Roundup: WTIA, Lytics, SwopBoard, Contour, Obama at Zillow & More

8/9/13Follow @bromano

You may have heard earlier this week that a local technology entrepreneur purchased an old media company. In other news around the Northwest this week, the Washington Technology Industry Association named a new CEO; Portland big-data-for-marketers startup Lytics attracted funding, as did SwopBoard, a Seattle company building a sales platform for school communities; Contour appears to be going under; President Obama talked housing with Zillow’s CEO; and University of Washington President Michael Young expanded his stable of Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows. Read on for details.

Michael Schutzler, former CEO of Livemocha and CEOSherpa, is the new head of the Washington Technology Industry Association. He replaces Susan Sigl, who announced earlier this year she would step down after being CEO of the state trade association since spring 2010. The WTIA, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, represents more than 500 companies with more than 100,000 workers in the state.

—Portland, OR-based Lytics, has landed a $2.2 million seed round from Rembrandt Venture Partners and Seattle-based Voyager Capital. The company helps marketers gather data from various digital sources, including platforms such as Salesforce and Urban Airship, to finely target their customers and manage marketing interactions in real-time. Lytics is testing its product in a private beta now.

—A Seattle startup called SwopBoard has raised a small amount of capital to reinvent the PTA rummage sale. The company allows parents within a school community to buy and sell items from each other. SwopBoard collects fees ranging from $1.99 to $7.99 per item, depending on its value, and channels a donation to the school—at least 10 percent of the seller’s net proceeds. The company raised $515,000 in an equity sale to 14 investors, according to this SEC filing. It was founded earlier this year by Natalie Angelillo, who worked previously at the Steelhead Group and Getty Images.

Contour, the Seattle maker of hands free cameras for documenting extreme sports, appears to be going under. As first reported by Geekwire, the company’s employees were abruptly sent home early this month. The status of Contour remains unclear. It looks like the GoPro competitor was trying to raise up to $15 million in an equity sale started in May, but had only attracted $175,000 as of early June, according to an SEC filing. Co-founder Marc Barros, who left the company in February, blogged at the time about the challenges Contour was facing. (He has since added several interesting posts, well worth reading, about lessons learned in nine years running the company.)

—President Obama has spent some quality time with two Seattle companies in the last two weeks, first visiting an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee, where he also granted a lengthy interview to Amazon Kindle Singles, and then sitting down with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff to discuss the housing market. The high-profile attention is probably more meaningful to Zillow, which is spending big on branding this year. The discussion, as Geekwire noted, was lambasted by the National Association of Realtors, which said it was not a “serious public policy discussion”. You can judge for yourself. The conversation is archived here.

Zillow, meanwhile, reported record second quarter revenue of $46.9 million, up 69 percent from a year ago. The company had a net loss of $10.2 million, however, thanks to stock-based compensation expenses and marketing spending. Zillow again took questions via social media during its earnings conference call.

—University of Washington President Michael Young, in his ongoing quest to bolster the university’s economic impact, has named eight new Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows (EFFs). The professors and researchers have demonstrated success in bridging the gap between the academic and industrial through new products, therapies, and collaborations. As EFFs, they are tasked with sharing this expertise with other UW faculty. The new fellows are: Neurological surgery professor Sam Browd; associate professor of mechanical engineering Joyce Cooper; oncology professor Nora Disis; affiliate associate professor in the College of Education Steve Fink; chemistry professor Karen Goldberg; computer science and engineering professor Steve Gribble; physicist and neurological surgery professor Pierre Mourad; and genome sciences professor Debbie Nickerson.

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

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