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Originally published July 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 10, 2008 at 7:20 AM

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Brier Dudley

Intel bets its chips on Impinj growth

In a major deal to expand its RFID product lineup, Seattle's Impinj is buying an Intel subsidiary that produces chips used in radio frequency...

Seattle Times staff columnist

In a major deal to expand its RFID product lineup, Seattle's Impinj is buying an Intel subsidiary that produces chips used in radio frequency identification readers.

In return, Intel will get a stake in privately held Impinj.

The deal being announced today is the result of a re-evaluation of Impinj's portfolio that also led to last week's spinoff of a memory-licensing business.

"It was a good time to double-down, if you will, on RFID," said Evan Fein, Impinj vice president of finance and administration.

The Intel "RFID Operation" business being swapped produces a chip that other companies use to manufacture RFID readers, including handheld readers that were lacking in the range of products offered by Impinj. Intel released its RF1000 chip in March 2007.

Fein said the Intel R1000 chips consolidate 90 percent of the silicon components used in most RFID readers onto a single chip.

Impinj is also getting the Intel subsidiary's "dozens" of customers, intellectual property and a lab in Sacramento, Calif., that will continue as an Impinj facility.

Also joining Impinj are 10 Intel employees now in Sacramento, Portland and Taiwan.

Exactly how much Impinj equity Intel is acquiring wasn't disclosed. Nor has Impinj quantified its sales, but Fein said its sales and forecasts are both increasing.

Deal-makers busy

There's a flurry of startup momentum and deal announcements, including:

... Bellevue-based Smartsheet's announcing new real-time project-tracking capabilities, so users of its online collaboration tools can "see who has done what on a project — and how much the project is actually progressing." It's a beta release and should be finalized by fall.

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... Seattle real-estate-search site Estately is continuing its assault on the West Coast, adding the Bay Area market. It earlier added San Diego and Portland, giving it more than 160,000 listings.

In the Bay Area, it teamed up with the four biggest multiple-listing services, covering San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Fremont, Richmond and Santa Rosa.

... Pixsy, a private-label video- and image-search platform based in Seattle and San Francisco, is announcing a major partnership with InfoSpace. Pixsy will power InfoSpace video and image search in Europe, but the deal could lead to Pixsy providing the same services to InfoSpace in the U.S. as well, according to Pixsy Chief Executive Chase Norlin.

Norlin didn't need much introduction to make the deal. He was a consultant at InfoSpace, working on its paid search business, when he started Pixsy with Microsoft veteran Richard Lerz.

Norlin's based in a San Francisco marketing office, while Lerz and 12 of Pixsy's 15 employees are in Seattle.

Moving up

Marcelo Calbucci released his June index of Seattle tech startups, including two that made other news this week.

In 25th place is Imagekind, the Pioneer Square online art vendor sold to CafePress two years after it was founded.

Bellevue notification-service Alerts.com was at 94th but posted one of the fastest monthly gains, moving up 58 slots on the index.

On Tuesday, Alerts.com announced it had received $1.2 million in funding led by Bellevue's Monster Venture Partners. It's going to use the money to "augment the growing array of alerts it offers, as well as develop additional distribution channels to reach consumers in new ways," the release said.

Maybe we should keep an eye on the list's other big gainers: Eyealike, up 77; BrandVerity, up 64; and Ameritocracy, up 56.

Very social

Wetpaint announced Tuesday that more than a million free social Web sites have been created with its service.

Users in 177 countries have created nearly 8 million pages since the Pioneer Square company launched its service two years ago, the announcement said.

Creating the millionth Wetpaint site was "a soon-to-be 50-year-old organizing his destination birthday celebration with family and friends in Key West, Florida," the release said.

To keep the ball rolling, Wetpaint is also announcing the "Golden Paint Can Awards" to recognize the best sites created on its network.

Winners in 15 categories will be selected through a combination of statistical data, community voting and judging by a panel that includes a bunch of Seattle Web entrepreneurs.

Judges include: Sam Decker of Bazaarvoice, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, Matt Harding of wherethehellismatt.com, Lee LeFever of CommonCraft and the editorial staff of BuddyTV.

Voting runs through July 22. Winners will be announced July 23.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley's blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Brier Dudley
Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.
bdudley@seattletimes.com | 206-515-5687

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