Mobile Madness, Windows Phone, Clarisonic: Wrapping up Seattle Tech Headlines

11/16/11Follow @curtwoodward

This week’s wrapup of Xconomy Seattle tech headlines features two great entrepreneur/investors who will be featured at Mobile Madness Northwest, our action-packed half-day forum Dec. 6 at F5 Networks. We’re pairing up two people whose experiences span big-company products and proto-company startups: Wesley Chan of Google Ventures, and Charlie Kindel, formerly with Windows Phone (and a bunch of other products over 21 years at Microsoft).

As we found out in this profile, Chan led the projects that became Google Analytics and Google Voice—the latter of which prompted his move up to Seattle, where he’s still based today. But instead of working on big projects inside of Google, Chan is now a partner at Google Ventures, where his investments run all the way from consumer apps to life sciences.

Kindel left Microsoft earlier this year to devote more time to angel investing, mentoring and advising startups, and creating a new company of his own. The details of what he’s working on are still under wraps, but Kindel’s experience gives him an interesting and extremely informed perspective on the future of innovation in mobile.

Moderating the discussion with these two smart guys will be Chetan Sharma, the well-known mobile industry consultant and adviser. Get your tickets here—the clock is ticking on the special Saver Rate, our last discounted pricing promotion before the event on Dec. 6.

Other things catching our attention in the past week:

Windows Phone has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to take the strong third-place competitor’s spot in the mobile platform battles. And critical to that task is getting developers to create a strong ecosystem of digital products and services. Brandon Watson, the developer team lead for Windows Phone, took a look back at the first year of WP7 on the market and reveals some of the specific steps his crew is employing to woo developers to Redmond’s side.

—The Clarisonic skin-cleansing device has been quietly piling up sales (and celebrity customers) by putting the sonic-wave technology behind Sonicare toothbrushes into a cosmetic application. And it’s paid off, now that cosmetics giant L’Oreal has acquired parent company Pacific Bioscience Laboratories for an undisclosed sum.

—Hackathons are growing up. Seattle-based Startup Weekend had quite a year in 2011, even if you don’t count the growing international footprint for its signature events. The entrepreneur education nonprofit’s potential has now been recognized by Google, which inked a new two-year global sponsorship deal. That will give Startup Weekend some cash, but it also allows Google to tap into the organization’s worldwide community of entrepreneurs, hackers, designers, and investors.

Amazon has been getting a lot of attention in the public policy sphere for its resistance to state-by-state efforts to collect sales taxes online. The e-commerce pioneer has been staunchly, sometimes belligerently opposed to those efforts, and it may be paying off: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is backing a new national law that would set a nationwide standard for sales tax collections online—something Amazon has long supported. Amazon and its sometime-foes at the National Retail Federation are both supporting this new bill.

PopCap Games, the casual game maker recently acquired by Electronic Arts, sponsored a new survey that shows an increasing willingness by gamers on social networks to use digital currency and buy virtual goods. The survey shows a pretty significant change since last year, the kind of pace PopCap and others are looking for as they stake out new ways to make money in the free-to-play arena.

Stockbox Grocers isn’t a tech startup, right? The company, a project of two entrepreneurs from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, turns surplus shipping containers into mini corner stores stocked with cupboard staples and fresh produce. But in a profile, we showed how even something as low-tech as retail can be heavily influenced by cheap, powerful technology and “lean startup” methods.

—Meanwhile, down in Portland, the team at Urban Airship continues to make news. This week, we saw the mobile app infrastructure provider featured as one of the inaugural investments from Intel Capital‘s new $100 million app-focused fund. The deal also comes with a partnership that will make Urban Airship’s services available to developers working on apps for Windows-based notebooks powered by Intel’s processors.

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

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