How tech titans pick who they invest in

Startup Week panel
Nick Ellingson of the Washington Technology Industry Association moderates a Startup Week Seattle panel with Lisa Nelson, managing director of Microsoft’s M12 corporate venture fund; Rodrigo Prudencio, an investment director at Amazon’s Alexa Fund; and Beckett Jackson, investment portfolio director and strategist for Boeing HorizonX. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

When big companies like Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft invest in startups, is it all about the startup? Or is it all about what the startup can do for the big company?

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, representatives of the three companies’ venture groups said today during a Techstars Startup Week Seattle panel discussion.

On one hand, there’s no way Amazon’s Alexa Fund is going to back a venture creating voice-command software that doesn’t work with the Alexa voice assistant.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s M12 corporate venture fund isn’t going require the ventures that it backs to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

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Business is booming at two idea factories

Startup panel
AI2’s Jacob Colker gestures while Intellectual Ventures’ Azam Khan and Seven Peaks Ventures’ Dave Parker look on during a Seattle Startup Week session titled “Founders Wanted.” (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Less than two months after Intellectual Ventures and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence put out the call for entrepreneurs, business is booming.

“We might be sitting here in a year telling you something very different, but right now, it’s like, ‘Come one, come all,’” Azam Khan, Intellectual Ventures’ director of new ventures, told a roomful of entrepreneurs at the University of Washington’s CoMotion Labs.

Jacob Colker, entrepreneur in residence at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, was similarly bullish. “I’m constantly looking for brilliant entrepreneurs, ideally some folks who have some scars on their back,” he said.

After the Oct. 5 talk, audience members swarmed around the two speakers as well as moderator Dave Parker, a venture partner at Seven Peaks Ventures. But what else would you expect at a Seattle Startup Week session titled “Founders Wanted”?

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Six tips for fostering women in engineering

Woman engineer
Women engineers don’t need to join the “bro club.” (© Chombosan via Fotolia)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The title of the panel was “Women in Hardware,” but the focus turned out to be more about the organizational software to support women at startups.

Five women engineers shared tips for getting ahead in a traditionally male-dominated field during today’s panel, conducted at One Bellevue Center as part of Techstars Startup Week Seattle.

The first tip is to embrace the engineer label, even if you don’t have an engineering degree.

“Being an engineer is just something I did not know I could become,” said Clarissa San Diego, the founder of Seattle-based Makerologist.

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