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Microsoft is one of the most successful and influential companies in the world, but did you know that Bill Gates and Paul Allen launched an earlier venture as high school students in Seattle? It was called Traf-O-Data, a startup in the 1970s that aspired to provide technology to count traffic. Their partner in Traf-O-Data was Paul Gilbert, who was a University of Washington electrical engineering student during the era that Gates and Allen were (now famously) using computer labs on the college campus at night, to hone their programming skills and develop their new business. Gilbert, now 65 years old, recalls seeing Gates and Allen walking down a University… Read More
This Week in Seattle: Lawmakers promote equality and development, Uber’s future in the city looks uncertain, and unemployment continues its steady decline. Continue reading for the week’s top regional stories. Uber exec says future uncertain if Seattle drivers unionize They’re speeding toward an impasse. Uber is fighting a landmark law that allows Seattle drivers to bargain collectively. Northwest GM Brooke Steger said she’s “unsure of the future of Uber in Seattle,” at an event this week, adding “we don’t know if we will be able to continue to operate here,” if drivers unionize. The law is scheduled to begin rolling… Read More
Amazon will start collecting sales tax in four additional states starting next month. Customers in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, and New Mexico — the four remaining states that did not require sales tax payments on Amazon purchases — will start paying tax on April 1, CNBC reported on Friday. We’ve reached out to Amazon to confirm the new policy and update this story when we hear back. In February, Amazon added 10 more states where it now collects sales tax. Amazon doesn’t collect tax in Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Montana, and New Hampshire, as those states do not have sales tax. Amazon has battled several… Read More
March Madness isn’t just about bracket pools, wild upsets and the Boss Button. It’s also a busy time for startups, if the GeekWire 200 list of privately-held Pacific Northwest startups is any indication. A whopping 14 companies made double-digit moves up the charts this week, as local startups continue to hire and grow. What would that be in March Madness terms, Fabulous 14? Funded 14? The top five remained static again this month with DocuSign at the top, followed by Redfin, Avalara, Blue Origin and Puppet. Bellevue, Wash.-based project management company Smartsheet continued its quest toward the top five, moving up another spot to number… Read More
Experts say the potential impact of automation and artificial intelligence could be one of the biggest economic issues of the 21st century, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says it’s not on his radar screen. Mnuchin made his comments during a “News Shapers” sitdown with Axios’ Mike Allen. His observations are pointed enough, and brief enough, that they’re worth an extended quote: Mnuchin: “In terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs, I think we’re like so far away from that, not even on my radar screen.” Allen: “How far away?” Mnuchin: “Far enough that it’s …” Allen: “Seven more years?” Mnuchin:… Read More
Derrick Morton knows how to keep it all in balance. He’s spent the past decade as CEO of multi-platform game developer FlowPlay while still making time for his interests — like backpacking, live music, and travel. “My friend, co-founder, and CTO Doug Pearson and I started our journey with FlowPlay in 2007 and recently celebrated 10-years of building virtual worlds for audiences from every walk of life,” Morton said. While Pearson handles the technology side of the business, Morton focuses on managing teams, marketing initiatives, business development, and operations. Before FlowPlay, he spent three years at RealNetworks, where he served… Read More
Spacewalkers made progress today on preparations at the International Space Station for the arrival of the first commerclal space taxis, which could happen as early as this year. During today’s operation, which lasted just over six and a half hours, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet disconnected cables and electrical connections on a big piece of equipment known as the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, or PMA-3. NASA said the astronauts also lubricated parts on the Dextre manipulator that’s at the end of the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm, inspected a radiator valve and replaced some external cameras. PMA-3 serves as… Read More
Starbucks and Amazon, two of Seattle’s iconic corporate giants, started off very different from each other. At heart, Starbucks is a chain of coffee stores, and Amazon is an e-commerce company. But they’re slowly and steadily becoming … well, more alike. In this episode of the Week in Geek podcast, we recap the big news of the week from Starbucks and Amazon, and end up discussing how the two companies are moving toward the same model: a hybrid of digital sales and brick-and-mortar retail operations. For example, Starbucks announced several new tech-driven features at its annual shareholders meeting this week, including an Alexa-powered ordering… Read More
Charter's $25 billion promise is vague and includes stuff it already planned.
Omri Kohl started his first business — making and delivering sandwiches — while he was in college. Within a year, the business funded his education. For more than 20 years, Kohl, who calls himself “an entrepreneur at heart,” has been building startups and “turning them into successful, industry leading companies.” He’s now the co-founder and CEO of Pyramid Analytics, a Bellevue, Wash.-based business-intelligence technology company — and he’s GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week. Seeing how pervasive data was across every organization, Kohl said he and two colleagues formed what became Pyramid in 2008. Their vision was to create a fully-featured… Read More
An expansion of Amazon’s discounted smartphone program for Prime members is at the center of a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week. Pay Per Swipe, a Los Angeles-based mobile advertising company that builds apps to put ads on smartphone lock screens, sued TCT Mobile, an entity that shares an Irvine, Calif., address with phone maker Alcatel, for breach of contract and unfair business practices, among other charges. Pay Per Swipe alleges that TCT broke a non-disclosure agreement and used confidential information about lock screen ad products the two firms worked on together for its own gain. TCT allegedly used that information… Read More