Here’s the latest Silicon Valley action:
Twitter, fun for some, nauseating for others — Twitter is the latest social networking product generating buzz, and boredom, among the Silicon Valley set. It was launched last year by Obvious, in San Francisco. It claims 50,000 users. Like Google’s Dodgeball, it ties together instant messaging, social networking and wireless communication. Like Dodgeball, though, it can become annoying. Users send short text messages from their phones (or PCs) about what they’re doing, but you have to be in a social state of mind to keep getting all these updates.
Yahoo hires Salim Ismail for its incubator — Yahoo has tapped Ismail, chairman of Confabb.com, a directory of conferences, to lead Brickhouse, a division responsible for launching new products. Ismail was also co-founder of PubSub, a news tracking site that folded recently. Brickhouse was created by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, after her company was acquired by Yahoo. Yahoo Pipes was the first product launched by the unit.
March Madness indeed — Everyone, it seems, is launching a “March Madness” feature. CBS just signed a deal with YouTube, allowing the video-sharing site to run CBS clips, in return for a split in ad revenue. And we’re getting feedback from Facebook users that they like Facebook’s tournament implementation. Here’s one of the leaders.
Global warming accelerating, Silicon Valley reacts — This winter was the hottest on record, and surface temperatures have been increasing at three times the rate they were before 1976, according to California scientists, in a report released yesterday. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley leaders, from John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins) on the political left, to John Chambers (Cisco) on the right are lobbying Congress and the Bush Administration for policy change and a doubling of federal funding for energy research. Also, see today’s VentureBeat column by Conrad Burke, chief executive of Innovalight, a solar company we first covered here.
Venture firms are huddling together again — The percentage of deals in which five or more venture capital firms join together to make an investment rose to 20.6 percent last year, according to research by VentureOne. That’s up for 14.2 percent the year before, and a sign that investors are hoping to pile in before companies get acquired — now that M&A activity is up.
VC is long-term business — It would have been very easy to bail from supporting a company like Tellme during the depressing post-bubble year of 2002, when Tellme faced layoffs. Most investors hung in there, and saw a good profit this week when Microsoft bought the voice-recognition company. However, Van Wagoner, a San Francisco mutual fund was one of the investors who couldn’t stomach the depths.
Microsoft’s new photo format — Better than jpeg, but will anyone use it?
Microsoft’s Ballmer can’t keep up — Chief executive Steve Ballmer, visiting the Stanford business school yesterday, said time is his biggest challenge in life, and described a spreadsheet he carries around with 35 rows devoted to different aspects of his work and home life. More notable, though, was his reference to Google’s rapid pace. Google wants to double its staff in a year, he noted. “That’s insane in my opinion,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing has created value.” (See WSJ).