RIM Buys Gist, RealNetworks Cuts Jobs, Microsoft’s Nokia Deal, & More Seattle-Area Tech News

2/15/11Follow @xconomy

The biggest deal this week around the Xconomy office is that we have a new writer to cover the local tech beat. More on that and other Seattle area deals news below.

—Seattle-based Gist, the maker of software for managing your contacts online, said this week it has agreed to be acquired by Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), the maker of BlackBerry smartphones. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. But Gist has raised more than $10 million since its founding in 2008 from Vulcan Capital and Foundry Group. Vulcan, which incubated the idea for Gist, was “very pleased” with the financial return it got, says managing director Steve Hall. “It is great to see an idea go from scratch to being recognized by a major technology player like RIM,” Hall says.

—After a long stretch of rumors and speculation, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said last week it had formed a partnership to put its new mobile software on Nokia smartphones. One of the more entertaining reviews I saw was from ZDNet, which panned the deal, saying it is like “two fading marathon runners deciding to hold hands.”

—Seattle-based RealNetworks (NASDAQ: RNWK) has been in restructuring mode for a while, and last week it said it cut another 130 jobs, about 10 percent of its workforce. The company said this is the final step in cutbacks that have eliminated 400 jobs since 2009.

Geospiza, the Seattle-based maker of software for genetic analysis, said it pulled in a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help scientists better visualize the genetic differences between cancerous and healthy tissues.

—We introduced our new reporter here to cover the Northwest tech, venture capital, and cleantech industries. Curt Woodward, a former Associated Press reporter in Olympia, is getting started this week here at Xconomy Seattle. You can reach out to him at cwoodward@xconomy.com or follow him on Twitter at @curtwoodward.

—We had three different op-eds this week of interest to the local tech community, and if there’s a common thread, I’d say it’s their cautious optimism. Susannah Malarkey of the Technology Alliance, coming off her organization’s Innovation Showcase, observed that among angel investors it’s becoming “fashionable to be early” investing in technology again. Byron McCann of Northwest Energy Angels talked about insights he picked up at a couple of angel investment conferences, and Taft Kortus of Moss Adams dares to ask whether tech companies like LinkedIn, Groupon, and Zynga will make 2011 a “breakout year.” We’ll be watching.

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