Seattle Roundup: Blab, Amptab,, Dropbox, Alibaba, 9Mile, Fledge

Seattle’s cloud computing cred was bolstered by yet another big cloud player planning a local office. This time it’s Dropbox, which will be competing for local talent with just about everyone else, as a new survey of Seattle CIOs reveals.

Meanwhile, startups Blab, Amptab, and announced new funding rounds. And if you want to get your startup off to a good start, check out accelerators 9Mile Labs and Fledge, which are accepting applications for their next sessions. The details:

—Seattle startup Blab, which makes software to help companies track and predict online conversations in real time and adjust marketing strategies to suit, has raised $8.8 million in a Series B round. China’s Blue Focus Communications Group and Shoreline Venture Management led the round, joined by Operative Capital and Trilogy Equity Partners., a Seattle startup from veterans of Microsoft’s security team and the National Security Agency, raised $2.5 million in seed capital from Madrona Venture Group, Formation 8, and unnamed institutional and individual investors. The company will focus on network security at large businesses, but it’s not saying much more than that. Co-founder and CEO William Peteroy formerly worked on product security and security strategy at Microsoft, including Windows and Internet Explorer. He is also a cryptography instructor. Josh Carlson, co-founder and chief technology officer, worked on Windows Platform security response and managed investigations into security breaches for products including Xbox Live and OneDrive. Madrona principal David Rosenthal is joining the company’s board.

AmpTab, which makes apps and cloud software aimed at connecting sales and supply chains, has raised about $700,000, according to an SEC filing. The Seattle startup, which went through the initial class of the 9Mile Labs incubator, is focused primarily on the furniture industry.

—Cloud storage provider Dropbox is opening a Seattle engineering office. It joins the lengthy list—assembled here by GeekWire—of big-name tech companies with local outposts to tap the region’s expertise in cloud computing. Dropbox’s Aditya Agarwal wrote in a blog post announcing the Seattle office this week that there is already a Dropbox team here and the company has plans to hire more software engineers.

—Another company to set up shop in Seattle recently is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. CTO Wang Jian is set to speak tonight at the Washington State China Relations Council Annual Banquet on the topic of global expansion. We’ve heard that the Alibaba team in Seattle could grow into the hundreds. A spokeswoman confirms that the engineering office here will focus on data analytics, “but it s very new and small at this point.” We spoke with Wang on his visit to Seattle in January, when he expressed interest in opening a research and development office here.

—Nearly a quarter of Seattle-area chief information officers plan to add IT staff in the first half of 2015, according to a survey of 100 CIOs by Robert Half Technology. That’s compared to the 16 percent who said in an earlier survey they were expanding their IT departments in the second half of this year. No surprise here: 65 percent of the CIOs surveyed said it was somewhat or very challenging to find qualified IT pros, and particularly so in networking and software/application development.

—Seattle startup accelerators 9Mile Labs and Fledge are accepting applications for their upcoming sessions. 9Mile Labs will accept applications until Dec. 8 for its business-to-business focused startup accelerator program, which begins Jan. 30. Fledge, which focuses on social-purpose startups, is accepting applications for its April-June 2015 session until Jan. 31.

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