Roundup: Funding for Gratafy; Inside Social; Sinofsky to a16z; UW Prof. on MIT TR35

8/22/13Follow @bromano

[Updated 7:55 p.m.] The summer doldrums are upon us—so much so that the Nasdaq stock exchange flat-lined for a few hours today. (Because of an as-yet unexplained technical glitch.) In addition to news this week of a significant funding round for Portland’s Jama Software and the bad news at Big Fish Games, there are a few items in Northwest tech worth noting.

Social gifting startup Gratafy and Techstars Seattle company Inside Social raised capital. Former Microsoft Windows boss Steve Sinofsky is taking a role with Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. And University of Washington professor Julie Kientz was named to MIT Technology Review’s TR35. Details follow.

Gratafy, a Seattle startup building a smartphone app that allows you to buy food and drink for friends remotely, has raised $1.45 million through an equity sale to unnamed Seattle angel investors. Here’s the SEC filing. The 11-person company was co-founded by Brian Erke and Ryan Halper and incorporated under the name BERH, Inc., in 2011. It has raised $2.45 million. The latest round, according to the co-founders, will finance expansion into new markets, continued development of the “social gifting platform,” and hiring. The company has openings for developers in Seattle and sales people elsewhere across the country.

Inside Social, a member of the new Techstars Seattle class, looks like it’s off to a fast start, raising $405,000 in a convertible debt issue to 12 investors. Some of the capital came in last year and some appears to be part of its Techstars investment. Co-founder Joey Kotkins says the company isn’t ready to talk about today’s SEC filing, but confirms that it has raised $118,000 as part of its admission to Techstars. (That’s the standard $18,000 in seed funding for a 6 percent equity stake—reported in this SEC filing—and a $100,000 convertible debt note, which is perhaps lumped in to the $405,000 in today’s filing.) The company, which is building software to help measure how social media likes and shares translate to actual business results, lists as a director Bruce Jaffe, the former head of M&A at Microsoft who currently leads Three Point Group, which invests in digital media and consumer Internet startups. Brewster Stanislaw and Alan Balasundaram are the other Inside Social co-founders. [Updated 7:55 p.m. to add Balasundaram as co-founder.]

—Steven Sinofsky, the former Microsoft exec in charge of Windows, is joining venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a board partner. In that role, which Sinofsky describes as unique to the firm, he “will represent the firm on the boards of portfolio companies when the opportunities present themselves, but will not be a full-time member of the firm.” In a blog post announcing the move, Sinofsky says he will continue as an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School, and will eventually transition to living in the Bay Area full time.

—University of Washington professor Julie Kientz, whose research focuses on software for use in health and education applications, was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35, honoring the top global innovators under age 35. Kientz is assistant professor in the department of Human Centered Design & Engineering and an adjunct assistant professor in The Information School and Computer Science & Engineering. On her faculty Web site, Kientz describes her work as “understanding and reducing the user burdens of interactive technologies for health through the design of future applications.” Specific applications detailed in her TR35 profile include autism therapy, child development tracking, and sleep disorder monitoring that can be done at home. Kientz has very good company as a TR35 winner, including her husband, UW’s Shwetak Patel, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering. Patel was part of the 2009 TR35.

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

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