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Peat Bakke 17 March 2008

Peat Bakke

Optimistic, entrepreneurial geek, with a penchant for cameras and rockets

Peat Bakke was born in a small town in Maine, and at the tender age of two convinced his parents that Portland was definitely *the* place to be.  After another twenty five years and tumultuous live-in relationships with Canada, New Zealand, and Germany, he married a native Portlander, and decided that Portland would be a great place to stay and raise a family.

Peat is the byproduct of a doctor and an artist, and has always been attracted to creative careers with a technical bent — animation, photography, web development, and entrepreneurial business development.  He currently works with several high tech startups in Portland and the Silicon Valley.

Peat lives in north Portland (Arbor Lodge neighborhood) with his wife, Nova Newcomer, their soon-to-be born son, and a couple of well travelled cats.

[Editor's note: Peat and Nova's baby boy, Elliott, was born on March 11th.]

What are you up to?

I’m a little distracted right now — our first baby has decided to be (fashionably) late to the big party, so The Wife and I are trying to find ways to wile away the hours while he makes up his mind about being born.

In the broader scheme of things, the name of the game is “transition.”  My work life is swinging towards independent consulting and contracting, and my home life is oriented around becoming a dad.

What are you into?

Almost everything?  My office, garage, and hard drives are full of odd projects, collections, and books.  A dozen cameras, a box of foreign  currency, rocket paraphernalia, travel memorabilia, music, wooden toys,  miscellaneous science experiments, mostly finished bicycles, boxes of odd parts, modeling clay, a soldering iron, and so forth.

Generally speaking, my springs are wound by entrepreneurial people with interesting ideas, and my professional life has found an orbit around high tech startups.  Most of the work I do is in the initial planning and construction of web applications that bring people together, and connect them with expertise or “real world” resources.

Because so much of my work is digital, my other interests are much more analog.  I enjoy cooking.  I have a deep appreciation for rockets. I’m enamored with my wind up clock — it’s not particularly accurate, but it ticks and tocks and chimes without the aid of electricity, and I can look into it’s guts and watch it work.  You can hear it clicking away from almost anywhere in the house, which drives some people crazy, but I think it’s nice.

What do you like most about Portland?

The culture of Portland is both fiercely independent and openly friendly, and it’s attracting like minded people.  I think the influx of young, energetic individuals is a wonderful thing.  There has been a rise in great food, great music, and a growing sense of entrepreneurism.

It’s exciting to be living and working in the middle of all that.  I’ve traveled and lived in different countries around the world, and the thing that keeps pulling me back to Portland is a sense of purpose — that Portlanders seem to have an ingrained desire for working together to make things better, and that we can be competitive and ambitious without being ruthless or cruel.  It fits well with my optimistic philosophy of life.

Portland also has great tech.  We’re a hub of the Open Source movement, and an increasing number of high tech startups are moving here.   The Portland metro area has well funded angel networks, a strong high tech history, a relatively inexpensive work force, and a very creative culture.

I’m excited to see Portland grow and evolve, and I hope that I can contribute to that process.

How does all this translate into making a living?

Generally speaking, I work with startups to plan, build, and scale web applications.  I also work with venture capital and angel investors to assess the technical capabilities of companies seeking investment.

It’s a great niche to be in.  I love working with small teams of people who are motivated to improve the world in their own ways.  It also gives me exposure to a lot of new ideas and ways of solving problems.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several of the rising tech companies in Portland.  I guess that’s why I’m such an optimist about the future of high tech in Portland — I’ve seen proof that there’s great things brewing here, aside from the beer.

What’s your favorite holiday?

St. Patrick’s Day is the anniversary of my wife and I meeting at a party, our trip to Ireland, proposing in Germany, and our wedding in Portland —
exactly five years (to the hour) of meeting at that first party.  

We’ll always have reason to hoist a Guinness or two!


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