Zuckerberg Promises “Something Awesome,” Likester Parses Facebook Data, RevenueLoan Recalibrates, & More in Seattle-Area Tech News

7/5/11Follow @curtwoodward

How does one of the world’s hottest web properties keep up with insane user growth, continue adding features, and still keep the whole thing held together? To hear the head honchos of Facebook tell it, the answer isn’t to just vacuum up all the engineers you can find. Instead, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and engineering head Mike Schroepfer say they want to maintain a healthy growth rate of about 60 percent, and spread the work around to everybody—including summer interns.

That was one of the highlights of Zuckerberg’s visit last week to the Facebook Seattle office, a team of about 40 coders who represent the social networking giant’s only significant engineering hub outside of California. The reason for Zuckerberg’s visit was a Q&A with developers, which was quickly decoded as a recruiting event for the growing Seattle outpost. He also told reporters that the company would be rolling out an “awesome” new feature this week, one developed out of Seattle.

Rumors chased down by TechCrunch and Mashable say the update is Skype-based video chat—something that could make the Internet phone company’s acquisition by Microsoft look once again like a better deal than it seemed at first blush.

Also making headlines in the past week or so at Xconomy Seattle:

—Coincidentally, I also had this profile of Seattle startup Likester, which is culling Facebook data to provide a look at how the social network’s “Like” button correlates to social trends in the outside world. Founder Kevin McCarthy got some fun publicity for using that data to successfully predict the winner of “American Idol,” and he’s also hoping the 2012 presidential election cycle will draw some eyeballs and users. But McCarthy also sees tons more sophisticated uses down the road, including serious e-commerce applications.

RevenueLoan, the Seattle-based alternative financing startup for entrepreneurs, is rejiggering its name and overall mission to have a wider footprint. Founder and CEO Andy Sack says the company’s new name, Lighter Capital, reflects both the less-starchy attitude of the principals and its hope to make raising money easier for small companies. RevenueLoans, in which lenders get a share of future profits, will remain a product, but Sack hints that more offerings are ahead for his startup.

—Seattle’s PressPlane landed a nearly $3.5 million investment for Zapd, its smartphone-based website creating software. PressPlane also runs Inkd, an online design service. The whole thing is helmed by Kelly Smith of Curious Office, who says Zapd is hoping to thrive in a world where websites are “impulsive, alive, social and easy.” The round was led by Madrona Venture Group and included RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser.

—Rounding out the news, we saw digital puzzle startup Puzzazz raise about $400,000 in angel investment; California IT security company BeyondTrust buying software from Likewise Software of Bellevue, WA; and Madrona and Amazon returning as investors for New York-based video production startup Animoto’s $25 million C round.

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

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