Roundup: VC Investment, Tableau Q1, Greenest Building, Asteroids, & More
On Earth Day, the world’s “greenest office building” is opening in Seattle, providing a model for commercial developers weighing the costs and benefits of sustainability. Meanwhile, Northwest venture investment was down in the first quarter; Tableau Software updated its IPO registration statement with first-quarter results; Planetary Resources landed a big partner and investor in Bechtel; Intel is collaborating with Oregon Health & Science University in biomedical data; and MovingWorlds and brandLive took top prizes in two Northwest investment competitions. The details:
—It’s an Earth Day triumph for Seattle and its green building cred: Headlines are trumpeting the grand opening of the Bullitt Center, billed as the world’s greenest office building. The Bullitt Foundation wants the six-story office building on Capitol Hill to be a model for how commercial development can be environmentally sustainable. But that requires it be financially sustainable, too. Foundation CEO and Earth Day co-founder Dennis Hayes told me in an interview late last year that the goal is to be totally transparent about the building’s costs and operational savings from features such as rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, solar arrays, and deep energy efficiency—all of which are part of the Living Building Challenge. He believes the $30 million, 50,000-square-foot building will provide not only a model, but actually lower the cost of subsequent projects pursuing this high standard of sustainability. “Whenever you’re trying to do something that is innovative, it’s delays and it’s spending time convincing people of the rectitude of your position, building analytics,” Hayes said. “And that won’t have to be done again.”
—Venture capitalists invested $158.4 million in 41 Pacific Northwest companies during the first quarter. That marks a 46 percent decline from the same period a year ago, when 42 companies collected $295.4 million, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters. The pace of investment slowed more in the region than in the nation as a whole. By dollar value, investment was spread evenly among early stage, expansion, and later-stage companies, while startup/seed funding hardly registered with two companies collecting $273,000. Portland-area companies landed three of the 10 largest deals of the quarter, including the two largest: Puppet Labs’ $30 million round and Urban Airship’s $25 million.
—Tableau Software’s first-quarter revenue grew by 62 percent to $40 million, but the company recorded a $3.7 million loss in the same period, according to an updated registration statement filed by the Seattle data visualization company. Tableau, which is preparing for a much-anticipated IPO that would raise as much as $150 million, is rapidly expanding its staff and had 834 employees at the end of March. Its operating expenses more than doubled from the first quarter of 2012 to $41.9 million, and the company expects them to continue growing “substantially in the near term.”
—Planetary Resources, a Bellevue, WA-based company laying the groundwork for asteroid mining, has landed a powerful partner in Bechtel, the engineering, procurement, and construction giant. The San Francisco-based company is now an investor in Planetary Resources—joining the likes of top Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt—and “will be a collaborative partner” on the long-term mission of mining near-Earth asteroids. See our past coverage of Planetary Resources, which was founded in 2009, but only began attracting attention a year ago.
—Portland’s efforts in personalized medicine could get a boost from a new Intel-Oregon Health & Science University partnership aimed at developing high-performance computing technology to improve analysis of individual patient genetic profiles. This big data collaboration—initially targeting cancer—will see scientists and engineers working on hardware, software, and workflows geared toward faster, cheaper, and more precise handling and analysis of personalized biomedical data. Intel’s hardware expertise is being paired with OHSU’s strengths in granular visualization of cells.
—MovingWorlds, a startup that aims to help people donate their expertise while traveling the world, took the top prize at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s Spring 2013 First Look Forum. The company, founded by Mark Horoszowski, was selected from a dozen early-stage startups and will receive $50,000 in services from Grow50, a new effort to support local startups with legal, engineering, marketing, financial, and other professional services.
—Oregon angel investors tabbed brandLive, a Portland-based maker of branded video communication software, for a $260,000 investment, selecting the company from among 65 applicants in the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Angel Oregon 2013 program.