TechTown 2 video: Portland tech, the way it would like to be – OregonLive.com
Coffee on every corner and food carts outside every door. Shimmering mountain vistas contrast with whiteboard scribbles.
The new TechTown Portland video – a sequel to a widely viewed recruitment video the city’s tech community created two years ago – features all the standard Portland icons mixed with a few things you rarely see.
The first video touted a half-dozen companies. TechTown Portland 2 (see it at the bottom of this post) features six individuals – transplants all from across the country or around the world, a mix of genders and ethnicities that’s unusual in the city’s tech industry. There’s more diversity than rain.
There’s nothing unusual about recruitment efforts featuring an idealized images, of course. In the new TechTown video it’s not a college or company that’s doing the recruiting, but a whole industry. The hope is that Portland can create an image for itself that will entice skilled technologists from elsewhere.
“We aspire to a lot more than we are today, and some of that is taking the first step and projecting what you want to be,” said Bill Lynch, co-founder of Jive Software, now entrepreneur-in-residence at the Portland Development Commission, which helped craft and fund the video.
Oregon tech employment, which plunged during the great recession, turned up sharply four years ago. An influx of big companies from out of state, including eBay, Salesforce.com and New Relic, made it excruciatingly difficult for cash-strapped startups to recruit software engineers and web developers.
“We’re not going to grow as a region if we’re just moving people around in different jobs,” Lynch said.
The new video features six transplants testifying to the city’s virtues, countering a stubborn stereotype that paints Portland as a lazy-lifestyle alternative to the hard-charging Silicon Valley.
“I came here to work hard, to make something meaningful,” says Michael Gray, chief technology officer of Portland online ticketing startup GlobeSherpa, strolling by a MAX train downtown.
While countering some of the conventional wisdom, the video embraces other tropes: “Here, for less money, you can afford more.” – says Carla Nichols, a vice president at online archivist Smarsh, who moved to Portland from San Francisco.
The original TechTown video has been seen viewed thousands of times online and used in recruiting fairs in Portland and in California. There’s no hard data, though, on how well it did at improving the city’s image or luring techies to Oregon.
This time, an accompanying website posts Portland job listings and offers links to learn more about Portland. Organizers say they will track online visits and inquiries to gauge the breadth and depth of the response.
Portland production firm Uncage the Soul, which created the first TechTown video, crafted this one, too.
The $50,000 price tag was split roughly evenly between a dozen featured tech companies and economic development agencies, including the Technology Association of Oregon, Business Oregon and the Portland Development Commission.
“It’s mostly for people outside the city,” Lynch said, “to get them to ask the question: ‘Why not Portland?'”
— Mike Rogoway