Qualcomm Rides Wave of 3G Growth, Dissident Shareholder Emerges at Leap, UCSD’s Fowler Plumbs the Power of Social Networks, & More San Diego BizTech News

3/14/11Follow @bvbigelow

Qualcomm announced a series of new technology initiatives just a few weeks ago, which CEO Paul Jacobs reviewed during the wireless chipmaker’s shareholder meeting last week. And we’ve got a review of San Diego’s biztech news for you here:

Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ: QCOM) Paul Jacobs marked his fifth anniversary as CEO of the world’s largest wireless chipmaker at a shareholder meeting last week. In an upbeat overview of Qualcomm’s technology development and business performance, Jacobs said the migration of mobile users from 2G (where Qualcomm has relatively little technology) to 3G (where Qualcomm technology is pervasive) increased 380 percent, to about 1.2 billion subscribers, from 2003 to 2010.

—I interviewed UCSD professor James Fowler, who specializes in social networks and in understanding the differences between social networks in the real world and in cyberspace. He said that online social networks are particularly well-suited for conveying information, which is a different thing than the effects that real world networks play in changing behavior, such as persuading someone to stop smoking.

Qualcomm’s William F. Davidson talked with me about what makes the wireless chipmaker different from computer processor manufacturers that have entered the market for smartphones and other mobile devices. Davidson said that while processor chipmakers boast about peak download speeds and gigahertz, Qualcomm focuses on power requirements, spectrum capacity, and integrating functions to work efficiently.

—San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies acquired Round Rock, TX-based Hodyon, which makes auxiliary power systems for trucks. Terms were not disclosed, but Fallbrook CEO Bill Klehm told me that buying Hodyon was “a perfect way to display our technology, save truckers money, and improve fuel economy.”

San Diego Gas & Electric said a solar power plant now under contract to be built near El Centro, CA, will be the first customer for the biggest solar panel factory to be built in San Diego. As part of its deal with Tenaska Solar Ventures, SDG&E pushed for the company supplying the concentrating solar panels to build its factory in the San Diego region.

—San Diego-based Grid2Home, which develops software for the smart grid raised almost $2.6 million of a planned $3.1 million in equity investments. Grid2Home’s software provides two-way data communications from a meter to “smart” household appliances and electric vehicles.

Roth Capital Partners‘ 23rd annual OC Growth Stock Conference begins today in Dana Point, CA, with scheduled presentations over the next three days by more than 430 small-cap public companies—including 100 based in China. That makes this Roth’s biggest conference ever. The San Diego-based companies scheduled to make investor presentations include Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), Mad Catz (AMEX: MCZ), MaxLinear (NYSE: [[MXL:]]), Maxwell Technologies (NASDAQ: [[MXWL:]]), Mitek Systems (NASDAQ: [[ticker:MITK.OB]]), Overland Storage (NASDAQ: OVRL), LRAD (NASDAQ: LRAD), and Pure Bioscience (NASDAQ: PURE).

—San Diego’s Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP), a low-cost wireless service provider that spun out of Qualcomm in 1998, is coming under pressure from a dissident shareholder, Chicago-based Pentwater Capital Management. Pentwater, which nominated three of its own candidates for Leap’s board of directors, claims that Leap has made a series of poor strategic decisions in recent years. Pentwater owns almost 5 percent of Leap shares.

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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