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September 30, 2013 at 11:06 AM
If you were one of the top guys who spent much of the 2000s trying to get Microsoft to develop tablet computers, you might be ready for a drink.
Fortunately, that guy — Bill Mitchell — has figured out how to easily produce a never-ending supply of absolutely top-notch beer, in any style and flavor you can imagine.
March 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Alex Algard, the chief executive of WhitePages.com, has been writing a lot of big checks lately.
March 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Code.org hit its first big milestones, and them some.
Two weeks after the nonprofit released a celebrity-studded film urging kids to study computer science, the film has been viewed more than 12 million times and at one point was the most-viewed film on YouTube.
Nearly 10,000 schools asked Code.org to help them add computer science to their curriculum and more than 21,000 software engineers have volunteered to teach at schools, according to Hadi Partovi, the Bellevue software veteran behind the effort.
Online petitions for more computer programming classes across the country drew more than 550,000 signatures, he said in an emailed update.
Meanwhile a proposal in Washington state to allow high school computer science courses to count toward math and science graduation credits is progressing in Olympia. The bill, which was instigated by Partovi, passed the state House on Friday and is now being considered by the state Senate.
To follow up, Code.org is releasing a new short film using an outtake from one of its interviews with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg:
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 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM
One of the most intriguing new phones being unveiled at this week’s big wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, may be a sleek new Windows model developed in Redmond.
It’s not coming from Microsoft, which will have a relatively low profile at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
The phone I’m most curious about is being made by a little company in the warren of offices west of Highway 520 between Microsoft and Nintendo. That’s where a few dozen employees of i-mate have built a striking new handset with a 4.7-inch touch-screen display.
It looks similar to the latest jumbo, slab phones, but it’s a more potent machine inside. The phone runs on Intel’s “Clover Trail” hardware and Windows 8 Pro, so it’s a full-blown PC capable of running most desktop software.
Called the Intelegent, the device could go on sale this summer for $750, which is less than the price of an unlocked iPhone 5 with the same amount of storage capacity.
The phone is more powerful than most tablets. It has an Atom processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigabytes of storage. It’s designed to work with HSPA+ and LTE 4G wireless networks and have up to 10 hours of talk time.
I-mate will sell the phone alone or as part of a $1,600 desktop hardware suite including a docking station, called the “hub.”
Docked in the hub, the phone can be used with a traditional, wired phone handset or make video calls. It also functions as a desktop PC — powering a 23-inch touch-screen display, keyboard and mouse — and drives an auxiliary wireless tablet with a 10.1-inch, 1080p display.
This isn’t i-mate’s first trip to the rodeo. The company was founded in 2001 by Jim Morrison, a British Telecom veteran who worked with Microsoft and HTC to launch early smartphones based on Windows CE.
The company grew into a major phone producer in the United Kingdom and Dubai before its business tumbled in 2007 and 2008.
A line of advanced, business-oriented smartphones with Windows inside was floated in 2007 but sales didn’t pan out.
Production problems, limited demand and other challenges led the company, based in Dubai at the time, to lay off most of its employees and delist its stock.
HTC moved on. It transformed from a relatively obscure manufacturer to a prominent consumer brand, in part by taking an early lead with Android phones.
Two years ago, i-mate’s reinvention began in earnest. The company quietly started developing a new phone based on the Intel silicon.
The company isn’t setting out to topple the iPhone or Android models that dominate the smartphone business. Instead it’s positioning itself as a challenger to the BlackBerry, which is also re-emerging with new models aimed largely at business users.
With tablet sales starting to outpace those of smartphones, and the rise of big phone-tablet “phablets” like Samsung’s Galaxy Note, perhaps it’s time for a 4.7-inch PC phone.
Morrison also sees an opportunity to sell corporate users a reasonably priced desktop suite — including a PC, tablet and phone — all powered by the phone.
He believes corporate buyers will also be interested in a modern phone that can be managed like a PC and run their own PC applications, regaining control they’ve ceded to the closed gardens of Apple’s iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.
I can’t wait to try the system.
Maybe I’m just sentimental about the crazy handheld PCs that Paul Allen and others tried to develop a decade ago, before smartphones took off and PCs were still the gadget tinkerers’ platform of choice.
Wallet-sized micro PCs like the OQO and the FlipStart that Allen unveiled in 2003 never caught on, in part because they were too expensive and impractical.
They arrived long before the hardware, software and wireless infrastructure were ready. Morrison said key advances enabling i-mate to produce the Intelegent are Windows 8 and Intel’s Atom hardware, which has just started being used in mobile phones.
Windows finally starts up fast enough to answer a phone call and its new tiled interface works on the small screen as is, Morrison said.
“We’ve made it more portable, we’ve combined it with a phone and overall costs have been reduced,” he said. “You’ve got a lot in your package.”
Morrison said i-mate will manufacture the phones in the U.S., using screens from South Korea, touch panels from Miami and hardware boards made in Japan.
A facility in California is ready to assemble 10,000 units a week, he said.
The company also is benefiting from Intel’s big push to become a player in mobile devices, beyond the laptop. After years of trying, it gained a legitimate toehold in phones last year.
Atom-based Android phones went on sale in India, Europe and other overseas markets, with producers such as Motorola, Lenovo and Acer on board.
Intel is hoping to pick up the pace with several new hardware systems that it’s announcing Monday in Barcelona.
They include a new Atom processor dubbed Clover Trail Plus, with double the computing power and three times the graphics capabilities as the Clover Trail model that launched in September.
The new Intel processors are designed for phones and tablets, including a wave of new Android tablets coming out in the next few months and some lower-cost Windows devices.
So far, i-mate appears to be the first to use Intel hardware to build a phone running Windows 8. Intel has been helping out by providing engineering support, spokeswoman Kathy Gill confirmed.
“It’s an exciting time for mobile technology in general as you see these smartphones becoming more powerful and people wanting to do more and more with their mobile devices,” she said.
Whether this leads to a single device powering all the gadgets in the office remains to be seen.
Intel and Microsoft would probably prefer that people continue buying a phone, a PC and a tablet rather than an all-in-one like i-mate’s Intelegent.
Even so, i-mate is likely the first of multiple companies that will try again to help people converge or consolidate their devices, taking advantage of PC hardware that finally has the right combination of small size, battery efficiency and wireless capabilities.
Meanwhile i-mate is off to Barcelona to find partners such as wireless carriers to help launch its device this summer.
No doubt, it’s a longshot. We’ll also have to see if the system works as well as it looks.
But it’s hard not to get excited about the company’s concept and verve.
December 20, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Ever wonder what becomes of the jillions that Microsoft spends to buy far-flung companies?
Expensive houses, for one thing.
Check out the latest move by David Sacks, chief executive of Yammer, the San Francisco-based business social network that Microsoft bought for $1.2 billion in June.
Word surfaced this week that Sacks just bought a new house in San Francisco for $34.5 million – the most expensive home ever sold in the city, according to Trulia, the real estate site that reported the sale.
It’s going to cost Sacks even more to occupy the fixer-upper. The interior isn’t complete yet, with Trulia images showing bare studs throughout the structure.
The house has 17,500 square feet of living space – enough to really use the Xbox Kinect he can buy with his Microsoft employee discount. There’s also a 6,000 square foot guest house on the quarter-acre property in Pacific Heights.
Sacks – who was earlier chief operating officer at PayPal – is going to have to be careful about talking business in the yard. His new neighbors include Microsoft nemesis Larry Ellison.
But perhaps he can carpool when he needs to check in at Microsoft. Sacks’ house is right next to a $16 million pad acquired in August by Zynga founder Mark Pincus, who periodically flies to Seattle to visit his company’s engineering office in Pioneer Square. Pincus bought the gray Dutch Colonial at right in the Trulia picture above.
Trulia noted that Pincus’ wife, Alison Pincus, co-founded home decor site One Kings Lane. Maybe Sacks can get a discount to finish his place, shown here in another image from Trulia:
December 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM
It was only a matter of time before Blake Irving was snapped up by another tech company.
Today Irving was named chief executive of Go Daddy, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based web hosting and domain registrar that leads the market but is known particularly for its tawdry advertising.
Irving (pictured) starts Jan. 7, succeeding interim Chief Executive Scott Wagner. Wagner represented buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which led a $2.25 billion leveraged buyout of Go Daddy in 2011.
“Blake Irving’s deep technology experience and his history of developing new cutting-edge products and leading large global teams make him an enormously compelling choice to drive Go Daddy to the next level of its domestic and global growth,” founder and Chairman Bob Parsons said in a release.
Irving spent 15 years at Microsoft, rising to vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Live platform. He left in 2007 and ended up as chief product officer at Yahoo.
At Yahoo, Irving seemed like a potential successor to then-Chief Executive Carol Bartz but Yahoo instead replaced her with former PayPal executive Scott Thompson in January. He left in May, amid a flap over incorrect information on his resume.
Irving left Yahoo in April and put his energy into being a dad, surfing and restoring his family’s historic home in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Irving’s familiar with the Southwest. Between Microsoft and Yahoo, he invested in real estate in Santa Fe and he serves on the board of Scottsdale-based GolfLogix.
He also spent time teaching at Pepperdine University, where he earlier received an MBA after graduating from San Diego State.
December 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Putting its buckets of venture capital to use, Seattle’s SEOmoz bought another small Portland company to round out its portfolio of online marketing tools.
SEOmoz is announcing today that it paid $3 million in cash and stock for GetListed.org, a two-person Portland company that’s helped more than 2 million small businesses build their online presence since it started in 2009.
GetListed founders David Mihm and Chris Tanger will stay with SEOmoz but work remotely from Portland and Chicago. Mihm is an employee and Tanger is contracting with SEOmoz.
“GetListed puts power in the hands of local businesses – they make data essential to inbound marketing channels easily accessible,” SEOmoz Chief Executive Rand Fishkin said in a release. “We’re absolutely thrilled to fight the menace of data obfuscation at their side.”
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.”
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