Roundup: Tableau, Alibaba, Techstars Seattle, Startup Initiative

3/21/14Follow @bromano

Spring is upon Seattle, and, in addition to cherry blossoms, the air must smell like money to some folks out there.

This week, Simply Measured hauled in a $20 million round of new financing. Alder BioPharmaceuticals is planning a $115 million IPO. Mindbloom, maker of mobile healthcare apps, was bought by Denver-based Welltok for an undisclosed sum. And Tableau Software pulled in $357 million, before expenses, in a follow-on stock offering priced Thursday night. Read on for details of that deal, plus some context for Alibaba Group’s IPO, Techstars Seattle application deadlines, and the city’s new startup liaison.

—As it did in the run-up to its initial public offering last May, high-flying Tableau Software upped the ante a couple of times before going ahead Thursday with a follow-on stock sale of 4 million shares at a price to the public of $89.25, or $357 million in aggregate. Its underwriters have the option to buy another 600,000 shares in the next month. Seattle-based Tableau, which makes data visualization software, twice increased its projected IPO price last spring, ultimately coming out at $31 a share May 17, 2013, only to watch its shares skyrocket. The stock has been on an upward march since, cresting to $100 per share in late February. (We last wrote about Tableau’s technology partnership with another big name in big data, Splunk.)

—In other going-public news, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is finally moving toward a U.S. initial public offering. Get your superlatives ready: It could raise some $15 billion. I had a chance to interview Alibaba CTO Wang Jian when he visited Seattle early this year. He explained how people comparing Alibaba to Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and other e-commerce companies are missing the point: “What we are really competing with is Walmart. Actually, it’s not Walmart itself. We view [Alibaba Group] as an Internet economy, and we view Walmart as more like traditional economy. So basically it’s the new economy competing with the old economy.” Check out the whole interview.

—At the other end of the financing spectrum, Techstars Seattle is accepting applications for its 2014 class, the accelerator program’s fifth in the Emerald City. Typically, 10 companies are picked from hundreds of applicants for the acclaimed startup accelerator, which showers them with mentoring, resources (including $18,000 and an optional $100,000 convertible debt note in exchange for 6 percent equity), and access to investors. The deadline to apply is May 4, with an early application deadline of April 13. (Being early apparently helps your chances.)

—The Startup Seattle initiative, which narrowly avoided having its city funding cut last November before it really got going, finally has a paid, full-time staff member. The Seattle Office of Economic Development hired Rebecca Lovell as startup liaison. Lovell describes herself on her LinkedIn page as a “startup yenta,” among other things. She has worked for and led several organizations devoted to the Seattle technology scene, including the Northwest Entrepreneur Network (recently subsumed into the Washington Technology Industry Association), Alliance of Angels, GeekWire, and Vittana. Her role at Startup Seattle, an initiative begun under former Mayor Mike McGinn, will be a continuation of that work. Specifically, Lovell is tasked with measuring and promoting the economic impact of technology startups; forming partnerships to aid startups; and increasing “access to the technology and startup sector, particularly with under-served students,” according to a city news release.

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

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