The roots of the software industry in Portland can be traced back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when spinoffs from bedrock companies like Tektronix and Intel produced major international firms, including Mentor Graphics and Metheus Corporation (Tek), and Sequent Computer Systems (Intel). Today the software cluster in the Portland metropolitan region consists of more than 1,400 companies. Software developed by Portland companies ranges from cutting edge open source and mobile web applications to large internal applications. Other applications include software as a service, embedded software, enterprise software and custom built software.

Portland is known for having an active startup culture for small business, and software exemplifies that trend. In Portland 62% of software establishments have fewer than three employees, and 76% have fewer than five.

Why Portland?
Portland’s software industry cluster [.pdf]

Developing a PDX Software Cluster Strategy
PDC presentation from the Software Industry Strategy Summit, 12/2/10 [.pdf]

Video: Software Industry Strategy Summit
Video of the Dec. 2, 2010 summit at City Hall

Total Regional Employment (2009)17,610
Average Annual Wages$83,388
Employment Growth (2004-09)19.2%
Portland Share of Regional Employment (2006)33.8%


  • Talent – Portland boasts considerable development talent around Open Source and Web 2.0 technologies
  • Open Source – Large industry players such as Intel, IBM and Hewlett Packard have a significant regional presence. Software engineers at Intel and IBM are making major contributions to code development for open source.
  • Community – Mentoring relationships weave the software community together and have been very important in the growth and development of the industry’s small and emerging business entities.
  • Capital – 2010 has seen a significant shift in venture funding, with seven Portland area software firms raising more than $50 million in new venture capital funding. All seven companies are retaining their presence in Portland, acknowledging the city’s sufficient supply of talent and ideas to advance company growth locally.


  • Reputation – Major technology conventions and trade shows such as the Open Source Convention (OSCON) and Open Source Bridge Convention, Innotech, the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON), and the Super Computer Conference are now frequent visitors to Portland and have helped to establish the Portland area’s relevance on both a national and international level.
  • Costs – While the skill level is comparable to other areas with a significant software presence (such as San Francisco or Seattle) the cost to acquire that talent is less in Portland.


  • “Growing our own” with an emphasis on the development of entrepreneurial resources and strategies that augment and assist emerging small businesses. Portland Ten and small business incubators [Portland State Business Accelerator, Ned Space, Webtrends’s 101 degrees, and Wieden +Kennedy’s Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE)] will play an increasingly important role as places where company founders and subject matter experts may gather to exchange ideas and/or personally gain business acumen to better their businesses.
  • Trade shows and conventions – PDC will continue to staff and support software industry-related trade shows and conventions to showcase the Portland region and highlight the strengths of the local software industry and the firms that call Portland home.
  • Portland Seed Fund – The city has launched this investment fund to help address the need for timely capital aimed at local emerging small businesses.

Other industries