Seattle Roundup: Bizible, Fledge, CleanTech Alliance, & More

On this end-of-summer week, we’re following fresh funding for Techstars Seattle company Bizible, seven startups selected for accelerator Fledge, a name change for the WCTA, a standout series on Amazon in Europe, and more:

Bizible, a Seattle startup helping companies better understand their marketing spending and its impact on sales, has raised an $8 million Series B funding round led by Scale Venture Partners. The company, which was part of the Techstars Seattle 2012 class, raised a $1.7 million Series A late that year from Madrona Venture Group, MHS Capital, and angel investors.

Bizible co-founder and CEO Aaron Bird says in a blog post that the company is the top-ranked marketing analytics app in Salesforce AppExchange. “We’ll be using the money to build new solutions that unlock the power of connected sales and marketing data and teams, which we call pipeline marketing,” Bird says. The company, currently with about 15 employees, is hiring. [Disclosure: Bird is a personal friend of mine.]

Fledge, the Seattle accelerator program for startups pursuing socially conscious businesses, announced seven new companies for its fifth session, which begins Sept. 8. The companies will be introduced during an event Sept. 10. Here they are, with descriptions from Fledge:

“Obama” Stoves: Affordable, efficient cook stoves manufactured and distributed throughout Ethiopia, via a highly distributed set of craftspeople, founded and run by a former teenage refugee.
Deehubs: The intersection of social media, free speech, and digital billboards; founded in the Republic of Georgia, incubated in Dubai, now coming to accelerate in Seattle.
Eco Sawa, a.k.a. [email protected]: Bringing entrepreneurial best practices and education to rural western Kenya (and beyond).
Seeder: A Hong Kong-based startup creating the go-to, comprehensive database of green building materials and vendors to the Chinese building community.
Simpoly: A Seattle-based startup bringing transparency and insights about government legislation to voters.
Little Grey Escargot Farm: America’s first snail farm, replacing the $300 million market of imported, canned escargot with fresh, vacuum sealed (and in Seattle, local) products.
Loopool: Making cotton a recyclable resource, turning old, end-of-life cotton clothing into cotton fiber, ready to be rewoven or reknitted into new fabric.

—The group formerly known as the Washington Clean Technology Alliance has renamed itself the CleanTech Alliance. The trade group, founded in 2007, aims to be a forum for businesses across the state—not just those engaged in typical cleantech fields like renewable energy production—“to share resources and expertise for developing smarter, cleaner more efficient ways of living and doing business.”

—Worth reading this week: The Seattle Times took an in-depth look at Amazon in Europe through a three-part series that includes booksellers in France, labor unions in Germany, and British Parliamentarians upset about the American tech giant’s tax strategies.

—Seattle’s leadership in data science and artificial intelligence was again highlighted by The New York Times this week. Veteran technology reporter Steve Lohr covered Oren Etzioni’s keynote speech to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference in New York. Etzioni, the former University of Washington computer science professor and serial entrepreneur who now heads the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, argued that there is too much emphasis today on “the ‘big’ in big data,” as Lohr reports.

The idea is that with enough data, algorithms can be used to correlate and predict in ways that approximate understanding. But Etzioni sees limits in this approach. “It might be fine if you want to target ads and generate product recommendations,” Etzioni said, “but it’s not common-sense knowledge.” The Times story also quotes UW computer science professor Ed Lazowska and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research.

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