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Seattle Startup VizX Enters Microarray Fray With Web-Based Genesifter.net Software

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Pitching its product, Genesifter.net, as more than just another pretty interface, Seattle-based VizX entered the crowded microarray data analysis software field early this month.

The advantage that distinguishes GeneSifter.net from the other packages, said Elon Gasper, VizX vice president of marketing, is that it lives on a web-based, thin-client architecture. GeneSifter.net “stays current because it’s on the web and is instantly updated,” he said.

The company plans to continuously update the software so that data is in compliance with the state-of-the-art in data submission standards. Additionally, the thin client architecture was designed for most general platforms. “It works the same on Linux, Macs, and Windows,” Gasper said.

The program was created by Eric Olson, a former University of Washington biologist and the founder of a tiny company called NeoBase. VizX, co-founded by Tom Ranken, former president of the Washington Biotechnology and BioMedical Association, and bioinformatics pioneer Bob Cottingham, bought NeoBase and hired Olson as director of science.

To head business development and marketing, they brought on Gasper, who has been in the consumer software market for 20 years and sold his software company to Sierra On-Line.

After raising about $1 million in seed financing, the company has grown to a team of 10 in an office overlooking Seattle’s Lake Union.

With software selling in the four-figure range, and discounts for academic labs and larger groups, the product is entering the market at a price-point that can be considered competitive.

So far, the company has snagged a three-year exclusive distribution agreement with Japanese trading giant Marubun to market Genesifter.net in Japan.

What about drawbacks? Genesifter “does not use the most statistically advanced methods at presentfor analyzing data,” Schmechel said.

The program does not include all of the algorithms or statistical analysis tools currently available: the sparse design is purposely to avoid what Gasper called “feature-itis” but it may be too simple for more sophisticated statisticians among its users.

Information about Genesifter.net is available online. The company is offering free product demos and temporary access to its password-protected site.

— MMJ

 

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