Swype, Jobs, Clearwire: the One-Minute Week in Seattle Tech Headlines

10/11/11Follow @curtwoodward

Swype, one of the most talked-about startups in the Seattle area, made good on all the attention it’s earned by selling to mobile-software leader Nuance (NASDAQ: NUAN) for $102.5 million. Nuance has been gobbling up lots of technology and talent in the past few years, including Tegic Communications, the former home of Swype’s Cliff Kushler.

—The death of Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs was felt far and wide in the tech industry, including here in Seattle. Among the immediate reactions and remembrances from our Xconomist network were pieces from Ed Lazowska and Jeremy Jaech—the latter of which was penned on vacation in Europe, on an iPad of course.

—We also took a more critical look at Jobs’ legacy, pointing out some of the less-than-glowing aspects of the legendary leader’s record. It helps put Jobs in perspective as a person—just as complicated, prickly, and enigmatic as he was visionary and talented.

Sprint (NYSE S) rolled out its plans for a future fourth-generation network, and Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) was conspicuously absent—a development that sent the Kirkland, WA-based broadband provider’s stock plummeting. It’s increasingly clear that Sprint wants Clearwire to make its own way, and even though it owns a majority stake in the company, the carrier doesn’t seem ready to take a leading role in financing Clearwire’s changeover to newer long-term evolution technology.

Intellectual Ventures continued its relatively new strategy of heading to court to assert its patent portfolio, hauling Motorola Mobility in front of a federal judge in an infringement lawsuit. That’s despite the fact that Motorola is in the process of being acquired by Google, which is an investor/licensee through one of Intellectual Ventures’ subsidiary funds.

Varolii detailed a new partnership with Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) that brought the budget carrier’s last-minute scheduling system into the 21st century: Rather than phone trees or website logins, pilots can now be notified of open flights and even book the extra work via text messages. That’s a bit more complicated than it sounds, since Varolii had to make sure it was properly navigating the sensitive territory of union seniority rights.

—Seattle social media firm Spring Creek Group was acquired by media and PR behemoth Interpublic Group. Spring Creek is relatively small, with an estimated $4.3 million in revenues in 2010, but the company made the Inc. 500 this year.

—We cross-posted this piece from Eric Koester of Zaarly, who sketched out what he thinks are the similarities between hackers and lawyers (Koester’s an attorney by training). Of course, some coders took exception with the comparison.

Kabir Shahani of Appature will be representing Seattle at 6X6, a event that highlights Xconomy‘s national network of innovation coverage by bringing together sharp people from each of the cities we cover.

—Finally, yours truly was asked (for some reason) by the good folks at the Washington Technology Industry Association to lay out some thoughts and observations on the local tech industry as part of the group’s video series leading up to today’s TechNW event at the waterfront. Please ignore the weird pose on the screen grab, which is sadly indicative of all the times my eyes look a little crazy as I tried to think of what to say. And be sure to check out all the other great video interviews they put together.

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

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