Microsoft Research’s Wallop — Microsoft has created a new social-networking spin-off called Wallop, to be run by Karl Jacob, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur (Dimension X, Keen.com and more recently anti-spam company Cloudmark). The company is quiet on specifics, and doesn’t supply a separate link to its “about” page (you will have to go to main site and then click on the tab).
Bay Partners‘ Eric Chin led the investment in the entity, and Microsoft retains minority ownership, according to the reports out there. There’s hope for folks like 38-year-old Jacob, who have been around the block a few times. While Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is barely old enough to drink, and has the accompanying youthful chutzpah (until November, he carried around a business card that said “I’m CEO…bitch”), we note that MySpace’s DeWolfe clocks in at the ripe old age of 40.
Intel hedges with two bets on home-control systems — Palo Alto’s iControl, which lets you control your home remotely by giving you mounted cameras and motion sensors for things like doors and windows, has raised $5 million in a first round of funding from Charles River Ventures and Intel. It has finally launched, having delayed from initial plans for last summer. And Intel has participated in a new financing of Menlo Park’s Zensys, which makes wireless technology to do something similar, and appears to be giving more attention to control of electronics devices and appliances too. The company has now raised at least $41 million, including from Cisco and Bessemer.
Sproutit succumbs to the inevitable, comes to Silicon Valley — The email management company Sprouit recently written up in Techcrunch, until now operating in Prague and San Diego, is coming to Silicon Valley, not merely to raise cash, but also to do the hiring and partnering that a modern Internet company needs to do these days, chief executive Charles Jolley tells us:
As much as I like to believe the internet lets you do business from anywhere, there are more of the people I need to hire and companies I need partner with in the Bay Area than anywhere else. It just makes the most sense for us to be there.
These companies seem to end up here at some point in the cycle, even they resist: (i.e, Skype sucked into San Jose).
Yahoo launches Yahoo Go — We mentioned Meedio’s technology, and how Yahoo had acquired it as a sort of online competitor to Tivo or Microsoft Media Center. Here’s Yahoo Go, which seems to let you do everything.
Web 2.0 venture capitalist update — James Slavet told us last week he has left Yahoo, and joined Greylock Partners, where he’ll start investing alongside David Sze into Internet companies. He’ll make fresh investments, and also help Sze manage the stakes in Digg, Facebook, LinkedIn, Oodle and Wink. Where’s he looking for fresh investments? Online advertising and marketing have a lot of “upside,” he tells us. Meanwhile, Baris Karadogan, who we mentioned recently, confirmed a few days ago he has left USVP and joined ComVentures, to help build out its media and mobile investment team. Silicon Valley venture capitalists clearly see Web 2.0 as a place in need of further investing. (Bubble, or no bubble?)
Viacom/MTV buy hot gaming company Xfire — Xfire is the hot Menlo Park company we’d mentioned last year which lets kids playing online games know where their pals are geographically. After launching just two years ago, they have hit the jackpot, selling for $102 million in cash to Viacom, which owns MTV. It’s a win for VC backers like DFJ, NEA and Granite Global, too. Chief executive Mike Cassidy is on a roll. There are few two-time big winners in this industry. He was chief executive of search engine Direct Hit, bought by Ask Jeeves for $500M in 2000. The guy studied jazz piano.
The Google float — Isn’t it amusing how everyone at some point suspects Google is robbing them? Nick Carr writes a piece about Google’s float, or the interest it makes from holding on to the cash between the time someone reads the Google-served ad on your Website and the time you actually get paid for it. If this is “stealing from the little guy,” then why are so many people using the Google service? If anything, this float will encourage others like Yahoo to offer a better deal, and the free market will reign.
Sleeping through “Net Neutrality” — Om says Silicon Valley is slumbering through the “Net Neutrality” debate. We suggest it may have something to do with the term “Net Neutrality” itself, which is stultifying. Proponents may want to de-neuter the term, and call it “Web Justice” or something, to get across the point that Google and other fast-growing Internet companies in the valley may have to pay a steep price if a few controlling telecom carriers exploit their oligopoly.
For Sequoia deals, it helps to be on Google’s board — Kontera, of San Francisco, helps online publishers find contextually relevant keywords on their sites and then match them real-time with relevant “in-text” ads. This semantic reading of text, to help with advertising, is something you’d think Google should be doing, as it is a mere extension from its Adsense program. Perhaps Google board member Michael Moritz figures the same, and hence the investment by his firm Sequoia Capital.
Dave.TV’s stretch — Dave.TV sounds so far like a long shot, at least from the write-up at Business 2.0’s blog. It is a new start-up that wants to host videos and make money by using semantic technology that picks out words used within the videos, say “ketchup,” and then help advertisers like “Heinz” advertise by them. But would you really be interested in such ads?
Calling green entrepreneurs — If you’re a clean-tech entrepreneur, you may want to consider this event tomorrow in Menlo Park, where there should be some VCs milling around.
Latest valley clean-tech company: Fat Spaniel. San Jose’s Fat Spaniel Technologies, which helps energy companies manage the distribution and billing of energy usage, has raised $3.5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s cleantech fund, DFJ Element. Nice name, at least.
World Bank VC fund? — The World Bank is the latest to consider establishing a venture capital fund “to finance the development of promising new clean energy technologies as well as bringing them to market.” As Rob Day says, if the Army, CIA, NASA and everyone else are launching VC funds, why not the World Bank?