Although one of the main products of the great Pacific Northwest used to be timber, it now seems to be tech. The Seattle area, in particular, is home to two of the “big five” US tech giants: Microsoft and Amazon. The region is also home to a number of larger tech brands like the real estate sites Zillow and Redfin, pet care services marketplace Rover.com, and legal services marketplace Avvo.
As far as turning out early-stage technology ventures goes, Seattle-based Pioneer Square Labs has been at it since October 2015. The startup studio – which spins up projects in-house and spins them out into standalone startup businesses – has finally closed the last LP capital for an $80 million fund, according to SEC filings published today.
The new fund will be branded PSL Ventures and will be a separate entity from the startup studio, which will now be branded PSL Studio, according to the firm’s website.
PSL Ventures intends to invest between $500,000 and $2 million in startups from the Pacific Northwest, according to Seattle Times coverage of the fund this morning. GeekWire specifies that the fund will focus on startups “working on technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, voice, cloud computing.” A press release announcing the fund said that the fund will invest in companies that spin out of PSL Labs, but it will not lead those companies’ investment rounds.
According to Crunchbase data, the studio component of Pioneer Square Labs has raised approximately $27.5 million in two rounds that had participation from some of Seattle’s heavyweights, including:
- Bezos Expeditions, the investment fund of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
- Vulcan, the investment firm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen
- Maveron, a seed and Series A-stage investment firm co-founded by Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz with former investment banker Dan Levitan
- Madrona Venture Group, one of the most active VC funds in the Seattle area.
And on the note of that last investor, PSL Ventures will be led by four managing directors, three of whom are former team members at Madrona Venture Group. According to the press announcement, PSL Ventures’ directors will include:
- Greg Gottesman, former managing director of Madrona Venture Group and co-founder of Rover.com
- Julie Sandler, former partner of Madrona Venture Group
- Geoff Entress, an angel investor and former venture partner of Voyager Capital and Madrona Venture Group
- Mike Galgon, an angel investor and former co-founder of aQuantive, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion in cash
With the addition of new capital to the region, startups based in the upper left-hand corner of the contiguous United States potentially have a new path to raising closer to home.
Crunchbase News has profiled a number of founders and ventures based in the Pacific Northwest, including:
- Two seed-stage startups, Boise, ID-based Refer and Eugene, OR-based Connected Signals
- Two early-stage startups, Missoula, MT-based onX and Spokane, WA-based Stay Alfred
- Vancouver, WA-based RealWear, which raised a Series A round and former a joint, cross-boarder partnership with its Chinese counterpart
- We featured to Jill Nelson, founder of Portland, OR-based Ruby Receptionists, in our Proust Goest Tech interview series
- Plus an untold number of funding rounds, news announcements, and other tech happenings in the region.
It will be interesting to see how this new fund may shape the tech scene in the coming years.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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