Qualcomm Ventures Leads Funding for Visage Mobile, Venture Deal Terms Favor Investors (Still), Leap Wireless Forms Joint Venture, & More San Diego BizTech News

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It was a light week in San Diego for tech news, perhaps balancing the blizzard of life sciences news that blanketed our region. Good thing that’s the only kind of blizzard we see around here.

—When I met last summer with Qualcomm Venture’s Nagraj Kashyap, he told me the corporate venture arm of San Diego’s wireless giant has invested in about 30 startups since it was founded in 2000. That works out to slightly more than three deals a year—around the world—so it’s significant that Qualcomm Ventures led a new round of funding for San Francisco-based Visage Mobile, which launched a new software-as-a-service business in 2008 as part of a turnaround strategy.

Venture funding deal terms still heavily favor venture investors over startup founders and entrepreneurs, according to a report prepared by the Cooley Godward Kronish law firm. By coincidence, life sciences investor Cam Gallagher said during a presentation Thursday to the San Diego Venture Group, “It’s a great time to invest because entrepreneurs are not setting the terms.” Gallagher heads San Diego’s Nerveda, a privately funded life sciences investment firm.

Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP) which provides pre-paid, flat-rate wireless phone service through its Cricket Communications operating company, is forming a joint venture with Pocket Communications in the South Texas region around San Antonio, TX.

Department of Energy officials will not complete their review of a $320 million loan application submitted by San Diego-based V-Vehicle Co. in time for the company to meet today’s deadline, which was necessary to secure $84 million in cash and other incentives from the state of Louisiana.  The company, which plans to manufacture its cars in Northeast Louisiana, has raised more than $66 million in venture capital from Google Ventures, T. Boone Pickens, and the Silicon Valley VC firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. But the state funding is contingent on V-Vehicle winning the federal loans. So the company now risks forfeiting the state funding unless it can get the project back on track, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

—Privately held General Atomics says it is developing an innovative design for a compact nuclear reactor that is small enough to be transported on a flatbed truck—and generates power from the spent nuclear fuel rods that pose a troublesome nuclear waste disposal problem. The local effort to develop a fast reactor fueled by nuclear waste was reported by San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Mike Freeman.

Xconomy has created a new online resource for San Diego’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and venture investors—and all the other people who make up the local “exponential economy.” Known as the X Lists, we’ve listed local online resources and organized them according to the stages in a startup’s development: Start, Fund, Network, Work & Grow, and Analyze.

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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