In August, the App Association hosted a Developer Education Series event with Silicon Shire in Eugene, Oregon. A number of our members hail from this region and have launched companies thriving in the mobile economy.

In July, Fast Company took note of Eugene’s startup culture and named it a Top Ten Tech City. The App Association decided to visit to see for ourselves what makes this area such a hotbed for startups and innovation. What we found was an amazing community that comes together in support of its entrepreneurs.



Senator Ron Wyden was thrilled with our visit and provided the introduction to the day’s events. With over 300 in attendance, he had a full house to share his enthusiasm for Silicon Shire innovation. He also used the platform to highlight the importance of encrypting internet data and preventing government surveillance efforts from weakening these protections and U.S. companies’ ability to compete in overseas.

His remarks were greeted with rousing cheers as were those of Representative Peter DeFazio, a leading voice in the mobile economy. Rep. DeFazio was the first in Congress to respond to the threat posed by patent trolls and has pressed government agencies for clarity in health IT regulation. He also took time to talk to the App Association about his favorite apps and the big role mobile platforms have played in the growth of the regional economy.


A focus of praise throughout the day was Silicon Shire, an organization of startups and entrepreneurs from the Eugene and Springfield areas. The group works to promote the local startup community through its connections with VCs, leading tech companies, and the media. The assistance they provide is a collaborative effort; it’s this characteristic of Eugene companies working together that provides the foundation for innovation.

And the stars of the day were made in Eugene. Silicon Shire co-founder Cale Bruckner is a VP at Concentric Sky which makes apps for National Geographic, the United Nations, and digital health companies. Jake Weatherly and Marci Hansen founded SheerID in Eugene which provides critical verification services for the nation’s biggest retailers, both online and at storefronts. And Pat McCarthy’s AppNexus is one of the world’s leading mobile advertising platforms.

Pat’s experience demonstrated how Eugene provides an ideal environment for tech companies to thrive. Having founded several companies in Eugene and led them to successful exits, he was tapped to lead an important part of AppNexus’s billion-dollar mobile advertising company. Although the company is New York-based, Pat’s team of thirty works out of Eugene.

In keeping with the ethos of Eugene’s culture of success, Pat plays a key role in helping other emerging companies. He’s an advisory board member at the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) and a mentor to RAIN, a local accelerator. Cale serves on the Board of the Oregon Center for Digital Learning. And all the day’s speakers are active with Silicon Shire helping local tech entrepreneurs identify paths to success.

Another of the area’s features that helps tech companies succeed is the strength of computer science education in its schools and universities. The University of Oregon has a strong CS department and has targeted the area for improved primary and secondary school CS instruction. South Eugene High School is a model for this success, having produced many tech leaders.

With such a talented slate of speakers and an enthusiastic crowd, local media was all over the event. ABC-TV affiliate KEZI had live updates throughout the morning while local print and radio outlets covered the event as well. It was clear Eugene is proud of its innovators.

We were impressed, too. The App Association traveled across the country to learn about Eugene’s tech community and convene industry leaders with insights on how the region can reach even greater heights.