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Have Carrie and Fred been talking to Rand?

In a recent episode of Portlandia, Fred and Carrie are sent on a mission to Seattle to evangelize the goodness of Portland.

Maybe they knocked on the door of SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin. After all, Fishkin’s fast-growing Seattle software startup has made not one, not two, but three acquisitions in Portland in the past 12 months.

The most recent is occurring today, with the company announcing that it has acquired the Portland SEO firm AudienceWise.

SEOmoz is having some fun with the recent spate of Portland deals, with the company writing in a press release that Fishkin is on a “quest to eventually acquire the city of Portland, Oregon.”

SEOmoz’s team in Portland

Seriously, the Rose City marks an interesting expansion opportunity for SEOmoz, which has been on a bit of an acquisition spree since announcing an $18 million venture round last May. Its other Portland startup acquisitions include  Followerwonk and GetListed. SEOmoz currently employs four folks in Portland. But it is looking to grow its presence even more in the city, with plans to secure about 5,000 square feet of space in the hip Pearl District.

Why Portland?

SEOmoz Chief Operating Officer Sarah Bird said the expansion was unintentional.

“We didn’t wake up in January of last year and decide: ‘You know what, let’s go conquer Portland one cool company at a time,'” said Bird.

However, she did say that Portland has a strong lineup of cool companies and passionate entrepreneurs, a style that meshes well with SEOmoz’s own culture.

“Every single one of the companies that we’ve purchased … are companies that we’ve had relationships with for years,” she said.

With AudienceWise, Bird said that they were attracted to the passion of founders Tim Resnik and Matthew Brown. Given their expertise, along with the talents of Follower Wonk and Get Listed, Bird said they’ll like use the Portland operations as a base for work on social media analytics.

Even though SEOmoz has taken a keen interest in Portland, that’s not to say that it hasn’t kicked the tires on some Seattle startups.

Sarah Bird

“Generally, a lot of the young and exciting companies in Seattle are excited to make a go of things on their own, and go out and look for investors and have a hit independently of us,” said Bird. “For one reason or another, it hasn’t worked out.”

Even though SEOmoz has picked up a few Portland startups in recent months, that doesn’t mean it has forgotten about its hometown. With more than 100 employees, the company continues to grow in downtown Seattle.

In fact, Bird said that SEOmoz, which posted revenue of $21 million last year, is looking to expand its operations with a new 40,000 to 50,000 square foot headquarters in the city.

Could it bring on even more folks through yet another acquisition?

Likely no. After completing three acquisitions in the past eight months, Bird says with a laugh: “I need a break.”

“This year we are looking forward to focusing on the product, and delivering for our customers, and beginning to realize some of the return of these acquisitions,” said Bird. “We brought them on board and now we need to make sure that we can make them successful.”

Editor’s note: SEOmoz is a GeekWire annual sponsor.


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