:

#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?

#PDX11: Community as competitive advantage

Here’s an edited version of Thompson Morrison’s presentation about the software industry’s response to a series of surveys. The original presentation is available here. One of the key slides was about what folks here value:

The point I appreciated about this clip is that Portland’s software community *is* our competitive advantage.

I edited the video most for audio coherence. Sorry about the audio being a little out of sync.

Open Data Hackathon Day: ScraperWiki views

Open data is really only as interesting as what we can do with it!

One sweet thing about ScraperWiki is that it enables quick creation of visualizations called ‘views’ from inside the wiki. They’ve got templates that use Google Visualization to help the process along.

I made the following today (from this datasource):

I don’t have the entire data set, but this graph indicates that the recession had a significant negative impact on the creation rate of new businesses in Oregon.

I just started a new scraper job to pull more information about people and the places where the businesses are located. When that job is done, I hope to create a few more fun visualizations with this data.

UPDATE: I’m playing around more, and here’s the embedded version of the graph if you click through (takes a while to load!).
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Tweeted notes from City Hall meeting

  • Looking for a few good OPML files: #
  • many <3s to @osuosl @ramereth @gchaix for help with setting up #pdx11 #
  • What's better than the civil war game? OPEN DATA HACKATHON! This saturday! with @maxogden! #
  • Thanks, Girltalk. Now I want to eat an ice cream sandwich. #
  • #PDX11 It's alive! #
  • Heading to City Hall for the software summit #pdx11 (psst: #
  • Look! @MayorSamAdams on the floor #pdx11 #
  • So, @MayorSamAdams says that he picked us for our good taste in fashion AND our strength and future promise as an industry #pdx11 #
  • This is the fourth gathering about economic development strategy for the PDC plan #pdx11 #
  • Scott Adams from the PDC talking about how they have been trying to figure out the software industry #pdx11 #
  • And now, Gerald Baugh is up talking about the key people who helped research the industry here. #pdx11 #
  • Pdx11 crowd at city hall #
  • PDX economic opportunity areas: Athletic/Outdoor, clean tech, advanced manufacturing and SOFTWARE! #pdx11 #
  • Why target software? Direct & Indirect opportunity – $9 billion dollar effect on the Oregon economy #pdx11 #
  • Average wage in software sector is $87k, almost double the wages of other industries in Oregon #pdx11 #
  • Another goal: design a public/private partnership to support software industry #pdx11 (heck yeah!) #
  • PDC & the City were impressed by participation at CEO, developer and hobbyist #pdx11 #
  • Had a fireside chat with the Mayor with 35 companies, but it wasn't wide enough. So they made a survey & got >800 respondants #pdx11 #
  • Out of those conversations, created the Portland Seed Fund and Portland10 #pdx11 #
  • The City of Portland put together open source initiatives and hosted Lunch 2.0 #pdx11 #
  • Since December $68 million in risk capital that has come in the last year! (and now we're having those guys stand up) #pdx11 #
  • Some PDX CEOs have turned down capital from other investors that would have had them move to other cities #pdx11 #
  • "Ours is not a normal industry. I truly believe this in my heart." Thompson Morrison #
  • Three key elements in our software industry: community sourcing, agile iteration, open innovation #pdx11 #
  • re: agile iteration – why yes we do have @WardCunningham in the audience! 🙂 #pdx11 #
  • use of #pdxstrat tag is full of lulz /cc @BajillionHits #
  • Haha. Quoting @bradfordcross — "There is No Such Thing as the NExt Silicon Valley." #pdx11 #
  • Suggestion: Let's make the next town hall an @IgniteGov! #pdx11 #
  • What are the most important values in PDX? Quality of Life, Community. #pdx11 #
  • What is the least important value in this survey? Financial Success. (by an embarrassing margin) #pdx11 #
  • Fort Hall is the "fork in the road" between the California and Oregon Trail. #historylesson #themoreyouknow #
  • "Cultivating enduring wealth." That's the takeaway. I guess. #
  • So, how do we turn who we are into competitive advantage? Community is our competitive advantage. #pdx11 #
  • Community is not just for social wealth. It's also for our economic wealth. #pdx11 #
  • Community == agility (not what people would assume…) – enables it through fast connections between people, mashups #pdx11 #
  • Community provides support to help us make the right decisions as we build our businesses. #pdx11 #
  • Why aren't we as connected as folks in the valley? We're cultivators – stick with the same companies and don't move around as much #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the knowledge network? Sign up! #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the financing group? #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the mentoring group? #pdx11 #
  • Question: Financial success is a low priority, and we're complaining about lack of investment? Why do we complain? #pdx11 #
  • Answer: @MayorSamAdams everyone wants to be financially secure. We're just foremost motivated by how the work we do makes us feel #pdx11 #
  • Observation re VC: You need to have some big wins. 6 years since last company went to public. Bring people in from outside #pdx11 #
  • Observation from @brianfinger: hiring from outside PDX because they want to come here. Need to market PDX tech community better #pdx11 #
  • Sez @MayorSamAdams: part of the problem – we lack a coherent strategy. #pdx11 #
  • Can we have more money? $.5million is chump change. @MayorSamAdams: And I got that without even having a strategy for it! #pdx11 #hellyeah #
  • Excellent classroom control by @MayorSamAdams this evening 😉 #
  • How do we sustain quality of life over time? Hitting $1million – of course biz should. But then what? #pdx11 #
  • Stuart Cohen (of CSI) /cc @mherrick66 supplier to customer mkt. Oregonians don't consume enough products to enable rapid innovation. #pdx11 #
  • Question: Where in this effort are we going to see a plan to achieve financial success? #pdx11 #
  • We haven't created a cycle of successful M&A events. Creates more capital and more experienced management teams. #pdx11 #
  • yay @technojosh is speaking up! We have lots of companies that don't publicize their exits. #pdx11 #
  • Big question: How do we define success and how do we measure it? #pdx11 #
  • Finding space for user groups is currently an issue. Can we use PDC's background in real estate to help with that? #pdx11 #
  • Big thing that Gresham did: Waiving fees if you move from a home-based biz to downtown. @MayorSamAdams: YES! We do that. #pdx11 #
  • Next steps! We need structure. #pdx11 #
  • Scheduled a PROGRESS REPORT event February 2011 #pdx11 (dude. seriously awesome.) #
  • Haha. They're passing buckets around to put your card into buckets to get involved in these groups #pdx11 #
  • Conveners: they're here to ask people to come to a meeting. #pdx11 #
  • Introducing Warren Harrison from PSU: working on the knowledge network to solidify our informal and formal groups #pdx11 #
  • Matt Nees from SAO: working on the mentoring network can we cross breed .NET and open source audiences. (lulz) #pdx11 #
  • PDC guy (missed his name) is leading up the financing group. Help companies find the capital they need #pdx11 #
  • Thanks for bearing with my tweets! All done. 🙂 #
  • At @pdxhackathon! #
  • I'm competing with "coats" in the local trending topics. #
  • OMG #
  • Software summit wrapup! #pdx11 #