$52 Million for Solazyme, $25 Million for Nanosys, $7.5 Million for WePay, & More Bay Area Biztech News

8/16/10Follow @wroush

The news in San Francisco and Silicon Valley last week hit every stage of the innovation process, from new tech companies being born to mature ones finding new investors, to old ones firing their CEOs and suing each other.

—I profiled inDinero, a Y Combinator-backed startup offering an online finance tracking tool that it bills as a “Mint-like” tool for small businesses.

—WePay, a Palo Alto startup that offers a PayPal-like service for group payments (and that also emerged from the Y Combinator, in 2009), raised $7.5 million in Series B funding in a round led by Lexington, MA-based Highland Capital Partners.

—The Palo Alto nanotech stalwart Nanosys announced a three-pronged deal with Korea’s Samsung Electronics, under which Samsung licensed Nanosys technology in the area of thin-film photovoltaic panels, agreed to fund development of cadmium-free phosphors for Nanosys’s QuantumRail product, and put $15 million toward Nanosys’s $25 million Series E financing round. Nanosys confirmed that it will use part of the funding to seek larger manufacturing facilities in the Bay Area.

—Luke reported on efforts at ZeaChem, a Colorado startup with laboratories in Menlo Park, CA, to scale up its technology for converting wood chips to ethanol without releasing carbon dioxide.

—Also in the biofuels realm, Solazyme, the South San Francisco company using algae to make diesel and other fuels, raised $52 million in a Series D financing round led by Morgan Stanley and Braemar Energy Ventures.

—I took a look at the real legacy of departed Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd and concluded that not only did he leave the company in far better financial shape than his predecessors, but showed the way toward the reverticalization of the computer industry.

—LearnBoost, an angel- and venture-funded education startup that I profiled in July, unveiled its first product, a free online gradebook for schoolteachers.

—Speaking of books, I published a writeup of my conversation with Brad Inman, founder and CEO of Alameda, CA-based Vook, which recently sold its 100,000th video-enhanced e-book.

—Bruce analyzed the second part of a CB Insights demographic study of startup founders, which found, if you believe the numbers, that Massachusetts has a far higher proportion of women founders (27 percent) than California (6 percent) or New York (7 percent). Greg took a deeper look at that finding in a post for Boston.

—Bruce also had more details about the acquisition of Rohnert Park, CA-based e-mail spam filtering company Red Condor by San Diego’s St. Bernard Software.

—Skype, in which San Jose, CA-based eBay retains a 35 percent stake, filed registration papers to pursue a $100 million IPO on the NASDAQ exchange.

—The maker of the MongoDB open-source database, New York-based 10gen, opened a new Bay Area office to help deal with demand from enterprise customers.

—Fremont, CA-based GreenVolts, which is developing high-end photovoltaic systems for utilities, collected $7.5 million in a debt financing round.

—Plastic Logic in Mountain View, CA, said it was giving up on its long-delayed Que ProReader document reader, originally touted as a business-level alternative to Amazon’s Kindle. CEO Richard Archuleta said the company plans to “refocus, redesign and retool” for a next-generation product.

—And in a case that is sure to transfix Silicon Valley for months or even years to come, Redwood City, CA-based Oracle sued Google, saying the search giant’s Android mobile operating system infringes on Oracle-owned patents for the Java programming environment.

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

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