Zillow Files for IPO, PopCap Heading the Same Way, Zynga Beckons Local Talent, & More in the Seattle-Area Tech Roundup

4/19/11Follow @curtwoodward

The Seattle tech scene got its first entrant in what looks like a coming wave of initial public offerings when Zillow made its intentions official, filing paperwork with federal regulators Monday for a future stock sale. In its filing, the online real-estate listing and mortgage database said it would seek about $52 million from the stock market—not a huge sum for an IPO, but significant for the area’s entrepreneurship and investing community nonetheless.

Zillow has seen increasing competition in the online real-estate sector, including vocal San Francisco-based startup Trulia, which recently boasted that it was assembling an “IPO-ready management team.” HitWise reported that Zillow’s traffic ranked No. 3 among real estate websites, one spot ahead of Trulia and just behind Yahoo—where Zillow’s listings appear under a partnership.

There was plenty more action elsewhere on the Seattle tech beat:

PopCap looks like it’s also ready to hit the public markets. The Seattle casual game company recently went on a media and investor blitz in New York, talking up its growth, revenue, and position in the hot gaming market. We gleaned a lot of interesting bits from the various interviews that PopCap gave, including an assertion that it generated $100 million in revenue last year, an increase of about 20 percent from the year before. The company’s leaders also discussed difficulties in getting investors to understand the difference between its development compared to a console game publisher, and the attractiveness of hitting the public market before social-game giant Zynga.

—Speaking of Zynga, I headed over to the San Francisco company’s new Seattle office to look at the digs and hear some remarks from founder and CEO Mark Pincus on the company’s plans for its new Northwest beachhead. In one word: Hiring. The maker of addictive Facebook-based games like “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars” was not shy at all about inviting techies in the packed crowd to send in their resumes—Pincus gave out his e-mail address and spent quite a bit of time talking one-on-one with people afterward about jobs.

—Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen continued drumming up interest in his new autobiography, “Idea Man,” with an interview on 60 Minutes that delved into some of the early Microsoft stories and Bill Gates arguments detailed in the excerpt published recently in Vanity Fair. For a guy who hasn’t done a ton of interviews over the years, Allen didn’t seem flustered by the big TV interview—even when Lesley Stahl went with a lame Howard Hughes dig while checking out Allen’s huge airplane collection.

—Redmond, WA-based Concur (NASDAQ: CNQR), which makes software that helps businesses track their employee travel and expense costs, made another move into travel-booking alliances by investing $40 million in Cleartrip, a private online travel site in India. It sounds similar to the presence Concur got when it acquired San Francisco’s TripIt to help customers manage their travel itineraries. Concur, which already has several international offices, also announced that it was opening its newest office in India to capitalize on that country’s growing business sector.

—Seattle’s Pelago, maker of the Whrrl location check-in app, was snapped up by daily-deals leader Groupon for undisclosed terms. This comes as the intelligentsia are debating whether check-ins are “over,” but a really interesting takeaway was penned by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Business Insider. Gobry points out that Whrrl, “which tried to compete with Foursquare and didn’t get very far,” is a good example of “parking”—when VCs can offload a company that isn’t rocketing to world-beater status. That view also doesn’t really take anything away from the Pelago people who are joining Groupon—Pelago honcho Jeff Holden is now overseeing product development at one of the hottest companies out there.

—We saw a sizable financing round for Lockerz, a social network aimed at “Generation Z” that combines hot trends like game mechanics and shopping discounts with the established sharing features of Facebook and other friend-connecting sites. Lockerz’s marketing materials actually get in some digs at the broad adoption of Facebook and others, positioning itself as something parents wouldn’t use. At the same time, it’s trying to be an intermediary that will allow its users to post things on Facebook—and, as an added twist, it’s actually home to some original Web content, specifically a short TV-style series about young people.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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