Startups shuffle spaces in Portland

Portland startups trade space and move about in search of the perfect space.

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Portland startups are shuffling in and out of buildings in the Pearl District and the rest of downtown Portland as they search for the perfect space.’s Mike Rogoway wrote about the game of “musical chairs” currently being played by young companies.

Oregon’s startup community, tiny relative to those in Washington and California, is also unusually chummy. Businesses rarely compete head-to-head, except for employees, so office swapping and office sharing are one way entrepreneurs try to grow the whole ecosystem. When they burst out of their old spaces, bigger companies sometimes become landlords for smaller ones, offering flexibility conventional landlords might not – and occasionally a discounted price, too.

Jama Software and Opal Labs were roommates at the 334 building, in the same space that once housed Urban Airship and Simple. For Jama, that office was an overflow space, housing part of the company after it outgrew older offices nearby. For Opal, it was the nest where it grew from a marketing-technology concept into one of Portland’s most promising startups. In January, Jama – whose software helps companies manage complex projects – moved all 140 employees under one roof in a swanky, newly renovated downtown office. It subleased its old headquarters to Opal at rates below what the companies’ real estate brokers said it would have fetched on the open market.