Seattle Roundup: Founders’ Co-op New Fund and Real Estate Moves
The big Seattle tech news this week was in real estate, as growing tech companies large and small continue the scramble for space. The early-stage startups will at least have another source of capital, thanks to a new fund raised by Founders’ Co-op. Read on for details of Expedia’s relocation, Porch’s new digs, Alibaba rumors, and the Bullitt Center’s achievement:
—Founders’ Co-op has raised a $20 million third fund to invest in early-stage startup companies in the Pacific Northwest. The seven-year-old fund headed by Chris DeVore, Andy Sack, and Rudy Gadre, is on a “mission is to make the Pacific Northwest the best place on the planet to build a world-class software company—the kind that achieves the scale and impact of a Microsoft or Amazon,” DeVore writes in a blog post announcing the new fund. Founders’ Co-op raised an initial $2.5 million fund in 2008, and another at $8 million in 2012.
The new money for Founders’ Co-op follows a $2.7 million fund announced earlier in March by DeVore, who is also managing director of Techstars Seattle. That will back companies in the startup accelerator for the next four years.
—Expedia is moving its headquarters to Seattle, taking over the Amgen Helix campus along Elliott Bay. It expects to have up to 4,500 people there. The move is planned by 2018, and will have a big impact on Bellevue, Seattle, and the local biotech industry.
—Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba may be eyeing Seattle as its U.S. headquarters, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal this week. The source is Jamie Boyd, managing director of investment bank Cascadia Capital, who told the PSBJ, “I’ve heard through multiple sources that Alibaba is likely setting up its [U.S.] headquarters in Seattle, which would be a very interesting move given Seattle is home to their largest western competitor, Amazon.” Company representatives aren’t commenting on the rumor. Alibaba is already establishing an engineering office here. And its founder, Jack Ma, had an early experience with the Internet in Seattle, a story Alibaba chief technology officer Wang Jian recounted to us during a visit here in early 2014.
—Porch, the fast-growing Seattle company connecting home improvement contractors with customers and information, is moving to a 50,000-square-foot space in SoDo: the Cobalt Building, 2200 First Ave. South. It’s twice as much space as the company currently has at its current Eastlake location.
—The Bullitt Center, a 52,000-square-foot commercial office building on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, has achieved its goal of becoming a certified Living Building, the first commercial building to do so. The certification, granted based on a building’s performance in energy and water use, materials, and other factors, is the most rigorous in the world. The $32.5 million Bullitt Center harvests rainwater and treats sewage on site with composting toilets, draws energy from solar panels on the roof, and holds occupants to strict energy standards, among many other features. The Bullitt Center actually generated 60 percent more energy than it used in 2014, its first full year of operation. Here’s a look at the building’s novel energy efficiency strategy from 2013.
—In other energy news, we wrote about the accomplishments of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration project earlier this week. The five-year effort—the largest of its kind—revealed the potential and remaining challenges in deploying a region-wide smart grid.