Seattle Roundup: Avalara, Alternative Capital, Car2Go, & More

Two companies providing financing alternatives to technology companies made news this week. Lighter Capital did a deal with Portland, OR-based Building Energy, and SaaS Capital raised a new fund and grew its presence in Seattle. Also, Avalara bought a company making tax software for vacation rentals; Car2Go and Uber announced Seattle expansions; Airbiquity landed a big deal with AT&T; Intellectual Ventures licensed bug-zapping technology to Lighting Science Group; and Code Fellows is going to Chicago. Details follow.

Avalara, the growing tax software giant on Bainbridge Island, WA, acquired Greenwood Village, CO-based HotSpot Tax, which makes specialty compliance tools for taxes related to vacation rentals. “Second home and room rentals represent a significant and growing segment of the new sharing economy, which presents a variety of tax and compliance complexities for micro businesses and private owners,” Avalara founder and CEO Scott McFarlane said in a news release. “HotSpot Tax eliminates these challenges and is therefore a great entry into this market for Avalara.” HotSpot is being renamed Avalara MyLodge. Avalara raised $100 million from Warburg Pincus last year in part to finance acquisitions.

Building Energy, a maker of cloud-based energy efficiency management software, has raised $300,000 from Seattle-based Lighter Capital, which provides so-called revenue loans—debt capital with a repayment schedule that changes based on the recipient’s revenue.

SaaS Capital, which lends cloud software companies growth capital, has closed a $58 million fund and expanded in Seattle with the hiring of a new managing director here. The Cincinnati, OH-based outfit says its second fund—raised in partnership with New York-based DH Capital—along with a bank credit line, gives it capacity to invest as much as $100 million across about 25 companies. As part of the second fund, Rob Belcher, formerly of Seattle-based Lighter Capital, will be stationed in Seattle to expand the fund’s West Coast investments. The fund lends companies $2 million to $10 million over two or three years, with repayment in the following three to five years.

Car2Go is adding 250 cars to its Seattle fleet and has expanded its service area to cover the entire city. No word yet on whether the pay-as-you-go, free-floating car renter will be adding the Eastside tech centers of Bellevue and Redmond to its service area.

—Meanwhile, Uber, the mobile-enabled ride-booking company, is the latest tech business to tap Seattle’s engineering talent pool. GeekWire reports on its plans for a 50-person office here.

Airbiquity says it inked a multi-year deal with AT&T to provide its Choreo cloud-based car technology and services platform for registering and managing certain devices. The company says AT&T provides mobile connectivity services to auto manufacturers around the world. Seattle-based Airbiquity says Choreo is used on more than 5 million vehicles in more than 50 countries.

—Bellevue, WA-based Intellectual Ventures announced a research agreement with Lighting Science Group to develop a bug zapper that employs sensors and lasers for a “photonic fence” that can be used instead of chemical pesticides. Intellectual Ventures, through its Global Good arm, a collaboration with Bill Gates, invented the fence to target mosquitoes and reduce the spread of malaria. Lighting Science, based in Melbourne, FL, has a license to the technology and intends to develop devices for both mosquito control and crop protection.

—Seattle-based Code Fellows is expanding to Chicago. The coding school is beginning with a Full-Stack JavaScript Development Accelerator course, geared for programmers with at least two years of experience, beginning May 11 at Chicago startup space 1871. “Chicago is home to some of the most well-known technology companies, like Groupon, Orbitz, and—but it continues to expand and develop, yielding new, lucrative career opportunities to top programming talent,” Code Fellows CEO Kristin Smith said in a news release. “We hope to play a pivotal role in Chicago’s technology community by fostering the critical development of the area’s brightest programming minds, and helping the city’s most innovative companies connect with them.”

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