Seattle Week in Review: The March Madness of an Impressionable Teen AI

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technology development and new service regions, beginning with Oregon. Reid Hoffman and Simon Rothman of Greylock join Convoy’s board, along with Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Code.org. Other new investors in the Series A are Jeff Wilke, Kevin Systrom, Gary Chartrand, and Mike Gamson. The funding comes hard on the heels of Convoy’s $2.5 million seed round, raised last fall from Jeff Bezos via Bezos Expeditions, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar via Omidyar Technology Ventures, and others.

—Trucking seems like a business where an “Uber for X” model might make a lot of sense. But that may not be the case for other on-demand businesses, which are struggling to lower prices to the point where they can reach a mass market, as Farhad Manjoo writes in his New York Times column this week: “The opportunity for Uber to become a regular part of people’s lives was huge. Many people take cars every day, so hook them once and you have repeat customers. Finally, cars are the second-most-expensive things people buy, and the most frequent thing we do with them is park. That monumental inefficiency left Uber ample room to extract a profit even after undercutting what we now pay for cars.

“But how many other markets are there like that? Not many. Some services were used frequently by consumers, but weren’t that valuable—things related to food, for instance, offered low margins.”

BioMed Realty's new lab and office building at 500 Fairview Ave. in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood.

BioMed Realty’s new lab and office building at 500 Fairview Ave. in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

—Speaking of traffic, last week, we talked about Seattle’s traffic woes as quantified by a recent ranking by INRIX. Another traffic index out this week, from TomTom, says Seattle’s rush hour is second worst in the nation, and congestion on the roads overall is worse than all but three other cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

Development along one of the most congested corridors in Seattle—Mercer Street in South Lake Union—continues unabated. On Thursday, Google and Vulcan revealed plans for a South Lake Union office complex that could accommodate upwards of 3,000 workers.

And lest we forget that South Lake Union is a hub of life sciences research in addition to one of the hottest tech neighborhoods in the city (or the country), BioMed Realty opened a new research building Thursday at 500 Fairview Ave. The 122,000-square-foot addition adjoins the company’s existing lab and office building at 530 Fairview Ave., which houses companies including Novo Nordisk, NanoString Technologies, Presage Biosciences, and Blaze Bioscience.

—The Giant Steps exhibit we visited before it opened in King Street Station earlier this month asked artists to contemplate what they would build given a brief residency on the Moon. Here is an artist, Michael Najjar, who aspires to be the first artist in space, and is among the astronauts training to be part of a future Virgin Galactic crew. Smithsonian Magazine profiles his latest exhibition of photographs and compositions, outer space, which focuses an artful lens on the technology of modern spaceflight. (Giant Steps, by the way, is open weekends through April 3.)

—Finally, how’s your March Madness bracket? Walt Hickey, writing at FiveThirtyEight, unpacks the odds of nailing a perfect bracket—picking the winner of all 63 games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament: 1 in 9.2 quintillion. I like this essay because it explains the underlying math, but also goes into the futility of trying to explain or understand very large numbers. Hickey quotes Randall Munroe, the genius behind xkcd and a recent book, “Thing Explainer,” on how to decide whether it’s even worth presenting a very large number to your reader, without sufficient context: “A good rule of thumb might be, ‘If I added a zero to this number, would the sentence containing it mean something different to me?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ maybe the number has no business being in the sentence in the first place.”

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