(Updated) round-up of the latest tech stuff:
Cuill, the secretive search start-up — This is the latest start-up, started by two Google folks and two Stanford folks. Co-founders include Tom Costello, of Stanford, and Anna Patterson, formerly at Stanford and now at Google (described as a search wizard). They’re raising a VC round for the company. We’re told they claim they can crawl the Web at a tenth of the cost Google can. We’ve contacted Costello to find out more. We’re open to tips if you hear of anything.
Fabrik buys storage company SimpleTech — Fabrik, the San Mateo storage company backed by Intel Capital and ComVentures, has agreed to acquire SimpleTech consumer storage device business for $43 million and about $13.6 million in liabilities. Notably, GigOM points out that the division has about $100 million in sales over three quarters. That suggests the division must be seriously in the red, if it is being sold for $43 million. We’re checking with Fabrik, to see if this is true. As for Fabrik, it says it is profitable. The logic of the deal is to boost Fabrik’s distribution channels. SimpleTech is a large provider of hard disk drive-based external, portable and network storage. [Update: We’re told FilmLoop is being shut down, and that its remaining cash is being given to Fabrik to help pay for the SimpleTech acquisition. Both companies were investments of ComVentures.]
Google’s radio guys walk — Chad and Ryan Steelberg, founders of an automated radio ad placement company, dMark, purchased by Google in January 2006, have left Google, apparently because of differences with Google about things like customer service — which apparently has spoiled revenue growth, and thus erased their chances of getting the full performance-based payout from $1.13 billion, and bringing it to $200 million or less.
Yahoo Pipes — If you’re not a techie, and don’t get Yahoo’s latest offering, Yahoo Pipes, don’t worry. The user interface makes it difficult to understand. It was meant for less-technical users to be able to use, but isn’t quite there yet. Tim ‘Oreilly has a good description of what it does:
Using the Pipes editor, you can fetch any data source via its RSS, Atom or other XML feed, extract the data you want, combine it with data from another source, apply various built-in filters….and apply simple programming tools like for loops. In short, it’s a good start on the Unix shell for mashups. It can extract dates and locations and what it considers to be “text entities.” You can solicit user input and build URL lines to submit to sites. The drag and drop editor lets you view and construct your pipeline, inspecting the data at each step in the process. And of course, you can view and copy any existing pipes, just like you could with shell scripts and later, web pages.
Sequoia Capital makes amends — The high-profile venture capital firm has restored Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, to its homepage, after taking him down a while back. By the way, the firm is hiring an associate, and is demanding formidable attributes.
The 26-year-old biotech company that hasn’t made a product — Check out the story of Xoma, a Berkeley, Calif. company that started in 1981, supposedly was making antibodies and has never earned an operating profit or marketed a drug of its own. It has raised $700 million from investors and other companies, and its stock is still publicly traded, albeit in the tank. We have no idea why public investors choose to inflict such harm on themselves like this. Meanwhile, founder Dr. Scannon takes exotic trips down to the South Pacific jungles of Palau. NYT has the story
NYT’s love-hate relationship with Silicon Valley — Two years ago, the NYT was asking if Silicon Valley had become the next Detroit. Now it publishes an article by someone claiming again Silicon Valley’s hegemony. Of course, the real story should be that it is neither.
Branson-Gore offer $25 million prize to clean up global warming gasses — British billionaire Richard Branson joined former Vice President Al Gore to announce a $25 million prize to the person who comes up with an idea to reduce the planet’s warming gases. Some $5 million will be given up-front, and the rest after proof the idea is working.
The kids running news sites Digg and Reddit — Notable story in the WSJ profiling the young guys with the most influence over which stories reach the front-pages of news-ranking sites Digg and Reddit. One is 17-year-old Henry Wang, who spent three hours a day doing his Digg work, but then moved to Netscape in return for $1,000 a month. He posted a link to Famster.com — a MySpace.com-like site focused on families — which eventually drove traffic to Famster up to 50,000 unique visitors per day.
Latest on Micrsosoft Zune phone — Here’s the latest. It is apparently built on OFDM technology, which can be used to route TV and voice calls among devices. More here. Some say it could be out by May, beating the iPhone release by Apple.
Nick Douglas launches video site — The former Valleywag guy who got pushed aside last year, has gone out on his own, launching a new video site today called LookShiny.
Jajah lets you call overseas with a smart phone, maybe — Jajah, the scrappy Mountain View company that offers Internet telephone service (VoIP) at low cost, is offering it over your smart phone, such as Blackberry and Palm Treo. Previously, these phones weren’t supported. We tried it out, following directions (you register at jajah.com, and then go to mobile.jajah.com in your browser) but it didn’t work for us.
Stay tuned for response from the company. The service is now working.
The audio problem: Learn how new cloud-based API solutions are solving imperfect, frustrating audio in video conferences. Access here