Roundup: FON's gambit, Obvious, Zachary's blog, Vox & more

Roundup in Silicon Valley:FON exploits opportunity to stir up WiFi interest in San Francisco — Search engine company Google is having a heck of a time getting “crazy nut job” local SF residents to agree to its plans for a city-wide WiFi project. So while big Google is stymied, another company, FON, is hoping to slip under the regulatory radar with a grassroots campaign: Offering hundreds of its La Fonera wireless routers at an event it calls “Freedom Friday,” to be held at SF’s Union Square from Noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow. FON’s been having its own challenges drumming up interest in its product, so perhaps this will create some viral buzz? As mentioned, Google is an investor in FON.

odeo.bmpWilliams buys back podcasting company Odeo — As mentioned elsewhere, Evan Williams, who started San Francisco podcasting site Odeo after selling his blog software, Blogger, to Google, has parted ways with his his venture capitalists.

You knew things were choppy at Odeo when Williams suddenly started giving candid assessments last month about having tried too much too quickly with Odeo. He then shut down Odeo’s Audioblogger, which had let users post audio to a blogger.com blog via a telephone call.

Now we find out he’s bought Odeo from his venture capitalist backers, and renamed it Obvious. Though, from his comments on the site (“We’re not sure how it’s all going to work”), it isn’t entirely obvious. Included in the assets is Twitter, another service we’ve mentioned before — which lets friends know what you’re doing. He says it is “going to be huge.”

George Zachary, the venture capitalist at Charles River Ventures who had invested in Odeo, tells us he actually made money on the deal.

georgehead.jpgWhich reminds us, Zachary has launched a blog — Perhaps the Odeo story is what made investor Zachary decide to launch his own blog, called Sense and Cents. He tells VentureBeat his goal for the blog is to navigate the core of “who we are as humans and what we need.” He notes how technology advances in communications are letting us do things we’ve never done before. He says he wants to “talk about and connect interesting sociological issues and how they integrate and show themselves with technology and experiences of consumer internet.”

Wonder if he’ll try his hand at podcasting? ;)

Are there enough shopping search engines? — Ok folks, we’ve got at least a dozen shopping search engines now, of every stripe and flavor. We just wrote about TheFind.com last night, and now we see yet another one launching: Ugenie. GigaOm has a write up. It has an office in Silicon Valley, among other places, and was founded last May by two Amazon.com alums. It has raised $5 million in funding from BlueRun Ventures and Sierra Ventures and now has 15 employees, but it is not clear what new it is bringing to the table.

Revenge of the server farms — After disappearing after the first Internet bubble burst, the server farms are back. The NYT has the story: Equinix of Foster City, Calif., is building its first new center in Chicago for $165 million and expects to open it late next year. When it opens, the server farm will be 95 percent occupied and demand 30 megawatts of power, enough electricity to power 30,000 houses.

treo680.bmpCheck out Palm’s colorful new Treo 680They’re getting thinner too. See image here at left.

vox.bmp
Six Apart launches Vox, another blogging tool — Sigh, do we need another blogging software? The answer is no. But if you’re someone who has been on the sidelines, a non-techie fearful of taking the blogging plunge, this one is worth a good look. The first generation of blog software was clunky, but this latest, called Vox, has a easy and good looking finish to it. It is latest software from company Six Apart, and is free. We created this blog in three minutes, no more.

Oracle kills RedHat — Oracle introduced its open-source Linux operating system (see our wire story from this morning), and the market killed RedHat today. It lost a quarter of its value in trading. Despite the likely dire consequences for RedHat, some people are skeptical that it will help Oracle, though:

I really don’t see why anyone would pay $50,000 per CPU for a license to use a tarted-up version of Oracle Fusion Middleware when so many clever subversives on the edges of organizations are already doing all these cool Web 2.0 things now for pennies a month and there are so many really sensational, and far less expensive, enterprise-level integration solutions available or in the works.

eBuddy raises 5 million euros — See the story here on VentureBeat’s wire, from earlier today. (Another reminder to subscribe separately to our news wire, which is the RSS button on the left of homepage, if you haven’t done so already).

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