Paul Allen, AT&T-Mo, Clearwire: Seattle’s Weekly Rewind

12/16/11Follow @curtwoodward

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the Fire doesn’t have GPS hardware or Google’s map service. A beneficiary of the Amazon/Google friction was Microsoft’s Bing, which supplies the Web-based maps.

—Speaking of Microsoft, I checked in with some of the key players behind a new accelerator program taking shape in South Lake Union. Redmond is teaming up with TechStars, the early stage entrepreneurial boot-camp, to help developers and startups build new uses and companies centered on the Kinect motion- and sound-sensing device.

—I also visited the growing Seattle office of Nebula, a startup that aims to make it much simpler for businesses to build their own cloud computing infrastructure. Nebula plans to do this with a device they’re starting to call a “cloud controller”, which is a combination of a networking switch and the OpenStack cloud-computing software platform. CEO Chris Kemp, a co-founder of OpenStack, says Seattle’s been the young company’s “secret weapon” because he can take Silicon Valley venture money and get great engineers—at less than the bubbly Valley prices, of course.

Amazon Web Services added a computing region in Brazil, which promises to greatly increase performance for companies using the AWS suite of cloud-computing services in South America. One company that was particularly pumped by the move is Seattle’s Livemocha, an online language-learning provider that has a quarter of its more than 11 million users in Brazil. CEO Michael Schutzler says the change is like instantly upgrading from Internet speeds circa 1990.

Cloud-services startup Xeround raised another $9 million, but another part of the news was a little more interesting: the formerly Bellevue-based startup now is located in Mountain View, CA. It’s related to some big changes at Xeround in the past couple of years, which saw the company ditch a previous focus on wireless carrier customers and go after public-cloud database services instead. The startup is backed by Seattle-area investors, including Ignition Partners and Trilogy Partnership.

Digital-deals startup Pirq, led by CEO and former “Apprentice” contestant James Sun, raised a new round of $1.9 million from Rally Capital, the Kirkland-based VC firm of former Nextel CEO Dennis Weibling. Sun says Pirq plans to use the money to hire developers and sales staff, and is looking to expand beyond the Seattle market soon. Pirq’s doesn’t operate on a Groupon-like collective buying model. Instead, its app and software allows merchants to offer coupons tied to their slowest periods.

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

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