TechfestNW 2013: Welcome to TechfestNW

Willamette Week's Portland festival of all things tech.

Don't look now, but the Earth is moving.

You know this, of course, but here's the thing: It sneaks up on you. One second you're worried about media shipping and distribution channels, the next you learn the real game's in digital downloads and streams. One day you're fretting about making phone apps, the next they tell you it's all about responsive design. But only sometimes. It depends.

Consider TechfestNW to be your handy, local seismologist. That is, if seismologists knew how to party.

TechfestNW—little sister to MusicfestNW and now in its second year—brings some of the most astute people around to OMSI from Sept. 6 to 8 for talks, panels and parties.

Want to know what tech and business are going to look like in two or five or 10 years? Come and listen.

There's good reason to celebrate what's going on at this very moment in Portland.

Take just one example: Last year, the Obama campaign team used Portland's Chirpify to tap donations on Twitter, and Urban Airship to push phone notifications. Puppet Labs, New Relic and Cloudability managed the campaign's systems, apps and cloud expenses. Half the developers of the campaign's phone app were Portlanders.

In this guide, we'll show you what's on the menu during the three days of Techfest, amid more than 35 seminars and panels and talks on topics from cloud strategies to APIs to the future of film and music. There will be aerial drone wars in the OMSI parking lot, interactive light displays from Instrument tracking the movement of people around Musicfest's myriad venues, a 17-year-old inventor, the inventor of the wiki, The New York Times' deputy editor for interactive news and an innovator bringing women into the tech scene. Oh, and parties every single night.

One of the biggest perks isn't on the schedule: It's everybody else who shows up to the conference, the developers and businesspeople and visionaries both onstage and off. Because it really is amazing what happens when you just get everyone together in a room. Or a whole freaking science museum, for that matter.

TFNW profiles: Rick Turoczy (TFNW curator, PIE PDX)Tyson Evans (NYTimes), Ward Cuningham (Wiki Inventor), Michelle Rowley (Code Scouts), Jackson Gariety (TechStars, teen entrepreneur) 

TFNW features: MFNW Installation by Instrument, PDX Drone ChallengeGoogle Gogglers

Tickets and official site:

*Times may be subject to change.
The Irrelevance of Location
Ryan Carson (Treehouse)

Ryan Carson is the founder of Portland-based education startup, Treehouse, which brings affordable technology education to the web. He is also the creator of the web development and entrepreneurship conference Future of Web Apps. He also thinks location, location, location doesn't matter like it once did. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 10 am.

PANEL: The Recording Academy, Pacific Northwest Chapter Presents: New Northwest Music Technologies

The music industry has no shortage of brilliance in innovation, and that seems to be alive in the Pacific Northwest. This panel of experts will explore how our region is developing new technologies and upgrading existing ones to change the way we think about fan experience, music discovery and artist/label royalties.

Panel members: Portia Sabin (President, Kill Rock Stars), Zach Varnell (VP of Audio Production, Lively), Andrew Sloan (Co-founder, Generous), Kevin Breuner (Director of Marketing, CD Baby), Jon Maples (VP of Production Content at Rhapsody). Auditorium at OMSI. 10 am.

FIRESIDE CHAT: Eric Winquist
Eric Winquist (Jama Software)

Jama Software, which Winquist founded in 2007, just racked up $13 million in funding in April and allows companies to collaborate over the cloud on large projects. Its client list includes Texas Instruments and SpaceX, a private company that has dropped cargo on a floating space station and brought a spacecraft back  in from low earth orbit. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 10:30 am.

Filmmaking and Production for Immersion, Interactivity and Narrative Expansion
Andy Merkin (Mirada Studios)

As Hollywood and Silicon Valley collide, filmmakers have the desire to use digital platforms to expand their vision beyond the silver screen. Andy Merkin, head of special projects and transmedia at Guillermo del Toro's Mirada Studios, which lives at the forefront of visual and technical design, will discuss the changing landscape of filmmaking. Learn how the evolving perspective of the entertainment industry can inform decisions at every company. Auditorium at OMSI. 11 am.

FIRESIDE CHAT: Stephen Marsh
Stephen Marsh (Smarsh, Inc.)

Founded in 2001, Stephen Marsh's company Smarsh helps clients in the financial, healthcare and investment industries with hosted email, instant messaging and social-network communications, as well as risk management tools. Marsh was honored in 2009 as a finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Northwest. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 11:30 am.

Lightning Talks

Short talks by presenters. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 1 pm.

Scaling Design
Alex Baldwin (Thoughtbot); Alex Bilmes (Cloudability)

Alex Baldwin has worked design for websites like and the app store Retina Mac Apps, and now designs apps for San Francisco firm Thoughtbot. Alex Bilmes helped develop and create online video-streaming service Dovie before coming onboard with Portland startup Cloudability. The two will discuss how design can help companies stand out in the crowd. Auditorium at OMSI. 1:30 pm.

Scott Kveton (Urban Airship)

Scott Kveton led engineering with, RuleSpace, Janrain and Vidoop before founding Urban Airship, a mobile marketing company that aids app developers with the creation of push messaging and Passbook passes. Urban Airship quickly became one of Portland's most successful—and certainly best funded–startups. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 2 pm.

Touring Intelligently: How Tech can Help the Live Music Industry
Brooke Parrott (Songkick)

In case you've never taken to a van: Band tours are terrifying exercises in shoestring budgeting, full of desperate phone calls to pay for gas. Songkick's Detour pre-funds and pre-vets tours by having fans commit to buying tickets ahead of time. As artist ambassador for Songkick, one of the largest online databases for live concert listings, Brooke Parrott helps market the service to her fellow musicians and bands. She performs music under her own name and as a member of Portland folk-pop act Loch Lomond. Auditorium at OMSI. 2 pm.

The Terrifying Chasm Between Classroom and Startup
Jackson Gariety (TechStars)

Still one year shy of his 18th birthday, Gariety has already developed HashTraffic, a web platform that connects sites and blogs via hashtags, and taken home the Best Developer and Best Execution awards at Portland Startup Weekend for his efforts. (See profile.) PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 2:30 pm.

Lessons From the Summit
CASH Music

CASH Music is a nonprofit that builds open source tools for musicians and labels. This presentation will cover insights learned from a two-part summit they held in August and September of this year, in which musicians and technologists came together to talk about their current challenges and realities as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. Auditorium at OMSI. 2:30 pm.

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Training Workers for the 21st Century
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) 

Representative Suzanne Bonamici was elected to serve Clatsop, Yamhill, Columbia, SW Multnomah and Washington counties in 2012. The congresswoman sits on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and is the driving force behind the STEAM Caucus, a group focused on integrating arts into traditional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 3 pm.

PANEL: Marmoset Presents: Technology Killed the Radio Star

Musicians and bands have so many digital tools and endless opportunities provided by the web. So why is it hard for so many of them to navigate the internet and find success? Is this the land of opportunity or has supply exceeded demand? The panelists will debate these questions and offer insights that any hard-working independent artist can utilize and appreciate.

Panel members: Ryan Wines (Producer at Marmoset), Maggie Vail (Co-Executive Director at CASH Music), Dave Allen (Director of Interactive Strategy at NORTH), Kevin Robinson (musician with Electric iLL and Viva Voce), Jared Mees (Co-Founder of Generous and Tender Loving Empire). Auditorium at OMSI. 3 pm.

Reconsidering Startups
Alex Payne (consultant, formerly of TwitterSimple and Breather

Alex Payne built the API for Twitter. Since then, he has gone on to work on Simple, an online banking provider, and Breather, a service that allows people to find and rent office spaces using a smartphone app. He currently works as a consultant for other incipient startups. Amid changes in crowdfunding and venture capital, Payne asks: Is it time to reconsider startups? PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 4 pm.

Just Enough Is More
Duane King (Huge/KingCoyle)

One of Fast Company's 50 Most Influential Designers in America, Duane King founded the Portland-based creative studio Huge/KingCoyle, a firm that's worked with everyone from Nike and Toyota to MoMA and Neiman Marcus. He will talk about the art of simplifying the ever more complex. Auditorium at OMSI. 4 pm.

KEYNOTE: Finding Opportunity in the Ordinary
John Saddington (Pressgram)

John Saddington earned his stripes as an engineer for some of the biggest companies in the world (Dell and News Corp, among them). He's now bringing that experience to bear as the co-founder of Atlanta-based gaming company 8BIT, and Pressgram, which posts filtered smartphone photos directly to WordPress blogs. Saddington talks about how seemingly everyday experiences can be the root of the greatest ideas. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 5pm.


Forget Viable: Build Your Minimum Valuable Product
James Keller (WalmartLabs)

James Keller has served as interactive strategist for Wieden Kennedy and lead interaction design for Small Society, and now oversees user experience for WalmartLabs, which provides shopping apps meant for in-store use. Keller talks about how design and user experience have became the key ways that products differentiate themselves. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 10 am.

Reinventing Apparel Design
Chris Lindland (Betabrand); D’Wayne Edwards (Pensole)

Chris Lindland is the founder and CEO of online clothing laboratory Betabrand, which allows fledgling designers to submit fashion ideas, receive feedback and potentially get their wares mass-produced and sold. D'Wayne Edwards, a former Nike design director, created Pensole to give talented design students an opportunity to learn from the industry's best and to provide the footwear industry with a farm system for the next generation of designers. The two will discuss how technology changes apparel design. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 10:30 am.

Insights From the Smartest Man in the World
Saul Colt (The Idea Integration Company)

In a previous life, Saul Colt launched Zipcar into the Canadian marketplace and even knows what it's like to work for a large corporation from his time at Rogers Communications. Colt now runs his own self-named firm that does consulting work for fledgling companies on social media and customer service. He is also, apparently, the smartest man in the world. Auditorium at OMSI. 10:30 am.

What I’ve Learned by Running a Fake Tech Startup
Matt Ruby (Vooza)

Called the "Spinal Tap of startups," Matt Ruby's Vooza creates weekly videos that provide a skewed look at the tech industry. Vooza has received kudos from The New York Times and VICE. Ruby will talk success and failure with design, pivots, learning from failure, and radimparency. Auditorium at OMSI. 11 am.

Slow Manufacturing: Integrating Digital technology with Manufacturing
Kelley Roy (ADX); David Fredrickson (Figure Plant)

Kelley Roy is an author, film producer, musician, consultant and director of ADX Portland, a design and prototyping facility that encourages collaboration and multi-disciplinary creativity. David Fredrickson has been in the design and production game for 25 years, from movie-set dressing to creating a 20-foot-tall crazy straw for AT&T Park. He runs design-studio powerhouse Figure Plant. The two will talk about how technology is changing how art gets made, and how it's experienced. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 11:30 am.

The Future of Interactive News
Tyson Evans (The New York Times)

Tyson Evans, a member of The New York Times' web development team, talks about how leading publications blend journalism, design and technology to push the envelope. Evans oversees a team of NYT developers and journalists who build data-driven apps. (See profile.) PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 1:30 pm.

Crowdfunded: Inside A Kickstarter Campaign
Patrick Triato (Carbon Audio); Jason Martin (Carbon Audio)

Patrick Triato and Jason Martin are behind the extremely successful Kickstarter campaign that helped launch Zooka, a wireless speaker that can slip easily onto an iPad. The two will talk about the components of successful Kickstarter campaigns. Auditorium at OMSI. 2 pm.

Inspired Again and Again
Joe Stump (; Brenden Mulligan (Cluster)

Joe Stump helped found two venture-backed startups, SimpleGeo and, was lead architect at news-sharing website Digg and now runs, a company that provides project management software. Brenden Mulligan founded ArtistData, and moved onto his new photo crowd-sourcing project, Cluster Labs. They will speak on what drives serial entrepreneurs like themselves: what makes them tick, and how you can apply this in your own life. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 2:30 pm.

Driving Design From Within
Klaus Kaasgaard (Intuit)

Klaus Kaasgaard joined Intuit in March 2012 as director of experience design of the small business group. He has 20 years of experience in user experience and product management with companies that include Telstra, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Prior to joining Intuit, he was CEO of Fundii, an online and mobile coupon marketing startup. Auditorium at OMSI. 3 pm.

Jessica Zollman (Tinker*Mobile, Instagram); Asha Dornfest (Parent Hacks)

The former community manager for Instagram and the curator of one of the most popular parenting websites talk about how community drives and informs successful companies. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 3:30 pm.

Studios or Storytelling—What’s More Important?
Nick Lambert (Mountain Machine Games), Cascadia Games team

So must one always pander to the masses, or is there room in video games to tell stories to smaller communities? Must one choose? Nick Lambert, founder of Mountain Machine Games, discusses the art and science of making video games. Auditorium at OMSI. 4 pm.

Our Future Depends on Diversity
Deena Pierott (iUrban Teen Tech)

An advocate for multicultural communication, Deena Pierott founded iUrban Teen Tech in 2011 as a way to help expose African-American and Latino teens to the world of technology careers. The program was nominated for the 2013 Rockefeller Innovation Award and selected as the White House Champion of Change for Technology Inclusion. Pierott talks about how to bring tech to underserved youth and other new markets to serve tech's need for new talent. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 4:30 pm.

KEYNOTE: Creating the Next Version of Portland
Alan Webber (Fast Company) 

Fast Company founder Alan Webber is an award-winning author, editor, speaker and consultant—co-founder of the Oregon Times and former managing editor of the Harvard Business Review. (Full disclosure: He's also a former WW editor.) Old-school city planning decisions like scotching the Mount Hood Freeway seemed ridiculous back in the '70s, but now look prescient. What types of "ridiculous" decisions should we be making today? PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 5pm.


How APIs Changed the Web and Mobile
Adam DuVander (SendGrid)

Adam DuVander blogged for Wired, provided IT support for Inspiration Software and now helps manage and produce written content for email service provider SendGrid. He speaks about the sea change in development brought about by APIs. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 12 pm.

Simplicity is Inevitable
Antony Falco ( 

Antony Falco helped create with the idea of making the work of mobile and web app developers easier by streamlining the process of adding new features and working among different platforms. Falco talks about the larger trend of simplifying complex systems, and how this is good. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 1 pm.

Balancing the Tech Ecosystem
Michelle Rowley (Code Scouts)

Michelle Rowley is the founder of Code Scouts, a nonprofit organization helping women learn to code. In 2013, Fast Company named Rowley one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. (See profile.) PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 1:30 pm.

Increasingly Open
Ward Cunningham (inventor of the Wiki); Nigel Kersten (Puppet Labs) 

Not to dismiss his work as the principal engineer at Tektronix or his work keeping the online directory afloat, Ward Cunningham will likely go down in history as inventor of the wiki (see profile). Nigel Kersten is the CTO of Puppet Labs, developing automation software for his fellow sysadmins at Twitter, eBay and Disney. Hear both talk about the changing landscape of open source. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 2 pm.

KEYNOTE: Pros and Cons of Bootstrapping: Imgur’s Experience
Alan Schaaf (Imgur); Matt Strader (Imgur)

Alan Schaaf created Imgur, one of the internet's biggest photo sharing sites, in 2009 during his spare time as a computer science student. Matt Strader signed on in 2010 to help with business development and strategy. The two will discuss the pros and cons of bootstrapping—the fine art of balancing the need to make money with the need to grow a business. PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 3 pm.

SEE IT: TechfestNW is September 6-8. Tickets and wristbands are still available. See for information.

Download the official MusicfestNW app at the App Store and Google Play. 

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