Honestly, when it comes right down to it, I can’t say enough nice things about Portland, Oregon. I love this town. And I’d be willing to bet that if you’re interested in living somewhere with a contagious entrepreneurial spirit and a great tech scene, you may just fall in love with Portland, too.
If I had to sum up the Portland tech scene in one word, it would be this: community. Cooperative, collegial, and welcoming, Portland thrives with a bevy of events and gatherings, a collection of user groups and coworking, and an interwoven group of folks who seem to understand that we’re all in this together.
Granted, some classify Portland as a “lifestyle” startup town. One that lacks the competitive killer instinct of other larger metropolitan areas on the West Coast. We’d likely agree. That’s not where Portland excels. Instead, Portland thrives on creativity and bringing ideas to fruition—whether they’re fundable, fungible, or otherwise. Folks here express themselves creatively with technology and help others do the same. We’re a think tank, an R&D shop, and an idea incubator.
What’s actually happening in Portland?
Portland is home to Web-focused startups like Jive Software, AboutUs, and Webtrends. It’s at the center of a burgeoning mobile development scene that features startups like Small Society, Subatomic (makers of Fieldrunners), Spotlight Mobile, and Urban Airship. Blogging is a huge part of the culture here, as well. And as such, there are a number of well-known blogs either officially or semi-officially located here. Like who? Well, Metafilter, the bulk of ReadWriteWeb‘s staff, and COLOURlovers, to name a few. (Maybe even CenterNetworks if we can woo Allen out here.) And of course Portland has a ton of development shops and individual developers banging on open source projects, OpenID, geolocation, and more.
And while Portland hasn’t received a great deal of attention from the venture capital types since the dotcom days, that’s starting to change. Just as important, the Portland tech community is seeing traction with the municipal government, as well. In fact, the City of Portland has formally recognized the startup tech community as a critical component of its economic development strategy.
The creative culture that we see in the tech scene permeates the entire city on any number of fronts. Food, coffee, and beer are all huge components of the Portland lifestyle. So for all the welcoming coworking spaces in Portland, a great deal of the meeting, working, and collaborating occurs in the town’s coffee shops and brew pubs. In fact, rumor has it that Portland is home to the most craft brewers per capita for any metropolitan area—and honestly, the coffee roasters, craft distillers,and food cart vendors can’t be far behind.
And don’t even get me started on Voodoo Doughnut.
But not every meeting in the tech community is happenstance. Beer and Blog has become the informal happy hour for the Portland tech scene—and a number of other tech towns. Ignite Portland regularly draws 600+ folks from the community to geek out about people’s burning ideas. And Portland is home to any number of Camps—like BarCamp Portland, WordCamp Portland, WhereCamp PDX, Digital Journalism Camp—which complement larger annual events like the entirely volunteer run Open Source Bridge conference and WebVisions.
It’s not all work. Getting away is a big part of Portland as well—and a big part of keeping that creative spirit alive. We sit midway between hiking and camping in the mountains and a walk on the beach. Between of one of the premier locations for windsurfing and kite boarding and the opportunity to climb at some of the premier natural walls in the world. And its not just outside the city. Portland itself is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world and it boasts the nation’s premier urban forest.
Long story short, Portland provides an incredible variety of options for work and play—a combination of accessible communities and activities and a healthy balance of options for getting away.
But don’t just take my (rambling) word for it. Come out and visit. There are any number of direct or one-stop flights that will get you to PDX.