TechStars Demos, Real CEO, Zillow Earnings: Wrapping Up a Week in Seattle Tech Headlines

11/9/11Follow @curtwoodward

The biggest story of the past week on the Seattle tech innovation beat was surely the Demo Day for TechStars Seattle, the second-ever class of entrepreneurs to graduate from the bootcamp program in the Emerald City. Hundreds packed the venue to see the pitches, and were treated to some really solid and exciting pitches from hot new proto-companies.

I put together the most comprehensive rundown anywhere of the action, with snapshots of each company and their presentation, along with comments from TechStars CEO and founder David Cohen. And we followed up with a recap from Cohen and Seattle TechStars director Andy Sack, with some thoughts on the big trends we’re seeing in these startups, the incubator movement, and the Seattle startup scene.

Elsewhere around town, it was a pretty busy week:

RealNetworks hired a new CEO: Thomas Nielsen, a former Adobe executive who most recently was in charge of Photoshop and other imaging software products. RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser told me that he was excited to bring on a really strong product executive in Nielsen, who also has worked at Microsoft earlier in his career. Nielsen’s first official day on the job is today.

Zillow reported its third-quarter earnings, the online real-estate listing company’s second report since going public this summer. Zillow showed revenue growth, but lost money for the quarter on a new headquarters move. Zillow also reported that it had acquired Diverse Solutions, a real-estate marketing company.

—Money-losing wireless broadband provider Clearwire also reported its financials, which were largely a replay of some selected results the company had pre-released a little earlier to stop a stock slide. Clearwire is still burning through cash, but not quite as fast, and says it’s added some subscribers.

—Speaking of market doldrums, the turmoil on Wall Street is weighing on some Washington state tech companies that want to go public. In particular, we’re talking about traffic-data provider Inrix and semiconductor laser manufacturer nLight Photonics. Both have IPOs in the cards, but the current markets aren’t making that a smart move right now, so they’re waiting it out. A question mark is RFID maker Impinj, which filed its registration paperwork but hasn’t updated the file since July.

Facebook is feeling pretty bullish on hiring prospects in the Seattle market—enough so that it’s upgrading its Seattle engineering office to a new space with roughly twice the room. Facebook Seattle, the company’s most significant engineering office outside its Palo Alto, CA headquarters, is now up to about 60 people.

—Thousands of people attended the first-ever Seattle Interactive Conference, which featured lots of great talks like this update on social in search from Bing chief Stefan Weitz. He says it’s clear from the data that, when seeking opinions or answers to questions, people crave other people in search. And Bing’s close connection with Facebook is something it’s still touting as an answer to that need.

—It’s the debate that never goes away for entrepreneurs: Finish school, or take the plunge and start your company? The folks at Gist (now part of Research in Motion) put together this handy infographic detailing some of the stats behind that age-old question.

—We had a Twitter chat with Kabir Shahani from Appature, the Seattle-based medical industry digital marketing startup, about the opportunity his company is tackling as it tries to help bring an old-school industry into the 21st centuray. Kabir’s going to represent Seattle—quite ably, I’m sure—at Xconomy’s 6×6 event Dec. 1, where we get people together to talk about six big ideas from the six cities we cover.

—And finally, we checked in with Seattle’s Hark, an online sound-clip library that had a pretty impressive milestone to report: People have listened to sound clips on its site 1 billion times since late 2008. That’s a load of movie quotes, speeches, and other assorted noises—but it adds up to real money. As CEO David Aronchick told us, Hark’s now a profitable business, and doesn’t see any need to raise money on the horizon.

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

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