Legend 3D Lays Off 15 Percent, Avalon Ventures Holds 6.1 Percent of Zynga, SweetLabs Launches App Platform for PCs, & More San Diego BizTech News
There was no shortage of news from San Diego’s high-tech business front last week. If you’ve been on a holiday the past few days, here’s your chance to get up to speed.
—Legend 3D, the San Diego-based 3D film conversion specialist, laid off 15 percent of its local workforce Friday, according to a note I received over the holiday on behalf of the company and its founder and president, Barry Sandrew. As I reported last year, Legend 3D, has been on a fast-growth curve—increasing its local workforce to almost 400 five months ago. In the note, a spokeswoman for the company says working with Hollywood requires constant staff shifting and flexibility. Legend 3D attributes the local cuts to “the traditional summer season slow period, after having ramped and completed a round of large, successful blockbuster film projects.” There was no mention of Legend 3D’s workforce in Patna, India; I’ll follow this story with an update if I can gather more details.
—Zynga, the San Francisco-based maker of such popular Facebook games as Farmville and Mafia Wars, registered with the SEC for an initial public offering on Friday, saying it hopes to raise $1 billion. While that would normally be a more appropriate story for Xconomy San Francisco than here, Zynga’s IPO filing shows that San Diego’s Avalon Ventures holds a 6.1 percent stake in the company. Avalon founder Kevin Kinsella told me in September that Avalon’s investment in Zynga could rank as the firm’s single most successful deal. In November, Xconomy’s Bob Buderi talked about Zynga with Avalon’s Boston-based partner, Rich Levandov, who made the deal.
—San Diego-based SweetLabs, which was previously known as OpenCandy, launched a beta version of Pokki, a new platform the startup developed to help bring the convenience and ease of mobile apps to desktop PC users. SweetLabs also made its Pokki software developers’ kit widely available to third-party software developers. A spokeswoman for SweetLabs tells me that German software developer Uwe Keim created the first third-party Pokki app less than 24 hours later. It’s a Zeta-Uploader that allows users to send large files over email.
—Pentwater Capital Management, which owns about 3 percent of San Diego’s Leap Wireless, has asked a Delaware court for an order that would put three of its candidates up for election to the discount wireless provider’s board of directors, according to Mike Freeman of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Leap says that Pentwater failed to comply with the company’s advance notice and disclosure rules for nominating new directors, so it did not include Pentwater’s candidates in its proxy statement. The company’s annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for July 28 in Bethesda, MD.
—BeyondTrust of Carlsbad, CA, said it acquired certain software assets from Likewise Software of Bellevue, WA, which is shedding its identity and security technologies to focus its resources on the software for data storage business. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
—San Diego social media company Hookit’s co-founder and CEO, Scott Tilton, briefed me on the company’s marketing campaign to expand its online action sports business, which helps serious athletes connect with sponsors in surfing, skateboarding and other sports. The effort includes a cross-country road trip to highlight Hookit’s “Spots & Sessions” feature. Spots & Sessions enables Hookit members to network around their favorite local hangouts—and gives local merchants a new outlet to market their wares.
—On-Ramp Wireless, founded in San Diego three years ago to develop low-power wireless networking technology for the smart grid and other utility applications, raised $11.5 million of a planned $14.7 million from investors, according to a regulatory filing.
—Sempra Energy, one of the few Fortune 500 companies based in San Diego, named Debra Reed as CEO. She succeeds longtime CEO Don Felsinger, who has become Sempra Energy’s executive chairman.
—Verve Wireless, which is based about 26 miles north of San Diego in Solana Beach, released its first quarterly “Local Mobile Index, to provide key insights into the ways mobile users are interacting with locally based media.