As mayor unveils new ‘Innovation Advisory Council,’ Seattle Hot Take Council weighs in

Sometimes in politics, timing is more important than intent. In a summer of setbacks on Seattle’s most progressive issues including the approved and then un-approved homelessness crisis tax on big businesses, the latest in a long line of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new City Hall committees is drawing plenty of cynicism. Here’s the announcement live from Zillow headquarters of the mayor’s new Innovation Advisory Council to address the city’s “most urgent challenges” —

At Zillow Group in Seattle, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed an Executive Order to launch the City’s first ever Innovation Advisory Council. With initial commitments by Amazon, Artefact Group, Expedia Group, Flying Fish, Microsoft, Tableau, Technology Access Foundation, Washington Technology Industry Association, and Zillow Group, Mayor Durkan will bring together some of the region’s most innovative companies and organizations to address the City’s most urgent challenges. Through this Executive Order, Mayor Durkan is establishing the Innovation Advisory Council, a new collaboration with Seattle’s technology community that will better highlight technology solutions to help with our homelessness and affordability crisis.

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Microsoft running larger employee shuttles more often through Capitol Hill amid increased demand

A Connector idles near a Metro bus stop on 19th Ave E (Image: CHS)

A Connector idles near a Metro bus stop on 19th Ave E (Image: CHS)

At least 31 passenger buses roll through three Capitol Hill stops every day, but they don’t belong to King County Metro or Sound Transit.

The Microsoft Connector, which shuttles full-time employees from Seattle to the company’s campus in Redmond and offices in Bellevue, has recently stepped up its central city service frequency and bus size across Capitol Hill due to increased demand, the company says.

Launched in 2007, Microsoft’s Capitol Hill shuttles were recently replaced with larger buses, but the company would not say how many employees on average use the service, only that its fleet of buses can carry more than 7,000 passengers. On some routes like the 12 on 19th Ave E, it appears the corporate perk far outperforms public transit in terms of ridership.
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Art Hack Day coming to Capitol Hill, fostering collaboration between artists and hackers

Artists and hackers will take over 11th Ave’s V2 space later this month to spend 48 hours creating pieces that marry art and technology.

The collaborative project, Art Hack Day, which has been held in cities around the world, provides the participants with a space and equipment. “It’s a great environment for artists and engineers to collaborate closely on projects,” Julia Fryett, an organizer for the Seattle event, told CHS. The time constraint and theme can lead to exciting and unexpected creations, she said.

In Seattle, organizers settled on the theme “Erasure,” which the 30 to 40 artists and hackers mostly from Seattle and Portland will create pieces around. Continue reading

13% of Seattle’s registered hobby drones call Capitol Hill, CD homeport

Seattle Police still haven’t tracked down the pilot of the drone that crashed into a Capitol Hill earlier this month but newly released records from the Federal Aviation Administration show that there are plenty more quadcopters ready to take flight in the neighborhood.

According to the records, 171 of the 1,355 hobby class drones registered with the FAA in Seattle are listed at address in ZIP codes covering Capitol Hill and the Central District. That’s around 13% of the Seattle fleet.

In all, the feds report more than 460,000 hobby registrations in the United States and its territories. Seattle ranks 18th in the nation for the number of hobby drones — right between New York and Tucson. Houston’s more than 3,000 registrations take the top slot. On the non-hobby end of things, Seattle only ranks 28th with a paltry 27 registered industrial drones. Menlo Park is the working drone capital with 176 just outpacing the 138 industrial drones registered at Alabama’s Maxwell Air Force Base.

The laws and regulations around the use of quadcopters and drones are continuing to take shape. Late last year, a FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration system began that requires even recreational drones to be registered. Police did not say if the drone involved in the Capitol Hill house crash displayed the required registration information. The FAA has mandated a five-mile no-fly zone around airports — drone pilots should stay north of Madison if they want to avoid that entanglement. There are not currently any City of Seattle laws the prohibit the devices from being used but regulations prohibit their use on parks lands.

We’ve mapped the FAA hobby registrations, below.
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Uber and Amazon meal delivery attracts Hill restaurant owners with focus on quality, hype

Within 90 minutes, 250 lunches had flown out of the Gnocchi Bar kitchen on Capitol Hill Thursday as Uber drivers whisked them out to offices and apartments throughout Capitol Hill and downtown.

It was the first day Gnocchi Bar used the newly rolled-out Uber Eats service to deliver its craft pasta through the car hailing app, which currently serves downtown and Capitol Hill south of Aloha and west of 17th Ave.

With several delivery options around town, Uber’s focus on quality was a major selling point for chef-owner Lisa Nakamura and other restaurant owners around Capitol Hill. To sell owners on the service, Uber organized test runs and leveraged its wide network of drivers to promise ultra-fast deliveries.

“Uber seemed to be very organized and interested in bringing a high quality service,” Nakamura said. “They’re interested in how the food holds up… and were concerned about food safety.” Continue reading

Custom gift company the latest tech-y start-up to move into Pike/Pine

(Image: Knack)

(Image: Knack)

11822391_673529589449538_8971537360606685925_nAs one big tech giant continues to build up in South Lake Union, boutique firms with much smaller footprints are finding a home on Capitol Hill.

The latest is Knack, a custom gift service that promises to restore the “delight back into modern gift giving by allowing even the most overscheduled and craft-averse to easily create meaningful, made-by-you-just-for-them gifts.”

Last year Knack was set up as a pop-up shop in the Pacific Place Mall. Now the boutique gift service is entering the world of online commerce by allowing customers put together custom gift packages online. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Ada’s launches its own book collection through crowd-powered publisher Inkshares

IMG_6756The shelves inside Ada’s Technical Books are chock full of inspiration for innovation and experimentation, so it’s no surprise the shop itself has taken a few of those lessons to heart. From the lock picking classes that started at the old Harvard Ave location, to the cafe and coworking space that were added in the move to 15th Ave, Ada’s has made a habit of elevating the neighborhood bookshop game.

Now the bookseller is stepping into the realm of book publisher. Ada’s recently announced a partnership with crowd-powered publisher Inkshares to release books under The Ada’s Technical Books Collection.

“We’re looking for books we think are interesting and fit within our store,” said Ada’s events coordinator Alex Hughes.

In addition to being part of an Ada’s curated collection, writers will also get promotional support for their book and, of course, a place on Ada’s shelves. Continue reading

Music tech maker Sonos opens Bullitt Center office

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

Another tech company is making a home on Capitol Hill. California-based wireless speaker and audio technology company Sonos has announced it is opening an engineering office for 70 employees inside super green office building the Bullitt Center at 15th and E Madison.

Bullitt Center representatives said the new office makes the “greenest office building in the world” now 100% leased. Earlier this year, the center’s developers at the Bullitt Foundation celebrated the two-year-old project’s Living Building Certification. The Bullitt Center is the first office building to receive the certification awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — self-sufficient for water and energy and actively promoting the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

UPDATE: A company spokesperson tells CHS that joining the Bullitt Center comes with added responsibilities. Tenants are expected to meet standards for energy consumption and be part of the building’s non-toxic material requirements. “We’re excited to be part of an environment that will encourage us to be thoughtful,” the Sonos representative said.

Sonos will begin with an engineering team of 10 in its new Seattle office with hopes to grow the teams working here to around 70. The engineering work done at the Bullitt will primarily focus on the company’s software, the spokesperson said.

Sonos hardware

Sonos hardware

The Sonos announcement comes amid a small wave of new tech firms finding new spaces in the neighborhood including the newly opened Chophouse Row development that Mazlo, Tectonic, and Glympse now call home.

“Our new and growing team in Seattle will take up residence at the iconic Bullitt Center, known as the greenest commercial building in the world, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the Sonos announcement on the new office reads. “We look forward to taking in the iconic ‘Seattle Sound,’ incredible music venues, the local Capitol Hill Block Party music festival, as well as the sounds of whatever the team has lined up in the Sonos queue.”

While the building has been a major success on the green construction front, it’s taken more than two years to fully lease the five-story center beyond the initial tenant roster. Like Sonos, not all tenants are environment-focused businesses or organizations but all tend to be forward looking and design focused. In 2013, for example, construction firm Hammer & Hand joined the building.

Here are the current Bullitt tenants Sonos is joining:

  • Bullitt Foundation
  • Hammer & Hand
  • Intentional Futures
  • International Living Future Institute
  • PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Point32
  • University of Washington Integrated Design Lab

Space in the building was going for $30 per square foot. Sonos is claiming about 14,000 square feet, the company representative said.

With around 300 employees, Sonos also has offices in Santa Barbara, and Boston in the United States, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, The United Kingdom, and China. The company’s vice president of software development told the PSBJ Sonos will have room for about 70 employees in the Bullitt Center office. We’ll have to follow up to find out if the Bullitt Center will be able to deploy a full Sonos music system on every floor — and still meet its green benchmarks. UPDATE: Yup — Sonos will be deploying Sonos gear on their floor and a half of office space, we’re told.

Startup FlyBuy building new mobile ‘curbside’ shopping service on E Pine

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 2.28.26 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-23 at 2.41.14 PMIf a new Capitol Hill-based startup has its way, nearly every storefront will be turned into a drive-through. Flybuy, a new mobile app company, is headquartered in an unassuming retail space on E Pine. Its business model is to help retailers and customers avoid the hassle of parking and be part of the next wave of online commerce.

screen322x572“It’s a 21st century drive through,” said Chapin Henry, the company’s chief operating officer.

There was huge buzz in tech media this week as an Uber co-founder unveiled details of Operator, a “shopping concierge” system designed to “unlock the 90% of commerce that’s not on the Internet.”

On E Pine near 14th Ave, Henry and Flybuy are making a push for similar turf. The app allows users to make orders for goods and services through participating retailers. The stores provide an estimate of how long it will take to fill the order. Customers can then drive to the store as the business is notified that the customer has arrived. An employee then meets the person at the curb for a quick pick-up. People pay through the app.

It might seem somewhat cumbersome but when the new turf of an Operator-type world of commerce starts to get claimed, there’s a good chance services like Flybuy could play a part. Continue reading

Chophouse Row lines up mobile tech company Glympse for Pike/Pine marketplace + office development

(Image: Dunn + Hobbes)

(Image: Dunn + Hobbes)

glympseIOSTech backlash or no, startups have and will continue to make Capitol Hill their home. One new building preparing to open in Pike/Pine appears to have landed exactly what its developer was looking for in creating a mixed-use project just off E Pike with a focus on office space, not apartments.

Glympse, a Seattle-based mobile technology startup currently making its home in South Lake Union, is making plans to bring its employees to Capitol Hill with 10,000 square feet of office space in the upper levels of Liz Dunn’s nearly complete Chophouse Row development.

Dunn told CHS she cannot comment on tenants in the preservation and development project and Glympse hasn’t returned our messages from earlier this week but early plans on file with the city show preparations to construct a two-level office for the startup on the third floor of the 11th Ave project between Pike and Union that is combining an old auto row-era structure with new construction to create a Melrose Market-like marketplace at street level with office space above. Continue reading