Quattrone Predicts VC Shrinkage, ViaSat CEO Says Bandwidth Was Key to Internet Satellite, UCSD Scientists Win Google Grant, & More San Diego BizTech News

2/8/10Follow @bvbigelow

With online video consuming more and more bandwidth, ViaSat’s decision to design its own high-capacity satellite for Internet service is looking more and more prescient. We’re beaming that and the rest of the news to you now, so take off your foil hats and tune in.

Frank Quattrone, a former investment banker and controversial figure following the dot-com boom, told a San Diego Venture Group gathering that the financial industry has grown too large, too over-extended, and strayed too far from its traditional focus on lending, trading, and principal activities. Quattrone spoke nostalgically about the tech IPOs he handled before Netscape’s 1995 IPO, which he also handled. That transaction, triggered a casino mentality of ever-bigger deals, he said.

Merger rumors about San Diego’s Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP) are resurgent, following a Wall Street Journal report last week that Leap has hired investment bankers to advise the company on its strategic options. Leap, which provides flat-rate phone service through its Cricket operating company, has previously explored merger opportunities, primarily with Dallas-based MetroPCS. In a report Saturday, the San Diego Union-Tribune cast doubt on the latest speculation, citing a JP Morgan Chase analyst.

—Plans by Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) to launch its own satellite to provide high-capacity Internet service were helped significantly by the company’s $568-million acquisition of Colorado-based WildBlue Communications. ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg told me that WildBlue gives ViaSat a way to distribute the satellite’s projected 140 Gbps (gigabits per second) total throughput to 1.5 million Internet subscribers.

—San Diego’s Concerro, which provides software-as-a-service for hospital shift and emergency workforce management acquired RES-Q Healthcare Systems of Calabasas, CA, for an undisclosed amount. RES-Q provides software for healthcare management and scheduling.

Google said it’s providing $100,000 to three UC San Diego computer scientists for their research on improving energy efficiency as part of $5.7 million the company is contributing through its Google Focused Awards Grants. Google also provided $1.35 million to the University of Washington for work on mobile data collection for public health and environmental monitoring.

Mike Hall, the CEO of El Cajon, CA-based Borrego Solar, talked about the type of solar technology the company recommends for its projects in a Q&A with me. Hall, who joined the privately held solar installation design company in 2002, also discussed differences in dealing with utilities, regulators, and construction project inspectors in New England and California.

—A survey of bloggers who write about economics found that 59 percent view the U.S. economy as “mixed,” and 23 percent see the possibility of a double-dip recession, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, MO. About half of the survey respondents said that government budget deficits, interest rates, inflation, and poverty rates will all rise substantially over the next three years.

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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