Waiting for Superman pledge turns up $5M for change in schools

Waiting for Superman, a popular documentary about America’s public school woes which drew particular attention from Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial class, comes out on DVD today, February 15. In September, Paramount Pictures announced that NewSchools Venture Fund had committed to investing $5 million in entrepreneurial education organizations if over 150,000 pledged to watch the film.

10 startups that could make serious green at GreenBeat 2010

We’re excited to announce the finalists of the GreenBeat 2010 Innovation Competition. VentureBeat and its advisors selected these companies for having the most promising ideas for making the next generation of the smart grid — a bionic upgrade we’re calling the super grid that’s the ultimate marriage of infotech and cleantech — a big business.

Meet cleantech's dreamers and doers at GreenBeat 2010

Why is VentureBeat putting on GreenBeat 2010? The energy revolution depends on two disparate groups. Call the first the pipe dreamers: entrepreneurs, politicians, and pundits. They have great ideas. Then there are the powermongers — the folks who quite literally have the juice, the utilities generating and distributing energy today and tomorrow, who have to worry about billions of dollar of infrastructure.

MobileBeat Startup Competition: Deadline extended

We’ve gotten over 150 nominations for our MobileBeat 20 Startup Competition, and it’s clear from the submissions that the advent of 4G and superphones is igniting a conflagration of innovation in the startup world. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the early days of Web 2.0, just before the social Cambrian Explosion that gave rise to the likes of Friendster, MySpace, and eventually Facebook and Twitter.

Greplin shines a spotlight through the cloud

One of the most useful features of Mac OS is Spotlight—hit “command-space bar,” then type a term into the search field and Apple quickly skims through everything on your hard drive. As more data moves to disparate places online, however, more personal info is escaping Spotlight’s beam.

Nowmov: A StumbleUpon for real-time video

The real-time web is a hyperactive, fragmented place, and lurkers who want to now what’s happening now have to search through myriad services and filters. Y Combinator-backed Nowmov wants to help the energy-challenged masses stay informed by bringing the real-time web to couch potatoes — in video form.

Washington State ends relationship with Oak Investment Partners

A year ago, we published an exposé on Oak Investment Partners, which has become one of largest venture-capital firms by attracting large sums from investors despite a mediocre track record. Of particular concern was the continued support of the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB), which manages public money. Neither Oak nor the WSIB were willing to comment at the time, but insiders suggested it was a case of smug relationships in the investment community.

Knewton launches adaptive-learning SAT Prep Course

Knewton, an online test prep company that uses adaptive learning to boost scores on standardized tests, announced today the launch of its new SAT prep course. The company already provides prep courses for the GMAT and LSAT, and now hopes to tap the market of high-pressure parents and overachieving high school students.

Juniper Networks launches $50 million venture fund

Juniper Networks upped its offensive against rival Cisco today with the announcement of a $50 million venture fund. The Junos Innovation Fund will primarily target early and growth-stage startups that can help accelerate the speed and variety of network solutions. The company plans to deploy the fund over the next two years.

VoiP provider Truphone makes every call local

If you’re a frequent border-hopper, you may want to check out Truphone. The company announced a service today called “Local Anywhere” that it says can slash up to 90 percent off cell phone bills by providing local voice, data and text rates when traveling abroad.

Medical ed site Orbis lands $8M to ease nursing shortage

VCs have, for the most part, steered clear of education startups, save for a few areas where consumers are willing to open their wallets — things like standardized test prep and language learning. However, Lightspeed Venture Partners thinks it’s found a goldmine in nurse training. Today, the firm announced an $8 million round for IL-based Orbis Education, which helps universities web-enable their nursing programs, reduce their per-student costs and meet the country’s growing need for medical professionals.