Start-up City: How the New Tech Boom is Changing Portland

A five part series on the new tech boom in Portland


Start-Up City:  A Five-Part Series on How the New Tech Boom is Changing Portland

tfnwPART ONE: The New Tech Boom in Portland

Portland, and Hillsboro have long been known as the “Silicon Forest,”  after California’s Silicon Valley. But in recent years,  new tech companies are choosing to locate their headquarters in Portland. The first part of this series on the growing technology industry in Portland begins with TechFest Northwest, a two-day conference held this past August at OMSI. Now in its fourth year, this year’s program featured local as well as national speakers talking about  subjects ranging from drones to start up marketing, from robots to storytelling,  from digital privacy and government monitoring. Among those interviewed are Lizzy Caston, organizer and program director of this year’s TechFest Northwest,  Ariane Holzhauer Executive Director, TiE Oregon,  a nonprofit network of entrepreneurs, and an attendee who just moved to Portland.



PART TWO: Coders Wanted: New Jobs in the Tech Industry


“There’s a new gold rush, and the pickaxes are free.”                                              — Andrew Berkowitz
While the unemployment rate in Oregon hovers around seven percent, in the technology industry there’s a shortage of talent available to fill all the open positions.  The second part in this series on the growth of the tech industry in Portland, looks at the first annual Tech Fest Northwest Talent Fair, held this past at OMSI. Attending this years talent fair were hiring managers from tech companies such as Puppet Labs, Nike, Jama Software, and Urban Airship and Simple, among others. Also attending were a number of schools and boot camps that offer training in computer programming. Among those interviewed are Sheri Dover, Director of The Portland Code Guild, talking about the new opportunities for jobs in the tech industry, provided that one is willing and able to learn computer coding.


PART THREE: The Digital Divide & The Talent Divide: Who Makes up the Tech Industry?

The Tech Industry values collaboration. Yet, recent statistics on the racial, gender and age profile of the tech industry shows an abysmal lack of diversity. The stereotype of a computer nerd as a white, male, in his 20s or 30s, is a somewhat accurate reflection of who constitutes the tech industry at the moment.  The third part of this series on the growing tech Industry in Portland focuses on  local efforts to make tech jobs more accessible. Among those interviewed are Mara Zepeda, co-founder of Switchboard, and a speaker at TechFest Northwest this August.



PART FOUR: Disruptive Technologies & Human Design: Tecnology & Social Change

By creating a climate that encourages entrepreneurs and small start ups,   Portland is developing a  culture of  innovation. Many speakers and attendees at this year’s TechFest Northwest spoke enthusiastically about using technology to solve problems. The fourth part in this series on the growth of the technology industry in Portland focuses on the idea of “disruptive technologies” and different ideas about how technology may be used to create positive social change. Among those interviewed are Patrick Curtain, Community Manager of Idealist.



PART FIVE: Future Trends in Technology & The Current Housing Crisis in Portland 

TechFest Northwest provided an opportunity for people in the tech industry to come together to talk about the positive as well as negative consequences of new technologies. The final part of this series on the growth of the tech industry in Portland, looks at the future of technology– what Kara Swisher calls the Instant gratification economy made possible by mobile marketing, as well as expanded government surveillance and Senator Ron Wyden’s call for new laws to protect privacy in the digital age. It also looks at one direct result of the growth of the tech industry in Portland — rising rents and gentrification.