Too much going on, so we summarize…


Wireless valley, and it might be free — You may have seen the Mercury News story about plans by a coalition of valley leaders to construct wireless Internet access across Silicon Valley.

Now one of the biggest local providers of this wireless network, MetroFi, has announced it is offering free service in Santa Clara and Cupertino — having done some math, and realized that offering free service is better than charging a small fee because of the greater number of users it will get, and thus more advertising. Here are the announcements. This comes after it has already offered free service in Sunnyvale last month.

Golden Touch — The San Francisco company that makes fingerprint scanners so you can by groceries without pulling out your wallet, has raised $60 million more in capital, after it has already raised a considerable amount. The company, called Pay By Touch, said…

two hedge funds, Plainfield Asset Management and Scout Capital, invested, along with Quince Associates and Global Trust Partners. And Techdirt reports that Wal-Mart and Costco are considering using Pay By Touch’s biometric payment system. However, as they rightly ask, how are these large chains going to respond to a study that shows 90 percent of scanners can be fooled by a fingerprint made from Play-Doh?

Closure — Sequoia Capital-funded Tera Systems appears to have quietly shuttered last year, reports alarm:clock. The so-called “EDA” startup was chosen “semiconductor entrepreneurial company of the year” in 2004 by consultant Frost & Sullivan, but issued its last public statement in June 2005. Tera’s last funding round of $14M came in April 2004, and it has raised over 44 million in its lifetime.

Ex-Yahoo researcher to lead Microsoft’s Live Labs — Gary Flake, a former researcher at Yahoo will lead a new unit for Microsoft called “Live Labs” that focuses on research and development for new MSN products. Meanwhile, Om notes that Ash Patel, the senior VP of engineering and the “OG” Yahooligan is going to be the new Chief Product Officer at Yahoo.

SpongeCell is yet another Ajax calendar start-up — Yes, this San Francisco company’s software is built on the red-hot “Ruby on Rails” platform. Michael Arrington reports that there are at least six of these companies now, but that SpongeCell is adding “artificial intelligence aspects to turn natural language into structured calendar entries, and has a nice mobile interface.” It is having a launch party tomorrow. From SpongeCell’s site: Using your cell phone’s basic e-mail or text messaging, you can add or modify an event in a Spongecell calendar. Another key feature lets you text message the word “today,” and then receive the day’s events. Palm Pilots, and even iPods can sync to Spongecell.

Mike’s Web 2.0 fest continued — Meanwhile, Mike also points us to San Francisco-based Skobee, a new service to help people plan events, and competitor to Renkoo. And also to ZoomTags, a Sunnyvale company that gives you a set a tags for your Web site to help link with advertisers. If an advertiser sponsors a tag, the advertiser gets forwarded any users who clicks on the tag. The tags come in the form of tag clouds, and if you go the ZoomTag site, you’ll see what we’re talking about.

Page and his ideas — Google’s co-founder Larry Page is on the X Prize Foundation Board of Trustees, and so it is no surprise that the guy who was fascinated with the idea of a chip in the brain, and with creating a special nanotech lab at Google, might be endorsing some of the latest X prizes the group is giving out for innovations in all kinds of areas. The X Prize Foundation, the group behind the $10 million prize for human space flight, ‘plans to offer a $5 million to $20 million prize to the first team that completely decodes the DNA of 100 or more people in a matter of weeks,’ the Wall Street Journal reports. However, it could take five to ten years, according to foundation officials. We note that Applied Biosystems Group, of Foster City dominates sales in the area, according to the piece. (via Slashdot)

Get the Big Game on iTunesForbes is reporting Stanford University, in collaboration with Apple Computer, is giving public access to a wide range of lectures and other university content through iTunes (via). November’s Stanford versus Berkeley football game, known on campus as “The Big Game,” is also expected to be available via iTunes.


Jeff Jarvis on Google’s Marissa Mayer — The New York blogger has quite a way with words. Jarvis notes Mayer, Google’s VP for search products, “made quite the splash on her recent cover of Business 2.0 — smart, beautiful, powerful, rich… enough to make her the geek goddess of all times — and so it’s interesting to finally hear her (and her endearing, humanizing little honk, a small badge of geekiness)….” He does point out some interesting quotes from her about blogs, among them: “I think they come today with a lot of conventions: You need to publish every day, you can’t retract or revise things, you have to publish another post.” Hmm, not sure if that’s true. We retract and revise things all the time, no?

YouTube kickin’ butt — Fred Wilson has a good post about how San Mateo’s video hosting company, YouTube, is seeing usage soar off the charts, and describes how much difficulty he has in posting something to MySpace.

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