Amazon Buys Touchco, Infinia Raises More Cash, the Truth About Photobucket, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

Another quiet week for deals in the Northwest as we head into the depths of winter. Nevertheless, there were a few notable deals in software, hardware, and energy.

—Kennewick, WA-based Infinia snapped up another $11.5 million in equity financing in a round that could total $75 million over time, as Luke reported. The investors in the round included Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and GLG Partners, both existing investors in the company. Infinia has raised more than $100 million, including a previous investment from Vinod Khosla, who says he is no longer involved with the company. Infinia, led by CEO J.D. Sitton, uses satellite dishes that capture rays of sunlight and channel them to a focal point that contains a single-piston Stirling engine, which uses the heat energy to produce electricity.

—Who bought whom in the Ontela-Photobucket merger announced in December? It turns out News Corporation, which previously owned Photobucket, sold the subsidiary to Seattle-based Ontela and its investors at a $29 million loss. Although News Corp. still owns a stake in the merged company (Photobucket), Ontela’s investors—Steamboat Ventures, Oak Investment Partners, Covera Ventures, and Voyager Capital—apparently control the firm now. Ontela, which had 23 employees as of December, was formed in 2005 and backed by about $15 million in venture funding. Last week, Ontela co-founder and former CEO Dan Shapiro said he is leaving his role as chief technology officer of Photobucket.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) formed a partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide cloud-computing resources to selected researchers and research groups through its Windows Azure software platform. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t given, but NSF will be in charge of awarding and managing the projects through its usual review process. Microsoft will grant the selected researchers free access to Azure’s cloud-based tools for three years.

—Seattle-based Amazon has acquired Touchco, a touchscreen technology startup based in New York. The news was first reported by the New York Times. No financial terms were given, but according to the report, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will merge the New York University spinout’s technology and staff (about six people) into its Kindle hardware division, Lab126, based in Cupertino, CA. There is strong speculation that Amazon plans to add touchscreen capabilities to its Kindle e-reader device, in part to compete with Apple’s iPad.

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