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The DL - An inside view into Pacific Northwest Tech

Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter-as-a-service about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacifi
November 4 · Issue #20 · View online
The DL
Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter-as-a-service about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.

This week’s issue has a recap of October’s venture deals, a different take on the JEDI contract, and the secret to building a successful career (according to science).

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October 2019 PNW Venture Deals
Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of October. These 18 companies raised $480M+ last month!

Series B and Later Rounds 🚀
  • Vacasa - full-service vacation rental management services - $319M Series C led by Silver Lake
  • ESS - cleanest, low-cost, long-duration energy storage systems - $30M Series C led by Breakthrough Energy and Softbank Energy
  • Ally - scalable OKR software for startups, teams, and enterprises - $15M Series B led by Tiger Global

Series A Rounds 🛫
  • Icosavax - computationally designed virus-like particle vaccines - $51M Series A led by Qiming Venture Partners
  • Twistle - unified, streamlined platform for patient engagement - $16M Series A by MemorialCare and Health Enterprise Partners
  • Modus - software to automate title and escrow process in real estate transactions - $12.5M Series A led by NFX
  • Shujinko - cloud compliance software intended to secure cloud environments - $7.5M Series A led by Unusual Ventures
  • SEngine Precision Medicine - diagnostic platform for personalizing cancer treatments - $5.1M Series A led by Bangarang Group
  • Pela Case - compostable smartphone cases - $5M deal led by Marcy Venture Partners (Jay-Z’s VC firm)
  • Integris Software - automated data compliance software intended to help companies manage data privacy - $3M round
  • The Dyrt - campground search and review platform - $1.1M Series A

Seed Rounds 🌱
  • OctoML - end-to-end stack for optimizing and deploying ML models - $3.9M Seed led by Madrona
  • Tenacious Entertainment - mobile game studio developing a competitive arena combat game - $3.3M Seed
  • Beatdapp - blockchain platform to help music labels and artists track songs to collect royalties - $3.2M Seed led by Panache Ventures
  • Koan - simple, collaborative approach to manage goals and OKRs - $3M Seed led by Uncork Capital and Crosslink
  • Blue Canoe Learning - AI app to help non-native English speakers improve their pronunciation - $2.5M Seed led by Tsingyuan Ventures
  • Apex Trading - trading platform for wholesale cannabis operations - $1.67M Seed led by 7thirty and Welcan
  • Dewey Scientific - breeding services, terpene diagnostics, and genomic analysis for cannabis growers - $1.25M Seed

Some observations from me on this list:
  • Congrats to Vacasa - the newest PNW unicorn! Their $319M raise was the largest PNW venture financing in the last three years, and they are the 34th unicorn in the DL’s PNW unicorn tracker
  • OKRs are 🔥. Two startups that help manage OKRs raised money this month (Ally and Koan). Hit reply, and tell me what you think of OKRs
  • It’s spinout month - OctoML is Madrona’s 18th UW spinout! And…
  • Icosavax is a UW spinout, Shujinko is a PSL spinout, SEngine is a Fred Hutch spinout, Blue Canoe is an AI2 incubator grad, and Dewey is a WSU spinout

Happy fall!
Sesame Tree by @rudy_willingham
Sesame Tree by @rudy_willingham
More of these cutout photos in Willingham’s book Cut It Out Seattle, with landmarks like the Space Needle, the Art Musuem, and the Great Wheel. Sadly, not eligible for Amazon Prime

JEDI - Joyfully Evaluating DoD Infrastructure
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft won the $10B JEDI contract to provide “enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service to support Department of Defense business.” <– (i.e., cloud ☁️)

Obviously, this was a huge win for Microsoft as it was the DoD’s largest IT contract ever. Some highlights from the two year process were President Trump telling his Defense Secretary to “screw Amazon,” Oracle presenting a conspiracy flowchart, and AWS expressing their surprise at losing the deal.

But one of the other things to notice here is the fact that every government organization needs to become a tech organization. Today we often hear that “every company is a tech company,” but moving forward the same will be true of governments.

Because of that, expect to see more stories on “digital nationalism as governments use technology as a source of competitive advantage. Some recent headlines:
  • Big Tech: Breaking us up will only help China (link)
  • Amazon runs election software in over 40 states (link)
  • The US opened a national security review of TikTok (link)
  • Schumer asks FBI, FTC to probe Russia’s FaceApp over security concerns (link)

Other stuff Dan's talking about
🚌 Trailhead Direct - King County’s hiking shuttle grew 75% this year to ~18K trips (though VCs are really hoping to see a triple at this stage 😝). But now funding is in jeopardy because of Tim Eyman’s I-976 - a tax cut Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia are trying to prevent. Here’s a surprisingly interesting history of Seattle transit funding and Tim Eyman on Curbed
💵 Bitcoin’s 11th Birthday - Facts from Coinbase: 1 in 4 people with an MBA or PhD hold crypto, $240M of BTC was exchanged in Venezuela in 2019, and the supply of US dollars has increased by 36% per year since 2008
➡️ Doc.New - Google created a bunch of new “.new” sites, so now you can type commands directly in your URL bar like “” (starts a new Google Doc), “” (new Spotify playlist), and “” (new Github repo)
🙌 Setbacks and success - New research paper says that failing (by a little bit) in the early phases of your career mean you will be more successful in the long run –> “Near-misses systematically outperform the narrow-wins”

Please hit reply! (Or subscribe or forward!)
About me: I work as an investor at Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that has been early partners with companies like Amazon, Smartsheet, Apptio, and Redfin.

If you have thoughts, questions, or comments, hit reply!

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