Xconomy Seattle Year in Review: Top Stories of 2016

Ready for a new year? We are, too. But first, we’re taking a look back at some of the stories we covered at Xconomy Seattle in 2016.

IPO Drought Ends

The Seattle area saw two tech companies go public this year, Impinj and Apptio. Biopharma company PhaseRx also went public in 2016. The previous year saw zero Seattle-area IPOs.

Machine Learning/AI/Voice

Seattle is an epicenter of innovation in a range of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies that are bringing sweeping changes to many aspects of technology and society. This is an ongoing area of coverage for Xconomy locally and nationally. We launched a new Robotics and A.I. channel earlier this year. Meanwhile, locally based tech giants and startups alike made strides in 2016:

Amazon, Founders’ Co-op Fund AI2 Natural Language Spinout KITT.AI

Textio’s Learning Machine Offers Opportunities to Improve HR Writing

Is Your Machine Learning Algorithm Smarter Than a Dog?

Algorithmia Lands In-Q-Tel Deal, Adds Deep Learning Capabilities

Report: Seattle Machine Learning Star Turi Acquired by Apple

Tech Giants’ Partnership To Explore Ethics, Societal Impacts of AI

Techstars Teams with Amazon for Alexa Startup Accelerator in Seattle

Energy Storage Deals

Washington state has emerged as a center of innovation in energy storage, and three locally based companies saw significant strategic investment or acquisitions this year from Asian and European giants.

UniEnergy Technologies collected a $25 million investment from Japanese financial services firm Orix Corporation (this was actually a late 2015 deal). Korean conglomerate Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction acquired 1Energy Systems, which makes software for managing energy storage systems. German materials giant BASF acquired EnerG2, which makes materials that improve the performance of batteries and other energy storage technologies.


Seattle’s emerging commercial space cluster had its moment in the industry spotlight when the city played host to the NewSpace conference. We’ll look forward to more in 2017.

Art on the Moon: Contemplating Culture as a Space-faring Species

Spaceflight Industries Raises $18M, Acquires OpenWhere

Seattle Space Sector Ready for Its Close-up

Planetary Resources Raises $21M for Near-Term Market: Earth Observation


Two locally based companies that spun out of Intellectual Ventures are commercializing metamaterials technology in some very interesting areas: Echodyne is building advanced, light-weight, low-cost radar for drones, and Kymeta is using the technology to upend the market for satellite antennae on cars, boats, and other vehicles.

Innovation Ecosystem

We focus coverage on the combination of elements that create a thriving place for new ideas and inventions to form. Here are some of the most-read stories we did on changing dynamics in the Seattle innovation ecosystem in 2016:

Google Grows, Will Join Amazon in Seattle’s South Lake Union

Make Exits, Not Unicorns: Voyager Charts the Early Stage VC Course

Microsoft Venture Fund Aims to Harness Early Stage Innovation

Seattle Week in Review: Amazon Building Boom

With CoMotion Labs, UW Casts Wider Net For Innovation and Startups

Global Innovation Exchange Plans Menu of IP Options for Students


The tech industry continues to struggle to attract more women and underrepresented minorities to its ranks, but several ongoing efforts in Washington are making progress. This is another priority coverage area for Xconomy locally and nationally.

Strategies to Attract More Women and Minorities to Startup Accelerators

55 Washington Programs Helping Improve Diversity in Tech

Survey: Tech Startup Leaders Want Diversity, Not Sure How to Reach It

Marking 20 Years of STEM Education at TAF, and Planning for 20 More

Healthcare IT

Healthcare IT innovators in our region cheered the arrival of Accolade, which uses technology to support its concierge service helping people navigate their health insurance benefits. Another significant development was a new effort at the University of Washington to help innovators meet the needs of primary care providers.

Notable Funding Rounds

Venture capital investment through the first three quarters of 2016 was down locally and nationally. One bright spot, however, is that Seattle-based PitchBook (acquired this year by Morningstar) is now the data provider to the National Venture Capital Association.

Meanwhile, several significant funding rounds—in addition to those reviewed above—were closed by Seattle-area tech companies. Some highlights:

OfferUp Raises $119M to Pursue Faster Growth in Local Marketplaces

Rover Raises $40M in Race to Control Dog Services Marketplace

Money Transfer Service Remitly Raises $38.5M to Expand to New Markets

Qumulo Raises $32.5M More in Bid to Storm Data Storage Market

Personal Favorites

Last, but not least, here are a few more stories from 2016 that were particularly fun to report and write:

The Xconversation: Vaccine Developer Meets Energy Innovator

Watching a Race Through the Alaskan Wilderness in Real Time

The Xconversation: Software CEO Meets University Innovation Leader

Seattle Startup Beta Hatch Wants Bugs to Be the Future of Farming

Happy 2017, and thanks for reading!

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