Pendleton native taps a top job at Linux

<p>Bill Kent Jr.</p>

Pendleton native Bill Kent Jr. has hustled inside the Round-Up Arena since he was a child, and as vice president of a sports management company he’s hustled around the county.

Now he is the marketing manager of the Linux Foundation, the source, promoter and protector of Linux, the free operating system that powers Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, the New York Stock Exchange and Google’s Android phones. Amanda McPherson, Linux vice president of marketing and developer programs, said Kent, who turned 32 Friday, will be in charge of revenue-based marketing programs to grow the foundation’s training courses, event sponsorship and membership.

“I hired him because he has a very good skill set and experience set for this position and a great hard working attitude, too,” she said in an email.

Kent said during a phone interview Wednesday the position will be a fun challenge, and the thrust of that challenge is convincing high-tech companies and software developers to join the foundation, take its training and try its products. Marketers don’t always understand the high-tech products and services they promote, he said, while the audience usually does.

Avoiding that pitfall, Kent said, means working closely with the engineers “who understand the nuts and bolts of what’s happening.” That’s also the kind of experiences he said helped him land the new position.

“I have done work with really large technology companies in the state of Oregon, including Intel and Mentor Graphics,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of marketing technology products.”

Linux will be the biggest technology firm he has worked for. The pioneer in open source programming has Web properties that get upwards of a million hits a day.

“The last company I worked for got 10,000 hits a month,” Kent said.

The move to Linux is right in line with his career vision. Back in Pendleton High School, he said, he was interested in sports, traveling and technology. After graduating from Pendleton High School in 1998, Kent in four years earned a degree in journalism and communication with a focus in public relations from the University of Oregon, and received a certification in festival and event management to boot.

Bill Kent Jr.’s success didn’t surprise his first employer, Lynn Lashbrook, president and founder of Sports Management Worldwide, the first online sports career training company. He gave Kent his first marketing job in 2002 with the then upstart firm.

“He was fantastic, very versatile and very talented,” Lashbrook said.

“We didn’t have an office or anything,” Kent recalled of the early days with his first company. “I was just banging the phones, calling back anyone with interest in the sports training we were offering.”

That work ethic paid off. Kent rose to become company vice president during his five years there.

“He did everything we asked of him,” Lashbrook said. “We didn’t want him to leave. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

His father, Bill Kent Sr., now of Eugene, said his son has been career-focused for years.

“Bill has always been really driven, and whenever he’s gotten knocked down, he’s always gotten back up and kept fighting,” his father said.

The senior Kent said he has watched his son “make the long-term play over and over again with his career” because he is willing to take steps backward to find new roles so he could learn and advance again.

“He’s an extroverted person and a tremendous relationship builder,” Kent Sr. said. “I’ve been amazed as he’s gone from Pendleton to navigating Portland and now way beyond that. Couldn’t be more proud of how hard he works. He has the goal of becoming the VP of marketing for a large high-tech company some day, and I have no doubt that the day will come.”

The younger Kent credited growing up in Pendleton with giving him the foundation to relate to people of all sorts. The software engineers he has worked with, for example, he said, are “very grounded” and much like the people he knows in Pendleton.

Kent also is tied to that oldest of Pendleton traditions, the Round-Up. Bill Kent Sr. worked on the fence crew for years, helping set up and take down the PVC fence inside the Round-Up Arena. And his son has hung around that whole life, and this will be the fourth year he’ll work on the fence crew in his father’s place.

That’s something, he said, he has to make sure The Linux Foundation understands — he’ll need to take off that second full week of September.

“It’s fun to see those guys every year,” Kent said. “It’s one thing that I’ve never missed.”


Contact Phil Wright at or 541-966-0833.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.