Here’s the latest news important for Silicon Valley:
Google Checkout problems — Google’s new feature, which lets you pay with a virtual wallet similar to PayPal, isn’t working too smoothly, with people complaining of week-long delays for payments to be cleared. This isn’t good for the early days of a major product, because people try it once, and get turned off. Alternatively, they hear about the negative experiences and don’t bother with it.
Google has something else to check out: new adult material — Google Video apparently is allowing you to upload adult videos, something Blogoscoped first saw. We’re not surprised by this. Not long ago, there was a report about how Google was asking job applicants argue reasons why pornography could be excused, while smoking should not. (Don’t worry, it had us head-scratching too.) It seems they wanted to go in this direction. There is little evidence of hard porn, though, based on our quick perusal. We have watched Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel get pounded on the pornography issue by irate shareholders at shareholder meetings. Wonder what the reaction will be to this move, even if it is only a little nudity at this point.
Now Google video is on homepage; huh, coincidence? — At the same time adult videos are allowed, a tab for videos is appearing on Google’s homepage. Google has removed shopping comparison engine, Froogle, and instead put that service in a pull-down menu under “more.” Yes, we think this is a coincidence. Hitwise has provided a graphic to show what has happened to the traffic for both (click to enlarge):
Microsoft wants to be the “YouTube of video games” — It wants to let just about anybody create games for the Xbox 360 video game console, saying it will release a game development tool for $99 for this purpose.
Microsoft releases Live Writer, a desktop blogging application — Here are the details. It offers What-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG), which is what you are familiar with if you use, say Word — where what you see on your screen is how it will look once published. (You’d think this would be standard, but it is not on some blogging platforms, which have a geek legacy).
Thermage, the anti-wrinkle surgery company of Hayward, has filed to go public — It uses heat from radiofrequency technology to tighten skin and underlying tissues. It does this by targeting collagen, the protein which provides strength to skin but the natural production of which falls off with age (see the results of Thermage here). The company wants to raise $86 million. This is the second IPO of a health care company backed by Silicon Valley venture firm Morgenthaler Ventures
. We mentioned Xtent last week.
Vontu, a San Francisco provider of data loss prevention software, raises $10 million — The round is part of a planned $15 million fourth round, according to a regulatory filing cited by PE Week. Investors include GM Asset Management and existing investors Benchmark Capital, U.S. Venture Partners and Venrock Associates.
Blurb, online self-publishing book company, raises $7.16 million — The San Francisco company has secured $7.16 million of a planned $13 million second round of funding, according to another regulatory filing. Investors included existing investors Canaan Partners and Anthem Venture Partners.