Tech Tidbits: Gist Vs. Smartsheet in Google Apps, Display Week Demos, and the Carried Interest Debate

It’s a good start to what promises to be a busy week in Seattle-area tech news. To get caught up, here’s a quick look at what’s been going on around town.

Display Week, the Society for Information Display conference, is going on in Seattle this week. No, the iPad has not put this show out of business yet, thankfully. Some highlights of futuristic display technologies: Microsoft will demo a prototype interactive display called “magic window,” and E Ink, the Boston-area company that makes displays for the Amazon Kindle and other e-book readers, will present early versions of its display technology that are flexible and colorful (instead of black and white). Check out this Seattle Times preview for more info.

—Last week, Seattle-area startups Gist and Smartsheet announced they are having a “Google-off.” Gist recently got its product into the Google Apps Marketplace; it helps business people stay up to date about their contacts through e-mail, social media, and Web news. Smartsheet has been selling its work-management application through Google ever since the Apps Marketplace opened in March. Now the two startups have a friendly wager going over their respective month-over-month customer growth rates. At stake: beers, premium services, and money to charity. It’ll be interesting to see if Concur and Skytap, two other local companies in the Google marketplace, get in on the action.

—Gerry Langeler, a managing director at OVP Venture Partners (he’s based in Portland, OR), wrote an op-ed for the New York Times DealBook blog last week. He opposes the recent House bill to raise “carried interest” taxes on limited partnerships, arguing that the current lower tax rate is fair as compared to investments in homes, and that more tax will mean less talent in the investor pool.

He writes: “The real risk is on the younger generation of private equity professionals. If they find other pursuits more financially appealing (hedge funds, anyone?), the losses to company formation and job growth won’t show up right away. But show up they will, 5 to 10 years from now when the best and the brightest would have been hitting their stride. And the entrepreneurs will then have trouble finding savvy investors, and that will be a real, material loss of jobs and industrial competitiveness in this country.”

I’m told Langeler will be interviewed about this topic on CNBC today at 11:20 am PT.

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