Seattle Week in Review: State Budget, Startup Funding, Asteroid Day

The clock ticks toward midnight and the deadline for the state of Washington to pass a two-year budget or face a government shutdown. Lawmakers just released the 600-odd page, $43.7 billion budget for public review Friday morning. It was negotiated secretly. Some of the headlines include a 13.5 percent spending increase, and a $7.3 billion increase in school spending over the next four years—which may or may not be enough to meet the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately fund public education. That will be up to the Washington Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, we’re tracking a handful of funding rounds announced this week by Seattle-area tech companies Auth0, Tango Card, Make.TV, and VendorHawk; Julie Sandler’s move from Madrona Venture Group to Pioneer Square Labs; Seattle-area asteroid detection efforts (did you know it’s Asteroid Day?); and more:

Auth0, a Bellevue, WA, company providing universal online identity technology for software developers and large businesses, raised a $30 million Series C funding round from lead investor Meritech Capital Partners. Other backers include the venture investing arms of NTT DOCOMO and Telstra, Japan’s and Australia’s largest mobile carriers, respectively. The funding will allow Auth0, founded in 2014, to continue expanding geographically and through hiring.

Meritech managing director George Bischof joins Auth0’s board of directors.

In a news release announcing the funding, Auth0 says it has nearly tripled revenue in the last year, and added 1,250 new customers.

The company has now raised $54 million. Earlier backers, most of whom participated in the latest round, include Trinity Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, K9 Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Founders Co-Op, Portland Seed Fund, and NXTP Lab.

Tango Card, a Seattle company helping businesses and other organizations provide digital incentives to employees and other groups, raised $10 million from Western Technology Investments, as GeekWire reports.

Make.TV, which makes cloud and mobile software for modern video production, raised $8.5 million and relocated its headquarters to Seattle.

VendorHawk, which helps companies manage their spending on software-as-a-service applications, has raised a $1.2 million seed round, led by iNovia Capital with participation from Techstars Ventures, Social Starts, Telos Ventures, Curious Capital, and Alliance of Angels. The company’s other backers include a list of prominent Seattle-area tech-company founders including Darrell Cavens (Zulily), T.A. McCann (Gist and Rival IQ), John Case (Unify Square), Jon Roskill (Acumatica), and Christ Stolte (Tableau).

A recent graduate of the Techstars Seattle accelerator, VendorHawk promises to help companies track and manage IT spending, which has become decentralized in many businesses as people in roles outside the IT department purchase software subscriptions.

The seven-person company plans to use the funding for additional product development and sales.

Julie Sandler, a well-respected Seattle venture capital investor, has left Madrona Venture Group to join Pioneer Square Labs, the “startup studio” formed by a group of prominent Northwest investors and entrepreneurs in 2015.  Sandler will be Pioneer Square Labs’ fourth managing director, alongside founders Greg Gottesman (a former Madrona managing director), Mike Galgon (co-founder of aQuantive), and angel investor Geoff Entress.

—Today is Asteroid Day. The event was launched in 2015 to raise awareness about asteroid hazards and support for efforts to identify asteroids that could impact Earth. Some of that work is happening at the University of Washington, where a team of computer scientists and astronomers is preparing software to automate scanning of celestial images for potentially threatening space rocks. The Seattle Times reports on the UW’s Data Intensive Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology Center (DIRAC), which will sift through the forthcoming data exhaust from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile to tackle not only asteroid detection, but also questions about the origin of the solar system.

The DIRAC will collaborate closely with the new B612 Asteroid Institute, an effort to unite scientists around the world engaged in research and development on asteroid detection and deflection.

Meanwhile, Bellevue, WA-based Planetary Resources continues its work toward asteroid prospecting and, eventually, mining.

And last September, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu. It is scheduled to arrive in August 2018, perform a “touch-and-go” maneuver to take samples, and return them to Earth in September 2023.

—We profiled three companies exhibiting at Monday’s CleanTech Innovation Showcase: VeloMetro Mobility, SuperCritical Technologies, and Diluvium Dry.

—Football is in the air again. We’re learning about Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s new diet, which includes a Hobbit-like pre-breakfast, and second lunch, in addition to four snacks. Many pro players will be strapping on a new helmet this season manufactured in Seattle by University of Washington spinout Vicis. The Vicis ZERO1 helmets are designed to reduce concussions. GeekWire toured the company’s factory.

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