Seattle Roundup: Modumetal, Envelop VR, Oculus VR, Socrata

Modumetal had little to say about its big funding round, revealed in SEC filings earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Seattle-area’s virtual reality industry gained momentum with funding for Envelop VR and a large, new office space for Oculus VR. Details on these stories, as well as a new “utility” product from government data platform Socrata, below:

Modumetal, a Seattle company that makes a nanolaminated alloy for use in armor, vehicles, and structures, has raised $26.6 million in equity and $7.4 million in debt, according to SEC filings made this week. One of the investors appears to be Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, as indicated by the listing of Aaron VanDevender, partner at the fund, as a director. GeekWire, which first reported the funding, quotes company founder and CEO Christina Lomasney saying Modumetal is seeing strong interest from the oil and gas industry. MIT Technology Review took a close look at the company’s technology, which yields stronger, lighter, corrosion-resistant material, in February.

Envelop VR, a Bellevue, WA, startup working on virtual reality applications for business, announced a $2 million seed investment from angel investors Hank Vigil and Fritz Lanman of Acequia Capital, Shana Fisher of High Line Venture Partners, Howard Morgan, Rudy Gadre, Geoff Entress, and Sujal Patel. The company, headed by Uber Entertainment leaders Bob Berry and Jon Mavor, is making “enterprise and productivity software that allows businesses and consumers to create, work and play in a virtual reality environment,” it says in a news release announcing the funding. Envelop VR was the co-organizer of a VR event in Seattle last year with Vulcan Ventures.

—And speaking of VR, Facebook-owned Oculus VR, maker of the Rift VR headset, is leasing 51,000 square feet in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, the Daily Journal of Commerce reported. The company is taking a full floor in the Stadium Innovation Center, bolstering the region’s growing VR industry cluster.

Microsoft kicked off the private fundraising campaign for the University of Washington’s new computer science building with a $10 million donation announced Thursday night.

African entrepreneurs pitched their solutions to problems they know intimately such as indoor air pollution, lack of financial services, and food spoilage at the Fledge 6 demo day. We looked at how these businesses, polished for the last nine weeks at the Seattle conscious company accelerator, are being called upon to address some of the world’s most intractable problems.

Socrata, the Seattle company providing cloud-based software to help governments make data accessible, announced its “Data-as-a-Utility” platform this week. Socrata describes it as a suite including technology to capture, organize, store, curate, and present government data of a variety of types, in formats tailored to the target audience.

“In past generations, governments have created national infrastructures for water, electricity, transportation, and the telecom spectrum into utilities, and now it’s happening with data,” said Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt in a news release. “Going forward, you can expect to see governments of all sizes using this digital raw material to create economic prosperity for the people they serve, to create new opportunities academically for children, to create safer, more livable cities—and to create a better quality of life for everybody.”

Socrata raised $30 million in December from Sapphire Ventures, OpenView Venture Partners, Morganthaler Ventures, and Frazier Technology Ventures.

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

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