Amazon, Khosla, Tippr: The 1-Minute Week in Seattle Tech Headlines
—Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) jumped into the tablet game with the much-hyped Kindle Fire device, but don’t be fooled. The new tablet is not about Amazon getting into the hardware business—it’s much more about making sure that consumers get access to Amazon’s slew of cloud services and traditional shopping on something other than Apple’s iPad, which requires a 30 percent revenue cut on offerings like books (or a tricky workaround).
—Speaking of digital content, streaming-music service Rhapsody bought Napster from Best Buy in a deal that made the retailer a minority shareholder. Rhapsody, spun out of RealNetworks last year, has been facing a lot more competition on a model it helped pioneer with increased heat from startups, including European import Spotify. The Napster deal might lead to a little more pond-crossing: Rhapsody tells us it also has an option on the international subscribers of Napster, where the cat-headphone brand could live on.
—Big-name venture capitalist Vinod Khosla dropped into town for Startup Weekend EDU at the University of Washington, an event co-organized by Seattle startup TeachStreet. Khosla, interviewed by VC/blogger Michael Arrington, told the budding entrepreneurs to aim for a big impact with their projects. Arrington also made a little news: He disclosed that Khosla was an investor in the new CrunchFund.
—We went back into the court filings to check in on a very interesting summer for Seattle daily-deals startup Tippr. Run by entrepreneur Martin Tobias, Tippr has been proudly proclaiming the trove of patents it purchased from Paul Allen as a key asset in the ballooning daily deals sector. And it made that case in a big federal lawsuit, which eventually pulled in 14 defendants. They’ve all settled now, with at least one likely signing a licensing agreement.
—What’s the key to keeping a research arm cranking inside a global technology behemoth for two decades? In Rick Rashid‘s view, it’s to make the R&D shop into a utility—something that’s always there, ready for product leaders to come over and grab off the shelf when they need it. That’s how Rashid, the head of Microsoft Research, described serendipitous successes like the Kinect controller in an interview marking MSR’s 20th anniversary.
—Over on the cleantech side of things, we saw UW and WSU land an $80 million grant from the federal government to spur biofuels research in the Northwest. Each university gets $40 million over five years, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sounding pretty bullish on the prospects of developing wood-based biofuels with the research boost.