by Oakley Brooks
For a long time, Portland’s software community labored like a timid 90-pound nerd in the shadows of its burly letterman peers—local tech firms that make physical stuff, be it Intel with their chips or Hewlett-Packard with their printers. No longer. Open-source guru Linus Torvalds relocated to the region six years ago, about the same time a raft of local open-source projects run by Sun Microsystems and IBM fired up. Then homegrown online networking superstar Jive Software planted its flag downtown. (They’ve since moved their HQ to Palo Alto, but most employees remain here.)
Today, 726 companies make up Portland’s software industry; in 2007, the metro region’s software sector ticked $2.4 billion in revenue. The stalwarts are in network security and medical software, where Schrödinger recently nabbed $10 million from Bill Gates to develop technology for computer-aided drug discovery. And Hillsboro-based Kryptiq has developed interactive doctor-patient communication tools that position it well for a federal project to digitize the health industry.
But software’s new in-crowd is social networking for business. The killer apps here will be “powerful information-gathering tools that sift one more layer through the Web and social media,” says Matt Nees, president of the Software Association of Oregon. Webtrends pioneered the first generation of web tracking tools and is seeding more players with 101 Degrees, a recently announced downtown incubator space for digital marketing start-ups.
"There’s venture-capital money popping up, too," Nees adds. Oh, and Google just announced plans to establish its first Portland office—all vital signs that the class nerd is growing plenty of muscle of its own.
Mentor Graphics Founded in 1981 by Tektronix alums, the Wilsonville company was one of the early leaders in automating design for microchips and other electronics. Legendary investor Carl Icahn’s recent large stake in Mentor suggests aggressive growth is on the horizon.
Webtrends Fifteen years ago people first began analyzing who’s visiting a website, what they’re looking at, and how long they’re staying. As one of these early net detectives, Webtrends handed a little reality to irrationally exuberant dot-coms—which is also probably why it survived the subsequent crash.
Hot jobs: Software programmers and engineers; game developers and computer animators; network administrators; quality assurance specialists and product testers.