Lot’s going on, so here’s a smattering. Email us your tips on other interesting stuff going on in the valley, and we’ll try to include them next week.
Techcrunch Party tonight — We’re going to try to meet as many people as possible tonight at Michael Arrington’s party in Atherton, which he’s hosting for the launch of Naked conversations, a book co-written by Microsoft blogger, Robert Scoble.
Drop me (Matt) a note if you’d like to meet, and I’ll look out for you. It too easy to get lazy and chat only just people we already know, so I’ll make an effort to meet others (Tonight, I’ll be the guy with a band-aid on his cheek — long story).
Apple & Silicon Valley’s long reign — After the bubble burst, outsiders poked fun at the valley, saying it was in decline, and even recently tried to liken it to Detroit. But over the past two years, you’ve seen the valley roar back to center stage. There was Google’s minor IPO. Apple’s iPod & iTunes, Pixar and Electronic Arts have expanded the valley’s rule from just technology — annexing music, movies and video games too (ok, we’re exaggerating a bit here, but you get the point — these are all some of the most respected, if not the most respected companies in their respective spaces).
When will Pax Silicon Valley end? Apple has been so far in front of the pack with its iPod and its popular iTunes service that it was only a matter of time for others to launch an assault. So you now see Amazon negotiating with record labels to launch its own music service, and possibly even its own branded…
music player (likely made by someone else). And you’ve got other players out there, like the recently launched Samsung YP-Z5, a slick nano-sized mammoth-memory competitor — and without proprietary software. But even these are likely to have Silicon Valley components. The Samsung, for example, had some of its software interface built by Paul Mercer‘s valley company, Iventor. The YP-Z5, first unveiled last month, actually launches this month. And SanDisk, Sunnyvale’s flash-memory card maker, wants to be a contender too (free registration).
Cleantech trend pretty hot — So Kleiner Perkins has earmarked $100 million for investing in green technologies. This space is now officially piping hot. Rob Day, a green-focused venture capitalist in SF, remarks on the packed plane ride down to Palm Springs for the clean-tech conference earlier this month. It was packed with VCs. And he points to Basin Water, a groundwater treatment company based in California, that has filed for a $52M IPO. Revenues for 2005 were under $8M, which, as he says, “gives a sense of where valuations are in cleantech right now.” And stories now coming out about how Greenland’s glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed (scary stuff), might just keep investments steaming.
New solar breakthrough? — Speaking of which, a new start-up SolFocus (sorry couldn’t find link to a site), in Palo alto, has partnered with PARC, the research institute, to create a technology that they say could cut the cost of solar power in commercial buildings by at least half. It will be in production this year. And they want to cut costs even more within three years. Wow, this could be a big rival to other start-ups out there who haven’t really launched, like Miasole, Nanosolar and Konarka. Its technology, known as CPV, for Concentrator Photovoltaic, essentially uses cheap lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a small, heat-tolerant silicon chip. Read about the SolFocus team, and what they’re doing, in our colleague Dean Takahashi’s piece in the Merc.
Kleinerology continued — Kleiner Perkins’ secretive start-up, VoiceVault has, after some initial confusion with another company in the UK, changed its name to ProjectEdgar. Alarm:clock has the scoop.
Did MySQL reject Oracle? — MySQL is the Silicon Valley-hq’d open-source database company that recently won funding from SAP. So it comes as little surprise that MySQL reportedly rejected an offer by Oracle, at least according to this account.
Campfire, the web-based group chat tool — Here’s a roundup of views on the latest product from 37Signals, called Campfire. This is not a valley company (it is apparently virtual, run from some folks living in NYC, Chicago and Utah), but Campfire is getting plenty of buzz here. There’s lots of newish stuff about this chat tool, and the company gives a list of reasons why the product is better than conventional instant messaging (tour here). Can sign up here. But there is skepticism, too (see the last paragraph of the roundup).
Google buys Measuremap — It’s a bit unusual that Google buys a single service from a company, and not the whole thing. But that’s what Google did when buying the analytics product Measuremap from Adapative Path, of San Francisco. Measuremap is also one of the prototypical Web 2.0 services, a pretty slick, cool-looking application that caters to bloggers — in that sense, it is more a Yahoo-like acquisition. If you’re interested in how Measuremap fits into the overall analystics space, here’s a good overview from a guy named Pat McCarthy, who writes a Web 2.0 blog called Conversion Rater. In another post, he is a bit skeptical of Campfire, saying IM doesn’t seem broken enough for Campfire to be all that interesting — at least for now.