Venture Capital

Venture investments on rise — Venture capital investments rose in the first quarter, especially into companies focused on the Internet. Here is our story in today’s Mercury News. Healthcare investments have declined from their robust pace of the past year.

What’s up at Ariba? — So directors at Sunnyvale software maker Ariba paid chief executive Robert M. Calderoni $10.4 million last year, a large part of that in stock, and representing a 75 percent increase over the previous year. That came as Ariba’s return to shareholders fell 39 percent last year, according to proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. Quick question: WHY did the directors do that?

VoIP a bubble, or just hot?One Connect IP, which serves Internet phone service (Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) to small and medium businesses in New Mexico, Idaho and Utah, has closed on nearly $5 million in debt and equity financing to acquire ZiaNet. Meanwhile, Sylantro of Silicon Valley (Campbell) has raised $11 million in a stealth round to go after similar small and medium businesses, though is not targeted regionally, according to LightReading. Thanks to LightReading, the deal isn’t so stealth anymore. Speaking of hot, anyone know what’s up with the Vonage IPO?

City-wide WiFi hot, getting hotter — We mentioned how MetroFi is on a roll, hooking up cities with sweeping WiFi networks. One of their partners is apparently Santa Clara’s SkyPilot Networks, which is selling much of the hardware. It plans to raise $25 million by June, according to Greg Galanos, a SkyPilot board member and managing director at Mobius Venture Capital, as cited in VentureWire (subscription required).

Using brain waves to play games — Our colleague at the Merc, Dean Takahashi, has the story about San Jose’s Neurosky, which has been testing a technology that lets gives a video game player a sensor-laden headband which monitors brain waves, and uses the signals to control interaction in video games. The company has raised seed money and is raising its first round of VC. We wrote about it before, but they didn’t seem so focused on games at the time. Not sure when they will launch, but it should be hot if they pull it off. And he mentions another company, CyberLearning in San Marcos, using NASA technology. It apparently already lets players drive at faster speeds if they concentrate on being calm. If they get nervous, it gets harder to drive the car.

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