Echodyne Aims for Self-Driving Cars with Radar Technologies

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

By: Vanessa Kimanga, 3/18/2015

Echodyne Aims for Self-Driving Cars with Radar Technologies

Echodyne, a start-up company backed by investors Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is located just off State Route 520 Bellevue. They are developing radars suitable for drones, robots and self-driving cars; this technology could allow vehicles to operate independently in a variety of conditions.

The company’s current goal is to improve radar systems with regards to cost, size and performance by using sub-wave length geometric configurations of metal. CEO and founder Eben Frankenburg stated “We have this concept of radar vision, where you’re actually using radar as a vision system for autonomous and unmanned vehicles as opposed to an exotic military-grade only sensor”

Echodyne hopes to market its technology to the government and military. However with the co-founders Echodyne has, they will be able to serve commercial businesses. Last year Echodyne received $15 million in funding from Gates, Madrona Venture group, Vulcan capital and other companies.

Echodyne hasn’t launched any true product but Tom Driscoll, Co-founder, clarified that they aren’t squandering time or materials. Prototypes show a 2.6pound quad copter, is capable of lifting over six pounds. Echodyne also modified flight controls allowing drones to autonomously follow a target.  “We gave a tiny quad copter with the ability to see and image the world around it with radar” says Co-founder Driscoll.

Echodyne is the most recent company to spin out if Intellectual Ventures, a patent licensing invention business co-founded by Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold.




Expedia continues its expansion strategy, this time to Latin America

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Evan Philip, March 10, 2015

Bellevue-based Expedia, Inc. recently announced that they would be making a $270 million minority equity investment in Latin American online travel company According to a press release by Expedia, this investment will strengthen their existing commercial relationship with Decolar and will benefit exiting hotel partners and customers of both companies. This deal will broaden “Expedia’s powering of Decolar’s hotel supply and introduces the opportunity for Decolar to provide Expedia access to its hotel supply in Latin America”. Decolar is the leading online travel agency in Latin America and has an established presence in 21 countries in the region.

The equity investment by Expedia will help both companies become more capable to serve customers’ needs in the highly competitive global travel market. The deal follows a string of rapid acquisitions totaling more than $2.5 billion: Wotif Group in Australia, competitor Travelocity, and a proposed deal to acquire competitor Orbitz. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that these acquisitions could give Expedia control over 75% of the U.S. online travel agency market.

Expedia’s investment in Decolar demonstrates their determination to surpass their competitor, Priceline, as the number one online travel agency in the world. Expedia is currently in second place, but if their rapid expansion efforts continue, this could change. The company’s annual revenues total $5.8 billion, a significant increase from $4.8 billion in 2013, according to Bloomberg Business. If this Greater Seattle-based company continues their rapid expansion strategies, we do not expect to see their exponential growth come to an end anytime soon!


Seattle real estate looking towards India for investment

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

By Evan Philip, March 3, 2015

As India’s economy and GDP continue to grow exponentially, real estate companies in the Greater Seattle area have begun to focus on Indian investors to further home sales.  According to a report by the Puget Sound Business Journal, 7% of existing U.S. home sales is attributed to foreign buyers. Of this portion, 6% of those buyers are from India, representing $5.8 billion in home sales from April 2013 to March 2014. This is an increase of $1.9 billion from the same period the year before, demonstrating the large potential profit in the years to come.

In the past, China has been one of the main focuses of real estate companies for investment from international sources. However, with the changing international demographics in the region, real estate companies are shifting their focus towards potential Indian buyers. Typically when Indians immigrate to the U.S., they look for property in areas that already have well-established Indian-American communities. In the Puget Sound region, Indian home buyers look towards Bellevue for potential properties. The U.S. Census reported that in 2010 more than 7% of Bellevue’s population was comprised of people from India.

The International Monetary Fund reports that India is currently the 11th largest economy in the world, and is the 3rd largest by purchasing power parity. It is also the second most populous country in the world, with over 1.2 billion people. Additionally, the Migration Policy Institute reports that there were over 1.9 million Indian immigrants living in the U.S. in 2011, the third largest immigrant group by country of origin. With such high levels of immigration and economic growth, real estate companies should not be the only ones looking to India for future investment and business!


Shenzhen Symphony to perform at Benaroya Hall

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

By Vanessa Kimanga, February 25, 2015

On February 25th the Shenzhen symphony in collaboration with the Seattle Symphony and Stanford University, will perform at Benaroya Hall to celebrate the Lunar Chinese New Year.

The concert will have renowned pianist Yin Chengzong, Chinese pipa artist Zhao Cong and conductor Jindong Cai.

Austin Huang, producer of the Chinese new year concert and  president of the Pacific Northwest Cultural Exchange Council, named Yin Chengzong as one of the main attractions. Yin began learning piano at 7 years old and studied piano at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Although trained as a classical pianist, he is best known for the Yellow River Concerto which he prepared and performed.

Cai is a director for the Gretchen B Kimball of Orchestral studies from Stanford, assistant conductor for Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. He has worked closely with conductors Jsus Lpez-Cobos, Erich Kunzel and Keith Lockhart.

Zhao Cong plays the Chinese pipa, a four stringed instrument referred to as the Chinese lute. Zhao was recruited as a pipa soloist for the central orchestra for Chinese music in Beijing; she has then toured over 20 countries performing for over dozen heads of states.

The concert holds strong cultural significance – western orchestras travel around China but this is the first time a symphony from China will perform in Seattle. This gives American audiences a unique combination of classical music and Chinese artistic traditions, and gain a better understanding of China’s current social, economic and cultural development.

“I am confident the concert will be a success because Western-style symphonies have played Chinese symphonic music in Seattle before, and it was well received,” Huang said.

The orchestra will have about 90 people, making it a full orchestra with brass, percussion, woodwind and string. The symphony will also perform at Stanford University in Palo Alto, San Jose and San Diego.

The Seattle Symphony will be able to return the favor next year. In June 2016, the Seattle Symphony will embark on its first-ever Asia tour, with appearances in Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul.


Facebook Seattle expands to accommodate 2,000 more employees

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

By Evan Philip, February 19, 2015

Social media giant Facebook will be expanding its Seattle offices to a soon-to-be-completed office building on Dexter Avenue in early 2016. Facebook has outgrown their current office space, which accommodates more than 500 employees and occupies 96,000 square feet in the Metropolitan Park East tower. This expansion to Dexter Station will increase the company’s work space to 274,000 square feet, with the option to lease an additional 62,000 square feet. The move will allow Facebook to hire an additional 2,000 workers to its already rapidly growing Seattle operations.

The expansion of one of the largest Facebook offices outside of their Menlo Park, California headquarters is a testament to the company’s investment and commitment to the Seattle region and the talent that it provides. Additionally, the Seattle offices are already the largest engineering office outside of the company’s headquarters. As Facebook has continued to expand rapidly around the world, Seattle has become a key location to aid the company in their expansion and development. Facebook is just one of several Silicon Valley tech companies that have turned to the Greater Seattle region for tech and engineering support to expand their operations.

Since the company’s launch in February of 2004, the number of users has grown exponentially. According to the company’s website, Facebook was used every day by over 890 million active users throughout the world in December 2014. The social media site is also used monthly by over 1.39 billion active users according to the same statistics. The company reports that “approximately 82.4%” of daily active use now originates from outside the US and Canada. The presence of a truly international company in the Greater Seattle region should be viewed as evidence of the technological abilities of Seattleites in contributing to the expansion of global companies.


Aerospace companies from Canada and Washington State form partnership

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

By: Vanessa Kimanga, February 10th 2015 

Aerospace suppliers in Washington State are joining forces with the West Coast branch of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. The partnership will be announced at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance‘s 2015 aerospace conference this week.

With Greater Seattle being the largest commercial aerospace cluster in the world and its close proximity to British Columbia, a lot of aerospace business  and trade occurs between the regions.  For example, many suppliers in Canada send metals to Washington for heat treatments than back to Canada for assembly. The partnership will strengthen the working relationship between suppliers on both sides, and help companies land work for Boeing and Airbus.

Melanie Jordan, Chief Operating Officer of PNAA, estimates a record high 450 attendees for the 2015 conference. In attendance will be Viking Air CEO David Curtis. Viking Air, headquartered in British Columbia, has been ranked second to Boeing in the Pacific Northwest region with regards to the amount of new aircraft built.

Canada has over 160 aerospace related companies and most of them do business with Washington State. This partnership will certainly strengthen the relationship between the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.


Washington Exports Hit All-Time High

Monday, February 9th, 2015

By: Evan Philip, February 6, 2015

Local exports show no signs of slowing down as we enter a new year!

Exports from Washington State totaled $90.6 billion in 2014 according to a report by the Puget Sound Business Journal, a record for the state. This was an 11% increase over totals from 2013, much of which can be attributed to one company that has consistently proven its ability to bring economic prosperity to Washington state. The Boeing Corporation delivered 723 aircraft in 2014, 91 percent of which were produced within Washington. Boeing and aerospace exports totaled $48.8 billion last year, which is over half of the previously mentioned record. Credit should also be given to non-Boeing exports from the state, which increased by 8.9 percent.

With such an increase in exports, one may wonder where all of these exports went last year. The same report by the Puget Sound Business Journal stated that China was the number one market for Washington goods, importing more than $20.8 billion. This is a 24 percent increase from the previous year, indicating that our region has achieved and will maintain a mutually beneficial business relationship with the country. The second largest export location of local goods was Japan, coming in at $7.4 billion. Just 10 years ago Japan was the top export market for our state, but as market conditions have changed, so have our export and business relationships with overseas markets.

As previously mentioned, aerospace products were the top export of the state, but they are not Washington’s only major export. While contributing much smaller percentages of totals, the United State Census Bureau reports that our state also exports soybeans, petrol oil, wheat, coniferous wood, and apples, to name a few. According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, Washington is the most “trade dependent state, with exports accounting for more than 30% of new jobs created in the state over the past 30 years”. With such a dependency on trade and exportation, it is great news to see that Boeing and other local companies are consistently producing economic gains.


Cloud-storage Company moves headquarters from England to Bellevue

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

By: Evan Philip, February 4, 2015

Basho Technologies, the creator of a cloud database that serves data-intensive web and mobile applications, is in the process of moving its headquarters from Cambridge, England to Bellevue. The company is well known for their database program Riak, which “provides extreme high-availability, fault-tolerance, and operational simplicity” to its users, according to their website. Basho gears its programs towards companies and organizations whose applications and services must scale rapidly and efficiently.

The new Bellevue headquarters will be open early in Quarter 1 of 2015 and will bring to our region the operations of a company that produces industry-defining technologies that are employed in more than 30% of the Fortune 50 companies. Basho also has offices in Washington D.C., Tokyo, and London, which will all continue to operate alongside the headquarter offices once the move to Bellevue is complete. The Riak program is utilized by some of the nation’s biggest and most recognizable companies, such as Best Buy, the National Health Service, Comcast, Google, Dell, and many more. With such an impressive and extensive list of clients that are utilizing Basho’s services, the establishment of a Bellevue office will certainly bring a fair amount of international business to Greater Seattle region.

According to a press release by Basho, the Seattle area was chosen as the site for its new offices “because of its technology industry and deep talent pool”. The CEO of Basho is a Seattleite himself, and is a former employee of Amazon. The International Data Corporation reports that the data storage industry has an annual growth rate of approximately 45%. The establishment of the Bellevue headquarters of Basho will further secure the Greater Seattle region’s position in this rapidly growing industry.


Seattle startup Remitly adds India to its network

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

By: Vanessa Kimanga, February 3, 2015

Sending money to India just got easier thanks to Remitly!

The Seattle-based startup announced India as its new destination country today. Remitly is a licensed money transmitter currently operating in 39 states (including D.C.) It has a network of over 120 banks in India, allowing users to make an instant deposits to select banks like ICICI and PNB and, a four-hour deposit to others.

Over $12 billion is sent annually to India; unlike other international transfer processes Remitly doesn’t require forms, codes, agents or other fees. Customers are able to transfer money via their desktop or mobile app. The app also offers hassle-free re-authentication with Apple’s Touch ID and real-time exchange rates on Android.

Mentioned in Geekwire’s 2014 innovative startups list, Remitly is definitely altering how people send money. Low money transfer costs reduce inequality in developing countries. Globally, $400 billion in remittances is sent from developed to developing countries each year, which is over three times the amount of foreign aid sent every year.



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.