Hollywood Lights, Rock Gods, Cleantech Gurus, & More in the Seattle-Area Tech Roundup

5/31/11Follow @curtwoodward

With an established moviemaking hub so close in Vancouver, B.C., Seattle is probably never going to be ground zero for a lot of Hollywood productions. But this area’s entrepreneurs, with rich DNA in digital media, gaming, and e-commerce, could certainly make some waves by helping the entertainment industry navigate the digital era.

In this piece, I took a look at four such startups in the Seattle area who are trying to do exactly that. They range from a veteran entrepreneur with established success in L.A., to a group of Startup Weekend vets hammering away in the TechStars incubator.

Dave Long, who is on his second go-round with Hollywood, said the entertainment world has taken notice of the spark in Seattle: “I’ve had big executives say ‘Hey, what’s in the coffee up there? It seems like there’s a lot of creativity up there.’”

Elsewhere on the Seattle tech beat in the past week or so:

—The University of Washington‘s Foster School of Business unveiled the winners of its annual Business Plan Competition, a massive undertaking that whittled more than 100 entrants down to five finalists in about two months—with a goal of nurturing some new companies along the way. The top award-winners had nothing to do with consumer Internet plays (refreshing in the world of startup competitions), focusing instead on clean water, better food and advanced medical diagnostics.

—Could it be the start of a new stream of wireless entrepreneurs? A pair of former T-Mobile software architects, who just started their new company Mobilisafe this year, announced that they have already raised $1.2 million from Madrona Venture Group and Trinity Equity Partners. (T-Mobile, of course, is in the middle of a huge acquisition bid from AT&T). What’s Mobilisafe do? It’s still in stealth mode, but generally focuses on helping business IT departments handle the security risks posed by the growing number of personal mobile devices.

—One of the quickest startup acquisitions around was Google‘s recent purchase of Sparkbuy, the consumer electronics shopping site led by entrepreneur Dan Shapiro and crew. At the time, Xconomy (and many others) instantly figured this was an “acquhire” by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), since Sparkbuy had barely been out in the wild for two months with its service, which was promptly shut down by Google. Despite how it may look like a talent acquisition, Shapiro and Google told The Seattle Times’ Brier Dudley that there’s a lot more to the story.

—In perhaps the funniest guest post of all time, Kirkland attorney Keith Cochran lays out an 11-song AC/DC playlist that also serves as a guidebook for entrepreneurs. Really? Really. And although there’s plenty of fun involved, Cochran delivers some sage advice, as with this gem from the “Hell’s Bells” entry: “The slightly playful grimness is a useful reminder: Anyone working in the entrepreneurial world will encounter the finality of failure.”

—VentureWire chimed in with a report that Boston-area VC firm Polaris Venture Partners was shuttering its Seattle office. Seattle has been the base for firm co-founder Steve Arnold, a former Microsoftie who is on the boards of some local companies. We couldn’t reach anyone at Polaris for comment, so stay tuned.

—In the world of cleantech, the Portland, OR-based venture firm Pivotal Investments released its new class of Pivotal Leaders—a cross-disciplinary group of cleantech leaders who are selected by their peers as top minds in the region spanning Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.

—Cleantech and waste management startup Harvest Power, which has branches in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., announced $6 million in financing. The company’s headquarters are in Waltham, MA, but co-founder Jan Allen is based in Seattle—he recently spoke at our latest Xconomy event, which focused on the future of alternative fuels.

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

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