Slacker Gets Funding, Daylight Solutions Gets the Military Interested in its Laser Technology, Startup CEOs Get Survival Advice, and More San Diego BizTech News

5/18/09Follow @bvbigelow

One of San Diego’s technology startups made an acquisition, and another got a secondary round of venture funding last week. That might not signify the end of the downturn for San Diego’s venture-backed companies, but they were welcome developments nevertheless. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs in San Diego’s technology sector got lots of survival advice.

—Our timing made us look prescient this week when we profiled Slacker and Dennis Mudd, who had raised almost $60 million in venture capital since founding San Diego’s online streaming music website in 2007. If only we had known that two days later Slacker would disclose it had raised another $9.7 million, we would have asked why the online music streaming company needed the extra funding (rest assured, we will press for more on this front anyway). Slacker just raised $5 million in December.

BakBone Software, the San Diego data backup and recovery company, said it paid more than $15.9 million to acquire ColdSpark, a Broomfield, CO, company that specializes in managing global messaging infrastructures. BakBone says its data protection platform, combined with ColdSpark’s proprietary email platform, will allow customers to improve corporate compliance, mitigate risk, enhance performance, and reduce operational costs.

—Daylight Solutions has developed technology that is the stuff of science fiction. The four-year-old, venture-backed startup has created laser-based sensors capable of detecting glucose in the breath of diabetic patients and carbonyl sulfide in the breath of patients suffering from liver disease. Daylight Solutions’ lasers operate at mid-infrared wavelengths, a part of the spectrum co-founder Tim Day describes as “the color of heat.” I profiled the company and its latest move to prove its technology can be used by the military to prevent heat-seeking missiles from homing in on aircraft in flight.

—Don Dixon, a co-founder and managing director in the Palo Alto, CA, office of Trident Capital, delivered some tough advice at the annual Red Herring North America 100 conference, which was held in San Diego last week. Dixon says CEOs should be cutting costs in anticipation of worsening economic trends. He does not expect the IPO market to return anytime soon, and says his firm views mergers and acquisitions “as a game of musical chairs in which there are six chairs and 600 kids at the party. You want to be sure that you’re one of the ones who gets a chair.”

—Five months ago, Jim Zierick was named CEO of San Diego’s Nirvanix. Last month, the cloud storage technology specialist raised $5 million in a secondary venture round from its existing investors, which include Intel, Mission Ventures, Valhalla Partners, and Windward Ventures. So what’s next? Zierick told Xconomy’s Juha-Pekka Tikka that Nirvanix continues to grow and will likely need more venture capital next year.

—When the exits for venture-backed companies are closed, CEOs should work to get as close as possible to profitability, according to the panelists who discussed strategies for startups while capital markets remain shuttered at the Red Herring North America 100 conference in San Diego. Brian Gentile, CEO of San Francisco-based Jaspersoft, urged startup CEOs to “get to ‘great’ on operational excellence, and from there you’ll have many more options.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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