Roundup of the latest action in Silicon Valley & tech:
PayPal’s origin explored, one more time — Online payments company Paypal has spawned more Internet entrepreneurs from its founding team than any other company we know. Yet PayPal had a rushed and tumultuous birth; if you’re curious about yet another version of PayPal history, this is worth a read: Co-founder Elon Musk (pictured here) rejects the version that suggests he was a lesser player.
Wikio, which looks remarkably like Digg, raises $5.3M — Aside from ranking stories in various theme areas, like Digg does, Wikio gives you ways to publish articles and personalize your news page. The Luxembourg-based company has closed a first round by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Gemini Israel Funds. Its team has big-name European new media types: Founder is CEO Laurent Binard, who was founder of Mediapps (European Software Publisher), and chairman is Pierre Chappaz, who was Yahoo Europe President and co-CEO of Netvibes. Wikio’s seed investors include Loic Le Meur (VP Sixapart Europe), Martin Varsavsky (CEO FON), Freddy Mini (COO Netvibes), Ouriel Ohayon (Editor Techcrunch France), and Jeff Clavier.
Infinera, the fiber optic company, to pull IPO trigger — This is the company with the power board, with folks like TJ Rogers and Vinod Khosla, that has raised a huge $315 million in venture backing so far. It is reportedly planning to file for an IPO, at a $1 billion-plus valuation, says LightReading, noting Infinera has sent lock-up agreements to shareholders.
Start-ups are killing big software companies — That’s the only conclusion you can draw if software sales are going up and sales of the big guys, SAP and Oracle, are falling. More here.
Acquisition environment humming — Dow Jones (sorry, subscription only, so no link) cites analysts and others saying M&A activity remains robust for now. We wrote about secondary activity. There’s a notable quote of Foundation Capital venture capitalist Warren Weiss saying the firm sold five of its portfolio companies in 2006 – and “turned down an extraordinary five offers for every one it accepted.”
Good to have power players on your board — Video company Veoh has not escaped the shakeout happening among video start-ups now that YouTube has emerged as leader, but Veoh backer and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has a way of making news. When Veoh announced a partnership with Wenner Media’s Usmagazine.com, to create a celebrity entertainment channel on Veoh, the NYT wrote about it (even though there are lots of celebrity entertainment sites already).
Google adds sponsored links to your search history — Details here.
Google in talks to buy Adscape Media, for ads in videogames — The search giant is in talks to acquire the San Francisco company, which delivers online advertising and also places ads within videogames, according to the WSJ. A deal could be reached next week. The company has a member of H.I.G. Ventures on its board. (The WSJ notes that Microsoft last year acquired Massive, a company that delivers in-game ads, for close to $200 million).
Kiptronic raises cash for ad-insertion in podcasts — Our story yesterday, in case you missed it, is here. Kiptronic inserts ads in audio and video files as they’re downloaded for off-line use; this is different from the broadcasting ad-insertion technologies. See Techdirt’s critique of broadcasting hype here. More analysis here.
IBM Joins social networking field — Details here.
ThinkFree wins Web-based office software comparison — Computer World compares various Web-based software packages, and rates ThinkFree (first) and Zoho (second) the winners. ThinkFree edged out Zoho because it is more compatible with Microsoft Office. In a significant partnership with Omnidrive, though, Zoho lets users open and edit documents directly within Web-based storage service, Omnidrive, and then save them too — a first, to our knowledge.