Cray, Inc Awarded Largest International Contract Ever

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

On October 27 Seattle-based supercomputer company Cray, Inc. was awarded the largest foreign contract in the company’s history, a $128 million (USD) contract with the UK Met Office. The Met Office is the United Kingdom’s national weather service, providing weather monitoring and tailored forecasts to more than 3,000 clients each day from headquarters in Exeter, England. With over ten million daily recordings and observations to factor in these forecasts, accurately predicting a sunny day in London is no small feat.

“We are truly honored that one of the most prestigious weather centers in the world has awarded us with the largest international contract in Cray’s history,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “The award is symbolic for Cray on a number of fronts — it demonstrates that our systems continue to be the supercomputers of choice […] and it reinforces the role that Cray plays in impacting society on a daily basis in a wide range of areas […].”

The deal comes just months after Cray was awarded its largest contract ever, partnering with the National Nuclear Security Administration for $174m (USD) to provide computing power for research purposes.

Seattle has been long known as a hotbed of technological innovation, with expertise now extending across the pond for forecasting in the other “Rainy City.”


Alibaba making moves in Seattle

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Looks like Seattle is now home to not one but two of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. There are some clear indications that Alibaba, an e-commerce giant that controls 80% of the Chinese online market and is seeking to expand in the U.S., has recently opened a Seattle office. Although the company has not made any official statements, Alibaba has posted job openings this week for engineers and software developers in Seattle. And according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, a representative from the Association of Entrepreneurs and Experts in Seattle has also confirmed that the office is already open.

Seattle would be Alibaba’s second U.S. location – the company already has an office in Silicon Valley. It is interesting that Alibaba is moving into the hometown of what would be its largest competitor in Amazon – although Alibaba doesn’t currently operate in the U.S. online marketplace it has voiced its intention in doing so. The company recently went public in the U.S. and its CEO, Jack Ma, has stated that it plans to expand aggressively here.

Moving into Amazon territory can be considered a bold move, but to us here at TDA it makes a lot of sense. Seattle has one of the fastest growing high-tech industries in the world and is one of the closest U.S. cities to China. The abundance of tech talent and proximity to its headquarters in Hangzhou, China are very compelling factors.


Boeing announces first sales to Iran

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The Boeing Company is one of the most innovative companies in the world, pioneering in the fields of aerospace and defense in remarkable ways. The company has also been a trailblazer when it comes to global reach – it is currently the largest exporter in the US by dollar value and has customers in 150 countries. So it is not too surprising that Boeing is the first U.S. aerospace company to sell products to Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis.

Boeing announced today that it has sold $120,000 worth of products to Iran Air which include aircraft manuals, drawings, navigation charts, and data. The deal was thanks to reduced sanctions against Iran, with the U.S. Treasury Department issuing a license allowing Boeing to provide products to Iran, so long as they are used for safety purposes.

U.S. airplanes still cannot be sold to Iran, whose flagship airline is currently operating a fleet of very old Boeing airplanes in need of updates. However the sale is a good sign of warming relations between the U.S. and Iran and the potential of Iran as a market for American companies.


Costco expands into China’s online market

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Costco, the world’s seventh largest retailer headquartered in King County, has been growing its international presence for quite some time – its warehouses can be found in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and Spain. Today marks the company’s first official foray into China, Washington State’s #1 two-way trading partner, thanks to a partnership with Alibaba Group and its Tmall Global Platform.

Costco, in partnership with Alibaba, has opened an online flagship store on, China’s largest third-party platform for brands and retailers. The site allows foreign companies to sell their products into China without needing to open a physical store. Costco plans to initially offer food and healthcare products plus its Kirkland Signature products. “Costco sees tremendous growth opportunities in China, especially in light of Chinese consumers’ increasing appetite for imported products. We have chosen a great partner, Alibaba, for the official launch of Costco’s Flagship Store.” notes Jim Murphy, Costco’s Executive Vice President in a statement.

During these first few months, Costco will be carefully analyzing the data from this new site to find out what items are popular and what new items to introduce in later months. Maggie Wu, General Manager of International B2C Division of Alibaba Group, emphasizes that “…Together we will develop and explore innovative market campaigns to unlock Costco’s membership value.”

The new online store can be found here:


Port of Seattle & Port of Tacoma announce plans to form seaport alliance

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

In a statement released yesterday, the Port of Seattle & Port of Tacoma have announced the formation of a new seaport alliance that will unify the management of both ports’ marine cargo terminal operations and related functions. The groundbreaking decision will allow for both ports to retain their existing commission governance and asset ownership, but will allow for unprecedented cooperation as the global shipping industry only continues to become more globally competitive. “The ports of Seattle and Tacoma face fierce competition from ports throughout North America, as shipping lines form alliances, share space on ever-larger vessels and call at consolidated terminals at fewer ports,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich. “Working together, we can better focus on financially sustainable business models that support customer success and ensure our ability to reinvest in terminal assets and infrastructure.”

Together, the Ports of Seattle & Tacoma are the third-largest container gateway in North America, and its marine cargo operations supports more than 48,000 jobs. The new alliance will manage the ports marine cargo terminal investments and operations as well as planning and marketing. Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners,” said Stephanie Bowman, co-President of the Port of Seattle Commission. “Instead of competing against one another, we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America.”

The Port of Seattle & Tacoma commissions will formally adopt and submit this Interlocal Agreement  (ILA) to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for approval at a joint meeting on October 14th.  Once the ILA is approved by the FMC and after a period of due diligence, it is expected that Port of Tacoma CEO, John Wolfe, will be hired as the CEO of the new Seaport Alliance.



Starbucks to acquire Japanese Coffee Partner

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Seattle’s most famous coffee chain is making big moves in Japan, where it plans to buy out its partner, Sazaby League, for $913 million. Already it’s largest market outside of the U.S. in terms of store sales, Starbucks is using this acquisition to take full ownership of Starbucks Japan and further expand in the country.

In a press statement, the company explains the opportunity for continued growth in Japan and the potential to introduce new store concepts such as Teavana. The acquisition will be a two-step process and is expected to be completed sometime early next year. Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, notes that “Japan is a market we know well and care deeply about, with more than 25,000 partners serving millions of customers every week at more than 1,000 stores.”

Fun Fact: The first Starbucks store that opened outside of the U.S. was in Tokyo, Japan nearly 20 years ago


Columbia Asia Pouring 150M into Southeast Asia, India Hospital Network

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Columbia Asia, a Seattle-based firm that operates a chain of hospitals in Southeast Asia and India, announced earlier this week that it will be investing another $150 million into its hospital network. The investment will help expand the network to up to 34 hospitals and one clinic by 2018.

As the populations in Southeast Asia and India continue to rapidly grow and enter the middle class, modern hospitals that can provide high-quality and affordable healthcare is in high demand. Columbia Asia predicted this need over 20 years ago and was able to come up with an innovative and successful business model to create clusters of hospitals in large urban areas. The company currently has more than 8,000 employees serving 2 million patients every year in its 26 hospitals and one clinic, serving the countries of Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Today, they have a strong and well respected brand in the region, making it easier to continue opening new hospitals. In the last few months they have already opened four new hospitals, 2 in Indonesia and 2 in India. “No other healthcare provider in Asia has hospitals in as many countries operating under a single brand,” said Daniel R. Baty, the founder of Columbia Pacific Management. Columbia Asia has also been able to help expand insurance coverage in the region. When they first started in Malaysia, most patients paid directly for their care. Today, 70% of their patients have coverage.

Columbia Asia’s parent company, Columbia Pacific Management, also owns Cascade Healthcare which builds and operates senior living facilities in China.



Sea-Tac Airport #1 in North America for Reducing Carbon Emissions

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

This past weekend, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was recognized for reducing its carbon emissions by a worldwide independent program. Over the weekend at a special ceremony, Sea-Tac was honored with a Level 2 certification bestowed by the Airport Council International‘s Airport Carbon Accreditation program. The certificate was rewarded in part for Sea-Tac reducing its airport terminal carbon emissions by 8 percent in 3 years.

What makes this particularly significant is that Sea-tac was the first airport in North America to be awarded this certificate, establishing itself as a leader in the U.S. for environmental stewardship. In a statement, Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman stated “Next year we expect to go even further in the certification as part  of our Century Agenda goal to reduce aircraft related emissions by 25 percent at Sea-Tac…”

In addition to Sea-tac in North America, there are 86 certified airports in Europe, 20 in the Asia Pacific, and 1 in Africa.

This news is also heartening after the completion of the Boao Forum Seattle Conference this past weekend, which brought in top leaders and experts from the US and the Asia Pacific to discuss climate change – the Port of Seattle was an affiliate sponsor of the conference.



Seattle’s Holland America Building Large Ship in Italy

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Cruise Line Holland America is one of seven major cruise lines that contribute to Seattle’s booming cruise industry that sends waves of profit throughout the city. Each year the Seattle cruise industry generates more than 3,000 jobs and close to $4 million in annual business revenue. Recently Holland America announced that it will be introducing a new cruise ship to its Seattle fleet which is expected to arrive sometime in February of 2015.

The ship, which will be Holland Americas biggest ship yet, is currently being built at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. Being over 99 thousand gross-tons, the new cruise ship is expected to board 2,650 guests. “As the largest ship ever built for Holland America Line, the vessel features many innovations and new features, and we’re excited to see it all come together over the next year and a half,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line, in a statement. This new addition for Holland America is expected to bring even more business to the Seattle area due to its size and by being the 16th addition to Holland America’s fleet.


Nordy’s Canada Bound

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Nordy’s (the US nickname for Nordstrom retailer) is heading north of the border. The Seattle-headquartered company has spent nearly two years prepping for the opening of a flagship store in Calgary, Canada. Nordstrom’s has been cautious with their new market entry and taken lessons from Target’s recent opening of 140 stores in Canada. Instead of an expedited presence that may leave shelves empty of products, Nordstrom will opt for a 6 store expansion strategy over the next 36 months. With high luxury comes the high price of expansion. Red ink will flow with Canada operating losses expected to be at 35million in 2014. Once fully operational with 10 department stores and 20 of its Rack outlets the bottom line predicts 1 billion in annual revenue.

Who is spearheading this expansion? The President of Nordstrom Canada is Karen McKibbin. Alongside her are five seasoned “expat” Nordstrom veterans that will open the store in Calgary. Other managers will be Canadian and have recently had homegrown HQ training in the greater Seattle area. It’s yet to be seen how the Canadian market will respond to a retailer obsessed with customer service as the selling-point rather than frequent discounting of prices. Nordstrom’s is banking on the higher spending habits per Canadian consumer and appreciation of quality will have locals calling them ‘Nordy’s’ in no time.