Microsoft Wins Over Verizon, DTS Buys Neural Audio, ZymoGenetics Scores with Bristol-Myers, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

The first full week of 2009 was a busy one for deals in the Northwest. There were some big ones in biotech, software, mobile, and cleantech.

—Luke reported Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) has hit a “home run” with a global partnership with the drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, worth up to $1.1 billion, to co-develop an experimental treatment for hepatitis C. The deal gives ZymoGenetics an immediate infusion of $85 million in cash and another $20 million in licensing fees this year, plus potential milestone payments.

—Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) took part in a $24 million funding round for the user-interface company N-trig, based in Kfar Saba, Israel. Other investors included Aurum Ventures, Challenger, Canaan Partners, and Evergreen Venture Partners. N-trig makes technologies for pen and touch-based screens used in laptops and mobile devices.

—Ryan reported that Bellevue, WA-based venture firms Ignition Partners and Trilogy Equity Partners have invested $7.5 million in a second round of financing for FIREapps, a Scottsdale, AZ, maker of software that helps companies manage their exposure to foreign currencies. FIREapps also received debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank.

—Portland, OR-based AboutUs raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Seattle’s Voyager Capital. The financing comes on the heels of an additional $2.5 million in angel investments the company has raised to this point. AboutUs is creating a collaborative, Wiki-based guide to websites and businesses.

—ZeaChem, a Colorado-based clean fuel company, has raised $34 million from investors, led by Globespan Capital Partners and PrairieGold Venture Partners, to fund a green fuels refinery plant in Boardman, OR. ZeaChem is developing technology to convert inedible plant matter into ethanol, as Rachel reported.

—Microsoft landed a deal to provide its Internet search service on Verizon Wireless cell phones, beating out competitors Google and Yahoo. The five-year agreement is rumored to be worth upwards of $500 million, paid to Verizon.

—MOD Systems, a digital-media delivery firm in Seattle, closed deals with Paramount Digital Entertainment and Warner Bros. to distribute videos via downloads to SD memory cards in retail stores. Terms of the deals weren’t announced.

—Kirkland, WA-based Neural Audio, a digital sound company, has been acquired by DTS (NASDAQ: DTSI), an entertainment tech firm in Agoura Hills, CA, for $7.5 million up front plus another $7.5 million in potential milestone payments. Neural Audio focuses on sound processing for playback of music and audio tracks for movies, broadcast programs, and video games.

—Planar Systems (NASDAQ: PLNR), a Beaverton, OR, maker of displays and monitors, sold its remaining interest in its digital signage business to CS Software Holdings. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

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