Silicon Valley Spokane, WA wireless LAN company, Vivato, is apparently singing the swan song, according to Unstrung. It is scheduled to close shop by Dec. 20, after eating through about $67 million from local investors such as ATV, Intel, USVP, Walden and Leapfrog.

–Photo TLC, a Petaluma company that helps personalize photos and other gifts, chose a good to time to make a funding announcement. It needs all the publicity it can get this shopping season, as there are lots of competitors. Disney’s Steamboat Ventures led the $10M round, probably because it’s a great way to sell Disney content. The alarm:clock has a nice little analysis here, including good example of a photo restoration by Photo TLC.

–RedHerring makes an noteworthy observation: The top three performing technology IPOs this year were solar companies, with the best performing IPO, Chinese solar firm Suntech Power, going public last Wednesday. Other solar IPOs, including Q-Cells, Conergy, Ersol, and Silicon Valley’s SunPower, did well.

The Economist has a good story on Mitchell Baker, the unlikely leader of the Firefox browser, who studied Chinese at Berkeley and was…

a lawyer. Of note:

And yet, she is the leader. What, actually, does that mean in an open-source community? “There’s nothing that I could stick on a résumé that people would understand,” she says. “Create structures out of chaos,” is one way to put it. “Translate geek-speak into English,” is another, she says. “Wrangle the lizards” is her favourite description, whence her title. By this she means co-ordinating the 800 or so Mozilla volunteers (or “lizards”, since Mozilla’s logo is a dinosaur), of whom many are on the payrolls of companies such as Google, Sun Microsystems and Red Hat, while many others are simply hobbyists.

–Santa Clara chip-maker Passave, Silicon Valley’s fastest growing company, is being forced to postpone an IPO after getting hit with a lawsuit from its biggest customer seeking $30 million in a dispute over faulty equipment. This must be painful for backers such as BRM Capital, Intel Capital, RSIS Business Trust and Walden Israel, which have invested at least $21.5 million over the last few years.

The unhappy customer is UTStarcom, of Alameda, which was doing well until earlier this year, when its stock began a steep decline. One reason, according to the BizJournal, was the failure of its equipment in a new high-speed Internet network in Japan. Passave provides part of its technology that makes the “last-mile connection” between the main line of the Internet and a home or office.

Meanwhile, perhaps not helping UT Starcom’s mood is another ruling, where a San Jose judge ruled that Starent Networks does not violate patents held by UTStarcom.

–Google, Microsoft Sun to open new Internet lab in Berkeley. We’re a bit late here, but here’s our story from last week’s Mercury News.

The lab’s director, David A. Patterson, told the NYT that Berkeley researchers began looking for industry support last year when they realized that the Pentagon Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as Darpa, was withdrawing support for basic research at the university, he said.

In a memorandum submitted to a Congressional committee earlier this year, Darpa officials disclosed that its spending on basic computer science research at universities had declined by 5 percent between 2003 and 2004. Government officials and corporate research executives noted the indirect effects of the changes in federal research support over the last five years.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been one of the key financial backers of computer science research at universities. But DARPA’s university funding dropped from $214 million in 2001 to $123 million in 2004, as the agency shifted its focus to classified research that favors military contractors.

So Berkeley is holding its own as a research mecca:

The RAD lab is the latest in a string of research facilities at UC-Berkeley to open with private-sector partners. Santa Clara chip giant Intel opened a lab in 2001 just blocks from the UC-Berkeley campus. And Sunnyvale Internet company Yahoo opened a social media lab over the summer near Berkeley. Former UC-Berkeley professor Marc Davis runs the lab, which is staffed by Yahoo employees and UC-Berkeley graduate students. For now anyway, Google, Sun and Microsoft will be strictly hands-off when it comes to RAD Lab research, serving only as advisers and funders. The three tech companies are contributing the bulk of the funding for the lab, along with smaller contributions from other companies. As much of 80 percent of the funding will come from private industry, with the remainder coming from government grants.

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