Seattle Roundup: CPA Fund, Minetta Brook, Appetas, Ada, & More

5/9/14Follow @bromano

Lots to catch up on this week: Columbia Pacific Advisors shared more about its tech investment strategy; Minetta Brook released an interesting big data offering; Google ate Appetas; Smore raised cash; the Ada Developers Academy partnered with Bellevue College; and WallyHome partnered with HomeAdvisor.

That’s all in addition to our coverage this week of funding for Smartsheet, LiquidPlanner, and newcomer Igneous Systems; a leadership change at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center; Alder Biopharmaceuticals’ IPO; a trio of startups focused on innovations in East Africa; Concur’s investment in OpenTable competitor Table8; and Microsoft efforts in New York City (Research) and Detroit (Ventures). Read on for more details:

—Seattle-based Columbia Pacific Advisors provided new details of its $100 million debt and equity fund to invest in “promising technology-enabled companies that don’t meet the rigid lending requirements of a bank but don’t want to give up company control and ownership to venture capital and private equity firms.”

We’ve heard bits and pieces about the fund over the last couple of years: Kevin Barber and Jeff Schrock raised capital under the name Union Bay Capital in late 2012. In early April, the fund made an undisclosed investment in Seattle private cloud computing firm Blue Box Group. The fund was described as planning up to $100 million in “minimally dilutive” investments in expansion-stage companies over the next three to five years.

Columbia Pacific trumpeted its fund this week on the occasion of a successful exit: the acquisition of digital comics platform ComiXology by Amazon. Columbia Pacific was the largest institutional investor in the company.

“Since this is a unique funding approach and finance types tend to be a bit skeptical, we didn’t announce upon capital formation,” says Schrock, one of the managing partners, in an e-mailed statement. “Instead, we chose to announce upon our first exit; ComiXology. This will hopefully provide some evidence for the efficacy of this approach.”

Other investments include World CNG, Next IT, Lighthouse eDiscovery, and Northeast Wireless Networks.

Minetta Brook CEO DB Bharadwaj says there has been “a flood of interest” in the company’s first product, an app made available this week on the Bloomberg Professional service. It parses the news in search of connections and developments that may present investment opportunities. Knewsapp is one of only about 60 apps available on the marketplace for Bloomberg subscribers, who number more than 315,000, and it’s the only one to provide “real time processing of information and surfacing [it] to the traders even before it becomes news, thus providing a distinct advantage to traders to act on,” Haresh Ved, chair of the TiE Angels Group Seattle (TAGS), says in an e-mail. TAGS is an investor in Minetta Brook.

—Appetas, a Seattle company that helps restaurants quickly build modern Websites, is shutting down as its team, including CEO Keller Smith and CTO Curtis Fonger, both formerly at Microsoft, joins Google. More info on this Appetas blog post.

Ada Developers Academy, the intensive coding program for women changing careers, will now be able to award a certificate of completion to its graduates through Bellevue College Continuing Education. The program is preparing to open applications for its second class, which will begin in September.

Smore, a Tel Aviv-based company offering easy-to-make online flyers for business promotions, has raised $1.7 million. The company went through Seattle Techstars in 2011. More details in this Smore blog post.

WallyHome, the home hazard detection devices made by Seattle-based SNUPI Technologies, is partnering with HomeAdvisor, a company in Golden, CO, that vets home improvement services providers and matches them to homeowner needs. Under the partnership, a WallyHome user can access the HomeAdvisor network.

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

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