A Bidding War for 3Par, a Trademark War over Mafia Wars, a Barrage of New Y Combinator Startups, & More Bay Area BizTech and Life Sciences News

8/30/10Follow @wroush

Tiny startups emerging into the public eye last week vied for attention with acquisitive giants like Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and Google.

—An as-yet-unresolved bidding war between Dell and Hewlett-Packard drove the proposed acquisition price for Fremont, CA-based storage virtualization company 3Par up to $30 per share. Dell’s original $18-per-share bid on August 16 was eclipsed by HP’s $24-per-share offer on August 23, which Dell later matched, leading HP to bid $27. Dell again matched that bid, so on August 27, HP upped the ante to $30, prompting CNN Money to ask: “Are Dell and HP Crazy?

—In non-3Par news, Hewlett-Packard bought Stratavia, a Denver-based firm that makes software for the automated deployment of databases.

—The Mountain View, CA, startup school Y Combinator, which leading angel investor Ron Conway has dubbed “the MIT, the Harvard, or the Stanford of incubators,” graduated 35 new companies from its summer class on August 24 in a series of “Demo Day” presentations for investors and journalists. Graduating firms, whose presentations I recapped, included the likes of Brushes (which wants to be “the Adobe of touch computing”) and Whereoscope (whose iPhone-based location reporting system helps parents keep track of their kids).

—Continuing my series of in-depth profiles of Y Combinator startups from the summer class, I wrote about Rapportive, whose browser plugin replaces Gmail ads with information about your contacts, and AdGrok, whose browser extension replaces Google’s AdWords interface for managing search engine marketing campaigns.

—San Mateo, CA-based casual game maker Digital Chocolate filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against San Francisco’s Zynga over the use of the name “Mafia Wars.” Zynga’s Mafia Wars game has been a smash hit on Facebook, but Digital Chocolate has been selling mobile games under the same name since 2004. We delved into the details of Digital Chocolate’s complaint.

—Luke profiled of San Francisco-based Five Prime Therapeutics, whose library of proteins secreted by the human body is serving as a wellspring for drug development ideas.

—Berkeley, CA-based Plexxikon reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that its melanoma drug candidate, PLX-4032, showed surprisingly powerful tumor-shrinking effects in a Phase I clinical study.

— Greg took a look at the strategic options available to Microsoft when it comes to competing with Silicon Valley stalwarts Google, Apple, and Facebook.

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

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