Seattle Week in Review: Give Me the Blue Pill
Last night, Twitter was exploding with the violence outside of a Donald Trump rally in San Jose, CA, at the same time as the Mariners staged an historic comeback win—14 runs across two innings—to defeat the San Diego Padres. Guess which one I turned off. It’s been that kind of week. Thankfully, the news from Seattle’s innovation economy has been a little less extreme.
Here we’re reviewing an IPO filing from Impinj; a funding round for Qumulo; and action from City Hall on homelessness and regulation of short-term rentals via platforms such as Airbnb. All that was in addition to a firehose of quotes, data points, and anecdotes coming out of Re/code’s Code Conference, including Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report (yes, we’re still capitalizing the “I”; so does she, incidentally). The event had a shout-out to Bellevue, WA-based local marketplace OfferUp, as an example of the rise of image-based search and commerce. Space-faring billionaire Elon Musk shared his views on whether we’re all just living in the computer simulation of some advanced civilization. Like tronc or something.
With a weekend forecast for clear skies and temps in the 90s, I’ll take the blue pill.
—Impinj, the 16-year-old Seattle tech company making radio frequency identification chips, readers, and software, is making another run at the public markets. It filed for an initial public offering seeking to raise up to $60 million. If it goes forward, the company would break the Seattle-area tech IPO drought that stretches back to 2014.
—In other tech financing news, Qumulo, the enterprise data storage startup, raised an additional $32.5 million, bringing the total venture capital invested in the 4-year-old Seattle company to $100 million.
—Microsoft announced a corporate venture fund headed by former senior Qualcomm executives.
—Planetary Resources announced a customer for its new Ceres Earth observation service. Bayer, a life sciences and agriculture giant, signed a memorandum of understanding with Planetary Resources to use satellite data for new and improved agricultural applications, such as irrigation and planting timing. We covered the aspiring asteroid miner’s plans and new financing, unveiled last week, to use technology it’s developing to prospect space rocks for near-term terrestrial applications in agriculture, forestry, finance, and other industries.
—Seattle continues its efforts to address rising homelessness in the city. The Seattle City Council voted this week to offer people living under Interstate 5, an area known as The Jungle, shelter and services, before clearing the encampment.
Meanwhile, Seattle tech entrepreneur Jonathan Sposato announced a new nonprofit called WeCount, designed to help connect people struggling with homelessness to items they need, provided by individual donors. Would-be donors can view requests for things like clothing, sleeping bags, and children’s items. Donors drop the items at third-party sites, where they can be picked up by people in need.
—Housing affordability is the backdrop of a proposal floated this week by Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess and Mayor Ed Murray to regulate Airbnb and VRBO short-term rentals in the city. Year-round rentals would be limited to owner-occupied residences. Others would be limited to renting out their properties on a short-term basis only 90 nights a year.
—FYI, Seattle home prices climbed 10.8 percent year over year in March, according to the latest S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Indices. Only Denver and Portland, OR, saw faster home-price appreciation during the 12-month period.