Portland startup Cozy hires new vice president from Medium, Twitter

January 6, 2017

By Mike Ragoway
The Oregonian

Portland startup Cozy hires new vice president from Medium, Twitter

Brian Ellin was in Portland for the dawn of the city’s tech renaissance, hired fresh out of college 15 years ago as the second engineer at social networking company Janrain.

Then, in 2010, he left for a senior job in San Francisco at Twitter and – later – the online commentary platform Medium. Now he’s returning to Portland, a new vice president at Portland real estate tech startup Cozy.

“It’s just a place we’ve always thought we’d come back to,” said Ellin, now 36.

As Portland’s tech community matures, the city has become increasingly attractive to tech professionals from other regions – though executives and hiring managers say it’s still rare to pull experienced workers out of the Bay Area’s frothy tech community.

In Ellin’s case, he said that he maintained Portland ties while he was in California, visiting as often as five times a year. And he said he always kept an eye on the tech community up north.

So when he and his wife and daughter (they have a second child on the way) decided to move back to Portland, Ellin said, he had a good idea of where he might land. A number of friends and former colleagues had landed at Cozy, a website for landlords and tenants. It markets rentals, offers online tenant screening and rental payments.

Since nearly everyone rents at some point in their life, Ellin said, Cozy has a big opportunity. And it fits neatly with his interest in new businesses exploring novel concepts.

“I love working with small companies and startups that are in uncharted territories,” Ellin said.

His last employer, Medium, was started by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. It is in the news this week because it laid off 50 people in the first step in an effort to reboot its business and begin making money. Ellin, who left in December, said he has no direct insight into what’s happened there since he left.

And while Ellin has kept up with Portland generally, he said he’s looking forward to getting a sense of how things have changed.

“It seems to be growing in an exceptional way,” Ellin said. “I’m really hoping to contribute myself, in any way I can.”

Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; 503-294-7699