Amazon and Microsoft Strike Patent Deal, Yapta and Kayak Team Up, Smilebox Scores Cash, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

2/24/10Follow @gthuang

Microsoft showed up in three deals this past week, involving healthcare-IT, Web search, and software patents. Other than that, the Northwest deals scene felt a little too quiet for its own good.

—Redmond, WA-based Smilebox raised $2 million in equity financing, according to a filing with the SEC. The investors weren’t disclosed, and Smilebox hasn’t officially confirmed the funding yet. Smilebox, which provides software and photo-related services for making electronic greeting cards, scrapbooks, and photo albums, is backed by Frazier Technology Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and a number of prominent angel investors.

—Portland, OR-based Monsoon is being acquired by Alibris, a California-based online marketplace for new and used books, music, and movies. Financial terms weren’t given, but the deal is for cash and stock. Monsoon makes software and tools for managing and processing online selling. Alibris works with and also competes with Seattle-based Amazon.com and other big retailers.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said it has signed a patent cross-license agreement with Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) that gives each company some access to the other’s intellectual property portfolio. The agreement covers technologies including Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader and its use of Linux-based servers, and Amazon apparently will pay Microsoft an undisclosed amount under the agreement. The wording of the announcement has fueled rumors that the deal was made to avoid patent litigation over open-source software that might infringe on Microsoft’s IP.

—Seattle-based Yapta formed a partnership with Kayak, the travel search site based in Connecticut. Terms of the deal weren’t given, but Kayak will power the flight search on Yapta.com, while considering how to pair Yapta’s airfare-tracking service with its own search results.

—It’s not a new deal, but Ryan reported on how the integration of Andover, MA-based Sentillion is going over at Microsoft. The Redmond, WA, software giant completed its acquisition of Sentillion early this month (for an undisclosed price), and is using the technology to make its healthcare software more user-friendly and practical for busy doctors and nurses.

—The search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo has been approved by U.S. and European regulators. Essentially, Microsoft’s Bing will be the unified search engine, while Yahoo will handle search advertising sales. The alliance was first announced last July, and it is seen as a strong effort to compete more effectively against Google in search and online ads.

—Just for the record, Seattle-based Cozi confirmed that it recently raised $5 million in equity funding from a new (unnamed) strategic investor. Cozi makes Web-based software to help families organize and schedule their activities and chores, and communicate better. CEO Robbie Cape affirmed the company’s advertising business model is going strong. Cozi had previously raised a total of about $16 million from angel investors and partners.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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