Welcome to Live Work Oakland

Live Work Oakland is your go-to resource about the growing local innovation economy in Oakland, California.

Live Work Oakland is the home of the Oakland Tech Ecosystem map and database, offering a comprehensive list of tech-related entities in Oakland’s burgeoning and diverse tech community.

Live Work Oakland also features guides to getting started doing business in the Town, and profiles and articles about local innovators and leaders.

Live Work Oakland was created by Oakland Local with partnership support from The Kapor Center for Social Impact.

To add your business to our database, go here.
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    Tech4Good comes to Oakland with new economic models

    An organization that has been a staple of the “Alt Tech” scene in San Francisco is now hosting events in Downtown Oakland.  It is another sign that Oakland is definitely becoming a major place to hold gatherings and meetups for business innovation and for new technologies. Right here, right now, it’s happening in Oakland.

    Many of the events aim to foment a revolution in approaches  to economic development. Last month, Tech4Good brought Susan Mills, the founder and director of the EASE Initiative, to Manifesta, an alternative salon and business incubator in Downtown Oakland. This past weekend, Tech4Good hosted the Uptima Business Bootcamp’s “Sharing Economy” hackathon to promote a new vision of economic development.

    EASE-diverse-grpsThe EASE approach puts the social and economic goals of a community into their regular consumer activities. Mills’ message is that social, economic and environmental issues can be addressed from inside the normal cycle of advertising and selling within a city or a region.  She proposes using a platform that is like a socially-conscious version of Amazon.com.

     

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    Oakland’s solidarity economy

    If I let on that, here in Oakland, there is a graphic design business, a bakery, a design-build firm, a business incubator and a bicycle courier company that all have one very important similarity, what would you guess it is that they have in common?  Say… you’re right: They are all worker-cooperatives. What a guess!

    These businesses — Design Action Collective, Arizmendi Bakery, DIG Cooperative Inc., Uptima Business Bootcamp and Pedal Express – are all boss-free, having chosen to thrive in the solidarity economy, where, instead of competing, businesses work together.

    Co-ops are not a new phenomenon. They’ve been around since the 19th century (probably far longer in an informal way), which may be why they seem like such a dusty idea, a throwback to the hey-heydays of counterculture’s last great revival, instead of seeming like the shiny, futuristic idea that they are.

    “We see co-ops booming in every part of history where there is great economic need,” said Kiran Nigam, a co-owner of AORTA, a national solidarity-economy consultancy. Her point is that the growth of housing co-ops, food co-ops, worker co-ops, and credit unions has always come in waves, as an engaged response to dissatisfaction.

    Oakland, along with the Bay Area more generally, is facing many less-than-satisfying situations: heavy problems like gentrification, income inequality, and opportunity inequality. As a result, there has been an upwelling of interest in creating local, sustainable, inclusive, better systems. And co-ops are one of the most well-established better systems.

    They have an inherent set of values that are an extension of their structure. “Even worker co-ops that don’t have an explicit politic are still social-justice oriented,” says Nigam, “they are owned by people who live in the community in which the co-op is located, and that changes everything.”

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    Twitter diversity figures out; no better than tech peers

    Graphic from Twitter Inc. about its workforce

    Twitter might have been used by various ethnic groups around the world to spread word of democracy actions. But here at home its workforce is hardly representative, as a democracy should be, of its constituents, Twitter noted this week.

    Following other tech giants, Twitter voluntarily released figures on the diversity of its workforce. And like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo before it, Twitter revealed that its workers are predominantly white males and Asian males.

    Among its total workforce, 70 percent are male and 88 percent  white or Asian.  Among its tech workers, 90 percent are male and 92 percent are white or Asian. Only 3 percent of its employees are Hispanic and only two percent African American. Another three percent are mixed race.  That makes its workforce similar to the other tech giants, although slightly more male.

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    data tables provided by Twitter

    But Twitter acknowledges that it wishes to be more diverse and that it would be good business if its employees reflected its customers.

    “At Twitter, we have a goal to reach every person on the planet. We believe that goal is more attainable with a team that understands and represents different cultures and backgrounds,” wrote Janet  Van Huysse, the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, on the company blog.

    “It makes good business sense that Twitter employees are representative of the vast and varied backgrounds of our users around the world. We also know that it makes good business sense to be more diverse as a workforce – research shows that more diverse teams make better decisions, and companies with women in leadership roles produce better financial results,” she continued.

    But she concluded “like our peers, we have a lot of work to do.”

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    Oaklandish CEO Angela Tsay sees community as the roots of good business

    “We realized there was a real hunger for people to find a way to express their Oakland pride,” says Angela Tsay, CEO and Creative Director of Oakland’s iconic t-shirt company, Oaklandish.

    She is recalling the time in 2006 when she and Jeff Hull, who founded Oaklandish as a guerilla art project and designed the iconic tree and roots logo, had just started selling t-shirts at the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market. “What we really wanted to do was help support and instill a sense of civic pride in people living in Oakland,” she says.

    Hull has since moved on to other projects. Tsay, who has a background in Sociology, has stayed on to see the Oaklandish enterprise grow. “Opening the downtown retail store in July 2011 has further deepened our roots in Oakland,” she says.

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    Building the sharing economy in the East Bay

    One minute, hard and fast, is not much time in which to explain an idea, especially if that idea is a proposal for an innovative new sharing economy model that is going to bridge the wealth gap. But if that’s how much time you’ve got, then you make it work.

    That is the very essence of hackathons: make it work. Take the best of those 60-second ideas, put them in an environment filled with experts and mentors, give them another hard, short deadline, and tell them to make it work.

    This past weekend, Rani Croager, co-founder of the cooperative social-enterprise incubator Uptima, hosted the Sharing Economy Challenge hackathon at Impact HUB Berkeley, which, as you may have already guessed, was focused on developing sharing economy models that tackle income inequality.

    “The sharing economy itself has an enormous potential to bridge that wealth gap,” she said, “if we start to think about how we design solutions that benefit our community.”

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    Integral MBA in Creative Enterprise coming to Oakland soon

    The founders of the Integral MBA in Creative Enterprise, launching at Impact HUB Oakland this October, share a vision of a future in which people use business to catalyze positive change and growth in their communities. They call it “business with a heart.”

    Integral MBA, an extension of Meridian University based in Petaluma, plans to enroll 20 people in its brand new, blended-learning MBA program in Oakland.

    “Oakland has that heartbeat, (a sense) that change is already happening here, with the food movement; people making change from a technological standpoint; we have Black Girls Code downstairs,” Nika Quirk, core faculty, said as she pointed to the main HUB space below. “It’s setting an example, it’s modeling something, when we bring ourselves together and ask ourselves, ‘What kind of city do we want to live in?’”

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