Wikia's coffers, Browster dies, closed Dash, Techdirt's $, and RepoMan Redux

Roundup of the latest Silicon Valley action:Browster, dies — The web 2.0 carnage is beginning to pile up. This week’s casualty is San Francisco’s Browster, the company that wanted to save you time by popping up a little image of a page when you scrolled over a link — letting you avoid clicking. It focused on search results at Google, but never found a way to make money. It munched through $5.8 million in funding from Advanced Technology Ventures, Vanguard Ventures, First Round Capital, and individual investors. (Via GigaOm.)

Amazon.com invests $10 million into Wikia — We reported last month that Amazon.com had invested in Wikia, the for-profit wiki company that is about to launch a user-directed search engine on the same principles as Wikipedia. At the time, the amount was confidential, but the deal has been been filed with the SEC, and reported by PE Week. This brings Wikia’s total investment to $14 million.

dashex.bmpDash, why not give us a choice?Lot’s of publicity about the move by Dash, the car navigation system that hooks you up to the Internet, to sign a deal with Yahoo. Using Yahoo’s local search, users can find restaurants and other places easier. The idea isn’t new, because Dash told us in August it planned to go with either Yahoo or Google. (Here’s our first mention of Dash). But if your strategy is to give people an Internet connection — and thus be more open than the closed incumbent navigator players — why not give people a choice? We realize that it helps to configure search especially for the driver, and this may be a way to make money, but some of us have gotten used to Google and Ask City, both of which offer competitive, and in some ways arguably better (scroll to bottom), services.

Techdirt has raised fundingTechdirt, one of our favorite blogs, has launched an analyst business, and has raised $600,000 in new funding from six investors and from its own five-person founding team, reports PEHub, citing SEC documents. We wrote about the ten-year-old company here, when it launched its latest analyst offering — which lets its corporate clients pay for expert advice from analyst bloggers in Techdirt’s network.

India’s private equity boom — Private equity firms invested a record $7.5 billion in about 300 in India during 2006, according to a study by Venture Intelligence. That’s more than three times more than 2005, which itself was a record. (See info here.) Venture capitalists poured $1.7 billion into 125 Indian companies during 2006, up from $1.1 billion invested into 70 companies during 2005, according to Thomson Financial. More here on trends, though we differ with Haislip’s analysis, which suggests the jump is due to regulations. Regulations or not, India’s growing middle class makes it a very attractive place to invest.

marty.bmpMarty, the repo man, not doing so well — You may recall Marty Pichinson, the fast-talking clean up man who moved from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley to shutter dot-bombs and negotiate away their assets with impressive rapid-fire skill. We followed him around in 2001, and so know him more than most. We almost got in an accident while driving in a passenger seat with Marty — he veered into a neighboring lane on Hwy 101, while talking on two phones and tapping on his PDA — all in the name of selling more of said assets. Our story about him even won an award from the Peninsula Press Club, and was picked up nationwide by other media. Marty has since become famous, but sadly for him, that bites him when the economy is relatively rosy.

Europe, forever divided — The Europeans will always find something to quibble about. When it comes to the world’s sexiest business — search — French are going to back their Quaero, while Germans prefer their Theseus. Good summary of the differences here.

Foreign jurisdiction perplexes U.S. companies — Brazilian judge orders YouTube to shut down for showing a local model having sex with her boyfriend on beach (YouTube is apparently removing it, but people keep putting it back up), while Netherlands bans the high-tech scooter, the Segway, simply for making riders lean back to brake.