Amazon to buy Israel’s Annapurna Labs for $350 Million

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

By: Vanessa Kimanga, January 29, 2015

Seattle-based Amazon has reportedly agreed to acquire Israeli chip maker, Annapurna Labs for an estimated $350M. A spokeswoman for Amazon confirmed the deal last Thursday, although the amount may rise to $375 million. The deal also calls on Amazon to establish an R&D center in Israel.

Based in Israel, Annapurna Labs was founded in 2011 by Avigdor Willenz, the founder of Galilieo Technologies Ltd. Annapurna describes itself as a “cutting edge technology startup”, although what technology it has been developing remains a secret. It is rumored that Annapurna has developed networking chips that can transmit more data more efficiently, and that Amazon will use this technology to continue expanding its data network centers. Amazon rents its data storage to more than a million businesses worldwide which brings in an estimated $6 billion in revenue every year.

It’s becoming quite a common practice to acquire tech companies from Israel, which is not surprising since the country is a thriving hub of high-technology and entrepreneurship. Dropbox bought Cloud-on which was a Israeli-based startup.  China’s Alibaba announced it would invest in the Israeli startup, Visualead. Although we may not know what exactly Amazon has in store with this new acquisition, for $350M it’s certainly going to be a game changer.

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Greater Seattle businesses seize opportunities in China’s e-Commerce

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

By: Evan Philip, January 20, 2015

As e-commerce continues to grow in China at a prolific rate, various businesses in the Greater Seattle region have begun to sell their products online to Chinese consumers. Online sales in China totaled $295 billion in 2013, which was $25 billion more than the total online sales in the United States in the same year. Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale Corporation began to sell their products online in China last year and sold $3.5 million worth of inventory in one day. Costco enlisted the help of e-commerce giant Alibaba to sell some of its merchandise to consumers through an online store on Tmall.com, one of Alibaba’s main platforms. Tmall allows businesses to sell products directly to consumers, much like the Seattle-based giant Amazon.com Inc.

One of Tmall’s programs, Tmall Global, allows foreign companies to sell their products to Chinese consumers without having a Chinese business license or a local warehouse. Northwest Cherry Growers also opened their own online Tmall store and sold about 1,000 tons worth of cherries in 2014, according to a Seattle Times article. The same article also comments on the success that Blue Nile, a Seattle-based specialty retailer of fine jewelry, has experienced since opening a direct-sales website in China.

According to a report from advisory firm KPMG, China’s e-commerce market is expected to be “larger than those of the US, Britain, Japan, Germany, and France combined” by 2020. With the economic benefits that could come from being involved in such a massive market, it becomes quite clear why Seattle-based businesses are gearing up to expand their presence in the Chinese e-commerce market. With programs like Tmall Global that encourage and foster direct online sales to China, it should be no surprise if we see an exponential increase in the number of Greater Seattle businesses beginning to infiltrate the Chinese market.

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TDA & EDC have launched the Greater Seattle Global Trade & Investment Plan

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

The Trade Alliance and the Economic Development Council of Seattle-King County (EDC) have launched the Greater Seattle Global Trade & Investment Plan this morning at the EDC’s 43rd Annual Economic Forecast Conference.

View the official press release

View the infographic

View the full plan

More info to come!

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UK aerospace supplier to begin production in Pierce County

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

By: Evan Philip, January 14, 2015

GKN Aerospace has announced a contract to assemble and paint high-tech winglets for The Boeing Company’s new 737 MAX model aircraft at a new facility in Sumner, Pierce County. The new 57,000-square-foot facility will employ about 75 people, the majority of which will be “drawn from the highly skilled workforce based in the state”, according to a GKN press release. GKN brings this kind of assembly to Washington State for the first time, as the winglets for the current 737 model are built in Austria.

This GKN operation, one of the world’s largest independent first tier suppliers to the global aviation industry, will hopefully increase future production in the Greater Seattle area. According to the same press release, GKN expects the new Sumner site to “support additional commercial programs’ assembly and painting needs” after their current production run is completed. The Boeing Company has consistently proven itself as an international organization that is able to produce FDI and business from foreign suppliers and manufacturers, increasing the economic opportunities for the state year after year.

Credit should be given to Washington State, Pierce County, the city of Sumner, and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, all of which have been strong advocates of GKN establishing a presence in the region. Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce have approved an incentive agreement for GKN, including more than $600,000 to help recruit and train new employees. Pierce County boasts more than 600 aerospace suppliers, clearly demonstrating the region’s prominence in this ever-growing sector.

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Boeing Wraps up 2014 With Record Deliveries and Orders

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

By: Evan Philip, January 6, 2015

It looks like Boeing will have a busy year ahead of them!

The Boeing Company came out of 2014 with a record amount of orders and deliveries for its 787 Dreamliner and 737 models. During 2014, the company received about twice as many orders as it could build, which will provide the company with a full additional year of backlog orders to fill. In 2014, the company delivered an impressive 723 aircraft, an increase of 75 from the year before. They also received an additional 1,432 orders, up 152 from the previous year. This remarkable excess of orders is great news for the Puget Sound region, where the majority of Boeing’s commercial aircraft is assembled.

In 2014, 144 of the 787 Dreamliner models were delivered, nearly double the amount delivered the year before. This increase clearly demonstrates the company’s ability to address production problems that had plagued the highly anticipated aircraft. While the recent decline in oil prices has raised speculation that the demand for new fuel-efficient aircraft will decline respectively, Boeing has shown that they will not be immediately affected by any such possible decline. The company now has 5,789 unfilled orders that will take approximately seven years to fill, which will ensure a steady demand for jobs in the Puget Sound area.

2014 was also a financial milestone for the multinational corporation: according to a press release, the orders booked in the last year carry a value of $232.7 billion at list prices. This valuation broke the previous all-time high set back in 2007. According to Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner, 2015 will be dedicated to “meeting our customer commitments, and prepare for key milestones on our development programs, including the start of assembly of the first 737 MAX and firm configuration for the 777X”.

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Wine Science Center at WSU to open March 2015

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

By: Evan Philip, December 22, 2014

In the heart of Washington wine country in Richland, a new $23 million center focused on the research and education of wine will soon be up and running. The center is located on the Washington State University Tri-Cities Campus and will provide lab facilities for research, large lecture rooms for teaching, and three grow chambers where students will be able to control 192 fermentation tanks. Instead of a library of books, students and staff will have access to a ‘library’ of Washington wines that will display unopened bottles of the region’s best products. The first classes at this center will take place in August, aligning with the beginning of the fall semester. Washington is the second largest premium wine producer in the nation and is home to over 800 wineries and 350 grape growers.

The construction of this massive wine education facility reflects the growing success of the wine industry of Washington State. According to Northwest Public Radio, the wine industry contributed approximately $8.6 billion to the Washington economy in 2011 and has made a goal to triple its economic impact by 2020. US wine exports have also grown exponentially in recent years; in 2013 the nation exported $1.55 billion in wine, an increase of 16.4% from the previous year. The Wine Institute, a public policy advocacy association, reports that the European Union was the top destination for U.S. wine exports in 2013 with a total of $617 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, said the Wine Science Center “will allow WSU Tri-Cities to do for the state’s wineries and vineyards what the University of California, Davis, did for California’s wine industry”.  Chateau Ste. Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington, producing award-winning Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling. What was originally a small company serving locally, has now become an international and world renowned brand. Ted Baseler was also recently reappointed to the WSU Board of Regents by Governor Inslee. If you would like the opportunity to sit down and have a meal with Mr. Baseler himself, check out our Breakfast with the Boss series: http://seattletradealliance.com/blog/?p=11805

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Germany’s SAP acquires Bellevue-based Concur

Friday, December 5th, 2014

SAP, a German multinational software corporation, has just finalized the acquisition of Concur yesterday. Based in Bellevue, Concur is the leading travel & expense management software company in the world with sales of $545.8 million in 2013. Concur has 4,200 employees worldwide, most of whom are based in Bellevue.

With the acquisition, SAP gains Concur’s 23,000 clients and 25 million active users spanning over 150 countries, becoming the world’s second-largest cloud company. In return, SAP is forking over $8.3 billion, agreeing to pay $129 per share.

In an interview, Concur’s President and COO Rajeev Singh assured company employees that the acquisition will not affect their jobs. “Nobody’s losing their job. SAP’s intention is to run the company as an independent business unit.” He then added, “The Concur presence in Seattle will grow. We’re going to keep hiring…What you have is you’ve just added another giant employer to the market.”

Greater Seattle has become a magnet for tech companies thanks to its abundance of talent. There are over 313,000 technology-based workers in Washington State.

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Seattle design firm EHS joins forces with global design firm NELSON

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Seattle-based design firm EHS Design has recently merged with NELSON, a global design, architecture, engineering, space planning and space management firm. This move makes EHS one of the ‘Top Five’ firms specializing in office design, as determined by Interior Design Magazine. The combination of EHS’s interior design, architecture, and planning with NELSON’s branding, engineering, and consulting services will provide EHS with the resources necessary to serve its clients throughout the Seattle region, across the country, and around the world.

According to a press release from EHS, the two firms are “joining forces to expand EHS Design’s reach and NELSON’s services to clients in the Seattle office and in the surrounding West Coast region”.  EHS was founded in 1977 by Jack Emick and Mindy Howard, who transformed a small firm into a “full-service design firm with emphasis on corporate interiors and architecture for retail, financial, civic, government and multi-family residential clients”. EHS is well-known for their company trademark of a ‘client-focused boutique experience’, while providing the services of a large-scale firm.

This is only one of just under 30 mergers in 14 years for NELSON, demonstrating their prominence in the design and architecture sector.  With their broad range of expertise and services, NELSON works with more than 20% of companies in the Fortune 100 and is ranked as one of the top corporate design firms by Interior Design Magazine.  While EHS currently only has 25 employees, it offers NELSON its first opportunity to enter the market in the Northwest. NELSON has stated that they have plans to make Seattle “a major hub office”, as the region supplies valuable opportunities to expand its own network on both a national and international scale. NELSON has completed projects all over the United States and in numerous countries, such as Brazil, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, and China.

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Starbucks increases bean purchases from China

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Already this year, Starbucks Co. has bought its highest volume ever of coffee beans from China, demonstrating the country’s growing role as a major bean supplier. The purchases by the world’s biggest coffee chain represent more than half of China’s coffee imports in the United States.

In the first nine months of 2014, the Seattle-based coffee giant purchased nearly 14,000 bags of arabica beans from China. According to data from PIERS, a shipping intelligence firm, this number is more than five times the total in 2013. Some of these beans are roasted back in the US and then shipped back over to China for sale in the increasingly profitable coffee market. The rest of the imported beans are used in coffee blends that are available globally.

Starbucks launched its first operation in China’s main coffee-growing province, Yunnan, two years ago. To date there are 823 company-operated Starbucks stores in China, a dramatic increase from only 24 stores in 2005. The U.S. International Trade Commission reports that the US is on track to import approximately 75,000 60 kg bags of coffee beans from China. More than ten years ago, the average import of coffee from China as only 5,700 bags.  This growth reflects China’s prolific emergence onto the coffee market as they have become one of the premier suppliers of high-quality arabica beans for roasters from around the world.

Beginning as a single store in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks has grown into a global empire of 20,737 locations worldwide. While remaining based in the Seattle area, the company has become a true international organization, fueling the coffee industry in numerous regions around the globe.

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Boeing wins $8.5 billion for largest order ever of 737s

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Boeing‘s Renton factory is going to be busy! Yesterday, Boeing Co. won an $8.5 billion order from SMBC Aviation Capital Ltd for 80 737 Max 8 model planes. This marks the largest single order ever of 737 Max’s by a lessor, which will be delivered between 2018 and 2022.

SMBC Aviation Capital LTD is a Japanese company that has made a commitment to purchase over “$13.5 billion from Airbus and Boeing in the coming year”, as stated on their website. As of October 2014, the company owns 376 aircraft that are on lease to clients in over 40 countries, two of which are US Airways and American Airlines. Their aircraft fleet is valued at over $10 billion, making them the fourth-largest aircraft leasing company in the world.

Their order falls in line with economic growth in China, India and Southeast Asia, resulting in a growing demand for more aircraft. According to CIT Aerospace, one of the industry’s largest plane-leasing companies, some carriers in these regions may not have placed orders large enough to meet future demand.

It is predicted that commercial aircraft sales in China will increase to $5.3 trillion in the next 20 years, as the nation surpasses the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market. Currently, aviation is China’s third most invested overseas industry, with an investment total of US$5.1 billion in the third quarter of 2014.

Production has already begun on the fuselage stringers at Boeing Fabrication Integrated AeroStructures in Auburn, Washington. From there, the stringers will be sent to Wichita, Kansas for incorporation into the 737 MAX fuselages. These will then be sent to the Boeing’s facility in Renton, Washington where employees will build the 737 MAX models.

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