Q2 In Review: Fire, Fundings, Floating Wind, Biotech Ups and Downs

7/3/14Follow @bromano

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Here’s a review of some notable Xconomy Seattle stories from the second quarter. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Ahead of Amazon’s smartphone announcement, Curt Woodward looked at why the company wanted to build one in the first place. And here’s Woodward’s take on the Fire phone as another way the e-commerce giant is aiming to capture the shopping that’s done outside of its online properties, after the device was announced in June.

OncoGenex announced in late April that its leading prostate cancer drug failed to extend the lives of patients in a late-stage trial. Coverage of the news and subsequent analysis by Ben Fidler were among the quarter’s most-read stories.

(Also on the subject of prostate cancer was Stewart Lyman’s Xconomist Forum piece examining researcher Richard Ablin’s new book on the prostate specific antigen screening test that he discovered in 1970. Lyman wrote that Ablin makes “a very convincing case that innocent men, fearing cancer, have been seduced for decades into taking a nearly worthless screening test with virtually no predictive value by a corrupt medical system.”)

The below-range pricing of Alder Biopharmaceuticals’ IPO in May added evidence to a view that the biotech IPO market had hit a slump, as Fidler reported.

We covered several large venture capital funding rounds for Northwest technology and biotech companies during the quarter, including a $23.6 million Series A for Igneous Systems, which is working on new data center architectures; a $42 million round for Act-On Software, a marketing automation provider based outside of Portland, OR; a $47 million round of debt and equity for Integrated Diagnostics; a $105 million raise for Adaptive Biotechnologies; and the closure (finally) of Juno Therapeutics’ first funding round at an eye-popping $176 million.

A plan to develop floating wind turbines off the southern Oregon coast using a foundation from Seattle-based Principle Power gained momentum with federal funding and a new development partner. We took an in-depth look at the technology, market, and regulatory issues facing WindFloat Pacific in early June.

In the past week, we’ve reported on new leadership for the University of Washington’s commercialization effort, as well as newly surfaced criticism from an advisory group to the university president; an interview with incoming Vice Provost of Innovation Vikram Jandhyala; and a record 18 new startups formed out of the UW in its just-ended fiscal year—a strong counter to arguments that the startup formation and technology licensing is more difficult than it should be. We also profiled one of those 18 startups, AnswerDash.

In April, we profiled the Seattle Angel Conference, one of several groups concentrated in the Pacific Northwest that aims to recruit and educate new angel investors. The story takes a broad look at factors influencing entrepreneurship and very early-stage investing in the region.

Finally, here’s a review of our top Xconomist Forum posts in the quarter:

A $15 Minimum Wage Doesn’t Have to Mean Price Increases, by Luis Salazar

BioPharma Learns From Marvel, Begins Real Life Search For “X-Men”, by Stewart Lyman

State-Level Equity Crowdfunding: The Next Big Thing, by Joe Wallin. (The Seattle Times has a good story today looking at how useful Washington’s new equity crowdfunding law may turn out to be for entrepreneurs. The state Department of Financial Institutions is soliciting comments on its proposed rules and aims to finalize them in October.)

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

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