Roundup: Front Desk, Context Relevant, Principle Power & More

2/19/14Follow @bromano

Seattle tech news stories that have caught our attention in the last week or so include a Series A funding for Front Desk, a big data security partnership for Context Relevant, a milestone for SNUPI Technologies, a step forward for Principle Power’s proposed wind farm off the Oregon coast, and nice recognition for Exo Labs. More details:

Front Desk, the Seattle company making mobile-focused business tools for yoga studios, doctors offices, and similar service-oriented small businesses, raised a $4 million Series A funding round led by Floodgate, the venture fund based in Palo Alto, CA. The company says it has racked up more than 1,000 business customers in less than a year for its software-as-a-service products, which help business owners handle scheduling, billing, marketing, and other client services. Front Desk previously raised $3.2 million from Second Avenue Partners, Version One Ventures, and prominent angel investors including Zillow co-founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, and J.D. Delafield. Existing investors also participated in the latest funding round, which will fund further product development, marketing, hiring, and international expansion.

—Big data analytics software maker Context Relevant is bolstering its credentials for high security applications through a partnership with Good Harbor Security Risk Management, the consulting business of Richard Clarke, former White House senior advisor on cybersecurity and other national security issues. Context Relevant says it is already a leading analytics solution for secure big data applications because its machine learning technology can operate on fully encrypted data. Through this partnership, the companies will offer services that address data security breaches, international data issues, and other security threats unique to data analytics on technologies such as Hadoop. Context Relevant co-founder and CEO Stephen Purpura took a class at the Harvard Kennedy School from Clarke nine years ago. Clarke is joining the company’s advisory board.

—Seattle startup SNUPI Technologies began selling its first product, WallyHome, this week. The $299 kit includes a hub and six sensors that are placed in hard-to-access places around the home and can detect changing conditions that could indicate water leaks, mold, or other home hazards. We profiled SNUPI last year and reported on its $7.5 million Series A funding in January.

Principle Power, a Seattle-based developer of offshore wind power technologies, is making progress toward what could become the first U.S. project in the Pacific Ocean. The company can go ahead with its application for a proposed 30 megawatt capacity wind farm off the coast of Coos Bay, OR, after the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management determined that there are no other competitive interests in the 15-square-mile area Principle seeks to lease. The company’s floating wind turbine foundation technology, known as WindFloat, allows utility scale wind turbines to be placed in waters too deep for fixed foundations. Water depths increase rapidly off the U.S. West Coast, making wind turbines mounted on fixed foundations infeasible. The company still has bureaucratic hurdles to clear, but hopes its WindFloat Pacific project will be up and running in about three years. The Seattle Times took a good look at the project and the broader context of U.S. offshore wind development.

Exo Labs set out in 2012 to turn iPads into science tools with a camera that attaches the tablets to microscopes. The company’s product got a boost recently when it made a short cameo appearance in a slick video from Apple celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh. Exo Labs CEO Michael Baum says the company has grown to 11 employees, boosted sales into the education market, and is working on new hardware and software to be released soon.

—Another good read in The Seattle Times this week is political reporter Jim Brunner’s profile of Nick Hanauer, the venture capitalist, early Amazon investor, and political activist beating the drum for a $15 an hour minimum wage and funding a campaign to tighten Washington laws on gun purchases. For more good Hanauer reading, check out this 2012 National Journal profile.

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

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