The BankSimple team

Portland’s startup technology community often gets treated as second fiddle to Seattle. But the city got a nice boost today when BankSimple — a fast-growing New York startup whose executive team includes former Twitter engineer Alex Payne — announced plans to consolidate operations in Portland’s Pearl District.

In a blog post, CEO Joshua Reich writes that they wanted a city where “people share our optimism and values.” (Have they watched an episode of Portlandia?)

BankSimple has been operating with folks in New York, San Francisco and Portland over the past two years, but Reich said it was time to get everyone in one office.

“The rationale for our move is straightforward,” he writes. “As our company grows, it’s important that we have everyone in the same place. Being centrally located allows us to collaborate more closely and create a strong and consistent culture.”

The move is even more interesting given the competition. New York is thriving right now as a startup hub, and San Francisco is by far the clear leader when it comes to fostering new startups.

BankSimple is a big win, with even Portland Mayor Sam Adams weighing in on the decision in a story by Mike Rogoway of The Oregonian. Rogoway, a veteran tech journalist, writes in his report:

The success of any given startup is always an iffy proposition, and BankSimple’s jobs won’t change the city’s tech climate by themselves. By virtue of Payne and other high-profile leadership, however, BankSimple has enormous visibility among the nation’s hyper-connected technology elite. So its relocation carries enormous symbolic importance for Portland, which has made software a key economic priority.

The company, which just announced $10 million in additional venture capital financing from IA Ventures, Shasta Ventures and a number of prominent angels, plans to move about a dozen employees to Portland to join the existing staff of five workers. It also has plans to add another dozen or so employees this year, reports Rogoway.

We’ve seen a pretty nice uptick in activity in Portland in recent months, including several venture deals involving Seattle area venture capital firms.

As Portland startup guru Rick Turoczy noted in the GeekWire podcast and guest post last month, there’s much more that can de done to foster relationships between the tech communities in Seattle and Portland.


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  • Guest

    The devil’s in the details…

    From Willamette Week in Portland, this quote:

    “But the most intriguing aspect of the decision is the company’s stated
    reason for picking Portland over Brooklyn and San Francisco: It’s
    betting that Portland’s unemployed young creatives will make ideal
    customer-service representatives. ”

    Contrast that to the mayor’s position in Seattle claiming  Seattle should aim higher than competing for low-end jobs that can be outsourced.  But, in Portland, they are embracing this weird mix of a tech company that also is hiring a low-end call center locally?

    Is a balanced approach achievable?  Or, as someone like Banksimple grows, they will have to outsource their call center if they are to remain financially competitive?

    Do “young creatives” want to be “ideal customer-service representatives?”  I didn’t know that was on their list of must-do’s?

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