“Did you not get enough rain in San Francisco?”
This is how a Bay Area friend reacted when I told him we were moving our main office from San Francisco to Portland. The literal answer would be “yes” since most of California is in a state of drought, but lack of water is not what drew Foghorn Labs the Rose City.
A number of factors combined in our choice of Portland, namely the city’s expanding digital services sector, presence of major outdoor and athletic brands, availability of collaborative workspaces, tax incentives, overall culture fit, and access to outdoor activities.
1) Portland’s digital services sector has grown impressively over the past 5yrs, becoming a national hub of innovative, specialized agencies that produce award-winning work. Professional organizations like SEMpdx and Athletic and Outdoor Young Professionals (AOYP) are great examples of local groups devoted to developing the digital marketing and outdoor industries, respectively.
2) Portland is an ideal culture fit for both active lifestyle brands and the service providers they do business with. We go out of our way to work with people and organizations that value work/life balance to the extent that it’s factored into job compensation. This growing creative services sector has helped attract and cultivate an increasingly qualified talent pool, many of whom are passionate about outdoor activities and active lifestyle brands.
3) Portland continues to attract leading outdoor and active lifestyle brands. While proximity to leading brands like Columbia, Adidas, Nike, Keen, Icebreaker and Rapha was not a primary reason for our move to Portland, it doesn’t hurt. More important than the brands themselves is the business environment they have helped foster.
4) Accessibility to outdoor activities from Portland is unmatched by any major US city. Within a 2hr radius, there are excellent places to ski, surf, bike, kiteboard, windsurf, hike and run. The Wednesday after moving to Portland we skied powder in the morning at Mt. Hood Meadows and were back in our new Portland office by 1pm.
5) Unique, collaborative workspaces with reasonable rent are available in Portland, setting it apart from other major cities on the West Coast. We’re currently sharing space with our web development partner Cascade Web Development in their permanently docked train car. All aboard!
6) And finally, Oregon is significantly more tax friendly than California for small businesses. Apart from not having a sales tax, Oregon’s corporate tax rate is 6.6% compared to California’s 8.84% (source). Additionally, the annual fee to operate an LLC in Oregon is $100 versus $800 in California.
Since it’s essential to continue growing our Bay Area network, agency partnerships and most importantly client relationships, we will be maintaining a office in downtown San Francisco alongside our partners ECHOS Communications.
San Francisco is an amazing place to live and remains the center of the tech world. Since Foghorn Labs was founded in 2010, we’ve been a part of San Francisco’s transformation from a city where startups incubate and leave, to one that found ways to retain many of the innovative startups that would have otherwise moved south to scale. We’re proud of this progress and look forward to continuing doing business in the Bay Area.
The decision to move our headquarters to Portland came down to the fact that Portland offers a more conducive environment for growth and the reduced overhead will allow us to scale faster while maintaining the high-quality work our clients have come to expect.