Three Innovators with Seattle Roots Make Waves in Video, Internet, and Smart Sensors

8/20/09

This week, the Seattle area has lived up to its reputation as home to the future of technology, with three local (or formerly local) innovators making the national media rounds in Technology Review, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. And not in just one field or sector either—the three span academia (smart sensors), a major online video company, and a pervasive viral humor blog startup.

—Jason Kilar, CEO of online video website Hulu and a former Amazon executive, wrote a personal essay for the New York Times about his journey into the world of Internet startups, including his first meeting with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, back when Bezos could be much more casual in presentation than he could probably get away with now. Kilar left Amazon in 2006 after becoming senior vice president of worldwide application software, to work for Hulu.

—Ben Huh, the Seattle-based owner of wildly successful humor websites like Lolcats (I Can Has Cheezburger) and FAIL Blog, was profiled in a Time Magazine story about his company Pet Holdings’ success with user-generated content. Starting with angel investor money in 2007, Huh bought the original Lolcats website and has since expanded to more than 20 viral humor blogs.

—Shwetak Patel, assistant professor in the departments of electrical engineering and computer science and engineering at the University of Washington made Technology Review’s list of top young innovators for developing a way to tell how people are moving around a house based on how they use electricity, gas, and water. Patel started with simple devices to monitor house utility use, but has since developed devices for sensing when people enter or leave a room based on air pressure. Monitoring resource usage could ideally lead to conservation of those resources, and help with keeping watch on elderly people who live alone. Patel recently co-founded a startup company in Seattle to generate appliance-itemized utility bills for consumers.

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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