Roundup: Funding for Optimum, Visualant, Planets, Payments and More

6/13/13Follow @bromano

[Corrected 6/18/13, 9:32 a.m. See below.] Optimum Energy and Visualant collected significant funding in the last week, while Planetary Resources announced a stretch goal for its Kickstarter campaign, Chirpify expanded beyond PayPal, and Amazon delivered groceries to L.A. Read on for details:

Optimum Energy, a Seattle company that helps building managers run heating and cooling systems more efficiently, has raised $12.2 million in an equity sale. The funding comes from Navitas Capital, a new investor, and Columbia Pacific Advisors, according to GeekWire. In an interview last month, Optimum CEO Matthew Frey said there is a huge opportunity in building energy management as large companies shift from a facility-by-facility approach to enterprise-wide strategies for procurement, management, and maintenance of HVAC assets. Optimum’s solution helps dynamically distribute heating and cooling loads in large buildings across various pieces of equipment, using the least-cost assets first. The company has more than doubled its staff in the last year to more than 60 people, Frey says. [An earlier version of this item incorrectly identified an Optimum Energy investor as Columbia Pacific Capital Management. The investor is Columbia Pacific Advisors.]

Visualant, a Seattle company making technology to identify chemical substances, has raised $5 million from Special Situations Technology Fund. Visualant, a public company traded over the counter, will use the funding to strengthen its balance sheet, purchase a subsidiary, and as working capital for commercialization of its ChromaID technology. The company aims to license the technology—which measures light reflected off a substance to identify its composition—to device and application developers in fields such as security, environmental cleanup, and healthcare. It plans to begin shipment of a developer kit this summer.

—With 17 days still to go, Planetary Resources has raised close to $900,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to support what it calls the world’s first space telescope open to the public—at least members of the public who support it, and nearly 9,900 have so far. With its $1 million goal clearly in reach, the Bellevue, WA, company says if supporters hit a goal of $2 million by June 30, it will outfit its ARKYD 100 space telescope with enhanced stability systems to aid in the detection of planets beyond the solar system. It also pledges to carve out time for the telescope to search for these planets, and allow students, researchers, and citizen scientists to do the looking. The company acknowledges that the stability upgrades would “allow for better measurement of the spin-properties of asteroids.” Planetary Resources’ primary mission is to find, claim, and ultimately mine asteroids.

Chirpify, which allows financial transactions directly within social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, has expanded its payment options to include credit and debit cards, and automated bank payments. Until now, the Portland, OR, startup—whose backers include Seattle-based Voyager Capital—had only handled payments via PayPal. After setting up a Chirpify account, people can reply to social media posts—a tweet from a musician about a new album, for example—with the word “buy” to make a purchase. Meanwhile, Gravity Payments, a Seattle-based credit card processor, says it will provide PayPal access to its merchant customers.

—As expected, Amazon is bringing its grocery delivery service to Los Angeles. My colleague Curt Woodward wrote last week about the connection between the expansion of AmazonFresh and its deals with states over sales tax collection.

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

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