Flipping Out over Flipboard, Going Geo-Loco, Grilling Silicon Valley’s MacGyver, & More Bay Area Biztech News

7/26/10Follow @wroush

Last week’s business and technology news ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous—sometimes both in one story (Flipboard’s new iPad app is pretty amazing, even if it didn’t work for half of the people who downloaded it).

—After visiting Palo Alto, CA-based Nanosys, I wrote a feature explaining how the nine-year-old nanotech firm is finally getting some products to market under turnaround CEO Jason Hartlove, a true Silicon Valley “MacGyver.”

—Palo Alto-based startup Flipboard came out of stealth mode, launching a “social magazine” app for the Apple iPad and revealing that it has raised $10.5 million in financing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures, Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey, and the actor Ashton Kutcher, among other investors. In my Friday column, I took a close look at Flipboard’s app, which, despite the startup’s inability to keep up with signup requests, shows great promise as a way for iPad owners to manage their social media streams.

—I attended the Geo-Loco conference in San Francisco on July 21 and reported back about the event’s main themes, including why check-ins are becoming passe and how startups can gain users for their location-based services.

—I took a look back at Apple’s solution to the iPhone 4 antenna crisis (giving all iPhone 4 owners a free case) and asked whether ‘Antennagate’ was a side effect of the company’s notorious culture of secrecy. My verdict: probably not.

—Google Energy, a unit of the search giant charged with finding ways to make its operations more energy-efficient, said that it had struck its first deal, an agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to buy 114 megawatts of power from wind farms in Iowa. Google won’t use the power directly, but will sell it on the spot market, thus taking resources off the market and (in theory at least) encouraging new investment in renewable energy generation.

—Skyhook Wireless, in Boston, unveiled an online map designed to help San Francisco Marathon fans track tweets, Foursquare checkins, and other geotagged mobile activity among the crowds along the race route.

—Venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in Menlo Park, CA, announced that it had finished raising its 13th fund, which totaled $350 million. That was about $300 million short of the original goal.

—Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital contributed to a $30 million Series C financing round for Palto Alto, CA-based social networking tools maker Jive Software, as our assistant editor in Seattle, Thea Chard, reported.

—Pixazza in Mountain View, CA, raised $12 million to fund further development and marketing of its “visual commerce” software, which turns Web images into pop-up catalog pages.

—San Mateo-based mobile medical software maker Epocrates, which called off a planned $86 million IPO in 2008, said it has re-filed the necessary paperwork to give it another shot.

—San Jose-based Solexant, a developer of ultrathin photovoltaic panels, said it had selected Gresham, OR, as the location for its first commercial-scale manufacturing facility.

—Optical communications company Oclaro of San Jose announced that it had acquired Mintera, an Acton, MA-based maker of high-speed optical transmission systems, for $12 million up front and as much as $32 million in total, if Mintera hits sales goals over the next 18 months.

—Validity, the San Jose, CA-based maker of fingerprint scanners for laptops and other devices, raised $12.6 million from Panorama Capital, Crosslink Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, TeleSoft Partners, and VentureTech Alliance.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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