PopCap on the Block, Cloud Deals Aplenty, VC Anxiety, & More in the Seattle-Area Tech Roundup

PopCap Games is an undeniable Seattle success story. The company, started by three twenty-somethings in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, has evolved from a freemium version of “Bejeweled” into an international, multi-platform publisher with $100 million in revenue and 400 employees.

This year, with the casual games industry reaching mass-market investment potential, PopCap announced that it was aiming for an initial public offering to move to the next big phase in its history. Of course, IPO plans can mean a company is interested in being acquired, and the rumor that PopCap was in the middle of a $1 billion buyout from Electronic Arts dominated the region’s headlines this past week.

To follow up, I talked with a couple of industry analysts to help chew over the logic of an acquisition vs. going public. Personally, I’m still not sure which course would make the most sense for PopCap, if you take at face value the company’s statements about wanting to continue its course for years to come. The whole thing still hasn’t been confirmed, denied, or proven out with real-world results as of this writing.

Also making news around town:

—We rounded up the roughly $70 million in equity financing deals for Washington state companies in May, with three entrants getting $10 million or more: IT management company ExtraHop Networks, blood-stopping drug-maker Profibrix, and tax software startup Avalara.

—Xconomy’s Bruce Bigelow parsed the data from a new international survey of venture capitalists, which had some interesting predictions. By two-to-one margins, the roughly 165 U.S. venture capitalists surveyed said they expect investments in cloud computing and new media or social networks to increase over the next five years. Among the sectors expected to stay level or decline were biopharma, semiconductors, and telecoms.

—Speaking of cloud computing investments, we saw a handful of deals announced involving Bellevue, WA’s Ignition Partners. Two of them—deals with ScaleXtreme and Bromium—specifically included new Ignition managing director Frank Artale, a former Microsoftie who has returned to the Northwest after stints with Citrix Systems, Accel Partners, and others. The third Ignition cloud deal was with StorSimple.

—Anybody sick of daily deals yet? Yes? Not e-commerce king Amazon.com, which rolled out new markets for its house-brand online discounts service, expanding to its hometown of Seattle (and environs) from the original testbed of Boise, ID. Amazon’s offering, called AmazonLocal, is powered by LivingSocial, the No. 2 national deals site, which counts Amazon as an investor. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) says it’ll supply its own deals eventually, but it’s unclear when that’ll happen.

—And finally, social gaming startup Giant Thinkwell announced a $600,000 seed investment and rolled out its first official celebrity game, Mix-N-Match with Sir Mix-A-Lot; audio snippet sharing site Hark showed off a redesign for its premium multimedia collections; and social GPS startup Glympse raised $7.5 million led by Menlo Ventures and Ignition Partners.

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