Seattle Roundup: Founders’ Co-op New Fund; Allen Grant; Munchery & More

The big news this week is a new fund being raised by Seattle-based seed-stage investors Founders’ Co-op. Read on for details on this and new grants for research on human cell lineage from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; the Munchery’s expansion to Seattle; a data breach via the sale of surplus state government computers; and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s upcoming commencement speech.

Founders’ Co-op has raised $10 million for its third seed-stage fund focused on backing Pacific Northwest software startup companies. Chris DeVore, who began the Seattle-based investment fund in 2008 with Andy Sack, announced the new fund—capped at $25 million; their biggest yet—in a blog post titled “Tripling down on Cascadia.”

“Not only can we now back more great early-stage companies, we can also play a more important role in their journey along the increasingly long and winding road to Series A (and beyond),” writes DeVore. “This is the capital markets gap we set out to fill when we started the fund, and we’re now in a position to do that job right.”

Prolific Seattle angel investor Rudy Gadre, who began investing alongside Founders’ Co-op last year, is “a full investing partner in the fund,” DeVore writes, adding that Gadre’s background with consumer Internet companies Facebook and Amazon broadens the fund’s scope beyond enterprise software.

DeVore also notes the new location of Founders’ Co-op at “Startup Hall, a hub for high-performance startup activity in the heart of Seattle’s University District.” This is a partnership with Techstars Seattle (which DeVore and Sack lead), the University of Washington, and UPGlobal. An SEC filing indicates 46 investors have committed a minimum of $50,000 each to the fund so far.

University of Washington genome scientists will share in $3.2 million of new funding from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to advance research on human cell lineage.

UW School of Medicine professors Jay Shendure and Marshall Horwitz were named Allen Distinguished Investigators and will share in the funding over three years, supporting their work on determining “how a cell becomes one type or another,” according to a news release from the Allen Family Foundation.

Neil Kelleher at Northwestern University and California Institute of Technology researchers Michael Elowitz and Long Cai were also named Distinguished Investigators and awarded funding.

—With $28 million in new funding, Munchery, a San Francisco-based entrant in the increasingly competitive business of tech-enabled food delivery, is expanding to Seattle, the first of what will be many new markets, the company says in a blog post. Munchery employs chefs who make meals at a central kitchen, which are ordered online and delivered to customers who reheat them at home. The Seattle expansion will be headed by Emily More, a decorated chef who will serve as the company’s Seattle culinary manager.

Surplus computers from Washington state agencies loaded with sensitive data, including Social Security numbers, were on their way to being sold until a state auditor intervened.

The Olympian reports that the data included “a client’s extensive medical history chart, an application for drug treatment, a psychiatric evaluation report, a welfare application, personal bank and credit information, and an IRS form with Social Security numbers.”

While this audit stopped the sale of some of these computers, the state auditors “believe computers sold over the years contained sensitive data that was supposed to have been removed first.” That’s not good.

—Former Microsoft CEO (and current board member) Steve Ballmer is slated to speak to an audience of graduates and families numbering upwards of 45,000 at the University of Washington commencement June 14 at Husky Stadium. “I’m sure he will have some interesting things to say to our students as they get ready to make their own marks upon the world just as he did but in ways we can hardly imagine,” UW President Michael Young says in a statement.

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