Seattle Roundup: Costco, Sworl, GraphLab, AnswerDash, Tack, & More

In addition to significant funding rounds this week for employee behavior measurement company VoloMetrix, Amazon Web Services partner 2nd Watch, and solar energy developer OneEnergy Renewables, we’re noting developments from Seattle-area companies large (Costco and Alibaba) and small (picture framing startup Industrial Generosity). Read on for news from GraphLab, AnswerDash, Tack (nee Snap Skout), Moxi Works, and Bean Box.

—Costco is entering the Chinese market by way of an online store on Alibaba property Tmall.com. The Issaquah, WA-based company already has stores in Taiwan. Initial products will be food and healthcare items, including from the warehouse retailer’s Kirkland Signature label. There’s more detail in this Seattle Times story.

When we spoke with Alibaba CTO Wang Jian early this year, he alluded to the possibility of a Seattle R&D outpost for the Chinese behemoth, which has seen its U.S. profile rise thanks to an IPO Sept. 19 (which some are saying may have marked the top of the stock market’s climb). This summer, Geekwire spotted signs that Alibaba was recruiting engineers here. A company spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Alibaba’s plans for a local office.

—A Seattle startup that helps get the photos snapped on your phone to framed pictures on your wall has raised $334,000 in seed funding. Industrial Generosity‘s backers include Adrian Hanauer of the Seattle Sounders FC; Second Avenue Partners’ Nick Hanauer, Mike Slade, and Pete Higgins; and Greg Slyngstad, a former Microsoft, Expedia, and Kayak executive. The company introduced its Sworl service in May; it raised $424,000 from the same investors then. It charges $14.99 and up to deliver printed, framed photos selected from a customer’s iPhone. An Android version is promised soon.

—Seattle startup GraphLab this week released its software tool for building applications that incorporate predictive analytics to a broad audience. GraphLab Create promises to put machine learning technology in the hands of developers and data scientists at companies of all sizes. GraphLab lists customers including Zillow, Adobe, Pandora, and ExxonMobil. We wrote about GraphLab Create and the progress of the fast-growing company in July. You can hear more about GraphLab from co-founder and CEO Carlos Guestrin at our upcoming Xconomy Xchange in Seattle on Nov. 18.

AnswerDash, the company aiming to improve the way people get help on websites with its contextual Q&A software, landed a major customer in the U.S. Green Building Council and announced the general availability of its product. We profiled AnswerDash, the first startup company to emerge from the University of Washington Information School, in May.

—Snap Skout has a new product called Tack, and the Seattle startup is changing its name to match. Tack promises to automatically turn social media posts into online advertisements, helping small businesses market themselves across multiple channels more efficiently.

Moxi Works, a Seattle stand-alone company spun out of Windermere Real Estate, is selling productivity software designed to help real estate agents prioritize tasks to hit their annual sales goals. The system has been used by Windermere, which has some 7,000 agents.

—Coffee connoisseurs beyond the espresso-steeped confines of Seattle can finally get their hands on the city’s best artisanal roasts, thanks to a new delivery service called Bean Box. But get ready to pay. For $20 a month, the company will send you a shipment of four 1.7-ounce samples of boutique Seattle roasts, from the likes of Herkimer Coffee, Lighthouse Roasters, and Kuma Coffee. That works out to about $2.94 an ounce or more than $47 a pound! Bean Box purveyor Lucky Oyster promises the coffee will be shipped within 24 hours of roasting—ensuring freshness and quality—and each delivery includes tasting notes.

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