Here’s the latest tech stuff in Silicon Valley and elsewhere:
Google keeps releasing new “gadgets” for its homepage — The latest are its NPR widget (see image), Wikipedia search and moon phases. You can place these gadgets on your google homepage. Question: What happens now to stand-alone homepage sites like Netvibes and Pageflakes, now that Google increasingly lets you insert access to all your own favorite sites from its homepage? Google is also letting you put your Docs & Spreadsheets on the page, and will probably release all kinds of apps that way, such as the Book Browser-come-PDF viewer.
If you’re shopping for holiday, beware: Google Checkout is apparently a nightmare — John reads the fine-print and deals with it. Now PayPal has plenty of free-shipping offers when you use its service; its responding to Google’s free offer. (Lots more gripes about Google Checkout and the competition with PayPal in the Merc story here).
Google hires new general counsel — While we’re on Google news, the new counsel is Kent Walker, formerly #2 counsel at eBay. Background: Harvard undergrad and Stanford Law School. He’s still not up at the Web site, though, where Drummond is still listed. Wonder if the change has anything to do with this (although that did happen a while back)? Clarification: Some readers have asked us what happened to Drummond. He’s still at Google, as SVP for Corporate Development.
LicketyShip offers free shipping from local stores — LicketyShip
is a San Francisco start-up that site that lets you order things online from local stores, and then have it delivered to you within four hours. It is focused on electronics, and it’s free for a couple of days (today and tomorrow, so get going). It usually charges $19.99, but will be dropping the price to $9.99 beginning Wednesday.
Cellfire, of Santa Clara, has expanded its mobile coupon service — Cellfire enables any cell phone to access its discounts via its WAP service. Previously, it was available only on certain carriers.
Post-Thanksgiving venture financings — Feeling bloated? You’re not the only one. No coincidence that two obesity-focused start-ups announced new venture capital financing today, now that people are stuffed with turkey. There’s Bariatric Partners, which just raised $12 million in a second round of funding (VentureWire, sub required), to match competitor NewHope Bariatric’s recent raise of $18.5 million. Bariatric, of Charlotte, raised its money from Frazier Healthcare Ventures and existing investors New Enterprise Associates and Woodbrook Capital. It puts a band round your stomach, creating a small pouch at the top, supposedly reducing your stomach capacity so that you eat less. (We have a friend who had this done, and she hated the procedure; it made her sick, and didn’t seem to work; but hey, that’s just the one person we know).
Then there’s Orexigen Therapeutics, of San Diego, which targets target neurons in the central nervous system to suppress appetite. It has raised $30 million in a third round of financing from MPM BioEquities and Wasatch Advisors and existing investors, which include Kleiner Perkins.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.