Verari Founder Tells Death and Life Story, IPO Activity Increasing, Aptera Looks to Sell Through Best Buy Stores, & More San Diego BizTech News

2/1/10Follow @bvbigelow

Was there any BizTech news besides Apple iPad news last week? The answer is yes, but not a lot. We’ve got it here, plus a little speculation about San Diego’s iPad connection.

Diego-based V-Vehicle raised $62.3 million in venture capital in 2009, enough for the stealthy startup automaker to rank No. 2 in Southern California VC deals last year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Most of the other deals that made our list of Top 10 deals of 2009 involved life sciences companies. But Fallbrook Technologies, which is developing an innovative and more energy-efficient transmission, raised a total of $29.4 million last year and placed No. 7.

—David Driggers, who founded a San Diego computer business in 1991 that became Verari Systems, told me that the high-performance computer maker failed last month because it needed money, and servicing its monthly loan payment was crushing profit margins. He also explained why he’s optimistic about the future of Verari Technologies, a new company that acquired the old Verari’s assets and restarted the business.

Aptera Motors CEO Paul Wilbur told a Rotary Club luncheon in his hometown of Salina, KS, that the Carlsbad-CA electric car-maker is teaming up with electronics retailer Best Buy to sell the futuristic-looking two-seater vehicle through 300 of the nationwide chain’s larger stores. Wilbur’s announcement was reported by the Salina Journal.

A total of 53 companies registered to begin selling shares of their stock through an IPO during the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the U.S. IPO Pipeline study that was released last week by Ernst & Young. That’s not a record, but it was the highest number of IPO filings in a quarter since 2007—and is an optimistic sign, according to Jackie Kelley, who is Ernst & Young’s Americas IPO leader in Irvine, CA. San Diego’s Trius Therapeutics and Carlsbad, CA-based Maxlinear filed for IPOs in November.

—Before Apple’s iPad announcement last week, there was considerable speculation about what components Apple had chosen for its 1.5-pound window to the Internet. Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar suggested that Qualcomm was supplying the wireless wide area network (WWAN) chip for wireless networks connectivity. But it still isn’t clear days after the Apple iPad made its debut. In an e-mail, Frost & Sullivan mobile analyst James Brehm tells me, “It could be Ericsson, Infineon, Broadcom, Qualcomm, etc….we’re not really sure.” Brehm adds, “If it isn’t Qualcomm, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Qualcomm.”

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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