Friday, 15 December 2017
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Seattle Week in Review: Pol Visits, Cash for Donuts, Local M&A


With a shift in the wind, the smoke over Seattle is clearing, only to be replaced by the fear of nuclear war. Tough to stay focused on the tech news, but we’re trying. Here’s a review of visits to the Northwest by two Trump cabinet secretaries; more Amazon real estate news; financing for Donuts and Pro.com; acquisitions by Tableau Software and WatchGuard Technologies; and more.

—U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) headquarters in Seattle this week, hosted by founder Jeff Bezos.

Separately, Mattis visited Naval Base Kitsap, home to some of the nation’s nuclear submarines. His West Coast trip also featured a stop at Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, a Pentagon program searching for private-sector technologies to apply in the military, in California, and Google’s headquarters—the latter probably not the most fun place to be this week.

—Amazon is reportedly snapping up space in two Canadian markets. The Financial Post reports on a 147,000-square-foot lease the company is rumored to be near signing in downtown Vancouver, and a 112,000-square-foot space on its radar in Toronto.

—Our San Francisco editor, Bernadette Tansey, provides a great summation of the uproar surrounding Google after it fired the engineer who posted a memo expounding on his view that women are biologically less suited to tech work than men. Also, she takes a close look at how other institutions in the innovation industry are grappling with the issues of sexual harassment and gender bias, focusing on the prestigious Kauffman Fellows program, which cut ties to one of its top mentors, Dave McClure, after his sexual misconduct was revealed.

—U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is scheduled to visit the Pacific Northwest on Monday and Tuesday. His swing through the region includes visits to a Columbia River dam (McNary), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Hanford Site, built as part of the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons material. The first nuclear bomb used against people was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, 72 years ago this week. The official city flower is the oleander, pictured above, the first to have bloomed in the aftermath of the bombing.

The Northwest has a rich tradition of energy innovation, and lately has bolstered its leadership in the energy storage and grid modernization industries. We took an in-depth look at how public and private efforts are opening new opportunities for businesses building the grid of the future.

—More capital flowed into the Internet domain-name industry. Kirkland, WA-based Donuts, a provider of generic top-level domain names—such as .agency, .live, and .games—announced a $110 million credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank, which took the lead on the financing, along with Cadence Bank, Comerica Bank, Pacific Western Bank, and Umpqua Bank.

The funding will help pay for Donuts’ $213 million take-private acquisition of another Kirkland-based domain-name provider, Righstide Group (NASDAQ: NAME), which was announced in June.

—Seattle-based data visualization company Tableau Software (NYSE: [[ticker: DATA]]) announced the acquisition of ClearGraph, which makes technology to enable natural language queries. The Palo Alto, CA-based startup’s technology will be incorporated into Tableau’s products to allow users to ask questions in normal language, such as “Total sales by customers who purchased staples in New York,” Tableau says in a news release.

—Network security company WatchGuard Technologies said it acquired authentication technology provider Datablink, bolstering the company’s offerings for small and midsize businesses, which have been slower to adopt measures such as multi-factor authentication. WatchGuard, headquartered in Seattle, plans to release a cloud-based authentication service in 2018.

—Pro.com raised $10 million to become a “tech-enabled general contractor.” Founder and CEO Matt Williams explains his strategy for building a national home remodeling brand.

Photo Credit: Oleander by Flickr user Vasile Coardos, cropped and used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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