Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Pandora Effect" on Oakland Tech Biz

San Francisco Business Times reporter Blanca Torres wrote an excellent article about how symbolizes Oakland's underrated and fast-growing economic strength.

Torres wrote:

Oakland is not known as a hub for innovative or tech firms, but it is slowly becoming one thanks to firms like Pandora, Sungevity, Lucid Design Group,, Xantrion, Bright Source Energy, Skytide Inc., Livescribe, and the list goes on.

Now city and business leaders hope to capitalize on what's been dubbed the "Pandora effect" and attract start-ups the same way companies gravitate to Google in Mountain View and Twitter in San Francisco.

Pandora execs not only hav made Oakland home, they intend to stay there, Torres wrote. Pandora CEO, Joe Kennedy, gave a very Moneyball-like list of reasons why Oakland's Uptown neighborhood is a perfect fit for companies like his. Kennedy said:

When you're talking about a young company, a start-up, finance matters and Oakland has very reasonable costs by Bay Area standards. We're a music company. We like the character of the neighborhood with the Paramount and the Fox Theater nearby. That resonates with many of the employees at Pandora.

Also mentioned is INOAK (Innovate Oakland), a new business group that "has seized Oakland's escalating start-up boom and helped create connections by hosting mixers and other networking opportunities," Torres wrote. The budding tech scene in downtown Oakland "could usher in a new crop of firms that 10 years from now announce their own IPOs."

Torres then listed Oakland's "many attributes," such as easy public transportation access, lower costs, temperate weather, and access to the East Bay's big and growing workforce.

Sounds like the same factors that would make an Oakland waterfront ballpark so attractive. We're hoping that baseball's powers-that-be will show the same vision that Pandora's leaders have.

Pandora enjoyed a $235 million IPO on Wednesday. Then, its stock dipped on Thursday.

Still, the Oakland Tribune's George Avalos also wrote a very positive article this week about Pandora.

In the article, Mayor Jean Quan said of Pandora:

Joe Kennedy always says that Oakland is the only place his company could be because of its cultural vibe. This is the kind of place where he can find the kind of talent he needs to make his business possible.

Pandora has 359 employees and it's looking to add 34 more positions in Oakland. Walter Cohen, Oakland's director of Community and Economic Development Agency, added:

The notion that we are building a population base downtown makes us attractive to other technological companies.

But maybe Deborah Roth, a Pandora vice president, said it best:

The majority of our employees are in Oakland. We love Oakland.

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