Outreach Named to the 2019 Forbes Cloud 100

The Forbes Cloud 100, produced by Forbes in partnership with Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, showcases private cloud …

SEATTLE, Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, has been named to the 2019 Forbes Cloud 100 – recognized as one of the top private cloud companies in the world. The Forbes Cloud 100, produced by Forbes in partnership with Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, showcases private cloud companies that stand out for their growth, sales, valuation, and culture. This year’s ranking marks the company’s third appearance on the coveted list.

Outreach has experienced incredible growth and a rapid trajectory. The company achieved “unicorn” status, achieving a valuation of over $1B in April 2019 – which Forbes predicted when it called out the company as one of its “Next Billion Dollar Startups” in 2017. Outreach has been doubling revenue every year for the past three years and now has more than 3,500 customers, from fast-growing startups to Fortune 500 enterprise companies.

“While growth is clearly exciting and an important milestone, what is truly rewarding for me – and our employees – is how Outreach is fundamentally changing the way companies, and their sales teams, engage with current and potential customers,” said Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach. “By applying machine learning and AI, we are able to offer real-time insights, resulting in dramatic increases in sales productivity with more deals closed and happier, engaged customers. We are grateful to Forbes and its partners for recognizing our market leadership as we continue to deliver the innovation and results our customers have come to expect from Outreach.”

As part of the rigorous selection process for the Forbes 2019 Cloud 100, Bessemer Venture Partners received submissions from hundreds of cloud startups. The judging panel, made up of public cloud company CEOs, reviewed the data to select, score, and rank the top 100 private cloud companies from all over the world. The evaluation process involved ranking companies across four factors: market leadership (35%), estimated valuation (30%), operating metrics (20%), and people & culture (15%).

“The private cloud ecosystem has matured, making the competition to land one of the coveted spots on the Cloud 100 list steeper than ever,” said Byron Deeter, a top cloud investor, and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “In fact, the average valuation of a company on our inaugural list just four years ago was $1 billion, while this year’s list spiked to $1.7 billion. Our 2019 Cloud 100 includes over 60 private cloud unicorns. Congratulations to these cloud leaders!”

“The growth we are seeing is not limited to the Bay Area, as we are seeing more $1B+ cloud companies spring up throughout the U.S. and globally,” said Matt Garratt, Managing Partner, Salesforce Ventures. “We are excited to be partnering with Bessemer Venture Partners and Forbes for the fourth year to recognize the next generation companies who will land on the Cloud 100 list—those who are not just predicting what’s coming but working to create the future.”

“For four years now, we have ranked the best and brightest emerging companies in the cloud sector,” said Alex Konrad, Forbes editor of The Cloud 100. “With so many businesses growing fast in the cloud, from cybersecurity and marketing to data analytics and storage, it’s harder than ever to make the Cloud 100 list. Congratulations to each of the 2019 Cloud 100 honorees and the 20 Rising Stars honorees poised to join their ranks!”

The 2019 Forbes Cloud 100 is published online at www.forbes.com/cloud100 and will appear in the September 2019 issue of Forbes magazine.

About Outreach

Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, dramatically increases sales reps’ effectiveness using advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to automate and prioritize customer touchpoints. Outreach has 3,500 customers such as Adobe, DocuSign, and Tableau, who’ve seen significant increases in sales pipeline, velocity, and efficiency. Outreach is a privately held company based in Seattle, Washington. To learn more, please visit www.outreach.io.

Media Contact:

Amanda Woolley

PR@outreach.io

SOURCE Outreach

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NEO’s push to supplant Ethereum as the most developer friendly blockchain

NEO is a smart contract platform founded in China that aims to provide the “optimal infrastructure necessary for mass adoption,” said founder Da …

NEO is aggressively expending resources to compete with Ethereum in a race to become the most “developer friendly” blockchain. Supported by several Microsoft veterans, the project is leading an ambitious build-out of the platform’s core capabilities with a treasury worth more than half a billion dollars.

History behind NEO

NEO is a smart contract platform founded in China that aims to provide the “optimal infrastructure necessary for mass adoption,” said founder Da Hongfei on stage at the 2019 NEO Community Summit.

Originally launched in June 2015 as “Antshares,” the project rebranded to NEO in June 2017 coinciding with a reinvigorated focus on digitizing assets and, more abstractly, building the “next-gen internet.”

The rebrand, in combination with the frenzy of the 2017 bull market, resulted in NEO getting hailed as the “Chinese Ethereum killer,” similar to EOS and other up and coming smart contract platforms. Overnight, the project went from obscurity to the top 10 by market capitalization, breaching the billion-dollar valuation mark August of 2017.

Today, NEO is ranked 20th among all cryptocurrency projects by market capitalization.

Building presence on the global stage

Since the beginning of 2019, NEO has started to actively leverage its resources to compete globally. NEO boasts over$535 million in assets on its balance sheet in cryptocurrency alone, the largest portion of which stems from the 50 million (out of a total supply of 100 million) NEO tokens retained from its fundraising event.

Now, NEO is leveraging these resources to build a more robust blockchain platform. In February of this year the project opened a development hub in Seattle, bringing on several Microsoft veterans, including John deVadoss, to lead the initiative.

NEO as the most developer friendly platform

NEO established its first stronghold in the United States at the beginning of 2019. Washington State was selected because of its status as the “protocol capital of the world,” said John deVadoss, at NEO DevCon in Seattle. The presence of Microsoft, Amazon, and other major tech companies means the state is well-suited for recruiting elite talent to build out the platform.

John deVadoss, now the president NEO Global Development Seattle, worked at Microsoft for over 16 years. As the architect and director for .NET, a dominant software development framework for Windows, he seems like an ideal choice for leading the division.

There are roughly 150,000 blockchain developers globally estimated deVadoss. However, this is a narrow segment to target, he argued. Blockchain development is currently limited to “elite” builders who are comfortable learning esoteric languages and unorthodox technology stacks.

NEO wants to differentiate itself by making development on its platform the most accessible in the industry.

Winning developer mindshare

According to John deVadoss, one of Ethereum’s biggest mistakes was the creation of Solidity. The new programming language naturally creates an upper caste of blockchain developers, acting as a major obstacle for mass adoption among the broader developer community.

NEO is learning from Ethereum’s mistakes, several executives told CryptoSlate. At DevCon the narrative was the project’s focus on a ‘polyglot’ approach, with NEO aiming to support multiple widely-available programming languages such as JavaScript, Java, Python, and Go.

“For there to be adoption there needs to be developers first, then users will come,” said deVadoss in an interview. As part of that strategy, NEO is targeting the 7 million developers who currently use .NET and Visual Studio Code every month. By designing familiar tools its possible to turn these developers into “NEO developers,” deVadoss said at the Community Summit.

This isn’t just talk. NEO is putting serious money behind the push.

In May 2019, NEOannounced EcoBoost, $100 million earmarked to fund software projects around the blockchain. For reference, the Ethereum Foundation plans to spend $30 million over the course of the year,reported CoinDesk in May.

More recently the narrative shifted. NEO is now aiming to build-out differentiated core capabilities on its blockchain in addition to improving ease-of-development.

Starting with capabilities

Another mistake was Truffle, said deVadoss. The for-profit organization that builds tools for smart contract development on Ethereum doesn’t make sense for an ecosystem utility, he asserted.

“[Joseph] Lubin boxed himself in by trying to make money in dev tools. No one makes money off of developer tools. The best scenario for Ethereum would be for Vitalik to close it down and take it all back to its open-source roots.”

Instead, NEO is actively creating developer tools to improve the smart contract developer’s experience—fully funded through the non-profit NEO Foundation. Everything from preconfigured toolkits, libraries, chain explorers, and detailed guidance and documentation will be completely free. Even technical support and marketing will be available to projects selected by EcoBoost, while Truffle plans to churn a profit on similar consulting services.

Another advantage: these tools are getting built directly into Visual Studio Code, a leading integrated development environment from Microsoft.

The two other big initiatives to watch out for are NeoFS and NeoID. These are initiatives to create a native decentralized file storage system and self-sovereign identity solution for the NEO blockchain. If successful, they’d open up a wide range of potential dApps that aren’t possible on other blockchain platforms.

If successful, the impact of these capabilities can’t be overstated. There are tens of multi-million dollar startups attempting to solve these very problems. IPFS, OrbitDB, and GunDB are attempting to crack decentralized storage. Startups such as Blockstack and Civic are major players attempting to solve decentralized identity.

With these capabilities the NEO technology stack would be substantially differentiated from other smart contract platforms, including Ethereum.

Squaring up with Ethereum

Founder and CEO Da Hongfei made it clear they’re trying to surpass Ethereum. During his “state of NEO” address at the 2019 DevCon in Seattle, he said:

“We set our mission to make NEO the number one blockchain by 2020. We only have a year, or two years, depending on how you define 2020… Time is ticking.”

Yet, NEO has a lot of ground to cover if it wants to usurp the incumbent smart contract blockchain. Thus far, Ethereum has established a lead that dwarfs every other smart contract stack—especially in terms of developer adoption.

Although executives at NEO argued that Ethereum’s decentralization makes decision-making slower, the protocol has so much momentum that its open-source ecosystem is continually growing—despite the supposed impediment—for free.

Ethereum represents 63 percent of the $30 billionsmart contract segment, in terms of aggregate market capitalization, with a valuation of $18.9 billion. In comparison, NEO represents just 2.1 percent of the segment, with a market capitalization of $641 million.

Ethereum also dominates NEO in terms of developer activity. 18 percent of all monthly-active crypto developers work in the Ethereum ecosystem, totaling over 1,200 developers. In comparison, NEO has less than 100, according to an analysis from Electric Capital.

For NEO to gain meaningful traction it needs to be aggressive. With a nimbler foundation and a unique value proposition it is possible for NEO to succeed from behind. But, it’s still far from certain that NEO is the next “Ethereum killer.”

NEO |NEO

Updated: Sep 8 at 2:46 pm PDT

$9.30

1.82%

NEO, currently ranked #20 by market cap, is up 1.82% over the past 24 hours. NEO has a market cap of $656.15M with a 24 hour volume of $244.65M.

Chart by CryptoCompare

NEO is up 1.82% over the past 24 hours.

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Filed Under: China, U.S., Analysis, Ethereum, NEO, Price Watch, Technology

Mitchell MoosMitchell Moos

Mitchell is a software enthusiast and entrepreneur. In addition to writing, he runs a non-profit that teaches people about the blockchain. In his spare time he loves playing chess or hiking.

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Disclaimer: Our writers’ opinions are solely their own and do not reflect the opinion of CryptoSlate. None of the information you read on CryptoSlate should be taken as investment advice, nor does CryptoSlate endorse any project that may be mentioned or linked to in this article. Buying and trading cryptocurrencies should be considered a high-risk activity. Please do your own due diligence before taking any action related to content within this article. Finally, CryptoSlate takes no responsibility should you lose money trading cryptocurrencies.

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Uber and Lyft: Ban them from Seattle

Re: “Seattle’s taxis are hanging on as Uber and Lyft lose billions” [Sept. 2, Business]:. Nice article about Seattle’s conventional taxis. I wish them well.

Re: “Seattle’s taxis are hanging on as Uber and Lyft lose billions” [Sept. 2, Business]:

Nice article about Seattle’s conventional taxis. I wish them well. As a matter of fact I would like to see Uber and Lyft banned from the taxi marketplace. They use Seattle’s publicly funded streets but require a smartphone to access services.

If you don’t own a smartphone or can’t pay for their data plans, you’re out of luck. Not everybody owns a smartphone, but we all pay taxes to maintain streets. How is this fair for all Seattle residents?

Imagine the outcry if Metro suddenly decided to require its customers to use smartphones to pay their bus fare. No smartphone, no ride. Unthinkable!

Let’s run Uber and Lyft out of town and reclaim Seattle’s streets for the general public.

Jeffrey Weiser, Redmond

Letters editor: letters@seattletimes.com;

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As Uber and Lyft lose billions, Seattle’s taxis are hanging on

Like many longtime taxi drivers in Seattle, Tegegne Mersha thinks of his career in two distinct phases: before Uber and after. When Mersha, an …

Like many longtime taxi drivers in Seattle, Tegegne Mersha thinks of his career in two distinct phases: before Uber and after.

When Mersha, an Ethiopian immigrant, started driving in 2010, a year before the first black Uber cars hit Seattle, business was so brisk he could park near the Westin Hotel at 6 a.m. and have $60 or $70 in fares by 8.

With the $200 or more he took home each day, plus the money from renting his car to another driver for the night shift, Mersha earned more than enough to justify the $100,000 cost of the taxi license he’d purchased on what was then a thriving gray market.

Since Uber and other ride-hailing companies arrived, Mersha’s fortunes have swerved sharply. The 48-year-old father of three now rarely takes home more than $100 a day in his Orange Cab. And that $100,000 license? “It’s zero now,” Mersha says, shrugging. “It’s zero.”

Yet Mersha hasn’t given up hope. Like many of his colleagues, Mersha believes that taxis’ misfortunes stem in part from the unfair advantages Uber and Lyft enjoy over the heavily regulated taxi business. He thinks that if local politicians re-leveled the playing field, his industry — and his own fortunes — could recover. “That’s the dream,” he says.

That’s not as far-fetched as it might seem.

For months now, city officials, including representatives of the mayor’s office and the City Council, have been quietly talking with industry officials and labor leaders over policies that affect the ground transportation business.

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Among the ideas that reportedly have been discussed are regulatory changes that might help taxi drivers better compete against Uber, Lyft and other so-called transportation network companies, or TNCs.

None of the participants have offered details, and it’s hardly clear when or even if a proposal will emerge.

But in the meantime, even without the city’s help, Seattle’s taxi business appears to be in something of a comeback.

As Uber and other TNCs have unleashed an all-out price war against the taxi companies, many were predicting their outright extinction.

Instead, most of those companies, including Yellow Cab, Orange Cab, E-Cab, Farwest Taxi and Green Cab, are still on the road. In fact, the fleet of taxis licensed by the city has actually grown 22 percent, to 844, since 2015.

Total taxi industry revenues, after plunging 56 percent between 2012 and 2015 to $43.9 million, crept back up to $52.5 million for 2018, the most recent year for which the city keeps data.

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“By several key measures, the taxicab industry in Seattle appears to have bottomed out and is now slowly recovering,” notes Craig Leisy, who until 2017 oversaw regulation of the city’s taxi, TNC, limo and towing sectors, in a recent book that uses Seattle as a case study of the TNC-taxi conflict.

Granted, that modest bounce hasn’t translated into renewed prosperity for Seattle-area taxi drivers, most of them immigrants, who have seen earnings plunge.

And certainly, some of what has kept the taxi business alive is a buffer of legacy customers — for example, government agencies, such as Metro, that contract with taxis to transport disabled or low-income passengers and must use professional, drug-tested drivers.

But there are other factors at play that might suggest there’s a future for Seattle’s taxis.

One is that the taxi industry itself responded to the TNC threat by making real, if modest, improvements.

There were technology upgrades: Dispatching is now partially automated, and some taxi companies have their own apps.

The industry has also cleaned up some of its less savory customer practices, such as refusing to pick up shorter, low-dollar fares or scamming drunk passengers. “There was a lot of mistreatment” of customers, said Amin Shifow, general manager at Yellow Cab, during an interview last fall. “We got cocky.” (Shifow did not respond to repeated requests for a second interview.)

But Seattle’s taxi business may also be benefiting, if indirectly, from the fact that its adversaries — the TNCs — are also struggling.

There are mounting signs that the very weapon Uber and other TNCs used so devastatingly against taxis — below-cost fares — may itself be unsustainable.

By cutting fares to roughly half of what taxis charge, the TNCs took more than half of taxis’ business in Seattle. But those ever-cheaper fares required the TNCs to not only absorb huge losses but also steadily cut their own drivers’ pay, which eventually provoked a driver backlash.

That resistance has contributed to an overall slowing of TNCs’ once-rapid expansion, which has freaked out investors. Uber, which went public in May, last month reported a second-quarter operating loss of $1.3 billion and has seen its share price fall 29 percent since a June high. Lyft lost $644 million and has seen its share price drop nearly 40 percent.

In other words, while many of the taxi industry’s wounds were self-inflicted, at least some of their lost business reflects TNC fare pricing that was not merely aggressive, but probably unsustainably so. That has led some industry experts to predict that TNCs will have to raise their fares.

Even a modest increase could make traditional taxis modestly more attractive, especially among certain customers, such as people without credit cards, or senior citizens who may never have trusted TNCs in the first place.

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Combine that with taxis’ legacy business, such as the semi-exclusive contract that taxis have at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport through 2021, and taxis might have an actual niche. At the very least, Seattle’s cabbies should be able to “hold onto the equilibrium market share they are at right now,” says Harry Campbell, a Los Angeles-based TNC industry expert.

Still, “holding on” isn’t the same as growing. Campbell and other experts say that the taxi business in Seattle and elsewhere faces too many structural limits to grow much beyond its current diminished state.

Technology will always be a limiter. Though large firms, like Yellow Cab, which has around 380 cars, have a phone app, many customers still call in their orders through central dispatch systems.

Nor can taxis match the short wait times that come from being able to flood a city with cars. “At every shift, 15,000 [TNCs] come out and they can cover every building,” said Michael, a 63-year-old Seattle Yellow Cab driver who gave only his first name. “There’s no limit.”

That points to taxis’ other big disadvantage: they are heavily regulated, while TNCs largely are not.

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Starting in the 1980s, Seattle and King County imposed taxi rules that governed everything from the number of cabs to where they could pick up fares to the minimum fares they could charge.

Regulation was lucrative. The cap on numbers meant plenty of business for each driver: in 2012, the average Seattle taxi driver was grossing $398 a day, according to city statistics.

Such earning potential, combined with the fact that licenses were limited in number and transferable, turned those licenses into a valuable asset; by various accounts, by the early 2000s, would-be drivers were paying anywhere from $80,000 for a city-only license to as much as $360,000 for a multizone license that also allowed for airport pickup.

At their peak, the licenses had a collective value of at least $125 million, said Chris Van Dyk, a longtime taxi industry consultant and lobbyist.

But almost overnight, those massive benefits turned into liabilities when the TNCs arrived with a product that was not only cheaper and more convenient, but much harder to regulate: the city of Seattle’s 2014 attempt to cap TNCs was abandoned after the TNCs gathered enough citizen support to mount a voter referendum against the cap.

Given that history, some Seattle politicians think the city owes taxi drivers some assistance.

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“We allowed Uber and Lyft to play in an unregulated market that legally we should have been regulating,” said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who has long argued that the city has an obligation “to figure out how to make that up.”

Devising such assistance is easier said than done.

In recent years, the city has considered requiring TNC drivers to charge the same minimum fare as taxis must charge, but that idea has faltered under TNC pressure. Likewise for a city effort to allow drivers to unionize: As independent contractors, they’re barred by federal law from unionizing.

In the current discussions, several proposals are said to be on the table.

Some council members are reportedly considering legislation, supported by the Teamsters, to impose some minimum level of compensation for independent contractor drivers. “They essentially want to turn the TNCs into taxis,” says one person familiar with the discussion.

In March, the Mayor’s Office acknowledged that it was exploring whether to impose a congestion fee “to manage the impact of ride-sharing companies on our downtown,” as spokesman Mark Prentice put it at the time.

Although the Mayor’s Office reportedly wants the fee to pay for affordable housing, taxi industry officials have argued for a different use:

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Van Dyk says that for five years, the city should pay most of the congestion fee revenue, which he estimates at around $30 million a year, to drivers as compensation for the lost value of their now worthless taxi licenses.

O’Brien, though he agrees that drivers deserve some compensation, downplays the prospects for “significant transfers to make that happen.”

But many drivers would settled for smaller, field-leveling tweaks that either loosen regulations on taxis or tighten them on the TNCs.

Many drivers, for example, want the city to lower the minimum fare, $2.70 to $1.70, or to allow taxis to adjust prices with demand — so-called “dynamic pricing” — as Uber and Lyft can. Others say TNCs should be required to carry the same expensive commercial insurance that is mandated for taxi drivers.

If regulators closed some of those gaps, taxi drivers say their experience, driving skills, and knowledge of the city would become a competitive advantage.

“If [TNCs] were to be regulated as we have been regulated, we could absolutely beat them,” says Salah Mohamed, a 44-year-old Yellow Cab driver who has been involved in advocating for drivers. “That I know, 100 percent.”

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But even modest changes would be difficult, given the politics. The city just launched a pilot program for “smart taxi meters” that would support dynamic pricing, “if allowed by regulation in the future,” but it’s not clear whether labor groups would support a policy that potentially lowers wages.

For many drivers, the real question is whether any of these potential changes — regulatory easing, or government compensation, or higher TNC fares — can come soon enough.

A key reason Seattle’s taxi business has survived this far into the age of Uber is simply the grit and desperation of the taxi drivers, many of whom have made up for declining fares by working much longer hours, or by taking side jobs.

Swaran Singh, a 60-year-old Indian immigrant who has driven cabs for more than 30 years, most recently for Farwest, says he now works from 8 a.m. to midnight six days a week, and recently started a landscaping business as a way out of taxis. “I have no choice,” he said, with a shrug.

Some taxi drivers have even switched to Uber, though many older cabbies believe that is a route to even lower wages. One driver, parked across from the Westin, says he has friends who drive for Uber and make $6 an hour. “It’s modern slavery,” he says.

Other drivers seem to be hedging their bets.

Tegegne Mersha, who says he is still paying off the purchase of the now-worthless license, still believes that city officials could restore the taxi business if they would “limit the Uber, the number.”

But if they don’t, Mersha has a Plan B, and one that might make use of some of driving experience that he has picked up over the years: he plans to become a Metro bus driver.

Paul Roberts: proberts@seattletimes.com;on Twitter: @Pauledroberts.

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Today on GeekWire: Facebook keeps growing; Amazon buys into YES; Xinova cuts jobs

The company is a spinoff of patent holding company Intellectual Ventures. CEO Edward Jung confirmed the cuts in a statement to GeekWire.

Highlights from today’s top stories. Subscribe here to receive this rundown daily.

Facebook is showing no signs of slowing down its appetite for office space in the Seattle region. Its latest lease is a 200,000-square-foot building in Bellevue, Wash., its second in the Spring District development.

Seattle-based “invention network” Xinova laid off an undisclosed number of employees. The company is a spinoff of patent holding company Intellectual Ventures. CEO Edward Jung confirmed the cuts in a statement to GeekWire.

“Tragic and heartbreaking.” Rover reacted to the random killing of a 27-year-old woman in Washington, D.C, who was walking a dog at the time as part of her work for the Seattle-based pet-sitting startup.

Amazon is moving further into sports media. Disney is selling its stake in the YES Network, known for its broadcasts of the Yankees and other New York sports franchises, to an investor group that includes the Seattle tech giant.

A small startup from the Pacific Northwest is now part of a global food and beverage behemoth. Nestlé Health Science acquired Snoqualmie, Wash.-based Persona Nutrition, which customizes daily supplement regimens using algorithms designed with the help of doctors and nutritionists.

And in other news, the New York Times explores the emerging market for on-demand trucking, with Seattle-based Convoy squaring off against Uber Freight. See our earlier report on the latest moves inside Convoy as the heavily funded company positions itself to compete.

Thanks for reading! Send story ideas, news tips, internal emails and industry gossip to tips@geekwire.com, and subscribe to receive this rundown daily.

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