Qualcomm Buying Rapid Bridge Assets, Two Local Companies Get DOE Grants, Daily Deals Fuel Growth at Analog Analytics, & More San Diego BizTech News

6/13/11Follow @bvbigelow

The wireless news out of San Diego seems to have picked up in recent weeks, with Qualcomm playing a central role in most of the developments. Our briefing is ready for you now.

—The world’s largest wireless chipmaker agreed to buy San Diego-based Rapid Bridge’s LiquidCell technology, used to accelerate chip design, but Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) did not disclose the price. The Rapid Bridge asset sale is expected to close by Sept. 25, the end of Qualcomm’s fiscal year. EE Times London Editor Peter Clarke said “LiquidCell is a library consisting of a metal-programmable sea-of-transistors that can be configured into millions of usable elements supporting more than 160 functions from the 750 standard cells. The metal programmability allows designers to iterate designs, produce derivatives and meet industry-standard specifications through respins that only involve a few metal layers.”

—The success of Qualcomm’s succession is the subject of a story in The New York Times today. The Times notes that co-founder Irwin Jacobs passed the mantle of CEO to his son Paul six years ago, and that last year Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) accounted for 41 percent of the total market share in terms of smartphone chip revenue, according to one analyst’s estimates. Qualcomm also holds nearly 61 percent of the market share for application processors used in smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.

—The Department of Energy awarded funding to two San Diego companies, Genomatica and General Atomics, that is intended to advance technologies for bio-based fuels and chemicals that can be easily “dropped into” existing oil refinery and petrochemical production facilities. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday that Genomatica would get as much as $5 million to enhance the commercial profitability of integrated bio-refineries used to produce 1,4-butanediol (BDO), an intermediate chemical. Genomatica has genetically engineered bacteria to make BDO. Chu said General Atomics would get up to $2 million to reduce the cost of fermentation processes needed to make algae-based biofuels.

Analog Analytics, a San Diego-based white label provider of social coupon technology for old media newspapers and broadcasters, has been growing revenue at a monthly compounded rate of roughly 50 percent, according to co-founder and CEO Ken Kalb. I profiled the company, which counted nearly 1.9 million page views for all its sites from May 8 to June 7, and has more than doubled its workforce, from 25 to 55, this year.

—I wonder if anyone at Qualcomm’s facilities management read my colleague Wade Roush’s column about Steve Jobs proposal for a new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA. In a presentation at Cupertino City Hall, Jobs unveiled plans for a vast, circular, spaceship-like structure with room for as many as 13,000 people, or nearly everyone Apple employs in the city. I thought of all those alphabetized Qualcomm buildings throughout San Diego when Wade wrote, “Jobs is absolutely right that the headquarters campus of the world’s most successful consumer electronics company should be more than a hodgepodge of buildings surrounded by parking lots.”

—The Palo Alto, CA-based Marconi Group gave its prestigious Marconi Prize this year to Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and the late Jack Kiel Wolf, a UC San Diego computer theorist whose research helped lay the foundations for digital information and communications.

WaterSmart Software, based in San Francisco and San Diego, recently raised $900,000 to expand development of its technology platform, which uses customer data drawn from its utility partners to help water utilities and their customers reduce consumption and save money. WaterSmart creates websites for its utility partners that enables consumers to log on and see how much water they are using, and get  individualized recommendations on ways to reduce their water usage.

—Reporter Mike Freeman of The San Diego Union-Tribune pulled together a chart on executive pay among the top executives of public companies in the San Diego region. Life Technologies chairman and CEO Greg Lucier was No. 1 this year, with total compensation of more than $33 million.

—Qualcomm’s strategy for the fast-changing global wireless market became a little clearer during the recent Uplinq conference for mobile developers. The wireless chipmaker wants to cast itself as a universal hardware developer and core technology enabler for all mobile ecosystems. Qualcomm said its Snapdragon chips are now in 120 smartphone and tablets, with another 250 Snapdragon-powered devices in development.

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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