Seattle Roundup: PNNL, ADA, Donuts, Syntonic Wireless, Scout, Sparq

1/29/14Follow @bromano

Catching up on the latest non-Super Bowl related tech news: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is adding to its already substantial advanced energy research program; Ada Developers Academy is off to a solid start with great local support; Donuts is rolling out generic top-level domains including .HOLDINGS and .PLUMBING, with more to come; Syntonic Wireless has an idea for upending data access plan economics; and Scout Analytics and SPARQ have been acquired. More details:

—The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA, is bolstering its advanced energy research capabilities with a new dedicated research building. The $10 million, 22,000-square-foot building to house researchers from disciplines including computer science, math, and systems engineering. They will work on problems related to the smart grid and building energy efficiency. Meanwhile, PNNL has added two new advanced energy experts to its staff. The lab hired former Cisco chief scientist Jeffrey Taft as chief architect for electric grid transformation, and former Aalborg University (Denmark) professor Jakob Stoustrup, to lead its “control of complex systems” initiative.

—The Ada Developers Academy, a Seattle effort to train women for programming careers, has placed all of the students in its initial class in internships. After six months of full-time classroom training, the students will embark in May on internships with local companies Apex Learning, Chef, EnergySavvy, Expedia, Foundry Interactive, Health123, EMC Isilon, LiquidPlanner, Marchex, Moz, RealPage, Substantial, and Zillow. The Ada program—an effort of the Technology Alliance backed by company sponsorships, an Indiegogo campaign and a state grant—is planning a second class beginning in May.

—Internet domain name company Donuts is beginning to open registration to its trove of generic top-level domain (gTLDs) this week with .BIKE, .CLOTHING, .GURU, .HOLDINGS, .PLUMBING, .SINGLES, and .VENTURES. The Bellevue, WA-based company is planning to open up a new batch of names—available for registration, the company says, on a first-come, first-served basis—each week for most of the year. On Feb. 5, it plans to open .CAMERA, .EQUIPMENT, .ESTATE, .GALLERY, .GRAPHICS, .LIGHTING and .PHOTOGRAPHY. It is plowing significant capital into securing these and other gTLDs from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Syntonic Wireless, a Bellevue, WA, startup looking to reinvent the business model for mobile data access plans, has raised a little over $1 million of a $1.5 million private debt offering from angel investors with experience in mobility, device manufacturing, and enterprise services. CEO Gary Greenbaum says in an email that the company has developed a platform that can serve as an alternative to the mobile device data plan, targeting tablet owners in particular. It allows a content publishers or app developers to pay for an end user’s access in order to drive their businesses objectives, or allows end users to buy apps and services that can be used anywhere, anytime. The company sees opportunities in the education market, for example, by “bridging the digital divide for students who lack home network access with their school subsidized tablet,” says Greenbaum, who, like his Syntonic co-founder Rahul Agarwal, is a former RealNetworks director.

Scout Analytics, an Issaquah, WA-based company making software to manage subscription usage, spending and other information, was acquired by ServiceSource, a publicly-traded company specializing in recurring-revenue management. The acquisition gives the San Francisco-based company an avenue into software-as-a-service, information services, and digital media companies that Scout serves, the companies say. ServiceSource (NASDAQ: SREV) is pledging to invest in Scout Analytics’ business across sales, support, and research and development. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Scout raised $1 million in a debt offering a year ago, and had previously raised about $17.5 million through equity sales since its incorporation in late 2004, according to SEC filings.

—SPARQ, a mobile marketing management startup, has been acquired by Internet giant Yahoo. Company founder and CEO Jesse Chor announced the acquisition of the Seattle startup in a message on the company’s Web site. He notes that the company’s current service will be terminated, but that the SPARQ team—which is reportedly moving to Sunnyvale, CA—is excited to continue working on mobile platform development with Yahoo. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. SPARQ raised $651,000 in a Series A round last summer from angel investors including Rudy Gadre, Chris Ackerley, and Mike Galgon.

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

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