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December 4, 2007

'The next wave of the Web will be friendship bracelets'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:36 PM

"Won't you blog about this song?" Yes, I will. This is one of the funniest videos I've seen in a while.

Ring true to anyone?

November 30, 2007

Adobe, Yahoo teaming up on ad-funded software experiment

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 6:15 AM

As more software functions move to the Internet, where the traditional software licensing business model has limitations, companies are experimenting with new business models such as subscriptions and advertising-supported software.

Microsoft is trying it with its Works suite, which comes standard -- and free to the user -- on many new computers. Likewise, Google Docs and Spreadsheets -- online versions of the productivity apps dominated by Microsoft -- are advertising supported. Now Adobe, a leader in rich Internet applications with its Flash player and nearly ubiquitous PDF reader and writer, is getting into the act with help from Yahoo.

On Thursday, the companies announced a partnership to allow publishers to serve contextual ads into PDF documents. Like all of these early ad-funded software efforts, this is a test program for starters and it's opt-in.

From the release: "The new service allows publishers to generate revenue by including contextual, text-based ads next to Adobe PDF content, with Yahoo! providing access to its extensive network of advertisers to match a broad range of subject matter. For advertisers, Ads for Adobe PDF Powered by Yahoo! extends reach by delivering advertising across a new channel of content, while also providing the ability to track advertising performance, just as they can today with ads placed on Web sites."

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This in-PDF advertising seems clearly targeted at the long tail of the Internet, as this excerpt from AdWeek's coverage of the news illustrates:

The program will open up new real estate for its advertisers, according to Todd Teresi, svp of Yahoo!'s publisher network, especially among small-time customers that don't even have Web sites. Example: Local youth soccer leagues that create weekly e-mail newsletters could generate funds through contextual placements for soccer equipment and jerseys -- and even minivans, he said.

"The primary users long term are going to be down the tail," Teresi said.

The program is offered as a free service to US-based publishers who produce English content. Early adopters include IDG InfoWorld, Wired, Pearson's Education, Meredith Corporation and Reed Elsevier.

October 30, 2007

'In Redmond, you don't see 7-year-olds begging on the street'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 11:41 AM

That's a quote from this New York Times story about how beneficiaries of the tech outsourcing boom in India are trying to combat poverty in their own country.

Sean Blagsvedt, a veteran of Microsoft Research in India and founder of a kind of social networking Web site for poor people who don't have their own computers, was of course referring to his former employer's headquarters. "In India," he continued, "you can't escape the feeling that you're really lucky. So you ask, What are you going to do about all the stuff around you? How are you going to use all these skills?"

The story goes on to describe how technology companies are using India as a laboratory for technology to serve, as Microsoft execs might put it, the next billion people.

Microsoft earlier this year formalized its approach to doing business in the emerging economies of the world with its "Unlimited Potential" program. And during its last quarter, the company saw 40 percent growth in the fast-emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

October 18, 2007

IT industry, Microsoft, continue to rev global economy

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 12:01 AM

Microsoft paid leading market-researcher IDC to draw up a major report of the economic impact of the IT industry -- and Microsoft's share of it -- on the global economy.

The big takeaway, no suprise: IT drives a big part of the global economy, and software in particular has a disproportionately large impact.

After studying 82 countries and regions, IDC found that $1.2 trillion, or 2.5 percent of 2007 global gross domestic product, can be traced back to the IT industry. That share is expected to grow to 2.75 percent by 2011.

The report gives Microsoft and its "ecosystem" -- described as "hardware, software, services, and channel firms as well as end user organizations running Microsoft software" -- credit for $400 billion in 2007 revenues and 42 percent of IT employment globally.

Pamela Passman, Microsoft's vice president of global corporate affairs, said the report is useful to the company in talks with government officials.

"What's most interesting about this are the trends that we see and for the audiences that we want to talk to about this, which is significantly policy makers," she said. "It's important for them to understand the trends, as they think about how they make resource allocation decisions."

Packaged software -- Microsoft's bread and butter, also the stuff provided to big enterprise customers by IBM, Oracle and SAP -- represents 21 percent of IT spending. But this sub-category of the industry generates half of all the IT jobs.

IDC chief researcher John Gantz explained why software has an out-sized impact on employment in the industry.

"For every dollar of software sold there's $1.25 of services around that software to be sold," Gantz said. Those services include training, installing, integrating, and working with software and also the software distribution channel, he said.

What about software's share of IT spending vs. hardware and services?

"In general, the software market is growing faster than the hardware market so over time that share will go up," said Gantz. He added that software's growth has slowed since the late 1990s -- hardware growth has slowed more -- when software spending was in the 15 to 20 percent range.

Today, software is growing about 6 to 8 percent a year. So what's causing the slow down?

"We call it basically the software complexity crisis," Gantz said. "It's fundamentally that so much of the software has to be integrated with older software that it slows the adoption down." (That also creates plenty of jobs for IT pros who can integrate the latest and greatest with legacy systems.)

How might the trend toward software as a service or, in Microsoft's terms, software plus services, affect growth of this part of the IT industry?

Right now, Gantz said, software as a service is counted by IDC as a service, and despite all the attention it's getting, "actually there's not enough of it to really make a difference.

"It's Microsoft Office Live, Dynamics Live, Salesforce.com, and out of $220 billion for a total software market, there's not all that much activity," Gantz said. "It's the wave of the future, but the amount today is not that high."

September 5, 2007

Tech companies wake up to traffic nightmare

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:13 PM

How many people have companies like Microsoft lost over the years because of the commuting nightmare between Seattle and the Eastside? Maybe none, maybe only a few. Considering the worsening traffic situation for people who need to work on one side of the lake every day, but want to dwell on the other, life is definitely not easy.


THOMAS JAMES HURST / SEATTLE TIMES

Arteries clogged daily

Now it sounds like some tech companies are finally getting wiser because our local transportation officials are not.

Today we're seeing a stream of news about Microsoft's possible plans to expand along South Lake Union and F5 Networks building up its waterfront campus and opening a new R&D center in Bellevue. Meanwhile, Google is serving up perks on both sides of the water. The locations all seem aimed at lessening employees' commuting woes.

If more companies would match F5's incentive program, which gives employees up to $300 a month if they bike, walk, bus or carpool to work, the traffic situation just might improve a bit more.

August 10, 2007

China, France, Poland top podium in Microsoft Olympics

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 8:25 AM

With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing now less than a year away, we're getting in the mood for medals. And we can consider Microsoft's Imagine Cup, a global technology and creativity competition among students from around the world, the Olympics of software. So, with the winners of this year's cup announced today, let's do a "medal count" -- admittedly an imprecise measure because of inconsistent factors from country to country such as population and resources -- and see which countries have the top young technology talent.

The Imagine Cup has nine events from Algorithm to Short Film. Microsoft lists the top three finishers in each category. There's also an interactive map of the world showing all finalists by category and country.

Both China and France had four teams finish in the top three, the most of any country, but each had only one first place. China's was in the IT Challenge, which asks competitors to "demonstrate proficiency in the science of networks, databases, and servers, as well as the areas of analysis and decision making in IT environments." The French team took first in Web development. (Taiwan also had a second-place finish.)

Poland had three winning teams, all of which finished first. The country dominated the visual arts, winning the photography and short film categories, as well as the algorithm category -- perhaps the most demanding of the event. It's an individual competition comprised of "brain teasers, coding challenges, and algorithmic puzzles."

Romania and Brazil had two top-three finishers each.

In the high-profile software design category, in which teams of students used Microsoft technologies to design applications to improve education, Thailand took top honors, followed by Korea and Jamaica.

The complete results are available here.

The United States had several finalists, but no top-three finishers. Those so inclined to do so might read this as another piece of evidence that the U.S. is lagging the rest of the world in math and science education.

August 2, 2007

WSA names new board members

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 1:51 PM

The WSA, the state's technology trade organization, said today that it has named five new members to its board.

They are:

Ron Craswell, engineering director, Google : Craswell, one of the leaders at Google's Kirkland office, oversees a number of Google projects, including parts of Google Maps, Webmaster Tools and Google Pack. He previously was vice president of engineering for Seattle-based M:Metrics.

Carla Stratfold, senior vice president of RealNetwork's program integration office: Stratfold joined RealNetworks in 2001 to work in sales. Before that, she was at Oracle.

Keith Smith, CEO, Zango : Smith, who co-founded Zango in 1999, has worked in technology development, financial services and entrepreneurial concerns.

James Sun, CEO, president and founder, Zoodango : Sun was runner-up on the NBC show "The Apprentice" this year. He started out by running an investment trading company during his college years. Before creating Zoodango, he worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting.

Jennifer Shettleroe, vice president of engineering, Attachmate:
Shettleroe joined Attachmate in 1995, holding key leadership positions in product development, information technology, technical support and corporate training. She has a 20-year career in software development and delivery.

WSA board has 35 members. Along with President and CEO Ken Myer, the board drives the direction of the organization.

Onvia saves $$ by moving

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 1:17 PM

In 2002, we wrote about how unused office space was draining the bottom lines of tech companies in the region.

The companies either had secured extra space to accommodate their growth, which never came, or laid off employees, creating a glut.

In that story, we reported that Onvia, an online government-contracting service, lost $5.2 million at its two Seattle buildings (about 100,000 square feet).

Today, the company seems to have finally rid itself of its excess space.

Onvia said it plans to move its headquarters to downtown Seattle in January 2008 from its office near South Lake Union. Simultaneously, Onvia also agreed with its landlord and a third party to terminate Onvia's obligations under its current office lease at no additional cost.

What's more, as a result of these transactions, Onvia's cash flow will improve by about $2.4 million and its operating expenses will decrease by about $700,000 over a 28 month period starting January 2008.

In July, Onvia provided a $538,000 security deposit on the new lease, and upon termination of its existing lease, Onvia's $3.5 million security deposit on its current space will be returned.

Executives are feeling good about the move.

"The net result of the two transactions will be to increase our future cash balance, cash flow and earnings," said Mike Pickett, Onvia's chairman and chief executive. "In addition, the new lease will provide Onvia with additional space to handle our future growth needs."

More data center lookers in Grant County

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 11:51 AM

Terry Brewer, executive director of the Grant County Economic Development Council, wrote in response to today's story on the data center boom in Quincy, that his organization has "responded to requests for information from more than a dozen clients and consultants representing clients who are researching sites for data centers."

And, of course, the interest is stretching beyond just Quincy, or just Grant County. Moses Lake, Wenatchee and The Dalles, Ore., are all benefiting from the same trend.

August 1, 2007

Another data center slated for Quincy

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:03 AM

The data center boom in Quincy, Grant County, continues.

Base Partners, a San Francisco-based data center developer, is announcing plans to develop up to 400,000 square feet in Quincy.

The data center, slated for 68 acres of land in the agricultural community, would be the fourth in town, joining Microsoft, Yahoo and Intuit.

Aaron Wangenheim, president of Base Partners, said his company has been talking to several prospective tenants for the data center. The first phase of the project -- a 100,000 square foot building -- will be built on spec, he added, and should be completed within a year.

The Internet companies, including Google, have been attracted to the Columbia River basin for the cheap electricity from the region's hydroelectric dams. Data centers, which are basically huge warehouses full of server computers that run Internet sites and business databases, for example, are major consumers of power.

Base Partners, on this one-page PDF spec sheet on the project, lists "lowest power cost in U.S." as the top answer to the question, "Why Quincy?"

Wangenheim said the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo have been "trail blazers" in Quincy, helping smooth out what he called "infrastructure issues" in getting their data centers up and running.

"Yeah, there's a lot of power and yes it's cheap, but delivery to the sites is still difficult," he said, adding that water and sewer delivery is another challenge.

The "trail blazer" companies have started the process of resolving those issues, he said. "Those guys mitigated the risk for us."

July 25, 2007

A smattering of conversations

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:35 PM

At The Naked Truth event last night, I was able to catch up with a lot of people. And today the emails continue to pour in.

Here are a few tidbits and details to gnaw on:

-- Hardi Partovi, a founder of iLike, said the darnedest things happen when you have a social networking site -- like the time an iLike user invited Hadi to his wedding, even though it was on the East Coast and Hadi had never met the guy. And Hadi said he loves customer feedback, but there's one user who e-mails almost everyday. Now he's dying for another customer's feedback. He's also an avid iPhone fan, but not enough to stop carrying around his BlackBerry.

-- Speaking of iPhones, there were too many in the crowd to count. However, there was only one Ooma, and TechCrunch's Michael Arrington was giving it away. As he said, it's really cool, but if you don't know what it is, don't worry about it. Now I'm wondering who won it?

-- Co-founder Galen Ward of Estately.com introduced himself, and today he sent me a press release that said Estately was launching "True Area Search," a tool that lets anyone find homes within a half mile, mile, two miles, five miles or 10 miles of any neighborhood, city, Zip code or address.

-- I also chatted with Marcelo Calbucci, the founder and CTO (not CEO as I previously wrote), of Sampa, which helps individuals and small business build Web sites. A lot of the talk last night focused on creating a more cohesive community among entrepreneurs and tech startups. Calbucci blogged about the Naked Truth , and regularly maintains a blog focused on tech startups called Seattle 2.0.

-- A venture capitalist and a startup adviser were talking to Josh Hug, the CEO of Shelfari, which recently launched a Facebook application. They were obviously really excited about the launch, so I promised Hug that I would upload the application today to take it for a spin. So I did (and while I was at it, also uploaded iLike's Facebook application). Shelfari becomes a shelf that sits on my Facebook profile page. I can load it up with books I can recommend to friends. Unfortunately, when I searched for "The World according to Garp," the book I'm currently reading, I encountered an error. For now, my shelf is empty.

I talked to many other companies, too, including WetPaint, WildTangent, BlueDot, OthersOnline, Mobile Research, Alliance of Angels and Shiftboard.

July 17, 2007

Tech exports grow, but Washington not a large player

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:17 AM

Technology exports from Washington state grew 7 percent last year, totalling $3 billion, according to the trade association AeA.

Interestingly, Washington's high tech exports did not match the growth of the same goods nationally. U.S. high tech exports grew by 10 percent in 2006 for a total of $220 billion. The growing trade gap was also apparent in this category: as a country, the U.S. imported $322 billion in high tech goods last year, up 9 percent from 2005.

Also surprising was that Washington, a trade dependent state with a vibrant tech industry, ranked only 18th among states in the dollar value of tech exports. Only 6 percent of overall exports from Washington were considered tech related, landing the state in 41st place on that list.

So just what are we selling abroad? Industrial electronics, computers and peripheral equipment and semiconductors. The leading destinations were Canada, Taiwan and the Netherlands. Details of the AeA report are here.


Tech exports grow, but Washington not a large player

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:17 AM

Technology exports from Washington state grew 7 percent last year, totalling $3 billion, according to the trade association AeA.

Interestingly, Washington's high tech exports did not match the growth of the same goods nationally. U.S. high tech exports grew by 10 percent in 2006 for a total of $220 billion. The growing trade gap was also apparent in this category: as a country, the U.S. imported $322 billion in high tech goods last year, up 9 percent from 2005.

Also surprising was that Washington, a trade dependent state with a vibrant tech industry, ranked only 18th among states in the dollar value of tech exports. Only 6 percent of overall exports from Washington were considered tech related, landing the state in 41st place on that list.

So just what are we selling abroad? Industrial electronics, computers and peripheral equipment and semiconductors. The leading destinations were Canada, Taiwan and the Netherlands. Details of the AeA report are here.


June 4, 2007

'Misfits now rule ... Seattle'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:19 PM

The New York Times had an interesting essay yesterday by Stanford journalism teacher and writer G. Pascal Zachary exploring the character of tech entrepreneurs, including all the big names: Gates, Jobs, Woz, Page, Brin.

He describes the breed as "technological innovators who have a rebellious streak -- resenting and resisting established authority and its prejudices -- [that] took root in the 1960s counterculture."

Zachary also traces the influence of science historian Thomas Kuhn, whose 1962 book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolution," described the identification of "'paradigm shifts' as the key to advances in science and technology."

"When world views were overthrown by rebels, new paradigms could be constructed, opening the way for new theories, new facts, new technologies," Zachary writes. "... For people like Mr. Gates and Mr. Jobs, Kuhn's attack on conformity in science and technology provided a moral and intellectual foundation that still survives.

"Echoes of the Kuhnian sensibility can be heard around any corridor in Silicon Valley, any day of the week. In fact, misfits now rule Silicon Valley and its sibling, Seattle."

Well, on Sunday we took a look at some of Seattle's rulers, then and now, and judging by their high school labels, there are quite a few jocks and cool kids in charge. But all in all, Zachary's analysis seems pretty spot on.

May 15, 2007

Washington high-tech employment

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 3:28 PM

Unemployment in Washington fell to a record-low 4.4 percent in April, the third straight monthly decline this year, we reported today based on information released by the state Employment Security Department.

The jobless rate, adjusted to account for seasonal variations, declined from March's 4.6 percent.

Some of the noteworthy job categories that added jobs include the construction industry, up 900 positions in April; administrative and support services, which added 1,600; and bars and restaurants, up 500.

But what about high-tech? And, telecommunications employment?

The short answer is: not much has changed.

According to the Employment Security Department, software publishers saw zero change in April, compared with a month ago, maintaining 47,000 jobs. In the last year, the sector has added 3,000 jobs.

For the wired telecom carrier sector, zero jobs were added in April compared with last month -- maintaining 6,700 jobs. Compared with last year, the number of wired telecom jobs dropped by 800.

Employment at wireless carriers saw the most dramatic change. In the month of April, 100 jobs were added for a total of 12,900. In the last year, that category has added 1,100 jobs.

April 24, 2007

State's high-tech scorecard

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:22 AM

Washington's high-tech industry added 4,500 jobs for a total of 156,500 in 2005, and the average worker made $83,700, according to the most current data available from the AeA, a national technology trade association.

The AeA, which has 2,500 member companies from all segments of the high-tech industry, released its 10th anniversary "Cyberstates" report detailing national and state trends in high-tech employment, wages, and other key economic factors.

The report, "Cyberstates 2007: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry," covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

It found that Washington's largest and fastest growing sector remains software publishing, which grew by 2,100 net jobs in 2005 for a total of 41,100 jobs. In this sector, Washington ranks second, trailing California.

Other sectors that experienced significant growth here in 2005 included Internet services, which gained more than 1,000 jobs, and engineering services and computer systems design, which both gained more than 900 jobs.

David Anastasi, president and CEO of Bellevue-based Captaris, said in the release:

"Washington's tech industry remains vibrant and growing. Many people are aware that our software industry is one of the Evergreen State's greatest strengths, but they may not realize how fast it continues to grow. And they may not realize that several other service sectors are growing or that a broad set of investors continue to find Washington an attractive place to invest their capital."

Here are other Washington highlights from the report:

-- Washington has 156,500 high-tech workers.

-- 4,500 jobs were added from 2004 to 2005.

-- High-tech firms employed 69 of every 1,000 private sector workers in 2005.

-- High-tech workers made an average of $83,700 a year, or 108 percent more than Washington's average private sector wage.

-- There were 6,800 high-tech establishments in 2005.

-- R&D expenditures reached $10.9 billion in 2004.

Based on those findings, Washington ranks high in a number of categories:

-- Second in software publishing employment with 41,100 jobs.

-- Eighth in electromedical equipment manufacturing employment with 3,500 jobs.

-- Twelfth in research and development and testing labs with 19,400 jobs.

More information can be found at AeA's Web site.

March 22, 2007

WSA Awards: Dave Ross rocks; James Sun shines

Posted by Kristi Heim at 9:39 AM

The WSA put on its annual awards show last night, and by the size of the crowd and buzz in the room, the tech industry is going strong and continuing to propel the state's economy.

It wasn't exactly the kind of Silicon Valley-boom-era celebration with vodka poured continuously from an ice luge, but still ... well dressed people toasted with lemon peel martinis, and acrobats in red velvet suits dangled from rings on stage.

Among the highlights, emcee Dave Ross sang a hilarious "I Got YouTube" to the tune of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe."

"I took a bath with a cat and a million people downloaded that," he crooned.

Zoodango CEO James Sun brought some energy to the graying crowd, and he was offered a date with the daughter of one of the presenters, evidently a fan of his on-the-job-performance as a cast member of NBC's "The Apprentice."

YouTube's new owner, Google, joined the festivities for the first time as a sponsor, and new WSA President Ken Myer said the association will partner with the Technology Alliance and other groups advocating state educational intiatives.

The strangest moment of the night occurred toward the end, when an excited Bill Baxter exclaimed "Jesus Christ!" right before the community choice award was handed to Logos Bible Software.

Otherwise, the awards themselves lacked much spice, since the companies have been around for some time already.

Here is a list of the winners:

Double award winner for best use of technology in the government or non-profit sector and service provider of the year:
The PTSO of Washington offers shared, cost-effective technology services, specifically designed for community health centers, offering unprecedented support for electronic clinical and business functions.

Breakthough technology:
Inrix -- Inrix Smart Dust Network & Inrix Traffic Fusion Engine
Inrix uses Bayesian analysis to model traffic flows, improving the quality of real-time traffic data and predicting how traffic flow patterns will change.

Technology innovator:
Chris Diorio, chairman and CTO, Impinj
Diorio is also co-chair of the EPCglobal Hardware Action Group. Diorio received his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1997.

Business product:
Attenex -- Attenex Patterns E-Discovery Software
An integrated software suite designed to reduce the cost and risk associated with e-discovery for litigation, regulatory requests and internal investigations.

Consumer product:
Farecast --
Farecast.com is the first and only airfare prediction Web site. It's designed to help travelers decide whether to buy tickets now or wait.

Community choice:
Logos Bible Software -- Logos Bible Software 3 applies retrieval technologies to Bible study.

February 14, 2007

Seattle deficit turns to surplus -- the Boeing effect

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:06 PM

Seattle had the largest trade surplus of any city in the U.S. last year, according to a World City study released today based on new census figures.

Seattle carried a $10.6 billion trade surplus in 2006. The year before, the city had a trade deficit of $2.9 billion. Guess what happened in between? Boeing sold a lot of planes.

This news comes on the heels of a report showing the U.S. trade deficit hit a record high for the fifth year in a row. Oil imports and Chinese goods contributed to the widening gap. The U.S. trade deficit grew 6.5 percent to an all-time high of $767 billion, according to the Commerce Department.

Here in Seattle, aircraft and aircraft parts made up more than half of the total $65 billion in exports last year. Seattle's international trade grew more than 19 percent to almost $120 billion, outpacing the 12 percent growth of the U.S. as a whole.

Other figures point to the importance of the region's trade relations with Asia. The volume of trade with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea rose significantly.

Canada and China, Seattle's top two trading partners, accounted for more than 40 percent of the total trade. Twenty countries did more than $1 million in trade with Seattle in 2006.

By the way, Seattle's top ten exports were aircraft, aircraft parts, computer chips, corn, soybeans, oil, computers, frozen fish, motor vehicles for transport and medical technology. Not sure where Microsoft software fits in, since it's not a computer or a computer chip.

The top ten imports were crude oil from petroleum, passenger vehicles, aircraft parts, petroleum gas, parts for arcade games, wood, color TVs and computer monitors, leather footwear and internal combustion engines.

January 23, 2007

Google: No. 1 company to work for

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:21 AM

According to this month's Fortune magazine, employees ranked Google as the best company to work for.

The perks are epic: free shuttles equipped with Wi-Fi to pick up and drop off employees; annual all-expenses paid ski trip; climbing wall; onsite doctors, notaries and washer and dryers; onsite oil changes and car washes; lap pool and free gourmet meals.

The average salaries for both hourly and salary workers were not disclosed, but the cover of the magazine shows how ecstatic the employees are. A dozen or so are all lifting one particularly thrilled woman up in the air.

Here are the Washington state companies that made the list of 100 top companies to work for:

16. Starbucks: Ranked No. 29 last year. The average for a salary worker is $43,598, while hourly employees make an average of $35,797. Part-time employees are eligible for full benefits if they work 240 hours a quarter.

24. Nordstrom: Ranked No. 46 last year. Average for salary workers was $48,500. Hourly workers make $35,200. In 1988, people of color made up 24 percent of staff, and now it's 41 percent. In managerial ranks, 31 percent are people of color, and 72 percent are women.

27. REI: Ranked No. 9 last year. The average for salary workers is $87,519; hourly workers make $22,453. Last year it started offering health insurance to all part-timers.

30. Russell Investment Group: Ranked No. 63 last year. Salaries were not disclosed, but Russell has pumped 15 percent of pay into retirement accounts every year since 1975.

50. Microsoft: Ranked No. 42 last year. Average for salary employees is $118,500. Hourly workers make $52,560. New perks in 2006 included free grocery delivery, dry-cleaning service, valet parking. Annual summer picnic drew 30,000 employees and family members to the Cascades.

64. Perkins Coie: Ranked No. 48 last year. The average for salary workers is $142,027; hourly workers make $58,807. The law firm has anonymous happiness committees that roam through the office spreading cheer, often in the form of gifts left on desks.

Interesting that only one tech company from the state made the list. What perks would you want?

January 22, 2007

The Linux Foundation

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:56 PM

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group, two of the leading organizations promoting Linux, said today that they will merge to form The Linux Foundation.

The organization saidthat together they will speed the growth of Linux by providing a comprehensive set of services to compete effectively with closed platforms.

Founding members include Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell and Oracle. Other members include every major company in the Linux industry, including Red Hat, as well as community groups, universities and industry end users.

Jim Zemlin, former executive director of the Free Standards Group, will lead The Linux Foundation.

"Computing is entering a world dominated by two platforms: Linux and Windows. While being managed under one roof has given Windows some consistency, Linux offers freedom of choice, customization and flexibility without forcing customers into vendor lock-in," Zemlin said. "The Linux Foundation helps in the next stage of Linux growth by organizing the diverse companies and constituencies of the Linux ecosystem to promote, protect, and standardize Linux."

The Linux Foundation, which will have offices in Beaverton, Ore. and San Francisco, will continue to sponsor the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds. Torvalds is a Portland resident, who our columnist, Brier Dudley, describes as a cult figure among computer enthusiasts worldwide.

Brier has written many stories on the rivalry of having Seattle be the hub for Microsoft's Windows and Portland the center for open source.

Here's also a Q&A he did with Torvalds.

Here's The New York Times' take on the deal.

So far, the consensus developing on the subject are that this will allow Linux to act more corporate to compete more effectively against Microsoft.

November 28, 2006

October computer shipments lowest in 15 years

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 11:41 AM

In a sign that computer buyers might be holding off purchases until they can get their hands on Microsoft's new operating system early next year, computer shipments took a huge dive in October, reaching a low not seen in the 15 years the government has tracked the category.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported today on orders and shipments of durable goods in October. Overall, shipments were up 0.6 percent to $210 billion.

Shipments of computers and related products stood at $4.72 billion in October, down 24.9 percent from September and 28.6 percent from October 2005, when shipments stood at $6.6 billion.

Technology industry analysts have forecast that the delay of consumer availability of Windows Vista past the holiday shopping season could cost the rest of the industry billions in lost holiday sales.

Microsoft and computer manufacturers have tried to spur people to buy computers with coupons for free or discounted upgrades to Windows Vista. The coupon program started in late October.

Microsoft is making Vista available to business customers Thursday.

June 5, 2006

H-1B visas and the tech economy

Posted by Kristi Heim at 1:57 PM

Tech companies maxed out the number of H-1B visas allowed this year even earlier than 2005, reaching the cap of 65,000 permits for temporary workers last week. Those visas are intended to be used over the next fiscal year, starting in October. Meanwhile, the immigration bill passed by the Senate would nearly double the cap to at least 115,000.

How would this affect our local tech economy? Bill Gates recently said he favored doing away with the whole program. But even in an economy that has been generally on the upswing, not every qualified IT worker here can find a job.

April 19, 2006

High-tech job growth in 2004

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:24 AM

The number of high-tech jobs in the state increased by 1,200 to 152,000 in 2004, according to a new report out by the AeA trade association. That's about 7 percent of statewide employment.

A good chunk of the growth was in software publishing, which gained more than 2,000 jobs in 2004, the most recent period for which the data is available.

If you want to buy the report, it'll cost $190 if you're not an AeA member. But here are some free details about Washington to chew on:

--152,000 high-tech workers (14th ranked cyberstate)

--High-tech companies employed 69 of every 1,000 private sector workers in 2004, ranked 10th nationwide

--High-tech workers made an average wage of $79,700 (5th ranked), or 105 percent more than Washington's average private sector wage

--A high-tech payroll of $12.1 billion in 2004, ranked 12th nationwide

--6,500 high-tech establishments in 2004, ranked 17th nationwide

--R&D expenditures of $11.5 billion in 2003, ranked 7th nationwide

April 10, 2006

More on tech job outlook

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:27 PM

Seattle employment Web site Jobster, which counts Starbucks, Microsoft, Expedia, Google and eBay among its clients, is about to announce news about steady growth this week, mirroring a national uptick in the tech job market.

"We are seeing the hottest technology employment market in the Seattle market in years," Jobster CEO Jason Goldberg said in an email. "Competition for technology workers has increased dramatically over the past six months, with many candidates reporting multiple offers. Large employers such as Microsoft and Google (which is growing its Seattle presence) are now competing aggressively with small startups for tech talent."

The number of engineering and software development positions being posted online by Seattle area companies has grown more than 20 percent since August, he added. Better news, indeed, than simply fewer job cuts.

Update: Jobster says 115 new companies are using its service, and it added basic job listings from another 80,000 employers.

Tech job outlook improves

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:28 AM

The outlook for tech jobs is getting better -- that is, if you count fewer job cuts as an improvement.

Outsourcing consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas report this morning that tech job cuts declined 34 percent from the same quarter last year.

It's the fourth consecutive quarter in which tech job cuts fell below the level they were the year before. The figure for total job cuts in the first three months of 2006 was 39,379, compared to 59,537 last year.

Most of the cuts were attributed to consolidation in the telecom industry. The job outlook is brightest in areas like storage systems administration and information security.

The change was heralded as "territory not seen since the peak of the dot.com era" and IT workers were proclaimed to be "objects of bidding wars among desperate, labor-deprived employers."

Hmm. Since when did losing 40,000 jobs instead of 60,000 jobs suddenly become cause for such elation? Maybe when they report 60,000 new jobs gained I'll feel more optimistic.

March 30, 2006

CEO pay at startups is looking up

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 9:21 AM

Chief executives at U.S. companies backed by venture capital are getting paid $10,000 more a year in total compensation than they did a year ago, according to a survey published today by VentureOne, a unit of Dow Jones Newswires.

The survey, which looked at more than 700 executives at U.S. venture-backed companies, found that CEOs' median compensation was $263,000, compared with $252,000 a year ago. Part of that package was larger bonuses -- CEOs reported a median $50,000 this year compared to $40,000 a year ago.

The CEOs also have bigger stakes in the companies. This year, they said they owned a median of 5 percent, last year, it was 4.92 percent, and in 2004 they owned only 4.6 percent.

On average, however, executives in the Northwest are paid less. The survey found that executives here were paid a base salary of $200,000, a bonus of $41,000 and owned only 4.2 percent of the company. Total compensation was $250,000.

Here's the justification for the increase year-over-year: "The job is also requiring more from them as they lead their companies through more challenging investment climates, including longer periods of time between financings with requirements to hit significant milestones and a U.S. IPO market that remains constrained for exits," said Stephen Harmston, director of global research for VentureOne.

The justification for Northwest executives getting paid less? Sorry, no word just yet. See your venture capitalist.

Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
Kristi Heim
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