World Cup Draws Big Fans From San Diego’s Innovation Elite, Mushroom Networks Targets Internet Bottlenecks, SmartDraw Aims for a Bigger Market, & More San Diego BizTech News

6/28/10Follow @bvbigelow

Local companies revealed a flurry of venture funding deals last week, but some VC partners said venture capital continues to lag the overall economic recovery. The nagging problem is that IPOs and other exits remain constricted for venture-backed companies. We have all that and even some World Cup news. You better settle in, because our kick-off begins now.

San Diego proved itself to be the No. 1 U.S. market for World Cup Soccer, with local fans including the technology innovators and CEOs of Platformic, Avaak, Zementis, Genomatica, and other San Diego technology and life sciences companies.

—Technology developed by Rene Cruz at UC San Diego led to the foundation of San Diego-based Mushroom Networks, which makes a line of Internet appliances that combine multiple types of Internet connections (DSL, cable, T1, wireless, satellite, and MPLS) into high-speed broadband service. CEO Cahit Akin says Mushroom’s core innovation accomplishes this without requiring carriers to install any equipment.

—The general economy might have turned the corner, but venture capital still hasn’t recovered, according to three VC partners who offered their outlook at a breakfast meeting of the San Diego Venture Group. Austin Ventures partner Mike Dodd said venture investing in Silicon Valley is now “red hot” for early stage deals, but there is still relatively little exit activity among venture-funded startups.

—The managing director of GCA Savvian Advisors in San Francisco, Steve Fletcher, told the Red Herring North America 2010 conference in San Diego that financial markets have fundamentally shifted away from small cap IPOs. As Fletcher put it, “The days of the $30 million IPO are largely gone.”

—Erin updated and expanded the Xconomy Guide to Venture Incubators, reflecting a revamped vision of what it means to be a startup incubator.

—I chatted with SmartDraw’s founding CEO Paul Stannard, who has charted an ambitious new strategy for exponential growth at the San Diego company. SmartDraw has shown slow-but-steady growth as a niche developer of graphic design software for ordinary people. But Stannard envisions a much-larger market among the 95 percent of business software users who do not use a graphic or diagramming software of any kind.

—San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies inked a deal with China’s Chengdu Bus Co. to put its accessory drive technology into buses made for use in the Chinese market. Fallbrook CEO William Klehm said the deal represents “a major validation” of Fallbrook’s technology and its “potential to deliver fuel efficiencies for vehicle manufacturers.”

SmartDrive Systems expanded its targeted funding round to $28.5 million. The San Diego venture-backed company uses video recording technology and Web-based services to help motor vehicle fleet managers reduce their costs.

—San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless raised $4.5 million out of a planned $18 million round of equity and debt. The company launched its low-cost, long-range wireless networking technology last September.

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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