You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
October 16, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Michel Feaster spent more than a decade building products for breakout enterprise software companies Mercury Interactive, Opsware and Apptio.
August 26, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Microsoft isn’t the only area software company undergoing a change at the top.
Longtime Seattle tech leader Mitch Hill has resigned as chief executive of Opscode, two years after taking the helm of the enterprise software startup.
Hill stepped down last week to devote his full attention to fighting an illness that he’s been battling.
Barry Crist, the company’s vice president of enterprise, was named chief executive and chairman. Crist (left) joined the company five months ago after working as an entrepreneur in residence at Ignition Partners, the Bellevue-based venture firm backing Opscode.
“We kind of lucked out on that front,” said Ignition’s John Connors. “Usually at this stage of company you don’t have an internal person who is an experienced, CEO-caliber person.”
Crist began his tech career at Apple, working his way up from tech support. Later he was a vice president at Mercury Interactive, an enterprise software firm that spawned several area tech executives after it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2006. Crist went on to become chief executive of Likewise, a Bellevue enterprise storage venture acquired by EMC Isilon last year.
Hill was the founding chief executive of Avanade, a Seattle-based consulting firm started in 2000 by Microsoft and Accenture. Before that he spent two decades at Accenture, eventually managing its tech business in the Western U.S.
Hill left Opscode in good standing. The 5-year-old company has moved from primarily serving smaller tech operations to mostly serving Fortune 1000 companies, which use its Chef platform to automate their server infrastructure. Its blue-chip clients include GE, Nordstrom, Target, Boeing and Disney. It’s also working with pretty much every major cloud services vendor to develop its platform.
“We feel great about where we’re at,” Hill said. “Opscode is at a completely different place than it was a couple of year ago in terms of the maturity of the product.”
Crist said Opscode is expected to double sales this year and next and will probably double its headcount over the next year. It now has just more than 100 employees and has outgrown its Pioneer Square office. It may relocate to a larger space in early 2014.
March 5, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Yes, America needs more computer programmers.
Schools must do a better job introducing kids to computer science.
But after talking to a few smaller companies here in software city last week, I’m not quite as worried about the purported tech-talent crisis. It doesn’t look like the talent pool is drying up just yet.
February 5, 2013 at 10:03 AM
With Dell going private, perhaps it’s time to revisit whether Microsoft should do the same.
Two years ago I reported that Microsoft had looked into the possibility, with its treasury department analyzing the possibility.
To me it makes sense because Microsoft cannot win back Wall Street, despite steadily growing sales and profit through the recession, Apple’s ascent and even the restructuring of the traditional PC industry. Dell’s in the same boat.
Part of the reason is that people still view Microsoft and Dell mostly through the PC prism, which distorts their perspective and makes it hard to grasp the evolution of the companies’ enterprise software and services businesses. When Microsoft reports double-digit growth in its server business, nobody pays much attention because they are gawking at iPad sales numbers, looking for evidence of Microsoft’s demise.
Dell’s stock suffers from the same effect. Its core PC business is suffering but it’s steadily built a huge and profitable enterprise hardware and services business with about $20 billion in yearly sales; last year it produced about half the company’s profit margin.
PC sales will look bad for a while as companies and consumers reconsider the mix of computing devices they use at work and home. During this transition, traditional PCs are being replaced less often. That’s partly because the notion of a personal computer is evolving, and PC makers are struggling to keep up. During this period of uncertainty, they’ve lost favor with consumers and investors.
Meanwhile, enterprise spending continues as companies around the world rebuild their infrastructure and incorporate more online services. Microsoft and Dell need allies as they battle with Amazon.com, IBM and other major online infrastructure vendors.
This 2011 photo by Times photographer, Steve Ringman, gives you a sense of what’s going on. The building at left is Dell’s new cloud-services datacenter rising adjacent to Microsoft’s datacenter in Quincy.
Here’s another way to look at today’s deal.
Imagine that you’ve got $65,000 saved up and banks are offering about 1 percent interest. You’ve got a buddy with an undervalued business that you understand well and believe will prosper in the coming years. Would you put $2,000 in that business if you had a chance? Add six zeros and you’re Steve Ballmer and Michael Dell.
Some may chuckle at today’s deal, seeing the Titanic throwing a rope to the Lusitania. But Microsoft and Dell will probably have the last laugh.
Really, Microsoft is making a smart bet with its cash pile. Worries about alienating other PC companies are overblown — those companies already have plenty of reasons to resent Microsoft, and the Dell deal won’t change things too much.
Microsoft issued a statement emphasizing that it’s providing a loan to Dell. Analysts told Bloomberg this arrangement may be more palatable to other PC makers than an outright investment.
Hewlett-Packard has been stomping around the PC patch looking for ways to dump Microsoft for years, even before Microsoft began producing its own Surface computers.
HP spent $3.3 billion in 2010 and 2011 in a failed attempt to produce its own operating system for PCs and mobile devices. It also offers Linux and now Google’s Chrome on its hardware, but most of its customers still buy computers running Microsoft software. Until that changes, Microsoft’s investments are a secondary issue for HP.
PC makers didn’t seem to care much when Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple back in 1997, in part to end a legal dispute. The deal helped Apple regain its footing, and it eventually came back to bite Microsoft and its partners.
Microsoft sold its Apple stake too soon for a crazy windfall, but it profited from the deal in other ways. Its Office software became the best-selling application on Apple computers, presumably bringing more than $150 million back to Redmond.
A decade later, Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook, in 2007, receiving a 1.6 stake that’s now worth about $1 billion. Perhaps more valuable to Microsoft was the relationship with Facebook; the social network is now woven into Microsoft’s PC and phone platforms and works closely with Bing on search.
Ballmer’s investing record isn’t perfect. Last year Microsoft wrote off $6 billion invested in Seattle online ad giant aQuantive, but that may not reflect the value of ad technology and expertise Microsoft gained from the deal.
As ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley noted today, Microsoft’s big 2011 investment and partnership with Nokia hasn’t repelled other phone makers from the Windows Phone platform. It did cement Nokia’s commitment to Microsoft’s software, though, and could lead to Nokia producing Windows tablets, as well as phones.
Considering the various ways that Microsoft benefits from these investments, it looks like a smart decision to finance Dell’s move.
Maybe the learning Ballmer & Co. get from the deal will finally persuade them to take Microsoft private as well.
January 28, 2013 at 9:44 AM
If you had to put a face on the tech industry in Olympia, perhaps it should be that of Dudley Dursley, the pudgy, spoiled cousin of Harry Potter.
In the books, you can’t resent Dudley as much as his parents, who raised the boy to expect the world — with extra whipped cream and a few cherries on top. They shower him with treats and gifts, and only begrudgingly toss skinny little Harry a bone now and then.
If you think I’m being harsh, take a look at the latest tax proposals in the Legislature and how lawmakers, amid the latest funding crisis, are treating the state’s huge tech companies.
Microsoft, Amazon.com and others are in line for even more sweets at their annual Olympia lovefest, while ordinary companies and residents are being forced to clean up the mess.
People across the state are facing huge tax increases over the next few years to cover a shortfall in education funding.
Tech companies would be exempted from the proposed tax increases for education, but that wasn’t enough. They’re also lobbying to be sure they keep getting other tax breaks that ordinary business people can only dream about.
What makes this especially galling is that tech companies keep calling for the state to improve its education system, especially when it comes to training their future tech workers.
This pleading works. Despite funding problems in recent years, the state found ways to enlarge the University of Washington’s computer-science and engineering departments, largely by cutting back on other departments.
How are the chief beneficiaries showing their gratitude? By sidestepping the proposed new education taxes.
Basic education is a primary responsibility of the state under the Washington constitution. But for decades, lawmakers have been short-shrifting kids in the state, while ensuring that favorite industries get plenty of goodies.
After school districts sued, the state Supreme Court ordered the state to cover its education-funding shortfall. It’s the biggest issue facing lawmakers this year.
The education-funding proposal left on the table by former Gov. Gregoire would raise taxes on gas, beer and companies doing business in Washington. Not high-tech businesses, though; they would be exempt from the extra 0.3 percent business and occupation tax that builders, bakers, restaurants and most every other business would pay for the next three years.
Collectively, the nontech businesses of the state would pay $248 million more next year under Gregoire’s proposal. Gov. Inslee hasn’t proposed an alternative yet, but don’t count on him pressuring the tech companies that he embraced during his campaign.
The proposed gas tax would start at about 2 percent per gallon and rise to about 5 percent over the next four years. At the high end, that could add perhaps 16 cents to a gallon.
Gregoire’s proposal would also extend a special $15.50 per barrel tax on beer for another three years.
Dudley Dursley will do fine, though. Olympia giveth, as well as taketh. (image via Harry Potter Wiki)
Amid the education-funding debacle, lawmakers are offering another big gift to tech companies.
First up is House Bill 1303, a proposal to extend a B&O tax credit for tech companies researching and developing new products. Companies can use the credit to reduce their state tax bill by up to $2 million a year. Tech companies took $23.1 million worth of the credits in 2011, the most recent year for which a tally is available.
This deal expires in 2015 but, with HB 1303, a group of eight lawmakers has proposed extending the bill for 20 years — through 2035. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday before the House Technology and Economic Development Committee. (Here’s the bill:HB 1303.pdf.)
I learned about the hearing from an email sent by a tech lobbying group, urging members to testify in support of extending both the B&O credit and an even more generous sales-tax break for tech companies. The sales-tax break also expires in 2015, and it’s a safe bet that someone will propose extending it out into the distant future.
Special tax treatment for “high-tech” companies dates back to the early 1990s, when the state’s software industry was beginning to bloom.
Originally the idea was to help companies developing complicated new products by letting them hold off on paying some taxes until their products went on sale.
Back then Microsoft was still building Windows 95 ,and Jeff Bezos was a young Wall Street banker.
As these tech companies grew and soared, so did the state’s generosity. The circa 1994 plan to let them defer sales tax on product-development expenses morphed into a sales-tax exemption, and the state extended the program decade by decade.
Whether these tax breaks made a difference is debatable. Although the cost to the state is significant — enough to cover much of its education shortfall — the tax savings are immaterial for the large recipients.
Public assistance makes sense for young companies that may be struggling to pay for product development, before they make their first sales. But after they’ve grown up, they should be embarrassed to be asking for these perpetual handouts.
The biggest beneficiaries of these breaks are now giants. They’re among the most prosperous companies in the world.
Microsoft, the most vocal proponent of improving math and science education, last week reported profit of more than $2 billion per month despite the struggles of the PC industry.
Washington state is doing its part.
Its tech sales tax exemption helped Microsoft and other tech companies avoid paying $31 million in 2011, and $249.8 million in sales taxes over the past eight years.
It’s funny — that’s almost exactly how much Gregoire’s education-funding plan would collect next year from a higher tax on the less privileged companies across the state.
If only there were a friendly wizard to even things out.
December 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM
With a Prius on every block and Teslas on sale at the mall, it’s hard to make a statement with a hybrid in Seattle nowadays.
You need a pretty special eco-friendly vehicle to stand out.
I thought the suborbital space freighter that Paul Allen is building out of recycled 747s would take the cake.
Then I heard about the two 764-foot, dual-fuel megaships being built for Seattle-based TOTE.
When they go into service in 2015 and 2016, the hybrid ships will be the most environmentally friendly container ships in the world, the company said in its announcement last week.
Emissions of particulate matter will be reduced by 99 percent, enabling TOTE to sail through strict clean-air regulations applied to coastal areas around the world.
It’s a huge investment — more than $350 million – by Saltchuk Resources, a family-owned Seattle business that quietly operates TOTE and a huge network of maritime and shipping companies.
At first blush this seems like a crazy move. There’s a glut of ships worldwide after a surge of construction over the past decade, chasing the rise in global trade. But that glut has created a buyer’s market for new ships.
TOTE also is being proactive and using new technology to get ahead of environmental measures that are pushing maritime companies around the world to operate cleaner ships.
“Somebody has to do it and get out in front of it,” Phil Morrell, TOTE’s vice president of marine and terminal operations, told me last week.
This isn’t the first time Saltchuk has been first with a fancy hybrid. In 2009 its Foss Maritime group began operating the world’s first hybrid diesel-electric tugboat (pictured), in Southern California. It worked so well that a second tug was retrofitted with the hybrid propulsion system, for which Foss and its design partners received a patent this year.
I wouldn’t call these granola boats, though. Going green in this case is smart business as much as altruism.
International treaties have established “emission control areas” in coastal areas where TOTE operates, including a zone of about 200 miles off the coasts of Canada and the United States. Within these areas, ships must use cleaner, low-sulfur fuel or take other steps to cut harmful emissions.
This past August, the maximum sulfur content of fuel used in these areas fell from 3.5 to 1 percent. It falls again in 2015 to 0.1 percent. The current plan calls for a global limit of 0.5 percent sulfur starting in 2020.
To meet these requirements, ships must use more refined — and more expensive — fuel. That makes advanced technologies like hybrid engines more appealing.
Morrell said 1 percent sulfur fuel costs 30 percent more than regular “heavy” fuel oil. He expects the 0.1 percent limit will increase fuel costs by about 60 percent in 2015.
Ships may also comply with emissions requirements by adding devices such as exhaust “scrubbers” that capture waste material for disposal on shore. Or they can switch to clean burning liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which is relatively cheap and plentiful.
Engines that TOTE’s using on its new ships can convert on the fly from diesel to LNG as they enter zones with different emissions requirements, without a drop in speed.
The engines are being built in South Korea using technology licensed from a European conglomerate. A Korean company is designing the ships, which will be built in San Diego by General Dynamics Nassco. TOTE may not stop at two; it has options for three more of the same class.
LNG is already widely used in Scandinavia by ferries, coast-guard ships and smaller tankers. It’s coming to oil-industry support ships in the Gulf of Mexico, and Washington state is considering LNG ferries. Eventually the big international shipping companies will also make the switch, Morrell said.
In shipping circles, this is more than a system update. It’s seen as a monumental shift to new propulsion technology.
“The analogy is very similar to the transition from sail to steam, or when they went to coal, or when they went from coal to oil,” Morrell said. “It’s just another evolution in the maritime industry and the type of energy you’re going to use to propel your vessel. It’s a new era.”
It’s expensive to be ahead of the curve, though. Morrell said the ships’ propulsion system costs 15 to 20 percent more than a traditional system.
“It’s like buying a hybrid car,” he said. “The hybrid car is a little bit more expensive than the regular gas version because of the components and the technology.”
TOTE will operate its hybrid ships between Puerto Rico and Jacksonville, Fla. They’ll haul cars, food, pharmaceuticals and all sorts of other products to and from the island. They also will sail in a new Caribbean Sea emissions control area that takes effect in January 2014.
Cleaner propulsion is also coming to ships that TOTE operates between Tacoma and Alaska. The company has started designing an LNG system to retrofit its two 839-foot Orca class ships that were built in 2003.
TOTE expects that its work adding LNG infrastructure on shore will help other ship operators move to LNG.
LNG takes up valuable deck space with large gas tanks. TOTE’s new ships will feature large gas tanks on the aft deck, with a platform for storing containers above the tanks. Still, TOTE said it’s new ships will carry five times more containers than ships currently serving Puerto Rico.
TOTE expects its new hybrids will be the largest ships in the world powered primarily by LNG.
They get my inaugural Emerald Trident Award.
Unless Paul Allen gets a wild hair and starts bolting together mothballed aircraft carriers to build a seagoing, recycled launch platform for his space freighter.
December 5, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Washington topped a new national ranking of tech savvy states benefiting from broadband.
The report was produced by TechNet, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group formed by tech executives who have pushed to make broadband a top priority for lawmakers. Among the founders is John Chambers, chief executive of network technology provider Cisco, which sponsored the study released today.
“Simply put, broadband is the foundation for our nation’s continued technology and economic leadership,” TechNet Chief Executive Rey Ramsey said in the release. “Broadband is shown to help create economic growth, job creation and many other benefits.”
Criteria included broadband adoption, network quality and economic structure.
Washington led largely because of its “economic structure” rating. That includes the percentage of jobs in “information and communication technology” industries and “ICT-centric” workers such as computing programmers or network administrators.
That reflects the presence of major software companies and companies such as network technology provider F5 and telecoms like T-Mobile USA.
Another factor was an estimate of the percentage of jobs in app development. The study noted that Washington has a number of companies developing mobile apps. It’s also home to the world’s largest app developer – Microsoft.
Right behind Washington in the ranking were Massachusetts and Delaware, followed by Maryland and California. Oregon ranked 13th.
“TechNet’s Broadband study confirms the importance of high speed Internet access for our state,” Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said in TechNet’s release. “Our companies and residents are innovators, and they make the most of the high-speed networks in our communities. Washington’s broadband environment has grown through years of planning and commitment, and we welcome the findings released today.”
The study said Massachusetts’ benefited from its “cluster of universities and tech companies” and Delaware did well because it has a “high network quality and concentration of corporate headquarters reliant on broadband connectivity.”
Here’s the report: TechNet_StateBroadband3a (1).pdf
Here’s TechNet’s infographic issued with the press release:
December 3, 2012 at 9:57 AM
It’s revenge-of-the-nerds time in Seattle.
The cool kids in Silicon Valley usually get all the attention. But the tables are turning, now that it’s getting harder to make a killing with a clever app or website.
Lately, the Valley’s been fretting about a slowdown in venture funding for consumer Web companies.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson opined last week that the consumer Web has finally matured and the big players like Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, Microsoft and others are “starting to suck up a lot of the oxygen.’
In a blog post, Wilson wrote that “consumer behaviors are starting to ossify on the Web, and it is harder than ever to build a large audience from a standing start.”
Meanwhile, Seattle has been steadily growing a promising crop of business-oriented startups with half the glamour and perhaps twice the promise.
These companies don’t get the buzz of the Valley’s groovy consumer startups. But those that survived the recession and steadily built strong businesses are moving into position for big breakouts over the next year or two.
The backdrop for this is the emergence of Seattle as the world leader in cloud computing. Tech ventures small and large are building the infrastructure, tools and services that are modernizing the business world and managing the massive amounts of data that’s being generated.
That environment is drawing talent and investors now that enterprise software is back in favor. Evidence of this came in a surge of financing deals over the past month as a handful of tech startups in the area raised collectively more than $100 million.
“We’re going to look back 10 years from now, and we’re not going to believe how successful the Pacific Northwest has been in terms of growing great businesses,” Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona Venture Partners in Seattle, told me last week.
Here’s a look at some of the area companies moving into pole positions:
Big Fish Games: The steady Seattle casual-games giant is hunkering down and investing heavily in new businesses, which could position the company to go public or be acquired within two years.
Big Fish just named Dave Stephenson (below right, in a photo by Times photographer Ken Lambert) its president, freeing up founder and Chief Executive Paul Thelen (left) to focus on its new initiatives.
Stephenson formerly led finance operations for the biggest group at Amazon.com, its North American retail business. He joined Big Fish as chief financial officer last year.
Big Fish produces and publishes hundreds of games a year and distributes them on multiple platforms. Its games may not be household names, but they’re good enough to draw a huge, paying audience. That provides more consistent growth than chasing big hits.
Sales grew 30 percent last year and this year will exceed $200 million. Its global head count is about 700, including 550 in Seattle, where it added nearly 100 employees over the past year.
Big Fish considered going public last year but held off because it was planning big investments in its new cloud gaming platform. Thelen said the investments will lead to “hypergrowth” but wouldn’t have gone over well on Wall Street.
“We saw a lot of opportunity to emerge as a much bigger company through this forward investing in these new businesses we’re pursuing now,” he said.
Big Fish plans to spend perhaps 18 to 24 months getting the new ventures up to speed. They include the expansion of its cloud gaming platform, new “free to play” games supported by microtransactions and expansion in Asia.
“When we emerge is the time we’d consider an acquisition or an IPO, but right now we’re in a build phase,” Thelen said.
Smartsheet: Bellevue-based Smartsheet is announcing Monday that it has raised $26 million to accelerate its business providing online spreadsheets. The funding came from Madrona and Insight Venture Partners.
More than 20,000 organizations are now using Smartsheet’s online service to collaborate and share information.
Chief Executive Mark Mader expects his team will grow from 40 to 140 over the next 18 months. Smartsheet is cash-flow positive and saw triple-digit sales growth over the last three years.
“The opportunity we see here, it’s substantial,” he said.
Mader wouldn’t say much about plans to go public or be sold. But he acknowledged that large software vendors are interested in adding new products that are used by workers at every level of a company.
Those companies have to innovate “or find technologies that have huge reach and touch users within business.”
Qumulo: Seattle data-storage startup Qumulo surfaced last week with $24.5 million in initial funding.
The amount of data that companies need to store will grow 50 times by 2020, yet corporate IT budgets and staffing are expected to grow only about 50 percent over that period, Qumulo Chief Executive Peter Godman said.
“That situation — this massive increase in data and a fairly modest increase in resources — requires fundamentally better and more efficient technologies,” he said.
Qumulo is a fourth-generation Seattle tech company. Godman came from Isilon, a data-storage company started by veterans of RealNetworks, which was started by a Microsoft alum.
Isilon was sold to EMC for $2.25 billion in 2010.
At last week’s state Innovation Summit, the president of EMC’s Isilon group said the business has expanded from 500 to 1,300, and sales have more than tripled since the acquisition.
Qumulo is keeping its product plans under wraps until next year, but in the meantime it’s using its newfound capital to hire like mad. Godman expects head count to grow from 18 to 68 over the next 18 months.
November 29, 2012 at 8:39 AM
People – and Washington’s ability to attract them – are why the state has become a world leader in information-technology over the last 30 years.
“For the most part our success story is in many ways a story that has been built on being a magnet for attracting people to come to Washington state from across the country and around the world,” Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said at the Washington Innovation Summit in Seattle today.
Continuing to compete for talent “will dictate whether our region can prosper on a long term basis,” Smith said.
During his opening keynote speech at summit, Smith argued for a greater emphasis on computer science education, including new standards requiring the subject for high school graduation.
Smith also said the country needs to do a better job ensuring that students entering college complete their degrees and expand visa programs for skilled workers from overseas under a plan Microsoft is pitching in Washington, D.C.
“The number one thing we need to think about is the competition for talent,” Smith said.
Smith set the tone for the summit, at which government, business and education leaders are gathering at the Bell Harbor conference center to discuss ways to nurture innovative industries in the state. It’s sponsored by the Technology Alliance.
Incoming Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to address the group later in the day. He may echo some of the themes discussed by Smith, who is advising Inslee on his transition.
Smith said the state has a great foundation to build upon, including institutions such as the University of Washington.
“Now is the time for us to raise our sights and aim higher,” he said.
Smith was followed by Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the UW.
Lazowska provided an overview of “big data” and opportunities around the rapidly advancing ability to manage and quickly analyze massive amounts of data being generated nowadays. This flood of data and computing challenges are transforming businesses and spawning new software companies.
A related trend is the rise of cloud computing. With Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google developing their cloud services here, “the Seattle area is really kind of the owner of the cloud,” Lazowska said.
“It’s a good time to be in Seattle and a good time to be doing big data,” he added.
Lazowska moderated a panel of local people involved in the big data industry including Christian Chabot, chief executive of data-visualization company Tableau Software; Mike Fridgen, chief executive of consumer shopping service Decide.com; Cameron Myhrvold, a venture capitalist backing machine-data software company Splunk, and Ruben Ortega, Google engineering director.
Myhrvold, a founding partner of Bellevue’s Ignition Partners, said big data opportunities have just started.
“I think big data is going to give us a 15-year investment horizon … and we’re in year three today,” he said.
Meanwhile companies in the field are growing like crazy.
Chabot said Tableau has grown from 350 to 720 employees this year. The company is in the “sweet spot of high-tech company growth.”
Splunk is based in San Francisco but opened a Seattle engineering office with around 30 people, Myhrvold said. Fridgen said Decide has about 30 employees.
Google is continuing to expand in the area. It employs around 1,000 in the Seattle area including 600 in Kirkland and 400 in Seattle, Ortega said.
Ortega said the majority of Google’s cloud efforts are coming from engineers in the Seattle area, which is developing into a “critical cluster” of cloud computing expertise.
Chabot said it’s a tragedy that so many of the world’s smartest engineers have spent the last decade working on how to get people to click ads or put more things in digital shopping carts. Now the technologies that they advanced are being applied in other areas.
“Every single industry you can name is doing really pioneering things with big data collections to improve the world,” he said, adding that:
“I think getting out of this click on an ad/shopping cart rut we’ve been in for the last 10 years … it’s going to create a huge wave of job creation.”
November 15, 2012 at 5:30 AM
Wave Broadband may have to change its name to Tsunami.
The Kirkland-based company is announcing today that it has raised $1.052 billion to accelerate the expansion of its broadband network on the West Coast.
That’s not all new money, though. It’s a recapitalization of the company, which has about $350 million in debt. The $1 billion includes funding from new investors Oak Hill Capital and GI Partners and debt financing led by Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank.
Oak Hill and GI acquired a majority stake in Wave in June, buying out its previous backer, Sandler Capital Managment.
The recapitalization gives Wave plenty of capital to expand its broadband and cable services to business and residential customers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It also enables the company to bulk up with acquisitions.
Wave will continue providing cable and broadband services in communities where it has franchises, including parts of Seattle and its suburbs. Its big focus now is building up the business offerings, which aren’t limited by franchise boundaries.
Operating quietly in the shadow of the region’s larger telecom companies, Wave has steadily built a profitable business providing cable and broadband services in the Puget Sound area, San Francisco, Sacramento and Portland.
Chief Executive Steve Weed (pictured) is a longtime telco executive who started Wave in 2001. He built the company largely through acquisitions of cable and broadband operations, including distressed companies that sold assets for less than they cost to build. A recent deal was the January purchase of Broadstripe’s operations in Washington and Oregon.
Wave now has about 400,000 customers and 800 employees, including about 200 at its Kirkland headquarters. By employees, it’s comparable to Bellevue-based Clearwire.
Wave sales have been growing 40 to 50 percent over the past three years and should reach $300 million this year, Weed said.
“On the business side we’ve got a superior product to the big telcos. We’re beating them on rates and a much better service experience,” he said.
As part of its refresh, Wave has been hiring new marketing and operations executives from other broadband companies. It also promoted its chief operating officer, Steve Friedman, to president.
Partnering with cities to offer municipal broadband is a possibility.
“I think we would be interested in doing that,” Weed said, “but it’s not on my short-term to-do list.”
Trending with readers