Seattle Roundup: Zillow+Trulia, Pacific Crest, Anomo, Comr.se, & More
Zillow could be pursuing its biggest online real estate rival, Trulia, if a report from Bloomberg is to be believed. Another Northwest M&A deal is also going down: KeyCorp has an agreement to acquire Pacific Crest Securities. Meanwhile, big companies including Oracle and Alibaba are setting up shop in Seattle and a few smaller ones based here—Anomo and Comr.se—have pulled in fresh capital. Read on for details:
—Bloomberg reported this week that Seattle-based Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) is exploring an acquisition of rival Trulia (NASDAQ: TRLA) in what would be a blockbuster deal in the online real estate industry, which has seen some big ones go down lately. Last week, Zillow bought Retsly, a Vancouver, BC-based company that “normalizes real estate data from multiple listing services so developers can build data-driven products for the real estate industry,” according to an announcement. (That capability could be useful in building out an Open Data Network like the one Seattle-based Socrata rolled out last week around government data, with Zillow as a flagship partner.)
The Bloomberg report cites unnamed sources suggesting Zillow would value Trulia in the range of $2 billion, or a little more than a sixth of what Zillow—now three years on the public markets—was worth after shares of both companies climbed Thursday on the rumor.
—Last week, KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), announced a definitive agreement to acquire Portland, OR-based Pacific Crest Securities, an independent, technology-focused investment bank and capital markets firm. Pacific Crest would be folded into KeyBanc Capital Markets upon completion of the deal, which requires regulatory approval. Key executives say the combination will help it better serve customers in traditional industries being transformed by technology. Pacific Crest was founded in 1990.
—We got word this week of two more major tech companies setting up shop in the Seattle area to tap technology talent here. Oracle is opening a cloud computing development center that would employ up to 100. And Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant whose forthcoming IPO is expected to be enormous, is also recruiting mobile engineers and giving them the option to be based locally, according to GeekWire, which cites e-mails exchanged among a group called Entrepreneurs & Experts in Seattle. Alibaba CTO Wang Jian visited here in January and described Seattle as “the hub for online innovation,” suggesting it would be a good place to open an R&D office. The city may also hold some sentimental value for Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who had a formative early experience with the Internet in Seattle, a story Wang related in our interview.
—Anomo, an online dating service that lets users stay anonymous, gradually revealing personal information about themselves as they become comfortable with potential matches, has raised an $800,000 convertible debt round from Maveron, Orca Bay Capital, Lee Zehrer, and Amit Mital.
—Comr.se, a company that was part of the first 9Mile Labs class, is in the midst of raising a seed round of up to $2 million, mainly from Seattle-area angel investors. The startup wants to take its tools for so-called native commerce—allowing consumers to purchase items directly from within online ads or social media streams, rather than going to separate sites—into the holiday shopping season. Comr.se has raised about $1.7 million, says founder and CEO John Wantz, and now has 17 employees.
—Speaking of 9Mile, the Seattle accelerator focused on business-to-business startups is getting going with its next group of companies next week. Aug. 1 marks the beginning of Cohort III. The accelerator is quiet at this stage about the companies it selected, as many are too early to do much with the attention they might receive. We’ll look forward to hearing more about the companies when they present to investors at Milestone9 (demo day), Nov. 20.