Jim Abeles 1 March 2008
Technology entrepreneur, unpaid FileMaker evangelist and yet another bald guy
Jim Abeles is CEO of , which develops software for newspapers and magazines. Jim co-founded Pre1 in 1999 to create the first cross-platform, web-integrated publishing system that included CRM (back in old days when it was called “Contact Management”). That software, SmartPublisher, is based on the FileMaker database platform.
Since 1999, hundreds of newspapers and magazines have licensed SmartPublisher including The Onion, Chicago Tribune and Harvard Magazine among others.
Prior to this position, Jim worked for 15 years in the publishing business starting at his college newspaper, where he sold ads and helped lay out the paper using Aldus Pagemaker 1.0 on a Macintosh Plus.
Jim’s first “real” job in newspapers was with Willlamette Week, where he sold advertising. From there, he joined the Chicago Sun-Times, where he had a variety of roles including Prepress Operations Manager for their suburban newspaper group and eventually started and managed a custom publishing magazine division, Performance Media.
In 1995, he returned to the west coast where he held various management positions in advertising and web publishing for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Willamette Week.
Jim has a B.A. in Art/Graphic Design from Lewis & Clark College and is a proud dropout of Northwestern University’s MBA program.
He lives in Portland with his wife, Katherine, and four children – Odessa, Kia, Margaret and Will.
What are you up to?
I spend a lot of time thinking about how newspapers and magazines can stay in business. Simply put, they need to sell more ads and produce their publications more efficiently. That’s my company’s constant challenge; what can we supply our customers with to keep them profitable in this web-centric era.
At the same time, my company is evaluating other markets and software products. We need to diversify with a customer base that won’t get killed by the internet. First we saw our clients lose their Personals franchise to the more efficient (and often free) web options. And then Craigslist absolutely killed the Classified sections for so many of our customers. Though publications need our software now more than ever, budgets are tighter and purchasing decisions take longer than they used to. So we need to create software tools for an industry unaffected by the web. Maybe re-purpose SmartPublisher to SmartCemetery.
What are you into?
I’m a collector of many things. Besides four kids, examples include tattoos (full body suit), motorcycles (nine) and wives (just kidding, honey – you’re the only one).
I love to play soccer; indoor, outdoor, futsal, you name it. I’m not necessarily good but I love the simple pleasure of chasing a ball around.
When my wife was pregnant last year, we fell off the vegan wagon. But, it’s the new year and I’m pretty excited to be back to eating vegan again.
What do you like most about Portland?
I’ve lived here, on and off, since 1983. Portland rules. I like it more now than I did 25 years ago. Sure, the traffic sucks and it rains a lot but the people, food, beer and politics are top-notch.
What’s so great about newspapers?
I’m a second generation “newspaper man” and as corny as it sounds, I feel like it’s in my blood. As many hours a day as I spend online, I still read as many newspapers and magazines as I ever did. I love the printed word. And my wife designs and consults for newspapers and magazines, so there’s a lot of talk about publishing at our house.
What else do you collect?
My latest obsession is the collecting of “antique” computers. I have a lot of old Apple and Macintosh rare models and prototypes. The rarest is an Apple W.A.L.T., which stands for Wizzy Active Lifestyle Tablet. It was a portable, tablet-based computer designed to send and receive faxes. I think Apple scrapped the project when it became apparent that email was the future, not faxes.
I’ve started collecting non-Apple computers which is a little scary because that opens up a whole new universe. The first purchase, an Altair 8800, was like opening Pandora’s box. That and an IMSAI 8080 are the coolest but I’ve added some other rarities like the KIM-1.