Seattle Deals: Amazon, Buuteeq, Startup Weekend, Microsoft

10/5/12Follow @curtwoodward

A few pieces of Seattle-area news spanning real estate, startup financing, and acquisitions to catch up on before the weekend:

Amazon is expanding its real estate holdings in Seattle.

In a filing with federal regulators, the e-commerce pioneer and ever-expanding tech leader says it’s buying 11 buildings it already occupies for about $1.16 billion. Amazon has been leasing the buildings, which total some 1.8 million square feet, from the real estate branch of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company, Vulcan.

Vulcan announced this summer that it was putting the buildings up for sale. Amazon has been in the middle of long-term leases on those properties, and it was speculated at the time of the sale announcement that Amazon itself might eventually make the purchase.

In addition, Amazon is in the middle of planning and city permitting for its new plan to build three office towers, totaling some 3 million square feet, right next to the existing headquarters. Once that new section is built, Amazon will have room for 20,000 or more employees in Seattle—a corporate footprint that would make the company the largest private employer in the city limits by a long shot.

Earlier this year, at Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting, an investor asked CEO Jeff Bezos why the company was now buying real estate instead of just leasing it. Bezos essentially said the company was now big enough that it finally made economic sense to own buildings rather than rent them.

Buuteeq, a hotel marketing software startup based in Seattle, has raised another $10 million to help it hire more employees and reach new markets in Asia and Europe. The startup has raised $17 million to date.

The investment was led by Madrona Venture Group and travel and expense company Concur, which has been heavily investing in startups across the travel sector. Madrona’s Tim Porter and Concur CEO Steve Singh will join the buuteeq board.

The company, based in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, sells software services that help hotels set up websites, market themselves, and take reservations online. The company says it has been used at some 4,000 hotels, resorts, and inns during its first 18 months in the market. Buuteeq was started in early 2010 by by former Microsofties Forest Key and Adam Brownstein.

Startup Weekend, the weekend hackathon series that has grown an impressive global network, has acquired a media company called StartupDigest. StartupDigest distributes e-mail newsletters on a variety of topics, including roundups of links to interesting content from around the Web.

StartupDigest claims 230,000 subscribers for its 101 publications in 99 cities around the globe. Two former StartupDigest employees are joining Startup Weekend, while two more are splitting off to develop an organizing software product called GroupTie.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Both organizations have been financially supported by the Kauffman Foundation.

Microsoft is acquiring a Kansas-based security company called PhoneFactor. Terms weren’t disclosed.

PhoneFactor sells services that provide companies with “multi-factor authentication,” which basically means adding another security hurdle for people trying to sign on to corporate computer networks, bank accounts, and other secure systems. One of the ways PhoneFactor can do that is by sending text message to a user’s mobile phone, which contains a security code.

The smaller company says Microsoft will continue to sell its service as a standalone product.

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

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