MadCap Competes by Innovating, VC Partners See Influx of Foreign Investment, Qualcomm’s Media Flo Begins Delayed Network Expansion, & More San Diego BizTech News

6/15/09Follow @bvbigelow

While tech deals remained scarce last week in San Diego, Qualcomm served up some of the biggest news by launching the delayed expansion of its Media Flo network and signaling an increase in its wireless chip sales, at least in the current quarter. More on all that, and the rest of last week’s San Diego business and technology news below:

—MadCap Software CEO Anthony Olivier says the four-year-old startup has had no trouble staying ahead of rivals, such as Adobe, that develop competing software offshore. “Generally, you get lower costs” by moving software development offshore, Olivier says, “but you don’t really get innovation.” MadCap, which specializes in authoring software that is used to create technical user guides, introduced new versions of its software this past week.

—Just in time for the summer travel season, San Diego-based TelCentris said an update of its VoxOx universal communications service makes it easier to place low-cost international calls through a clever adapation of its text messaging service.  For example, if you’re abroad and send a text message of the U.S. phone number you want to call to a special access number, the VoxOx system automatically dials that phone number and connects it to your cell phone, sparing you often sky-high international rates.

—Following a four-month delay in a nationwide plan to convert to digital TV broadcasts, San Diego’s Qualcomm was finally able to expand its satellite-based Flo TV network to more U.S. cities, including Boston, Houston, San Francisco, and Miami, when the switchover to digital finally took place last week. Qualcomm invested at least $800 million to buy the broadcast spectrum for what was UHF channel 55 for its Flo TV service. But the company’s plans to expand Flo TV coverage got postponed at the beginning of the year when Congress decided to delay the digital TV conversion until June 12.

—The Campo Band of Mission Indians plans to add 100 electricity-generating wind turbines on its reservation, about 60 miles east of San Diego, in a renewable energy venture that will add 160 megawatts to the local power grid. If the project is completed in 2012 as expected, it will generate enough electricity at peak production for more than 100,000 homes. Chicago-based Invenergy will build and operate the estimated $300 million facility for the 351-member tribe.

—One of the main engines of San Diego’s tech economy transmitted some mixed signals last week in its financial outlook. Qualcomm raised its guidance for the fiscal third quarter that ends June 28, based on expectations of slightly higher revenue and increased shipments of CDMA-based devices. But the average sale price of CDMA devices is slipping, and Qualcomm said it expects sales of its chipsets to decline through the summer, as cell phone sales remain sluggish.

—Venture capital partners around the world are expecting some enormous shifts in their business, beginning with a retreat among the pensions, endowments, and institutional investors who usually account for much of their investment capital. But VCs in the U.S. anticipate that foreign investors will largely fill the need for more capital, according to a survey of 725 VC partners released last week by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte.

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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