The round-up of crucial stuff in Silicon Valley:
The Mercury News has an interview with Ross Levinsohn (pictured above), who runs News Corp’s Fox Interactive division — and who was behind the purchase of MySpace — and asks him whether the co-founders are unhappy. He responds: “There’s no indication to me that they’re unhappy.”
Levinsohn spoke at the Web 2.0 conference today, and addressed a different thorn — Brad Greenspan, the former chief executive of Myspace, who keeps suing the company on allegations it lied to its investors about its value. Levinsohn said:
He’s lost every single motion he’s charged against us. It’s like when Mike Tyson kept trying to win this fight, and the guy kept getting up …It’s kinda sad…two years before we bought the company, they kicked him out. For a guy who got $40 or 50 million from the sale, I mean…life’s too short.
Yahoo’s acquisition binge at screeching halt? — Yahoo’s stock is in the toilet, and maybe that’s why its lost is appetite to buy companies. Check out this chart of acquisitions by the big three over the past years. Google and Microsoft are munching companies as eagerly as ever (18 between them), whereas Yahoo has acquired just one (Jumpcut), according to this chart at least.
Timebridge raises $6 million for… yet another calendar-scheduling company? — The San Francisco start-up, founded in March of last year that, lets you schedule meetings easily within your calendar. It has launched a private testing version. Chief executive Yori Nelken showed VentureBeat a demo Monday, and it has some cool features to save time organizing meetings among two or more people — like letting users block out possible meeting times, and letting their friends or contacts see the times through a central “meeting space.” When the friend selects a time, the slot is automatically booked for both people. So why all the dough? The company has invested resources into integrating various clients — it has a plugin for Outlook, for a Web version, for Blackberry/Treo, Apple, Thunderbird, Notes, etc — that it can work on whatever calendar you have. Timebridge wants to serve the busy professional, and is letting Google conquer the consumer market.
Mayfield and Norwest are the backers. More details at the site’s tour; see top-right). The basic service will be free, but revenue will could from a subscription for added security, archiving and admin features. Nelken thinks the market would accept a range of $30 to a $100 per user per year. It might also get referral fees from companies like Open Table.
FON now the largest WiFi access network — VentureBeat caught up with Neil Rimer Wednesday, investor in FON, a company that lets people share each other’s WiFi routers. He says the service is doing well in Europe, particularly in Spain, and now has more access points globally than than any other WiFi access point network, including Boingo and T-Mobile. It was also a good move to hire Joanna Rees Gallanter for U.S. operatons, because she can apparently “talk a dog off a meat wagon,” a different skill than running a venture firm. The Madrid company also bought the popular Firefox extension, GSpace, for an undisclosed amount, GigaOm first reported. The FireFox extension allows users to treat their GMail accounts as an online file storage locker — to be launched in Feb 2007, it is essentially a FON router that will have a USB 2.0 port.
Workday’s missed opportunity — Dave Duffield, the founder of PeopleSoft may be back with new start-up Workday, but critique Jeff Nolan says it missed the opportunity to say something new. In other words, it got great media coverage because of Duffield, but it was ho-hum in the details.
Will Flock’s new chief executive turn things around? — From the beginning, Flock, which was supposed to be a social browser, failed to meet hyped expectations. It had potential, but never executed. A new chief exec, Shawn Hardin, has taken over the Mountain View company. He’s a media veteran, having worked at Yahoo, AOL Broadband and NBC. We’ve just had a sneak peak at Flock’s 1.0 browser, and it’s got some promising features — question is, can Flock convince people to make their browser their central work place or not.
Charles River Ventures STIRRs — Fresh from announcing its new attractive seed investment strategy (where it gives out $250,000 checks to promising ideas, Silicon Valley venture firm Charles River is getting submerged by entrepreneurs eager to pitch. It’s also been invited to mix with the masses — at the Nov. 15 STIRR event, a gig usually reserved for start-ups to give one-minute pitches. The Charles River gang — George Zachary, Bill Tai, and Susan Wu — will get 60 seconds to pitch the crowd. We bumped into Susan Wu today at the Web 2.0 conference; she said she was overwhelmed with dealflow.
Lightspeed Venture Partners keeps adding — Silicon Valley venture firm Lightspeed just named three new associates, Patrick Chiang, Andrew Chung and John Vrionis (as you’ll see on this page of blue shirts). This is the firm that recently saw a split, with several partners leaving to form Opus. We won’t call the Opus guys renegades, because they also like blue shirts ;)