Modumetal Closes Series B, TerraPower Pulls In $35M, Vertafore Bought for $1.4B, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

6/15/10Follow @gthuang

Just because I’m not going to be Seattle editor anymore doesn’t mean I won’t miss these roundups. In the past week, we’ve seen some very interesting deals news from Northwest companies in the fields of energy, materials, and software. Here were a few of the top highlights.

—Nuclear-power startup TerraPower, based in Bellevue, WA, raised a whopping $35 million in venture funding from Charles River Ventures and Khosla Ventures. OK, $35 million might be chump change to Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold, who are also invested in TerraPower, but it could make a big difference in the company’s ability to develop a working prototype of its traveling wave reactor, which promises cleaner, cheaper, safer, and more plentiful nuclear power. Don’t expect that to happen before 2020 though.

—Polaris Venture Partners, which is based in the Boston area and has a Seattle office, closed on $233.8 million of a planned new $400 million fund, as Ryan reported. Polaris is known for its investments in companies like Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Akamai Technologies, and GlycoFi, as well as for starting Dogpatch Labs, a community program to support entrepreneurs in San Francisco, New York, and Cambridge, MA.

—Luke previewed Bellevue, WA-based mobile software firm Motricity’s impending initial public offering this week. The IPO could net more than $85 million, according to investment bank Renaissance Capital. Motricity’s biggest stockholders are Advanced Equities, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Technology Crossover Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates. The company was founded in 2001 in Oklahoma and moved to the Seattle area in late 2007, when it acquired the mobile division of Infospace for $135 million.

—Has there ever been a less-talked-about $1.4 billion deal in Seattle? That’s what I wondered about Vertafore, the Bothell, WA-based insurance software company which got bought by TPG Capital last week. Vertafore was previously owned by private equity firms Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity. The software company, formerly called AMS Services, was founded in 1985 and moved its headquarters from Connecticut to Washington state in 2005.

—Seattle-based Modumetal, an advanced materials company looking to reinvent the metals industry (no pressure), has raised its second round of venture financing, led by San Francisco-based Catamount Ventures. The exact funding amount was undisclosed, but is several million dollars. Modumetal “grows” a fundamentally new kind of nanotech-based metal that is stronger and lighter than steel, and can be used for construction, transportation, and military applications.

Novel, a video-game company in Redmond, WA, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Vancouver, BC-based venture firms McLean Capital and Nairbo Investments. Novel is developing a new kind of massively multiplayer online game called Empire & State. More interestingly, it is looking to create something like “The Matrix” for businesses, whereby companies will use Novel’s technology to devise virtual-reality simulations of business situations with which to evaluate employees.

—Martin Tobias is on the prowl. The Seattle entrepreneur, investor, and self-described “arms dealer” of the online group-buying world talked with me about his company Tippr’s acquisition of Austin, TX-based FanForce (for an undisclosed amount), and how its strategy differs from Groupon’s. The upshot is that Tippr (whose parent company is Seattle-based Kashless) is aiming to be the technology platform for Web publishers to get in on the daily deals game—not just a consumer-facing site.

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. Follow @gthuang

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