SXSW has come to epitomized startup culture. For all its faults – which generally run along the lines of launch overhype and an overwhelming amount of events and parties (to be filed under “First World Problems”) – the Austin-based festival has firmly made its name as the place where the worlds of digital, social, and startups collide.
Now, Portland, Oregon, is ready to give the similarly-spirited Austin a run for its money. This week marks the opening of Portland Digital eXperience, a startup and social festival that will run alongside MusicfestNW.
Though smaller and admittedly wetter than Austin (with the exception of this past SXSW, which I can vouch for being engulfed in a nearly permanent torrential downpour), Portland has become synonymous with innovation, creative talent, and ingenuity – and yes, hipsters and PBR. But don’t forget that this is where legacy names like Intel, Nike, and Wieden + Kennedy are headquartered. And a slew of new and notable startups have begun to follow in those prestigious footsteps: Urban Airship, Geoloqi, Lensbaby, Trapit, Vizify, and Grove all call Portland home.
And thus, Portland Digital eXperience is rising out of the short-lived North by Northwest festival’s ashes to focus in on the growing energy in the city. There will be speakers from Flipboard, Tumblr, Spotify, as well as more local names from outlets including Chirpify, Grove, and Cloudability, all on hand to cover both the intensely unique Portland spirit as well as larger industry trends. Events include a Startup Crawl through Portland’s Pearl District and Old Town neighborhoods, as well as a music hackathon to round out the festival.
The mix of big names with promising startups harkens back to some of SXSW’s earlier days, before mass chaos made attending more than a handful of events a near impossibility – a pain point many of us are more than willing to tolerate for what the show has to offer. That said, spreading this wealth can only mean more exposure for startups and more access for the rest of us.
Portland Digital eXperience starts tomorrow, September 5, and runs through September 8. You can still pick up passes here, which are also good for access to MusicfestNW shows. We’ll be attending Portland Digital eXperience and bringing you startup, social, music news, and everything that’s sure to fall in between this week.