You’re only as good as your last good idea, right? This is as true for companies as it is for the employees within it. A company’s value lies in how much it can deliver to its clients and customers. So, who better to create new products and services that would be beneficial to their businesses than the teams that already work with them? I feel it’s obvious that giving employees the space, freedom, and support to think beyond a company’s core product range is paramount to continuing to deliver value to clients. But how can you support and encourage your…
NASA cleared a significant milestone on the path to reviving supersonic passenger jet travel in the U.S. with the completion of the preliminary design review for its low-boom experimental airplane. The Low-Boom Flight Demonstration X-plane, or LBFD, is designed to create a soft “thump” rather than the loud sonic boom typically associated with supersonic airplanes. The boom is what led federal authorities to ban supersonic passenger flight over land in 1973.
Amazon surprised nearly everyone in September when it announced that the tech giant would open Amazon HQ2, a second headquarters in North America that sent political and civic leaders across the continent into a frenzied scramble to lure the fast-growing technology powerhouse. The Seattle-based company is expected to make its decision on Amazon HQ2 in 2018.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in January against President Donald Trump, officials in his administration and the Department of Homeland Security, claiming the president’s executive order barring some immigrants from entering the country was unconstitutional. Washington was the first state to sue President Trump over his immigration order; Ferguson had the support of local tech companies like Amazon and Expedia. Washington state later secured a temporary restraining order that immediately halted implementation of President Trump’s executive immigration order nationwide.
Microsoft Xbox 360 console controllers have replaced the helicopter-style stick used to control the periscope on some Virginia-class submarines. The periscope itself is not the rotating tube most people think of thanks to Hollywood movies — nowadays, subs are equipped with two photonics masts that rotate 360 degrees. High-resolution cameras send back images that are displayed on large monitors that everyone in the control room can see.
Dana Lewis built one of the more impressive DIY products we saw in 2017: an open-source artificial pancreas system (APS) that monitors her blood sugar level and gives her body insulin as needed, building on the insulin pump and glucose monitor that she’s been using for years. Lewis is known as the founder of the open source APS and leads a community of DIY diabetes patients who are constantly innovating new technology to help manage the condition.
A fledgling venture called Pacific Hyperloop kicked off an effort in March to win support for a high-speed transit link between Seattle and Portland, using the Hyperloop system envisioned by SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk. The plan calls for creating a network of tubes capable of zipping passengers from the Jet City to the Rose City in 15 minutes, thanks to pods that travel at the near-supersonic speed of 760 mph.
A researcher at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories played a key role in discovering the species known as the Mariana snailfish, the deepest fish in the sea. It now has an official scientific name: Pseudoliparis swirei, a Latin-inspired designation paying tribute to Herbert Swire, a navigator on the 19th-century expedition that discovered the Mariana Trench.
Jon Chambers, a Seattle tech veteran with time on his hands after stepping away from his most recent job, built a sizable recreation of Diagon Alley, the London shopping area for wizards that is accessible through a secret brick wall located behind a pub.
During a Q&A with kids at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, Amazon billionaire and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos went into more detail about his space aspirations when students asked him questions at the Museum of Flight’s “Apollo” exhibit. Bezos’ backdrop for the event included the decades-old pieces of Saturn V rocket engines that he arranged to have recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, plus an intact, never-flown engine of the same type.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in response to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s claim that the first people to set foot on Mars will arrive on a Boeing rocket, tweeted “Do it,” in one of many two-word comebacks that might have come to mind.
The Amazon CEO and founder published his annual letter to shareholders in April and gave a detailed answer to a question he recently received at a company all-hands meeting: “Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?” Obsess over the customer; resist proxies; embrace powerful, external trends; and make high-quality and high-velocity decisions — those are some of the ways a company can avoid becoming a “Day 2” organization, according to Bezos.
Several of these programs ignited outcry from the tech industry, for which immigration is a flagship issue. Immigrants are generally considered to be a boon for tech, helping companies fill their talent needs and fostering entrepreneurship. A study from early December supports that notion. It revealed that 43 percent of last year’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants.
To shine a spotlight on the role immigrants play in the tech ecosystem, GeekWire invited foreign-born members of the technology community to share their incredible stories in a series called “The Immigrant’s Journey” at this year’s GeekWire Summit in October. To underscore the series, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sat down for a fireside chat during the event.
Ferguson was the first attorney general to sue the Trump administration over its original travel ban, securing an injunction that halted its implementation nationwide. He is advocating for immigrant rights in several ongoing lawsuits.
Continue reading and watch the videos below to hear remarkable stories of grit, courage, and entrepreneurial drive from Leslie Feinzaig, Reetu Gupta, and Citlaly Ramirez.
Leslie Feinzaig, CEO of Venture Kits
Leslie Feinzaig’s family history traces back to Poland where her ancestors were persecuted for being Jewish. They immigrated to Costa Rica after they were rejected at the U.S. border.
“It was a chapter in American history when prejudice against people from other nations was codified into law — a little bit like today,” Feinzaig said on stage at the GeekWire Summit.
They settled in Costa Rica and generations later, Feinzaig was born. She moved to the U.S. for college and was eventually able to earn an H-1B visa working for Microsoft. But her immigrant’s journey was far from over. Watch below to find out the rest of Feinzaig’s story.
Reetu Gupta, CEO of Cirkled in
Reetu Gupta arrived in the U.S. in 1999 with two suitcases and $2,000. She grew up in a tiny town in Northen India where amenities like electricity and running water were far from consistent or guaranteed.
“Inefficiencies of systems used to boil my blood,” she said during the GeekWire Summit. “I broke all norms of society and I was always getting in trouble.”
Defying expectations, she earned an engineering degree in India and immigrated to the U.S. in search of opportunity. She took a job with AT&T and then moved into aerospace, where she filed five patents for the user interface pilots use and helped design the FAA’s next-generation air traffic control.
Watch below to find out how she made the leap to entrepreneurship and how her experiences inform her daughter’s dreams.
Citlaly Ramirez, WSOS Scholar at Western Washington University
Citlaly Ramirez is fulfilling a lifelong goal of becoming a the first person in her family to graduate from college. She’s well on her way, studying information systems management and double-minoring in computer science and theater at Western Washington University. Ramirez got there thanks to a combination of hard work (studying coding as a child and interning at Code.org) and financial assistance from the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.
It isn’t only Ramirez’s ambition that makes her a Dreamer. She is one of approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants allowed to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. The clock is running out for DACA recipients, as Trump decided not to renew the program when it expires in March.
“Dreamers are so-called because they have dreams to fulfill,” Ramirez said on stage at the Summit. “My ultimate dream is that one day we treat all humans equally regardless of status and race. This is why I’m proud to be a dreamer and I invite all of you to dream along with me.”
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Boston believes Jeff Bezos’ increasing commitment to fitness could be a clue to Amazon’s priority list in its search for a second headquarters, according to a report from The Boston Herald. … Read More
Plenty of Pacific Northwest startups raised big funding rounds this year to fuel their growth in 2017 and beyond.
The largest round was a $115 million cash infusion for Remitly, which operates a mobile remittance platform in 10 countries. The Series D round was led by PayU, an international online payment service provider and the fintech arm of Naspers, a global investment company with equity stakes in tech giants like Tencent and Flipkart, among hundreds of others.
Here’s a rundown of the top 10 funding rounds by dollar amount for 2017, according to data provided by PitchBook. (Note: PitchBook has not confirmed Remitly’s entire $115 million round as complete, thus did not include them in its list)
Portland, Ore.-based Vacasa announced a $103.5 million Series B round in October led by new investor Riverwood Capital. Vacasa bills itself as the “largest U.S. vacation rental management company” and offers various services — marketing, rate optimization, reservations, guest services, housekeeping, maintenance, etc. — to help homeowners earn money off their property. It has more than 6,000 vacation homes listed on its site across 17 U.S. states, Europe, South and Central America, and South Africa. Revenue and total home count has nearly tripled in the past 18 months.
Idaho-based Cradlepointraised a $82 million Series C round in March from TCV, a top Silicon Valley firm that has backed companies like Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, Netflix, Spotify, and Zillow. The 6-year-old company helps customers bolster their cloud-based networks over wired and wireless broadband. Cradlepoint, which counts more than 15,000 customers, calls itself “the leading provider of 4G LTE network solutions for enterprises, governments, and mobile operators.”
Seattle-based Rover raised a $65 million round in July led by Spark Capital, an investor in companies like Slack, Twitter, Oculus, Warby Parker, and Trello. Founded in 2011, the company runs a pet services marketplace that helps match more than 140,000 vetted sitters across 10,000 cities in North America with pet-owners looking for someone to take care of their dogs and other animals. Rover is still on track to reach initial profitability by the end of this year, and CEO Aaron Easterly said that an IPO is still the “most likely eventual outcome.”
Seattle-based Convoy in July announced a $62 million funding round led by Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, the investment arm of Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator. Cascade Investment, the private investment vehicle of Microsoft co-founder Gates, also invested. The cash will help Convoy, founded in 2015, expand across the U.S. and build the infrastructure required for its on-demand, technology-fueled network that matches trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight. Its smartphone-based, Uber-like system lets truckers find jobs in minutes without the traditional legwork and monetary cut required when using a broker.
Avalyn Pharma raised a $62 million round in May led by F-Prime Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners. The biopharmaceutical company, which changed its name in July from Genoa Pharmaceuticals, is working on treatments for respiratory diseases. The Seattle-based company said the round will fund its lead treatment called Aerodone through Stage II clinical trials. Biotechnology veteran Bruce Montgomery took over as CEO after the funding announcement.
Seattle-based Just Biotherapeutics raised a $59 million Series B round in August led by Temasek, a Singapore-based firm that oversees a $275 billion portfolio. The company, founded by a group of former Amgen scientists, focuses on technological innovations to reduce the cost of producing protein therapeutics and make them more accessible worldwide. That includes everything from developing therapeutic molecules to designing the manufacturing plants used to produce them. The company created a joint venture in 2016 with China-based Just China.
Bellevue, Wash.-based Smartsheet raised a $52 million round in May led by existing investor Insight Venture Partners. It was the largest round to date for the project and work management tech company, which is now valued at more than $850 million. Smartsheet, founded in 2006, has a $100 million business and is expanding around the world as it delves further into automating recurring business tasks.
Seattle-based Skytap raised a $45 million round led by Goldman Sachs in August. The company helps companies that never thought they’d be able to take advantage of cloud services move their applications out of their data centers without a massive overhaul. Skytap has raised $109.5 million for its public cloud services, and planned to nearly double its staff in both engineering and sales as a result of the fresh funding.
Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries is looking to raise as much as $150 million, according to an SEC filing from November, which noted $40.6 million raised thus far. Spaceflight Industries has two main lines of business: Spaceflight focuses on launch services and mission management for rideshare payloads, while Black Sky is building a constellation of Earth-observing satellites and a software platform that would let customers acquire low-cost imagery from orbit in as little as 90 minutes. The company’s backers include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, RRE Venture Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures.
Nativis raises cash for medical technology platform that uses electromagnetic fields to mimic the effects of drugs
PitchBook’s data shows a $35 million investment in November for Nativis, a Seattle-based bioelectronics startup that uses electromagnetic fields to replicate the effects of chemicals and drugs. The company, which raised $10 million in February, was founded in 2002 by brothers and entrepreneurs John and Mike Butters. After a decade developing the underlying technology, Nativis has started to test its device in human patients.
What was a disappointing 2017 season for the Cincinnati Bengals had a positive ending, as the team beat Baltimore in Sunday’s finale to knock the Ravens out of playoff contention. With the season being over, the status of head coach Marvin Lewis is the biggest issue facing the Bengals heading into the offseason.
Lewis is without a contract, meaning that would have to be negotiated as well if the team were to have him back for a 16th season at the helm. Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com wrote the following regarding Lewis’ postgame comments:
“The Cincinnati Bengals coach of 15 seasons told reporters following his team’s dramatic win over the Baltimore Ravens that, on the status of his job, “there are decisions to be made” but “first it’ll be the ownership” to make the move.”
Lewis, who led the Bengals to two straight wins to end the season, is due to meet with team president Mike Brown on Monday. Following the game multiple players spoke highly of Lewis, including wide receiver Brandon La Fell and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
“He’s the right guy for the right team,” said LaFell and several of his teammates agreed.
“He’s my coach,” said cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
The winningest coach in franchise history, Lewis has a career regular season record of 124 wins, 112 losses and three ties in 15 seasons as Bengals head coach.
The 2017 season came to an end on Sunday for the Seattle Seahawks, as the team was eliminated from playoff contention as a result of Atlanta’s win over Carolina. Seattle lost its regular season finale to the Arizona Cardinals, falling 26-24 as Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining.
“I probably won’t be back next year,” Bennett told Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune.
“Just seems like it’s a young man’s game. I can see them going younger, with younger players. That’s part of the game.”
Bennett started all 16 games for the Seahawks this season, tallying 39 combined tackles and 8.5 quarterback sacks. The sack total is the second-most that Bennett has racked up in his time with the Seahawks, as he had 10 sacks in 2015.
Bennett’s NFL career began with the Seahawks, as the team signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009. However, he did not appear in an official game before being waived in October of that season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claiming Bennett a couple days later. In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Bennett appeared in 50 games, accounting for 98 combined tackles and 15.0 quarterback sacks.
In his five seasons on the field for Seattle, Bennett has 196 combined tackles and 39.0 quarterback sacks. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Bennett also helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVII, the franchise’s first league championship.
The next head coach of the Oakland Raiders will be Jon Gruden, according to Adam Schefter. During a segment on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, Schefter flatly said there was “no question” that Gruden would be the man the team chooses to lead the team next.
The Raiders fired head coach Jack Del Rio following the team’s finale on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. After a 12-win season in 2016, Del Rio had high expectations for the 2017 year. He finished the year 6-10, having ended the year on a four-game losing streak, while squandering an early 2-0 start to the campaign.
Gruden has been one of the most sought after coaches on the open market over the past few years, with Schefter originally reporting on Saturday that the Raiders were likely to put on a full-court press in order to acquire his services. He hasn’t served in the capacity of head coach since the 2008 season while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Raiders and Gruden are no stranger to one another. He served as the team’s head coach from 1998-2001, going 38-26 overall in his tenure and failing to finish below .500 in any of those years. He made the postseason in both 2000 and 2001, winning a game in each instance. Ahead of the 2002 year, he joined on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and won Super Bowl XXXVII in his first year at the helm.
He went on to spend seven seasons with the Bucs, making the playoffs on three separate occasions before finishing 57-55 while with the team.
The Buffalo Bills franchise saw its 17-year playoff drought come to an end Sunday, as the combination of its 22-16 win over Miami and the Cincinnati Bengals‘ 31-27 win over Baltimore was enough to send Buffalo to the postseason.
Cincinnati won its game on an Andy Dalton 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd in the final minute, and the Bills franchise made sure to give thanks in a brief statement released on Twitter.
As Week 17 drew to a close, we saw the NFC South come out as the most dominant division in the NFC with 3 out of their respective 4 teams earning a playoff berth. Unfortunately, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not one of those three playoff teams, even after an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 17.
In the AFC, Jacksonville (10-6) was able to clinch the AFC East prior to their Week 17 matchup with division foe Tennessee, who subsequently defeated the Jaguars 15-10. However, with the win Tennessee (9-7) does clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2008 and snuck into the 6th seed in the AFC.
Now that the match ups are set, here is how next week’s Wild Card games line up:
As mentioned prior, 3 teams from the NFC South made the playoffs and all of them will be in action during wild card weekend. First, the Atlanta Falcons (10-6) will be faced with the tough challenge of slowing down explosive offensive of the Los Angeles Rams (11-5), led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. These two teams squared off in Week 14 of last season with Atlanta handily defeating the Rams 42-14. They will meet Saturday night at 8:15pm.
In the other NFC Wild Card matchup, fans will get to watch New Orleans vs. Carolina: Part III. Both teams were able to finish the regular season with an 11-5 record but the Saints won both games against the Panthers during the regular season, thus holding the tiebreaker for the higher seed. With both teams coming off of losses in Week 17, this game is sure to provide some early playoff drama. The two teams will face off at 4:40pm on Sunday afternoon.
In an unusually weak performance from the AFC this year, the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) will play host to the Tennessee Titans (9-7) at 4:30pm on Saturday. Tennessee is faced with stopping an electric Chiefs offense led by rookie running back Kareem Hunt who won the rushing title this year. Hunt is the first player since Priest Holmes to win the rushing title for Kansas City. This is also Tennessee’s first appearance back in the playoffs since 2008.
The final matchup for these playoffs came in dramatic fashion as the Buffalo Bills (9-7) were able to sneak into the playoffs after Baltimore lost to Cincinnati. So the other AFC Wild Card matchup will see the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Bills at 1pm Sunday afternoon. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was in 1996 when Jacksonville won that Wild Card matchup 30-27.
With New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Minnesota all earning the bye week, all eyes will be on these four games over the next week as the playoffs begin to be in full swing.