Google Sued by Skyhook, Big Funding Rounds for Crowdsourcers Get Satisfaction and uTest, & More Bay Area BizTech News

9/20/10Follow @wroush

And I thought August was busy. As September entered its third week (where did the summer go, exactly?), the news on acquisitions, fundings, product launches, and lawsuits accelerated to a manic pace.

—Google was on the receiving end of a pair of lawsuits filed by Boston-based Skyhook Wireless on Wednesday. A pioneer in location-finding software for mobile devices, Skyhook claims in a federal patent-infringement complaint that Google copied its technology. In a second complaint, filed in Massachusetts’ Suffolk Superior Court, Skyhook says Google is unfairly forcing makers of Android phones, such as Motorola and Samsung, to use Google’s location-finding technology in their devices instead of Skyhook’s.

—I took a close look at Get Satisfaction, the San Francisco-based customer support crowdsourcing company that—after three years in business—finally raised some Series A venture financing, in a $6 million round led by Azure Capital Partners.

—Speaking of crowdsourcing, Southborough, MA-based uTest announced that it had raised $13 million in Series C financing, in a round led by Scale Venture Partners of San Mateo, CA. The company, which also has operations in Silicon Valley, crowdsources software quality assurance testing to a global community of 30,000 freelance testers.

—Twitter introduced a new version of the Twitter.com website, with additional features for exploring content mentioned in tweets. But in a column, I argued that Twitter shouln’t try to compete with its own developer community when it comes to building Web and mobile apps that exploit the microblogging service.

—I posted a profile of Bump, the Mountain View, CA-based startup whose mobile app is changing the way people share information between smartphones. A video interview with Bump CEO David Lieb accompanied the piece.

—General Motors held simultaneous media events in San Francisco, Austin, Miami, and New York to announce upgrades to its OnStar in-car navigation and safety system. I attended the San Francisco event, and came away with some interesting comments from GM’s infotainment director Timothy Nixon on the company’s plan to make its vehicles into social media hubs.

—Continuing my series of profiles of startups backed this summer by Mountain View, CA-based Y Combinator, I wrote about The Fridge, a site where friends can set up private social networks tied to specific events or contexts such as weddings or group vacations.

—Palo Alto, CA-based Hewlett-Packard continued its acquisition binge, buying Cupertino, CA-based security software maker ArcSight for $1.5 billion.

—In another pair of acquisitions, Google bought Israel’s MentorWave Technologies, creator of the QuikSee interactive photo tour service, and OpenTable bought TopTable, its UK-based twin.

—Quite a few additional infotech startups rounded up new venture funds: StorSimple raised $13 million, Fitbit raised $8 million, SandForce raised $25 million, Conviva raised $15 million, Sezmi raised $17.3 million, and Branchout raised $6 million.

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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