Despite all your rage, Wall Street still doesn’t give a fuck

After a string of bad press and the worst crisis in its 14-year history, Facebook today posted gains of 63 percent in profit, and 49 percent in revenue. Or, to put it another way, Wall Street gives zero fucks about your privacy concerns. For a company neither stalled nor slowed by the #DeleteFacebook movement, rapidly shifting public sentiment after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or the non-story that came of our android overlord Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to brief Congress on the differences between WhatsApp and email, it’s clear that regulation might be our only way out — assuming lawmakers can make…

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Review: KEF’s LS50W are the best gateway to the world of hi-fi speakers

Few hobbies exemplify the law of diminishing returns like audiophilia. Buying $500 speakers may be a clear upgrade from a pair that cost you a benjamin, but the more money you spend, the less obvious those improvements become. As you venture into the world of hi-fi, the requirement of a decent amplifier and other components only add to the sticker shock. That’s why the KEF LS50W are so refreshing. If you’ve never invested big money in audio, it might seem absurd to call pair of $2,200 speakers a great value. But truth is, you’d likely have to either spend hundreds,…

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YouTube Kids hands the reins to parents rather than fixing its own mess

YouTube is giving parents greater control over its Kids app, presumably in an attempt to curtail the complaints that it’s not doing enough to keep the app clean. Now parents can get a better handle on what their child watches on the Kids app — which would be great, except for the fact that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. The rumors about this change began earlier this month, and it appears the changes are both more and less extensive than we’d heard. According to the report by Buzzfeed News, the company was working on a new app…

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Watch: Tesla Model X rudely interrupts man’s workout by plowing into gym

A trip to the nail salon nearly turned into a harrowing experience for a woman and a gym of go-getters anxious to get their Sunday swole on. The car first crashed into a karate studio — which would normally be full of kids, but had recently relocated — before plowing right through that building and into a second wall at a neighboring Anytime Fitness. In security footage obtained by ABC Action News, we see the black Tesla Model X crashing through the wall and nearly mowing down a local man exiting a treadmill. The woman behind the wheel, according to authorities,…

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Someone made Soulja Boy’s old website point to a bunch of dragon dongs

Soulja Boy is promoting dragon-themed sex toys on Twitter, whether he knows it or not. In what’s possibly the best combination of dungeons and dragons since Dungeons and Dragons, a sex toy company called Bad Dragon makes marital aids for lovers of all things dirty and dragon related. It turns out the company’s website is now getting some accidental promotion from Soulja Boy, the famous rapper, thanks to a mysterious redirect from a website he used to own. And since he used to tweet about his old site, often, those tweets now have image cards associated with the redirected URL.…

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Trimble will pay $1.2B to acquire Portland-based Viewpoint Construction Software, including former Dexter + Chaney office in Seattle

Seattle tunnel
GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser checks out the construction of the new highway inside the tunnel deep beneath Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Portland, Ore.-based Viewpoint Construction Software has agreed to be acquired by Silicon Valley-based giant Trimble for $1.2 billion in an all-cash deal. The Oregonian called it the “biggest deal ever for a Portland tech company.”

Originally founded in 1976, Viewpoint employs 700 people and makes software products for the construction industry used in planning, estimating, documents, and more. It has 8,000 customers worldwide. Bain Capital paid $230 million to acquire a majority of Viewpoint in 2014. Last year, Viewpoint (previously known as Coaxis) paid $180 million to acquire Seattle-based Dexter + Chaney, which still has a presence in Seattle.

Trimble is known for its GPS technology and posted $2.7 billion in revenue last year. It expects Viewpoint to contribute $200 million in revenue next year. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

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Real estate startup leaseABLE raises $1.5M to simplify ‘archaic’ commercial leasing process

(Bigstock Photo)

A new startup called leaseABLE aims to bring the typically fragmented and secretive world of commercial real estate leasing online, and it just raised $1.5 million to move ahead with that mission.

The company, with executives in both Seattle and San Francisco, raised the round from 28 different angel investors, leaseABLE CEO Cameron Steele told GeekWire in an interview. The money will help the company design and build its first products targeted at landlords.

The company’s goal is to streamline the commercial leasing process by creating an online platform where landlords and tenants can come to agreements on key terms and then work with legal staff to get to a signed lease. Steele said he thinks his company can cut the time it takes to get to a completed deal in half while saving both sides money.

Cameron Steele. (leaseABLE Photo)

“You’ve got to go through a broker,” Steele said. “There’s no easy way to get data, like you can today with residential real estate through services like Zillow. The process takes forever, and it is very expensive.”

Steele noted that his company is not trying to disrupt the process by displacing any key stakeholders, but rather speed it up by putting all the important pieces of the transaction in the same place online. Nor is leaseABLE trying to be a “Zillow of commercial real estate,” helping people discover office space.

Today, leaseABLE has five people, with a sixth coming on board soon and plans to get to 10 by summer. Three of the four founders, including Steele, worked at Seattle hotel marketing site buuteeq, which was purchased by Priceline in 2014.

Ex-buuteeqers have gone on to found several startups in Seattle. Forest Key, the former CEO of buuteeq, is the founder and CEO of virtual and augmented reality startup Pixvana. One of Buuteeq’s founders, Brian Saab, went on to start and run construction software startup Unearth.

Steele worked at and then Open Table, both under the Priceline umbrella, before leaving late last year to scratch his entrepreneurial itch. His father worked as a real estate broker, so he knew about the pain points. But it wasn’t until Saab introduced him to a couple people frustrated with the commercial real estate market that the idea for leaseABLE began to crystalize.

“It’s one of those markets that’s old boys, old school, with archaic technology, but it’s absolutely massive,” Steele said.

Publicly available leasing data can be scarce, with landlords looking to protect their information and tenant roster from rivals, and companies reticent to talk about their office spaces. Steele would like to see that change.

Though not the primary mission of the company, Steele said he could see compiling leasing data to offer services like comps for landlords, tenants and brokers. Someday, he envisions a blockchain-based application for commercial leasing data that would be open to the public. Steele acknowledges that could be a heavy lift and a complete mindset change for the industry, which keeps that kind of information close to the vest.

“We would argue that open data is better than closed data for everybody,” Steele said.

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Plasmonic modulator could lead to a new breed of electro-optic computer chips

Electro-optic modulator
Artist’s rendering shows an electro-optic modulator. (Virginia Commonwealth University Illustration / Nathaniel Kinsey)

News Brief: Researchers have created a miniaturized device that can transform electronic signals into optical signals with low signal loss. They say the electro-optic modulator could make it easier to merge electronic and photonic circuitry on a single chip. The hybrid technology behind the modulator, known as plasmonics, promises to rev up data processing speeds. “As with earlier advances in information technology, this can dramatically impact the way we live,” Larry Dalton, a chemistry professor emeritus at the University of Washington, said in a news release. Dalton is part of the team that reported the advance today in the journal Nature.

Christian Haffner of ETH Zurich is the principal author of the Nature paper, “Low-Loss Plasmon-Assisted Electro-Optic Modulator.” In addition to Dalton, co-authors include Daniel Chelladurai, Yuriy Fedoryshyn, Arne Josten, Benedikt Baeuerle, Wolfgang Heni, Tatsuhiko Watanabe, Tong Cui, Bojun Cheng, Soham Saha, Delwin Elder, Alexandra Boltasseva, Vladimir Shalaev, Nathaniel Kinsey and Juerg Leuthold.

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The ‘nerd bird’ has landed: Tech execs, politicians help kick off Seattle-to-Vancouver seaplane flights

Microsoft President Brad Smith speaks at Kenmore Air on Seattle’s Lake Union on Wednesday after seaplane flights arrived carrying officials from Vancouver, B.C. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

With cranes in the background further building out Seattle’s booming tech sector, two seaplanes landed on Lake Union Wednesday, including one carrying Canadian officials from Vancouver, B.C. Waiting on the dock were Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Microsoft President Brad Smith and more dignitaries excited about a new partnership and transportation connection between the two cities.

Starting Thursday, Seattle-based Kenmore Air and Vancouver’s Harbour Air will begin offering seaplane flights aimed at providing a shorter commute alternative for neighbors who are increasingly doing business together. Affectionately dubbed the “nerd bird,” it’s hoped the route will attract tech workers and researchers shuttling to offices and institutions in both cities.

Microsoft, which already has a large presence in the Canadian city, has been a leading advocate for finding quicker transportation options along the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. With a yellow and white Kenmore Air plane — a common and longtime presence over Lake Union and the Puget Sound region — sitting nose-to-nose with a red and white Harbour Air plane, Smith joined Inslee and several others in applauding a partnership that took years to solidify.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has been a leading advocate for improving transportation options along the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

“As many of you know, we at Microsoft have been supporters, advocates, maybe even agitators for this route,” Smith said, saying that the two planes facing each other on the lake were emblematic of the state and province coming together.

Smith said universities, researchers, and businesses seizing on opportunities to collaborate in new ways really are leading to the development and strengthening of an innovation corridor “that is spanning the border at a time when I think we frankly appreciate, in this part of the country, how important this relationship so clearly is.”

Amazon’s large South Lake Union campus is easily visible across the water from Kenmore’s facility. But despite having a presence in Vancouver, no one from the tech giant appeared in front of the crowd on Wednesday. Smith and Inslee told GeekWire that the flights will be beneficial for all tech companies.

“I think it’s fair to say in the tech sector we compete with each other but we also, on many days, work together,” Smith said. “I think it’s interesting because there are now 80 companies headquartered in Silicon Valley that have opened engineering offices in the Seattle area. That’s great for Seattle, but there are also the first four companies to open engineering offices in Vancouver: Microsoft, Amazon, Zillow and Tableau — all based in Seattle. I think we’re a little ahead of the curve in appreciating just what a wonderful opportunity there is to bring people together in Seattle and Vancouver, and I have no doubt that all of us based in Seattle are going to get a lot of benefit out of what we’re announcing and seeing in person here today.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee heads out on the dock at Kenmore Air in Seattle to greet Canadian visitors. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

The governor said it’s important to be able to bring researchers and ideas south, and ship ideas north, too.

“One of the things I’ve learned when I recruit high-tech companies to Washington, accessibility of talent is the No. 1 thing companies want,” Inslee said. “And when we can say we can effectively draw from British Columbia as well as Washington state, that’s just a boost for us. So it helps us in growing our tech economy by building new companies and bringing companies here because they want talent. And we know there’s talent on both sides of the border.”

The direct flight between the cities, from Kenmore’s facility on Lake Union, to Harbour Air’s downtown Vancouver location, is supposed to take about an hour, knocking at least two hours of travel time off the trip.

“If we were in Disneyland, this would be the ultimate fast pass,” said Kenmore Air President Todd Banks. The family owned company, founded in 1946, already flies to Victoria, B.C., and the new route, while being touted as a connecting link for business and tech travelers, is sure to be a hit with tourists.

Navdeep Baines, minister of innovation, science and economic development for the Canadian government, steps off the Harbour Air seaplane in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Gov. Inslee wanted to personally thank leaders from north of the border who are helping to advance the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. The state of Washington already has a $300,000 budget to study a plan for fast trains connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. Microsoft kicked in $50,000 to the that study, and the British Columbia government added $300,000 as well.

Inslee joked that communicating with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has actually been easier than communicating with President Trump.

“It’s interesting, I found that my letters get answered even better in Canada right now than they do in Washington, D.C. I don’t quite understand it,” Inslee said.

Navdeep Baines, minister of innovation, science and economic development for the Canadian government, said that Microsoft stepped up in a big, big way in making the route a reality. In following the governor, Baines made an inadvertent political reference of his own when he said that he wanted to thank “President Brad Smith.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith, left, laughs with Tom Alberg, managing director of Madrona Venture Group. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Heather Redman, a longtime Seattle tech investor and general partner at the new venture firm Flying Fish Partners, told Baines in her remarks that she likes how he thinks.

“I like this idea of President Brad Smith,” Redman said. “I don’t know if that’s a hint of some sort … we don’t say CEO Satya Nadella, but we do say President Brad Smith. So this is good.”

Redman further praised the unique nature of the relationship between Seattle and Vancouver.

Heather Redman of Flying Fish Partners speaks in front of the seaplanes from Vancouver and Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

“We’re special, and we’re special in a very particular way,” she said. “We’re the only multinational tech and innovation region in North America and maybe in the world. We are truly very very unique and interesting, and we’ve got to do everything we can to take full advantage of that. It’s a huge advantage. I’ve been telling people in the Bay Area for a long time that it takes as long to drive from San Jose to Sausalito as it does from Seattle to Vancouver. But with this new service, I can really start to brag about the multinational advantage that we have.”

Details on flight days and times, pricing and more information about the service are available on the Kenmore Air and Harbour Air websites.

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TLDR: Gmail lets you press snooze on emails, new restrictions on H-1B visas, stand 500 ft. above Seattle

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