The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles


pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.

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BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

sococo pong 1

Click through the following pages to see how Oregon startups express their passion for ping-pong.


 

AltSource, Inc. | Portland

Tech pong tourney

A view of the ping pong setup at AltSource in Southeast Portland. Every month, the software company hosts a table tennis match for tech professionals.

To say this SE Portland-based software development company values the game of table tennis is a bit of an understatement.

AltSource has a pair of ping-pong tables that are used “all day,” says director of operations Adam Oakley. The company’s building on SE 10th Avenue is the site of a monthly table tennis event for tech professionals that attract up to 90 RSVPs on its meetup.com site.

“It’s a low key, casual event for tech people interested in ping pong and see where it goes from there,” Oakley says. “The people that are here range from the young people right out of college to people who have been in the industry for 20-30 years. It’s an interesting mix.”

In addition to hosting the PDX Tech + Pong events, AltSource brought in USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer Sean O’Neill to teach techniques to sharpen employees’ skills. 

And if a project manager doesn’t have a playing partner at the ready, she can always try her hand against the in house ping-pong-playing robot. “It cost less than you would think,” Oakley says.

“For us, one of the things that’s important for the company and organization is collaboration and balance. We aren’t looking for people to work long hours and get burnt out. We want them to come to work and enjoy what they do. If this can contribute and take a break while we talk shop at the same time, that’s a good thing for us.”

 


 Wild Ride Brewing Co. | Redmond 

WildRideBrew Pong

Wild Ride Brewing’s Danica Eisenman plays co-owner and brewer Paul Bergeman on the company’s table in the banquet area. Also pictured: the company’s Fly.P.A. — one of the brewery’s three in house IPAs .

Ping pong at this new production brewery started as a way for employees to enjoy their breaks. But since expanding into “banquet room for lack of a better term,” the game has been available to clients as well, says Wild Ride Brewing co-owner Brian Mitchell.

“It’s about the environment. We’re a brewery, we’re beer. We believe in the culture and having fun,” Mitchell says. “It’s there for everyone’s use, whether it’s taking a break from work or afterward when you’re having a beer or two.”

Mitchell didn’t hesitate when asked who reigns supreme over the brewery’s table.

“It’s me, clearly,” he says. “I hope [my co-workers] don’t get upset I said that. They can try to prove me wrong. But I’m undefeated — I’ll just put it that way.”


 

GlobeSherpa | Portland

GlobeSherpa

CTO Michael Gray, at left, faces off against EVP Tony Tom in “one of the many epic battles waged during a typical work week at GlobeSherpa.”

GlobeSherpa, the brains behind TriMet’s mobile ticketing app, keeps the game front and center with the ping pong table located in the main development area.

With views of the west hills and St. John’s Bridge from the 18th floor of their downtown office building, employees can’t say no to the competition. The company had to limit games to the lunch hour and after 4 p.m., according to director of communications Mac Brown.

“It’s our favorite game, for sure,” Brown says.

Front-end developer Scott Schaus is regarded as the best player in the company, with CEO Nat Parker and executive VP Tony Tom vying for the title of second best.

“Of course we let Nat win, because he’s the boss,” Brown jokes. “We get some serious games going, for sure.” 


 Sococo | Eugene

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Matt Brous and Jacob Dominguez play a game of pong as Josh Taylor watches.

When coworkers visit from Sococo’s Bay Area or Iowa City offices, they always want to take on the Eugene-based workers, according to IT director Matt Brous.

“They’ll talk trash before they get here, saying that we better be practicing,” Brous says. “It doesn’t work very well for them. We haven’t had many people who could whip us.”

Brous says the table serves as a means of communication between the company’s divisions.

“We all sit on our butts at a desk all day long, typing on a computer, which isn’t all that great for you,” he says. “Often times, left to our own devices, we won’t talk to each other.”

“But we’ll go play ping pong, and for the most part we talk about work while we play ping pong. I’d say 80 percent of the time is productive for Sococo, even though we’re playing ping pong and moving.”

Although he acknowledges the tough competition, Brous nevertheless says he’s the best player in the office.

 




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