DPO launches website against Allen Alley

The Democratic Party of Oregon has started a new website called, "Allen Alley: Experience You Can’t Trust". Alley is the Republican candidate for State Treasurer, running against Democrat Ben Westlund.

Politickeror.com reports:

The site, called “Allen Alley: Experience You Can’t Trust,” takes aim at the Alley campaigns central theme: Alley's record as a successful businessman. He believes that his experience as the founder and CEO of Pixelworks, a Portland-based technology company, gives him the skills he needs to be the state’s treasurer. The biography on his campaign website touts Alley as a “business leader who has been instrumental in growing two of Oregon’s most successful technology companies,”

But, the Oregon Democratic Party claims that if Alley is the model of success, then the rest of Oregon’s businesses must be in deep trouble.

"Allen Alley wants Oregonians to believe that his corporate background qualifies him to be State Treasurer. We would hate to see Oregon’s public employees’ retirement fund take the same path as Alley’s company,” Oregon Democratic Party Chair Meredith Wood Smith said.

Smith is referring to Pixelworks, a once-profitable NASDAQ traded business. The stock, which a few years ago traded at $50 a share closed at $1.51 on Thursday. Alley, who resigned as CEO in December of 2006, cannot be blamed for the most recent losses, but Democrats say he is the one responsible for the current state of the company.

Jeff Mapes comments on his blog as well:

If you wanted another sign of the Democratic Party of Oregon's increasingly assertive role, look at their new web site aimed at dismembering Allen Alley, the Republican candidate for treasurer.

This is the second web site the party has financed, following a long-standing site called "Stop Gordon Smith," which pretty much tells you where it's coming from. While neither site is much of a magnet for web surfers, they provide a handy repository of negative material about the two candidates.


  • (Show?)

    "Allen Ally: Experience You Can't Trust?", clearlythis someone disagrees.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Well, perhaps the Governor trusted Alley enough to throw him a live preserver after Alley was forced out of his Pixelworks job by a pissed off Board of Directors... But he clearly supports Ben Westlund in this race.

    Alley seems to want it both ways: He touts his business experience as a prerequisite for holding office, but then when it's revealed that his business tanked, he steps back and refuses to accept responsibility.

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    There's something about this guy that just doesn't seem right. I can't put my finger on it yet, but I'm hoping to figure it out between now and November.

    In any case, JHL is basically right - but not specific enough.

    Allen Alley is running for a job that's about managing the people who manage Oregon's money. And yet, in the biggest job he's ever had - where he was managing the people who were supposed to be making money for Pixelworks, he failed. The company basically tanked.

    Now don't get me wrong. A lot of high-tech firms have tanked. It's a rough business. I don't think it makes him a bad person or a dumb person, or anything like that.

    I think Alley may very well be successful someday in the future. Hopefully, somebody will give him a second chance.

    But I sure as hell don't want it to be with my money.

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    I think you are being very unfair to Allen when you attack him because "There's something about this guy that just doesn't seem right. I can't put my finger on it yet.."

    While Pixleworks has had a lot of difficulty in the past few years, it still employs many Oregonians and is currently cash flow positive. You know that starting a business is harder than it seems to the public. Now consider what it takes to create a company that takes on the semiconductor giants and competes for customers world-wide. For many years Pixleworks was the hot company in Silicon Forest. The fact that it did not live up to the dreams of its investors and supporters is not to say that it didn't add value to our community or society. Frankly, we have very few high tech companies that have succeeded as well as Pixleworks that started in Oregon. This is a tough place to do it, a point Allen has made many times.

    One of the reasons we find it difficult to do here is that often, think Bill Gates, the companies that are the most successful are led by people who are the most ruthless. Allen is not that person and he shares many of the values of Oregon that may have made him less successful in a ruthless business, but a better human being.

    Attack him for his policies, his lack of political experience, his party, but give him a little more respect as an individual who has taken risks and worked hard to make Oregon a better place. When it comes to my money, I would prefer a treasurer who has invested for most of his/her career. Allen has done that and he knows the investment world. Frankly I am a little concerned, that Ben is starting his investment career at the top with no big money experience. (I still like Ben's other attributes and legislative experience.)

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    I agree with John. These kind of attack hatchet jobs have no real place in politics, especially when these candidates haven't even had much of a chance to introduce themselves to the state.

    Can someone answer this question for me: Which candidate for treasurer is actually more progressive on tax and fiscal policy, and why?

  • Walpurgis (unverified)

    While Pixleworks has had a lot of difficulty in the past few years, it still employs many Oregonians...

    Umm... actually, the employees who aren't in China are mostly in San Jose, California. Less than 10% of Pixelworks employees are Oregonians now.

    ... and is currently cash flow positive.

    Actually, it didn't start turning a profit again until 2007, after Alley had been forced out by the Board of Directors. Alley apparently has yet to run a sustainable business!

    Calhoun seems to want a Treasurer with investment experience, not understanding that the Investment Division handles most of that and the Treasurer actually will be making policy decisions -- not individual investments. Notwithstanding that fact however, so far Alley's investments have been poison to anyone except himself.

    He's spun a fairy tale about his business experience, but the facts clearly show that his "experience" consists mostly of running companies into the ground. I guess you could call that a type of experience... but not one I'd want in a Treasurer.

  • JTT (unverified)

    For many years [sic] Pixleworks was the hot company in Silicon Forest.

    Of course...there were lots of businesses in the tech bubble that were hot, but when the excitement ended...the fundamentals weren't there. You can't campaign on your successful business experience it doesn't exist. I'm glad the DPO is calling Alley out before can 'introduce' his 'experience' to more Oregonians.

    ...[Alley] worked hard to make Oregon a better place.

    Maybe he did, he just happened to be making a shit ton of money while the company sucked in sand. So, maybe he's not a ruthless deal maker, maybe he loves puppies and trees...but he kinda reminds me of a 'ruthless' Enron executive or the banking 'executives' who got sweet severance packages for screwing their companies into the ground.

    My point is, I don't want him to be investing my pension, nor do I want him investing the state's dollars. Nor do I think that he should be allowed to campaign on his 'business experience' without the DPO calling him on his real track record.

    Seriously, I would hate to see this happen to PERS, the college savings accounts, or any of the state's dollars for education, health care, and public safety.

    I just did a freakin' Google search and noticed this sweet article on how Alley refused to budget at Pixelworks. Contrast that to Westlund who served as Co-Chair of Ways & Means during the leanest time in Oregon's history. I take Westlund HANDS DOWN.

  • (Show?)

    According to the Bend Bulletin:

    "Allen Alley co-founded a high-tech company and raised tens of millions from investors, but management decisions under his watch as chief executive were blamed for later sending the company — and its stock — into a tailspin. He also raised eyebrows for earning more than $1.2 million in salary in 2005, a year the company lost $42 million, according to news reports."
    I"ll take Westlund's experience on the Ways and Means Committee over Alley's any day - Again from today's Bulletin Bend article:
    "Under Alley’s guidance, the company looked destined for success. It set up satellite shops in China, where he could hire engineers cheaply, and where the company would be closer to its customers, said Frank Gill, a former Intel executive who sat on the board of directors at Pixelworks."

  • Mathew (unverified)

    JC says:

    I would prefer a treasurer who has invested for most of his/her career.

    Lets get something straight Alley got Pixelworks through the process of becoming a publicly traded company, great. He did so when it is was untapped niche market for semi-conductors.

    But his experience also includes his reigned over the same company as the market forces switched and the niche market became much more complex. He failed to have the foresight to see the investment market change or make the right decision to protect the company's stock thus price collapsed, the company outscored hundreds of jobs, yet the company was left small and unable to build market share, but not before Alley paid himself millions of dollars while the company was going into the toilet.

    Go read the site John: http://allenalley.typepad.com/

    You can give the guy credit for somethings but you have to look at the whole picture: the Good, the Bad, and in Alley's Case, the Ugly.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    This is not a hatchet job. Kari is judging Alley they way he asks to be judged: by his business experience. To me, it looks like this: his business tanked, but he personally ended up making a lot of money. Isn't that basically President Bush's private sector legacy?

    If I were an investor, I would not invest in Alley's next venture.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Calhoun: "but give [Alley] a little more respect as an individual who has taken risks"

    Umm, I'll give him a happy-face sticker for trying really hard, sure. 'A' for effort. I heard he's a nice guy with a winning smile.

    But look at the record: This guy is King Midas in reverse when it comes to finance. I don't see how grading on effort is really going to be much consolation if the Oregon Treasury is experiencing the same results as any of Alley's businesses.

    Hey, Alley's got my respect... he just doesn't have my support. At all.

  • (Show?)

    John Calhoun: The fact that it did not live up to the dreams of its investors and supporters is not to say that it didn't add value to our community or society.

    John, I'd suggest storing away that little nugget. If Alley becomes our treasurer - and does for Oregon what he did for Pixelworks - you're going to need it again.

  • (Show?)

    Kari is judging Alley they way he asks to be judged: by his business experience.

    Incidentally, since at least one reporter has asked about this, I thought I'd just note one thing: I'm not working for Ben Westlund (and never have), and I didn't build the DPO's anti-Alley website.

    In this race, I'm just another guy paying attention.

  • Ex-Pixelworker (unverified)

    The dramatic loss of shareholder value at Pixelworks can be traced back to two decisions. First was the acquisition of the failing semiconductor company Equator Technologies for $109 million in cash. Second was the decision to transfer engineering development from North America (primarily Oregon) to Shanghai, China. Dozens of highly creative and innovative technology experts were shown the door and since then shareholder value has plummeted. If Alley is re-engineering the company, there is no clear path to success so far. Attempts to repurchase shares, buy down the massive debt, and reverse-split the stock have had little effect, and investors continue to suffer. Today Pixelworks has a market cap of less than $22 million, one-fifth the Equator purchase price. With this legacy in private industry we can only guess what effect Alley will have on the public treasury.

  • Trust Voter (unverified)

    I just don't trust Ben Westlund.

  • Don (unverified)

    My only question is why should the DPO bother? Westlund is going to win in an absolute walk.

  • Matt (unverified)

    Trust Voter,

    Great commentary. It is akin to, "Man ain't no Monkey" and "Global Warming was made up by Al Gore along with the Internets."

    But I worry that your analysis won't be appreciated here but I do know a site where you will not only be understood but welcomed with open arms:



  • Walpurgis (unverified)

    Don't be too confident about our 2008 races, Don. Westlund is going to win in a walk BECAUSE he's keeping the pressure on... but if he sat back and took it for granted, he might actually have a race on his hands.

    Allen Alley may have a hard time turning a profit, but he's shrewd enough to try and position himself as moderately as he can this cycle. Notice he doesn't even own up to being a Republican on his website. It's important that the voters are reminded why Westlund needs to beat this guy.

  • JAC (unverified)

    I'll vote for State Treasurer based on how Ben and Allen answer these questions about Oregon's future: 1. What will they do help our State invest in transportation systems to attract good jobs and business (ROADS!)? 2. What will they do on the State Land Board to help our failing counties economies? 3. What will they do to modernize PERS and OIC investment systems to maximize efficiency for tax payers and state retirees? 4. What will they do to improve the Common School Fund for education of Oregon’s children and expand Oregon college savings for parents and students?

  • JHL (unverified)

    JAC, my bet is that both candidates have answers to these questions. No one is going to say, "I hate the College Savings Program; screw it!"

    So let's consider which candidate would actually deliver on thier platform:

    If you asked Alley back in the 90s what he was going to do with Pixelworks, he would (and did) say that he would bring jobs to Oregon and take care of his employees. ... Fail. So far, Alley simply has a history of not delivering on expectations.

    Westlund, meanwhile, has an actual record to back up his platform; as a legislator he's already been there on a lot of these issues and has proven that he has the legislative prowess to get things accomplished in Salem.

  • Bill Campbell (unverified)

    Is this really going to be the Democratic party line, attacking Allen Alley through Pixelworks because Pixelworks is currently out of favor on Wall Street?

    In just over 10 years, Pixelworks has gone from a gleam in the eye of Allen Alley and his co-founders to the primary supplier worldwide of video control image controls for projectors. It holds that position today, at a time when JHL (who are you, JHL? Inquiring minds are curious!) are saying it's a failure.

    Some failure. Pixelworks has gone from zero revenue to revenue on the order of $100 million per year. Along the way it has created hundreds of jobs, made a number of Oregon millionaires (several of whom have become investors in and have started other Oregon companies, supporting the next generation of success), taught an entire generation of management how to do business worldwide, contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Oregon's charitable causes, hired many interns and students out of Oregon universities, paid Oregon suppliers and vendors of goods and services tens of millions of dollars, and through its payrolls and its own tax obligations, generated millions upon millions of dollars in tax receipts to Oregon's schools and state and local governments.

    Most of this -- since 2000 -- it has done as a public company, with full transparency and accountability, and an impeccable record of financial integrity.

    Progressives are supposed to think this kind of success with complete transparency is a good thing. But you guys, following the DPO line, want to focus on the one part of the equation that's controlled out of Wall Street. Sheesh.

    Those wonderful people who brought you the subprime mortgage debacle and who are responsible for the decline in the value of your house? Those are the people whose "vote" in the form of Pixelworks' share price you want us to follow?

    C'mon, people. Think for yourselves. Zero to $100M. No jobs to hundreds of jobs. No taxes to millions of dollars in taxes. No source of charitable contributions to tens of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions. Several years on the fastest-growing-company list nationwide.

    And you want to judge this on a temporary stock price snapshot?

    Consider the business environment Pixelworks has confronted. Pixelworks' 11 years encompass the technology bust, 9/11, China's emergence into a global tech power, India's emergence as a global tech power, the complete revolution in displays (the industry Pixelworks serves), the reduction in the market of the prices you can get for the chips Pixelworks sells by tenfold, and a brutal wrenching business cycle in Oregon. When Pixelworks started, by far and away the largest customer for its chips was just down the road in Wilsonville. As of now, all the largest customers for its chips buy on the other side of the globe.

    In this time, Pixelworks has been forced to reinvent itself entirely on the fly. And yet by comparison with its peers -- Genesis, Trident -- Pixelworks even today is doing better than they are. Genesis was sold and dismembered. Pixelworks' enterprise value -- the value the market assigns to the company as an operating entity, excluding balance sheet factors -- exceeds Trident's.

    No other company started in Oregon in the same period has accomplished more; none has confronted greater challenges. Are there decisions Pixelworks' management would like back? Undoubtedly. Can anyone seeking to attack choose a few and hammer on them? Sure, but it's cheap politics. Who among us wouldn't like a do-over? Instead look at the overall record, and bring that vaunted fair-mindedness in which Oregon progressives take pride.

    The quarterly results preceding Pixelworks' all-time high stock price (registered I believe in September 2000) were:

    6/30/2000 quarter ending: $12M revenue and a loss of $300k from operations. Pixelworks' first quarter as a public company.

    In between then and now, they changed the accounting rules to require assigning a value to stock options and treating that as an expense. If you adjust for that change, so you are comparing apples to apples, the quarterly results preceding today's stock price were:

    3/31/2008 quarter ending: $24M in revenue and an operating profit of $57k. Pixelworks most recent quarter.

    It's gone through a lot in between, for sure. But those results do not describe failure. They describe hard-one success.

    But to me that still misses the point.

    12/31/1996 quarter ending -- zero revenue, zero profit or loss, zero jobs, zero taxes, zero wealth. Pixelworks didn't exist yet.

    All of us who work for an existing business and have taken it for granted, feeling justified in criticizing management for decisions that turn out badly -- all of us who, in general, are perfectly prepared to explain to each other what Bill Gates has done wrong (certainly one of my favorite passtimes) -- might just consider the personal risk and personal reputation one puts on the line in starting a business from nothing;

    in abandoning a nice salary, 401(k), health insurance, vacations, PERS maybe, whatever other benefits -- to do so;

    in betting on that founding team's ability to create a product where there is none;

    to find customers where there are none;

    to form a team capable of beating the fastest moving most aggressive companies in the world at their own game --

    In betting, in short, on Oregon's ability to be world class, from scratch.

    I work with startups all the time. Most fail, because it's really, really hard to do. Pixelworks is not a failure. It is a very substantial success, now going through the usual ups and downs of an established business.

    For treasurer, I want a man who knows that success is possible, in Oregon -- who knows WE can co that, right here. And who has done it. And who knows what it takes.

  • Steve Low (unverified)

    Yes Bill, there have been ups and downs. More downs in fact.

    But we can't lose 95% of the value of the State Treasury one year and then say "Oh well, at least we had some good years back there, didn't we..."

    If Alley is using his business experience as a reason why people should vote for him, it should be examined for its results, not just his effort. Of course Pixelworks did fine for awhile; it was still riding its initial investment.

    It seems like Alley's argument is that good results came about because of his management, but bad results are just market forces and should be discounted when considering his experience.

  • Ex-Pixelworker (unverified)

    Bill Campbell,

    I have great respect and admiration for you, but there is one point that you don't seem to understand. Allen told all of his Oregon based technical staff to shove off. Get lost, we don't need you. You suck. Instead, he gave all of those jobs and more to the Shanghai office. And those geniuses in Shanghai have done nothing but collect their paychecks and look for the next higher-paying job. If Allen loves Oregon so much why did he destroy something that so many of us sweated blood to build from the ground up? We loved the enterprise that we built, but Allen used his position to screw us over royally. He has neither the judgement nor the temperament to run Oregon's treasury.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Bill Campbell... Hmm... That wouldn't be Bill Campbell of Ater Wynne, would it? The very same Ater Wynne that represents Pixelworks?

    <h2>I didn't realize that defending a candidate on BlueOregon fell into a corporate attorney's job description.</h2>
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