Qualcomm’s No. 2 Executive Departs Amid Shuffle, Metaplace Closes Virtual World, Startups Refill Coffers, & More San Diego BizTech News

1/4/10Follow @bvbigelow

Although the news flow slowed to a trickle over the holidays, we’ve patiently collected all the high-tech news to get you ready to greet the New Year.

—San Diego’s Qualcomm announced the resignation of its No. 2 executive, Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer, on Christmas Eve—a move that almost ensured minimal press attention. Lauer, who joined Qualcomm in 2006, says he resigned to become CEO at an unnamed company. With Lauer’s departure, Qualcomm reorganized its Qualcomm MEMS Technologies business to report to Steve Mollenkopf, who presides over Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. Earlier in December, the wireless giant announced that former president and COO Rich Sulpizio was returning to head Qualcomm Enterprise Services.

—San Diego-based Metaplace has shut down its user-generated content website. Co-founder Ralph Koster announced the move before the holidays on his blog, saying the online marketplace and platform for users building their own social networking rooms “just hasn’t gotten traction.” Investors in Metaplace, which raised $6.7 million in a Series B round in 2008, include Charles River Ventures, Crescendo Ventures, Ben Horowitz, and Marc Andreessen.

Seacoast Science co-founders Louis Haerle and Sanjay Patel founded their startup in 2003 to develop new sensor technologies, including chemical sensors for cell phones under a program funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. But they told me they set out to avoid making a number of mistakes they had seen at Graviton, a San Diego wireless sensor company that failed in 2003 after burning through $66 million in venture capital.

—The head of Qualcomm Ventures, Nagraj Kashyap, told me that Qualcomm intends to organize a second round of its global QPrize program, but that the selection process for awarding funding to startup wireless companies will not be organized as a business plan competition.

—A number of San Diego startups raised funding during the last few weeks of 2009. Daylight Solutions got $1.25 million, Edgeware Analytics got nearly $663,000, Ortiva Wireless got $1.7 million, and U.S. Local News Network raised $2.7 million.

—Aptera Motors, the Carlsbad, CA-based carmaker, says in a holiday newsletter that it has been working with Energetx Composites, a composites manufacturing facility in Holland, MI, to supply the bodies for its three-wheeled cars. Aptera still is awaiting word on its revised application for a federal loan under the Department of Energy’s advanced vehicle technology manufacturing loan program.

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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