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The rumor mill at Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, Palm & Dell – You’ve probably read the WSJ news about how Yahoo and Microsoft are talking. This is getting a bit silly, because companies talk with each other all the time, about all kinds of things. Yahoo and Microsoft are talking with eBay about an alliance against Google. And guess what: We’ve just heard from a source that Palm has approached Microsoft and Dell about a possible sale (something all three have declined comment on). So should we report that before there is a concrete agreement? Oops, just did. By the way, we’ll be interviewing with Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer next week, and will ask him about the Yahoo angle. Microsoft said last week it will be spending more going forward, which most people took as evidence the software giant is finally taking its gloves off for a Google fight. Any questions you guys have for him?
Microsoft’s Q&A service — So…on Microsoft taking its gloves off….earlier this week, Microsoft launched adCenter, an online advertising platform. So why stop at that? News leaks today that Microsoft will soon be offer a way to answer people’s questions on a variety of topics, similar to Google Answers. Microsoft’s version is called Windows Live QnA. People can sign up to receive invitations to the service at http://ideas.live.com. More information soon at: http://spaces.msn.com/liveqna
Stealth Web semantic company, Radar, raises cash — Peter Rip, a venture capitalist at Leapfrog Ventures has been clear about his intent to invest in area of the semantic web (see his blog), or companies that seek ways to glean understanding and meaning of Web pages beyond their basic word structure. So no surprise that his firm has teamed up with Vulcan Capital to invest $4.84 million into Radar Networks, a stealth San Francisco developer of a semantics applications platform for building Web 2.0 services. At lunch Monday, Rip declined to give us any details about the company.
Google Health coming — Google’s Melissa Mayer says Google will be announcing something about “health” next week at its Press Day Wednesday. When asked by USAToday about why Google isn’t doing more to produce a specialized health search offering (health a major area of interest for most people), she responded: “Health is an interesting one — keep your eye out for that next week.” Remember, the Kosmix.com guys launched a health vertical in part because they saw that as a Google weakness. And several other Silicon Valley health engines have popped up, too. If Google hits, it will be painful for the small guys. Google really is the new Microsoft.
Yahoo sued for click-fraud — We’ve mentioned the issue Yahoo is facing on click-fraud. It was only a matter of time: Resource Shelf has scoop on the latest lawsuit, filed Monday.
Here a green, there a green, everywhere a green-green — There’s a notable story in Wired this month about former presidential candidate Al Gore’s spell-binding presentation in Silicon Valley in December, when he gave an “overpowering” slide show about the catastrophic changes affecting the world’s climate. His goal was to convert a group of local luminaries, including Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr, Apple’s Steve Jobs (Gore is on the board at Apple), Google’s Larry page and Eric Brin, and several other folks that make up the Who’s Who here. It apparently made quite an impression. Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, helped organized the event, so the story.
Wonder if those were the same powerful slides that were used by John Doerr three months later, in March at the cleantech conference? We were so moved by the one showing Silicon Valley submerged under water as a result of Greenland’s melting that we asked Doerr’s team for a copy of the slides. They sent us a copy on condition we don’t distribute them, saying the source so requested
So the Silicon Valley venture community has awoken to green opportunities. Everywhere we turn, it seems, even large Silicon Valley companies are advertising their greenery. There’s Sun, advertising its green servers (they’re low power). There’s chip giant AMD, advertising on a billboard on 880 southbound as you enter San Jose that AMD-powered servers are saving enough energy to power “all the hybrid cars in Berkeley.” And now Applied Materials has bought Applied Films (see Merc story today), which supplies a material that allows solar cells to be made out of glass, which isn’t in as short supply as silicon these days, and so can save costs. German company Q-Cell is using Applied Films to double its production at some solar cell factories.
Here a video, there a video, everywhere…. — YouTube fever has everyone rethinking the game. So CBS launches an aggressive online program, and Microsoft has acquired a company called Massive to help insert advertising in videogames and other online products. Microsoft also acquires Vexcel, a company that will provide technology for imagery and “photogrammatry.”
Dan Primack dismisses the WSJ report that Massive was priced between $200M and $400M. He says it is less than $200M. Still, looks like another win for Silicon Valley’s venture firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Two of its affiliates, DFJ Gotham and DFJ New England joined NeoCarta Ventures, REE Ventures, Tobat Capital and Newlight Associates to invest a mere $17.5 million at the outset.
Hold on tight for this one: Yet another Silicon Valley video blog company has come to our attention. It is called Blogcheese, based in San Jose. Founders Charlie Good and Dave Stubenvoll met at Adobe and launched the service to do one trick, video blogging, very well. Says Stubenvoll: “We’ve eliminated all uploading, downloading and installation of software by instantly recording and posting video from your webcam. Yes, it’s a one-trick pony, but it does that one trick very well.”
Finally, later this year, Google will start integrating video into its results in Google News, according to the USAToday citation of Google’s Mayer.
Khosla invests in virtualization company, SkyBlue — BusinessWeek has the story about SkyBlue Technologies backed by well-known VC Vinod Khosla after leaving Kleiner Perkins. The site doesn’t say much, but we found some hints over at itCasting.org. And BW: “It was founded a year ago by Stanford U. computer science professor Monica S. Lam and her fellow researchers, who are developing open-source virtualization software that lets systems administrators remotely manage PCs.” We mentioned virtualization craze here. SkyBlue calls its software “ready-to-run” and launched itCasting to promote collaboration on R2R software. William J. Raduchel, CEO of Ruckus Network and former CTO at AOL Time Warner, is on SkyBlue’s board, according to BW. The company raised $1 million last August and $2.26 million from Khosla and others in March.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
Chime in here, and we’ll share the results