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The DL - An inside view into Pacific Northwest Tech

Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.
January 6 · Issue #29 · View online
The DL
Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.

This week’s issue covers December’s PNW venture deals, how to waste $40K on a brilliant startup idea, a recap of the best articles about the PNW startup ecosystem, and a comparison of investing in startups vs. Microsoft.

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December 2019 PNW Venture Deals
Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of December. These 22 companies raised $320M+ last month.

Series B and Later Rounds 🚀
  • Highspot - Sales enablement platform with content management, sales guidance, and buyer engagement - $75M Series D-1
  • General Fusion - Developer of fusion power generation systems - $65M Series E led by Temasek
  • Seeq - Advanced analytics for process manufacturing data - $24.2M round
  • Thoughtexchange - Employee, customer, and community crowdsourcing platform - $20M Series B led by Information Venture Partners
  • AbSci - All-in-one protein expression platform for ultra-high yield, streamlined protein production - $10.4M Series D
  • D-Wave - Developer of quantum computing technologies - $10M round led by NEC Corporation

Series A Rounds 🛫
  • Brains Bioceutical - Manufacturer of plant-based CBD - $30M round
  • RareCyte - End-to-end integrated platform for single cell analysis - $22M round led by HealthQuest Capital
  • HaptX - Provider of realistic haptic technology for virtual reality - $12M Series A led by Mason Avenue Investments
  • Boulder Care - Digital treatment program that supports long-term recovery from opioid use - $10.5M round led by Tusk Ventures
  • LegalPad - Service pairing software with human support for work visas for startups - $10.2M round
  • The Renewal Workshop - Provider of circular solutions for apparel brands - $8.6M Series A

Seed Rounds 🌱
  • One More Game - Seattle game development studio - $5.7M Seed
  • iFlipd - Weekly textbook and game rentals for college students - $4.4M Seed led by Portland Seed Fund
  • Riipen - Career readiness platform for students and young professionals - $3.75M round
  • Taqtile - Augmented reality for industrial applications on headsets and mobile devices - $3M Seed led by Broadmark Capital
  • Spiral - Analytics platform for customer feedback - $2.4M Seed
  • Trainiac - Online personal training with real trainers - $2.2M Seed led by Curious
  • Volt - Personalized training plans that adapt to user feedback - $2.1M Seed
  • Shipium - Software for faster, more accurate delivery for online retailers - $2M Seed led by PSL Ventures
  • Growthplug - Healthcare practice platform to acquire new patients and automate front desk operations - $1M Seed led by Elevate Capital
  • Falkon AI - System of intelligence to define, understand, and improve metrics that matter - Seed led by Greylock and Trilogy

Some fun observations on this list:
  • Highspot just raised $60M in June, and six months later they’ve raised another $75M! Geekwire explains how that happens here
  • Fun to close out the 2010s with two VR/AR companies and a quantum computing company. We’ll see what happens to these two trends over the next decade
  • Almost all of the SaaS companies have something to do with healthcare, analytics, or automation

Read this before starting a startup
Screenshot of GlacierMD
Screenshot of GlacierMD
One of last week’s top links on Hacker News was a post called I wasted $40k on a fantastic startup idea. It’s about one developer’s hard-earned lessons (nine months of work and $40K of savings) on how to validate a Brilliant Startup Idea.

It’s definitely worth learning from other people’s (expensive) mistakes, so if you have a startup idea, this is a great reference on how to evaluate whether something is a great business or just a great product. In case you don’t want to read the full thing, my favorite takeaway was this quote:
[Startups] can’t just create value for the user: that’s a charity. You also can’t just create value for your company: that’s a scam. Your goal is to set up some kind of positive-sum exchange, where everyone benefits, including you.

Why the PNW startup market is 🔥🔥🔥
To kick off 2020, I wanted to recap some of the best articles on what’s going on in the Seattle and Pacific Northwest tech and startup ecosystems:
  • Big tech and big checks: Seattle startups claim VC funding record (Pitchbook)
  • A big year for Pacific Northwest startups: Unicorn births, key exits, and others waiting in the wings (Geekwire)
  • One in five new tech jobs is based in Seattle (The DL)
  • Amazon has become America’s CEO factory (WSJ)
  • In the shadow of Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle startups are having a moment (Techcrunch)
  • Analysis: Seattle startup ecosystem poised for unprecedented acceleration of company creation (AI2/Geekwire)

Key themes across these articles:
  • 💰 Record levels of capital invested into the PNW ecosystem
  • 🌱 Deep pipeline of companies at all stages
  • 👩‍💻 Lots of very well-trained talent
  • 🥰 More and more groups to support founders
Other stuff Dan's talking about
Intro to The Man Who Solved the Market
Intro to The Man Who Solved the Market
👨‍🏫 The Man Who Solved The Market - How crazy are those stats? $100B+ total profit, $7B annual profit, and only 300 employees. This book covers the history of Renaissance Technologies and its founder, Jim Simons. Not the best writing, but the story is pretty incredible
⚔️ Unicorns vs. Microsoft - Someone compared the return of investing in all unicorns vs. Microsoft over the last five years. Spoiler alert: Microsoft wins. Why invest in risky startups when you can just buy MSFT shares?
🏡 The Hype House - Twenty of the biggest TikTok stars just moved in together, and the NYT describes what it’s like. To get in, “you either have to be talented at something, or a weird funny mix, or extremely good looking.”
🍌 BANANA! - Not the Art Basel banana but just as good. Please turn on your sound and watch this 30 second video

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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