New Oregon Trail paved by start-ups & tech

By Technology Association of Oregon.

Maybe it’s just the season: It’s the end of summer and time to get back to work. It seems like several tech companies in Portland checked their fall forecasts and decided they needed to ramp up new talent hires to meet the coming workload.

eBay has had a Portland presence since 2010, when it purchased Critical Path Software and located its mobile development office here. The online auction site’s Portland team has grown from 50 four years ago to more than 200 employees today, with apps developed in the Portland office responsible for $20 billion worth of commerce—one third of eBay’s global business. Earlier this week, eBay announced plans to double its operations in Portland, with their SW Fifth St. office expanding to 70,000 square feet over five floors, according to the Portland Business Journal. eBay also plans to double its Portland-based workforce to 400 over the next few years—the Rose City office currently has 20 open positions.

Squarespace opened a Portland office in spring 2014, and the New York-based website builder liked the experience so much that it’s back for more. Squarespace has just announced leasing more than 20,000 square feet in downtown’s Spalding building (at SW Third and Washington) withs room for a workforce of around 150, triple the current employ count of 50. Squarespace has been hiring eight people a week all summer to support growth in its customer support operations, and expects that the hiring spree will continue indefinitely, according to the Oregonian.

Following this increasingly well-trod path west, New York-based ShopKeep has also announced plans to open a customer care and sales office here in Portland. ShopKeep makes an iPad-based point-of-sales system for small businesses. The Portland office is in downtown’s Commonwealth Building, near SW 6th and Washington. Though the current workforce is just 15, the space can accommodate up to 100 employees. According to the Portland Business Journal, “ShopKeep offers 24/7 live customer care. Portland was selected for an office after the company decided to establish a West Coast presence to spread the customer care timeline. ‘It became apparent that Portland was the exact kind of place we are looking for,” [said CEO Norm Merritt]. ‘We felt we could attract really good employees and we have.’”

It’s clear that the days of the Oregon Trail aren’t over, and that got Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist to thinking. His article, Portland Continues Its Quest to Become the Regional Office Capital of the World lists a few of the many companies that have recently opened offices in Portland. Have a look—it’s impressive, and the shape of things to come.

Someone needs to alert those downtown food cart owners to boost their orders of pork belly, sriracha and kombucha. There are still wagons on the trail, heading to Portland.

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