There is so much going on in Silicon Valley, here’s a summary of things we didn’t get to, but which you might want to know about.
Most dangerous place in the Bay Area — Here’s a virtual helicopter tour of the Hayward fault line than runs through the East Bay. It is the most dangerous in the Bay Area. The tour flies you from the fault’s northern end at San Pablo Bay to southern end in Fremont.
Google Talk on BlackBerry. Here’s story about the instant messaging service by Google, made available Wednesday. Cool because you can determine which your contacts are available, unavailable, busy, or offline, as well as carry on several instant messaging conversations.
BackBerry makes it easier to get calls at one number — RIM, the maker of BlackBerry, has acquired San Jose’s Ascendent Systems, which lets BB owners get all their corporate calls at one phone number(free registration). So forget the legal woes. RIM is on a roll.
VCs are going intimate — Remember, we’ve said many times before, that Silicon Valley is often all about who you know, and sometimes bumping into people spontaneously and striking a conversation, and perhaps even a deal. Sometimes it is even doing deals over the local urinal, as we wrote once about venture capitalist Jeff Drazan and the guys over at Morgan Stanley. Jeff, still at Sierra Ventures, knows how it works. So who better to recruit than a guy he knows really well — his own brother, Ken, to launch a new private equity firm, Bertram Capital? You’d think that the valley would have several firms with brothers both active as partners, but we can’t think of many. Ken founded, and is chief executive of, drug company Arginox Pharmaceuticals, which has raised $42 million. The Drazan brothers will try to raise $250 million for the Atherton firm’s first fund, according to several reports, including this one at VentureWire (subscription required). It apparently aims to invest in deals smaller than those targeted by the typical private equity fund.
Carlyle raising new fund — Talk of connections, we’ve gotten a tip that the hyper-connected Carlyle Group (just do a Google search and look at the conspiracy theories circling this firm, which has Bush connections) is raising a new $650 million private equity fund for the U.S. We checked with Carlyle spokesman Christopher Ullman. He said only “you’re doing good reporting,” as if to confirm our tip, but then he went off-record, and proceeded to tell us, well, nothing. He wouldn’t tell us if the $650M fund is linked to the public comments in Germany by Carlyle’s managing director David Rubenstein that the firm is going to be more active in alternative energy.
|Origami (courtesy: Engadget)|
Origami & its competitors — So here are the pictures of Microsoft’s Origami, the laptop/PDA hybrid that connects wirelessly to the Internet. It is a paperback-book sized thingy, to be sold under $1,000.
And here’s an odd story about a Silicon Valley competitor, called OQO, which we’ve mentioned before. Strange because it ran on Wednesday, after days of reports about the Origami, yet doesn’t mention the Origami — and only cites OQO executives and investors saying they are confident their product will do well. But the OQO portable computer hasn’t received very good reviews, and starts at a whopping $1,899. The article mentions another competitor, DualCor, of Scotts Valley, which will apparently sell a similar computer dubbed DualCor cPC, for about $1,500 later this month. And it does mention OQO has — surprise — a new chief executive, Jay Shiveley, “who was brought in last week to execute on OQO’s sales and marketing strategy.”
|OQO 01+ (courtesy: OQO)|
SlingMedia for Origami — Here’s news about how Silicon Valley company Sling Media has already tailored its SlingPlayer for the Origami, so that you’ll be able to remotely view your cable, satellite or PVR programming. Apparently, it has been customized for Origami’s touchscreen user interface.
Calling Google — BenQ Mobile is selling phones preinstalled with Google software for local info searches.
Six Apart acquires SplashBlog — The blogging software company Six Apart buys the Los Gatos company, SplashBlog, which lets you instantly publish photos from your camera phone to an online photo blog to share with others.
Google has gone to Mars — Here it is:
Vinod Khosla adds a couple of partners to his new VC firm — We’ve mentioned how the well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla (he backed Juniper and scored several other networking grand-slams) has started his own firm. Now he has hired two investment professionals, including David Weiden (see description on Khosla’s site). He hasn’t revealed the other person yet. VentureWire (sub required) has more, including how he is not taking money from so-called limited partners, and so only has to answer to himself.
He’s amassed a portfolio of over a dozen technology companies, all through a first fund now termed Khosla Ventures I. Now, with two partners joining the team, Khosla has launched Khosla Ventures II and formalized his new investment vehicle…Both partners, who will receive a carry from Khosla Ventures I and II, will work with Khosla at Kleiner Perkins’ Menlo Park, Calif., offices.
Khosla Ventures will invest anywhere from $100,000 to more than $10 million per investment in its portfolio companies…..”One of the things not having LPs does for you is free you up to take larger risks,” Khosla said. “Because I don’t report to anybody, I can be more speculative and more ‘science-project’ oriented.”
Stu Phillips launches Ridgelift — Phillips is another VC who is going off to start his own, supposedly smaller fund, as has been reported before. But here we find out that it is not so small (sub required). The former USVP partner is aiming for $200M, which is still quite a bit if you don’t have many partners to distribute it. We’ll await more details, as there’s no word on how many folks he’s rounded up. But if he’s really making between $6M to $8M per investment, it isn’t small fry. Phillips’ old firm, USVP raised $600 million in 2004, but it has got 22 investment professionals to invest it all.
eBay and others invest in Meetup — eBay has joined other investors to purchase about 10 percent of Meetup.com, the community site that connects groups like stay-at-home moms or Chihuahua lovers for offline gatherings. eBay is joined by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Esther Dyson, Allen & Co., and Senator Bill Bradley — for a total of less than $10 million.
Start-up offers protection against borrowing fraud — Beginning today, a Redwood City start-up called TrustedID will provide people an easy way to force lenders to check (free registration) with them before new credit cards and bank accounts are opened up under their names. It is backed with more than $5 million from Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Scanr gets $4.5M — We’d mentioned this funding last month in the Mercury News, but the Palo Alto start-up is only announcing it now. It lets you use a camera phone to scan, copy and fax documents, and backers include Trinity Ventures, and Thomvest International. But we still don’t know why anyone would really use this.
Kontiki acquried by Verisign — Kontiki, the Mountain View start-up that helps publishers deliver video and other digital content, has been acquired by Verisign for approximately $62 million dollars. Not bad for a company with only 34 employees. That’s more than $1M per employee, right? Well, the company raised more than $42M from venture capitalists over the past six years, and so the employees are pretty watered down by this point. It is a Mike Homer company — the guy who was at Apple, Netscape and AOL.