Roundup: Ignition Raising Fund As Northwest Deals Abound

2/7/13Follow @bromano

Ignition Venture Partners is going forward with a $150 million fund, while Northwest startups Rover.com, Urban Airship, and Rivet & Sway, recently raised venture capital. Other Northwest tech companies are buying and selling, including Avanade, which snapped up Opstera, and Avalara, which bought Tax Technology Services. Read on for details on these deals, as well as news from Opscode, newcomer Flowroute, and SURF Incubator:

—Ignition Venture Partners has filed paperwork with the SEC to raise a new fund, further confirming news that emerged last month about the Bellevue, WA, venture capital firm’s plans. The filing indicates Ignition Venture Partners V is forming to raise up to $150 million. The general partners of the fund are John Connors, Frank Artale, and Nick Sturiale—the three names that previously surfaced in connection with the slimmed-down Ignition fund—and existing Ignition partner Robert Headley, who runs the firm’s day-to-day operations.

Rover.com, which matches dog owners with reviewed dog sitters, has raised $7 million in a Series B round led by the Foundry Group, with participation from earlier investor Madrona Venture Group. The Seattle startup is adding Foundry Group managing director and Golden retriever owner Brad Feld to its board. Last month, the company announced it hired new executives including Scott Porad, former Cheezburger Network CTO, to head product development.

—Portland, OR, mobile marketing company Urban Airship is the latest startup from the Rose City to score an eye-popping venture capital round in 2013. The company will use $25 million—from new investors August Capital, and previous backers Foundry Group, Intel Capital, True Ventures, and Verizon—to build up its location-aware push messaging technology, pursue opportunities in the “digital wallet” and Apple Passbook, and expand internationally. August Capital co-founder John Johnston joins Urban Airship’s board. The Series D funding round brings total investment in the company to $46.6 million.

Other big Portland venture rounds so far this year include VMWare’s $30 million investment in and strategic partnership with Puppet Labs, and the $33 million raised by Janrain.

Rivet & Sway, an online prescription glasses retailer catering to women, has raised $2 million from Mousse Partners and prior investors Baseline Ventures and Harrison Metal. The funding will allow the company to add employees and expand into the sunglasses market. Rivet & Sway, launched last summer, has attracted $3.3 million in financing to date. It offers glasses frames under its own label, shipping a customer’s three favorites for a home try-out.

—Microsoft managed services provider Avanade is bolstering its cloud management software offering with the acquisition of Opstera, a Bellevue, WA, startup focused on cloud applications running on Windows Azure. Paddy Srinivasan and Ranjith Ramakrishnan, who co-founded the company last year, are joining Seattle-based Avanade, which plans to integrate Opstera’s SaaS offering with existing services. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Opscode, another Seattle cloud infrastructure player, announced a major customer win for its Private Chef configuration and management offering. It’s a little company you may have heard of called Facebook. The software, based on open-source Chef, automates server configuration and access policies and is “flexible enough to bend to our scale dynamics without requiring us to change our workflow,” says Facebook production engineer Phil Dibowitz in a news release.

—Sales-tax software company Avalara bought Tax Technology Services (TTS), its second acquisition announced in as many months. Raleigh, N.C.-based TTS makes CertCapture software to manage a range of documents for sales tax exemptions. Avalara, headquartered on Bainbridge Island, WA, says the TTS technology will add to its own certificate management offering. TTS’ 25 employees join Avalara, bringing employment at the company to nearly 400.

—With its “obviously favorable business conditions created by local government” and “tech-heavy ecosystem,” Seattle has attracted a new business telecomm company to its rainy environs. Flowroute chief executive Bayan Towfiq sang the praises of the Emerald City in a press release touting his company’s move from Irvine, CA. The company, founded in 2007, is hiring developers, and sales and marketing staff, and Towfiq expects to find the right people here. “It’s the kind of environment that breeds the experience we’re looking for as we grow our development and support teams,” he says.

—The SURF Incubator in Seattle will offer its resident startup companies access to tech talent through a partnership with recruiter Capability IT. The deal is billed as a boon to entrepreneurs struggling to compete for programmers with more established companies, as well as a source of contract work to generate cash in the early stages of their business.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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