Amazon’s Expanding Cloud, Concur’s Acquisition, Biofuel Exploration, & More in the Seattle-Area Tech Roundup

Back in 2000, (NASDAQ: AMZN) was a roughly was a $2.7 billion company that packed a pretty hefty load of data to process its online retail empire. Today, one of Amazon’s newer businesses, Amazon Web Services, adds enough computing capacity to bring a turn-of-the-century Amazon online every single day.

That was one of the fascinating insights offered at a recent open house talk by Amazon’s James Hamilton, a former Microsoftie (and high-end auto mechanic!) who is currently vice president and distinguished engineer with AWS. Check out my recap of his presentation for more, including why Hamilton says the past five years in cloud computing have seen more innovation than in the previous 15 years.

Elsewhere around town on the Xconomy tech beat:

—I took a look at the possibility for computer science undergrads to pay a different tuition rate than other majors in Washington state schools, a new possibility under tuition policies recently enacted by the state government. It’s not likely to be adopted for the upcoming academic year, but look for the University of Washington to potentially lead the way with “differential tuition” in high-demand, higher-cost undergraduate programs in the years ahead, as state tax dollars make up an ever-smaller share of college finances.

—Redmond, WA-based Concur (NASDAQ: CNQR) continued spending some of its cash with the acquisition of London’s GlobalExpense for up to $23 million. That follows the acquisition of San Francisco’s TripIt, a joint venture in Japan, and a stake in India’s Cleartrip. Analysts said they expect more acquisitions to come.

—We had another great guest column, this time from the cleantech world, with this piece from Bainbridge Graduate Institute’s John Gardner. Gardner’s working on an initiative called Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest, a joint effort by business, education and nonprofits to develop an aerospace biofuels scene in the region. He says that while it’s impossible to ignore the dominance of petroleum fuels at this point, “it is hard to deny the convergence of historical and technological trends that suggest a sustainable biofuel might soon be feasible.”

Zillow continues its march toward a possible IPO with another update of its paperwork with the SEC. This time around, the online real-estate company added some traffic growth for May and also disclosed that it had granted more stock options late last month.

—Finally, a trio of fundraising mentions: Buuteeq, which focuses on digital marketing software for independent hotels, said it had raised $3.5 million, led by Mike Galgon and Geoff Entress, with participation from Benaroya Capital and others. Stratos Genomics announced it had raised $2.1 million, a follow-on from last year’s $4 million Series A round, as it continues developing low-cost gene sequencing technology. EquaShip, a startup trying to bust up the major package shipping duopoly by saving money for small- and medium-sized businesses, said it had raised $900,000 from angel investors and Newell Rubbermaid to help expand its operations, including a customer service center.

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