Seattle Roundup: TechStars’ Bizible, Amazon, Conductiv, CENTRI, Avvo
A Seattle TechStars grad landed funding in what should be the first of several closed deals from the Fall 2012 class of the startup accelerator, while Amazon got the green light to more than double its Seattle headquarters footprint, and other local tech companies pulled in equity investments in recent days.
—Bizible, a Seattle startup helping mostly offline businesses—painters, real estate pros, wedding planners—get the most from their online marketing dollar, has landed a $1.7 million Series A investment from Madrona Venture Group, MHS Capital, and angel investors.
The funding will help Bizible expand its staff and go to market with its software as a service, which connects offline sales to the online ads—including specific search terms—that generated them, allowing small and mid-sized businesses to understand the return on their advertising investment.
The funding deal is no surprise to anyone who attended Seattle TechStars Demo Day earlier this month. Bizible chief executive Aaron Bird was introduced by Madrona’s Len Jordan, who is joining the company’s board. Bird, who co-founded the company in 2011 with fellow Microsoft advertising alum Peter Thompson, told the crowd that Bizible had commitments for all of the $1.5 million it sought at the time and then some.
That was the largest commitment announced by any of this fall’s Seattle TechStars class, which went into Demo Day with nearly $6 million committed across the 10 companies, more than the previous two Seattle classes combined.
I traded emails and chatted with several other Seattle TechStars company founders before Thanksgiving, an unofficial deadline after which investors get distracted by turkey, holiday parties, and family, making it tougher to finalize deals before the end of the year.
It was an exciting, stressful period as the founders rushed to investor meetings, including some in the Bay Area, continued working on their products, and sought talented engineers, designers, and sellers.
In deference to attorneys and investors, most of the companies are holding the specific details of their fundraising close to the vest. The announcement from Bizible is the only official close I’ve seen so far. But I got the sense that investor interest is strong and we should be seeing more official funding announcements soon.
—The Seattle headquarters of Amazon.com is big and getting bigger. The company won approval from the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to develop office towers on three blocks in the Denny Triangle—adjacent to its 1.8-million-square-foot South Lake Union campus—adding 3.3 million square feet more, as detailed in this Seattle Times report. Amazon is issuing $3 billion in bonds, in part to finance the purchase of the existing campus from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate. According to Bloomberg, this is Amazon’s first debt issue since 1999.
—Bothell, WA-based Conductiv Software, which makes cloud-based retail software, including a point-of-sale product targeted at wine merchants, sold $5.6 million in equity to seven unnamed investors in November. The company sought to sell more than $7.8 million, according to an SEC filing. It also announced a partnership with Ingram Micro to bolster its mobile point-of-sale offering.
—CENTRI Technology closed a $4.5 million Series B round, led by the Matthew Prtizker Company, the eponymous investment vehicle of the Hyatt Hotel scion. The Seattle network optimization and security company, founded in 2009, plans to continue development of its BitSmart technology, with applications for mobile operators and enterprises dealing with a proliferation of connected devices, as well as grow its staff, and explore partnerships with the funding.
—Seattle expert advice site Avvo is spinning out its health business to HealthTap, a Palo Alto company with a similar service for healthcare questions. Financial terms were not disclosed. Avvo founder and chief executive Mark Britton says the spinoff allows the company to “focus 100 percent” on the “booming” legal advice business on which it is based.