San Diego’s Senomyx in New Lucrative Collaboration, Google Ventures is V-Vehicle Backer, KidZui Launches ZuiTube, & Other San Diego BizTech News

8/10/09Follow @bvbigelow

There were deals to report in San Diego last week. Not necessarily big deals, but even little deals are a big deal these days. Read all about it in this week’s BizTech roundup.

—The V-Vehicle Co. operated in stealth mode in San Diego for three years before it surprised many in June, when the startup automaker announced plans to build a new line of fuel-efficient cars in northeastern Louisiana. Now the story is unfolding a bit more. A regulatory filing that reveals V-Vehicle has raised nearly $63 million in venture capital also shows that Google Ventures is an investor in the company, along with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the prominent Silicon Valley VC firm.

—San Diego’s Senomyx (NASDAQ: SNMX) said last week it could get as much as $34.5 million through a new collaboration with Switzerland’s Firmenich, the largest private flavor and fragrance company in the world. The deal gives Firmenich rights to compounds that Senomyx has developed to enhance the taste of table sugar and two other sweeteners. The money will come in handy for Senomyx, which expects total 2009 revenue to fall between $18 million and $22 million, while total expenses are projected to range from $46 million to $49 million.

—San Diego Internet startup KidZui, a San Diego Internet startup for children that has raised almost $12 million in startup venture capital since 2006, launched ZuiTube—an online video site with almost 60,000 kid-friendly videos. ZuiTube uses 200 part-time editors, who are mostly parents and teachers, to pre-screen the videos—just as KidZui prescreens websites to make sure they’re age-appropriate. KidZui is aimed at children from 3 to 13 years old.

—The San Diego-based IPS Group, which previously specialized in providing cellular networking equipment, has raised more than $1.3 million from individual investors to turn itself into a specialized maker of high-tech parking meters. The privately held company’s parking meters are solar-powered, wireless, and Internet-enabled. The technology enables motorists to use a credit card to feed the meter, and it enables municipalities and other customers to use the Internet to monitor their meters.

—The San Diego News Network, which operates a website that provides news and information about the San Diego community, has raised more than $707,000 from its individual investors, and plans to raise about $2 million in the current round. SDNN CEO Neil Senturia told me the online news operation, which was launched five months ago, is growing rapidly and is expected to hit breakeven by the end of this year.

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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