VC Slows, ViaSat Soars, Wests Unveil $100M Healthtech Fund, & More San Diego BizTech News

10/25/11Follow @bvbigelow

Data on venture capital investment activity during the third quarter poured in from different sources last week. The highlights are here, along with the rest of the San Diego’s biztech news.

Total venture capital invested in San Diego startups so far this year amounted to $567.7 million in 82 deals, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, National Venture Capital Association, and Thomson Reuters. That’s down about 13 percent from the first nine months of 2010, when $652.5 million went into 95 deals. A rival survey from Dow Jones VentureSource counted year-to-date investments of $556.7 million in 66 venture deals in San Diego—down about 7 percent from the $599.8 million invested in 65 deals during the same period last year.

—Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) seems to have succeeded in its $1 billion-plus gamble to put a satellite into orbit over North America. ViaSat-1 has more total bandwidth capacity than any previous commercial communication satellite. The satellite, intended to provide high-speed Internet service in sparsely populated areas, was launched from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazalstan.

—San Diego philanthropists Gary and Mary West, who made their fortune in telemarketing, have created a new $100 million investment fund to provide early stage funding for startups developing technology that promises to drive down the cost of healthcare. The new West Health Investment Fund, which is affiliated with San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute, already has invested in six startups.

—The IPO Task Force, an independent group formed to address the dramatic reduction in venture-backed IPOs over the past decade, called for lawmakers and regulators to relax some of the rules that have made an IPO a risky and expensive hassle. The task force, headed by Kate Mitchell of Scale Venture Partners, said it doesn’t want to overturn regulations intended to protect investors. Rather, the IPO Task Force argues for taking “reasonable and measured steps” to ease certain regulations.

JMI Equity, the private equity fund based in San Diego and Baltimore, MD, said it led a $54 million investment round in CouponCabin, a Web-based company based in Whiting, IN, that offers discounts on merchandise from Dell, RadioShack, Target.com, Best Buy and others. Paul Barber, JMI’s managing general partner in San Diego, told me Baltimore partner Brad Woloson handled the deal.

—AOL, the New York online media company once known as America Online, re-launched its Internet radio service under a partnership with San Diego’s Slacker. “Unlike other providers, AOL Radio powered by Slacker offers free mobile service, professionally curated content, and sports and news content,” AOL said in a press release last week.

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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