Look back at 10 of Baltimore tech’s biggest moments of the last decade

To celebrate's tenth anniversary, here are some of the spaces, companies and stories from the tech community's trajectory.

Today we’re celebrating around the Slack channel. It’s the 10th anniversary of’s founding in Philadelphia, marking a decade of local tech news and innovation community coverage.

It’s also making us a bit nostalgic for those when the communities we cover were getting off the ground against the backdrop of the nationwide recession that came to define a new generation of startups.

Just take a look at Baltimore, circa 2009: Coworking was getting off the ground as Beehive Baltimore started at Emerging Technology Centers in Canton. Then located at the Can Company, ETC was also the home of companies like Millennial Media, SmartLogic, mp3car, Localist and Lookingglass. On the event circuit, joining Greater Baltimore Technology Council’s Tech Night were a new wave of events like Barcamp Baltimore, TEDxMidAtlantic, Refresh Baltimore, Ignite Baltimore and Maryland Tech Crawl. At the University of Maryland BioPark, the sign that now announces its presence to drivers on Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. was installed. Just outside of town, agencies Fearless and Mindgrub that would later move into the city were also getting started.

In the ensuing years, the community got a bigger megaphone. Events like the Baltimore Hackathon, Startup Weekend and Betascape created a platform for folks from the whole city to meet the tech community and start new stuff. Meanwhile, Baltimore-founded companies like Moodlerooms, Blue Sky Factory and WhoGlue got acquired.

Fast forward to 2012: It was the year Millennial Media went public on the market, Betamore opened in Federal Hill, Accelerate Baltimore started and the first-ever Baltimore Innovation Week launched. The latter was organized by Baltimore, a local tech news outlet that counted Baltimore as its first expansion locale outside its founding city of Philadelphia.

That’s where our archives start, so in honor of the occasion, we took a look at some of our top-read stories of all time. Here are 10 that pointed at the wider narrative within the community:

Betamore a space ‘for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs’: Greg Cangialosi [Q&A] (July 27, 2012)

Betamore in 2013.

Betamore’s arrival in Federal Hill marked a new place for entrepreneurs to gather in South Baltimore. And with education, coworking and incubation, it offered an “ecosystem in a box.” Soon Digital Harbor Foundation opened across the street.

Eli the Computer Guy: local bomb thrower or savvy critic of Baltimore’s startup scene? (Dec. 6, 2012)

Criticism, when constructive, can help a healthy community grow, and here was a flashpoint in that discussion. Eli Etherton was known for YouTube videos about tech and entrepreneurship. After Eli Etherton waves in the local tech community in a blog and on the Baltimore Tech Facebook Group with some critiques, then-lead reporter Andrew Zaleski asked whether it was for better or worse.

OrderUp: Canton startup invests in ‘digital franchising’ to bring online food-ordering nationwide (Jan. 28, 2013)

OrderUp's Canton offices.

Originated in State College, Pa., OrderUp came to Baltimore and found a growth model that pushed it to more cities. This shows the beginning of the trajectory that led to the company eventually being acquired by Groupon in 2015. “We wanted to get a great name, and then make sure we had the capital to fund that franchise approach. This past year is when that time came to fruition,” Orderup cofounder Chris Jeffrey told Zaleski then.

Cease and desist? The fate of ridesharing in Baltimore city (Nov. 6, 2013)

Uber and Lyft are household names in Baltimore these days, but it was only a few years ago that the ridesharing services were facing questions from regulators that wouldn’t be resolved for a couple more years. Six years later, e-scooters moved in with a pilot program all their own.

Elevated Element launches newly legal drone photography business (March 10, 2014)

Stories about drones and the footage they produce are found throughout our top-read stories, showing the rising interest in the technology and desire to look at cool aerial images that coalesced in recent years. In Elevated Element, there’s the story of a local business, formed by early adopters Terry and Belinda Kilby, that’s behind some of that great footage.

How Johns Hopkins wants to be an innovation leader (May 7, 2014)

Inside Johns Hopkins' FastForward 1812.

With the collection of innovation hubs and startups that have been rising out of Johns Hopkins in recent years, it’s easy to forget that the university’s move to supercharge entrepreneurial activity on its campuses is relatively recent –especially when compared to the university’s long history. Here Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures Head Christy Wyskiel talks about the space, services and funding that are key to the tech ecosystem at the university, and playing out today.

Station North is getting a massive new makerspace (June 24, 2015)

Open Works ribbon cutting

Open Works was among the grandest of all the openings we’ve seen in the last several years. The 34,000-square-foot was empty when Jason Tashea first toured, but the idea of creating a hub that could provide tools and resources for the local businesses starting at the neighborhood level was already filled in for BARCO Managing Director Mac Maclure and now-Open Works Executive Director Will Holman.

Under Armour’s Kevin Plank is turning an old bus garage into innovation central (June 5, 2016)

Outside City Garage, where Workbench is based.

After word got out that Kevin Plank was the owner of land in Port Covington and before City Garage became the first space to open, Plank Industries leaders went to Startup Soiree to talk about plans for the former bus garage as a home for startups making physical goods with the entrepreneurship community. Playing host to the annual Beta City, it’s since been joined in the neighborhood by a distillery, Under Armour offices and plans for Cyber Town, USA.

Meet the group of neighbors spearheading West Baltimore’s innovation district (Jan. 18, 2016)

While Baltimore tech congregated around Canton and Federal Hill a decade ago, the last five years have been marked by efforts to extend the community and opportunity that it presents throughout the city. Innovation Village’s launch extended that work to West Baltimore, and showed the way for programs like Conscious Venture Lab to move into the area.

It all started with (Sept. 19, 2016)

Team circa 2004, on a bowling outing. Cofounder Scott Ferber is in the bottom row, second from left.

No list of this nature would be complete without going all the way back, and the headline on this piece by Jason Tashea could double as a clarion call for the Baltimore tech scene as we know it today. The Canton office that’s gone through a series of name changes through mergers to now become Verizon Media Group remains a large employer. And as we continue to see, the people who worked there and have gone on to found and work at other companies are just  influential in growing the city’s tech base.


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