Travel Sites Go After Google, Trimble Buys ThingMagic, Digg Downsizes, & Other Bay Area BizTech News

11/1/10Follow @wroush

Last week wasn’t awash in early-stage startup news—familiar Bay Area software, Web, and energy companies dominated the technology headlines.

—A coalition of online travel companies including Expedia, Farelogix, Hotwire, and Sabre Holdings launched a lobbying effort to persuade the U.S. Department of Justice to block Google’s proposed acquisition of Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software. The group, called FairSearch, says a Google-ITA combination would decrease competition in the travel search market, since ITA’s QPX flight data service is used by nearly two-thirds of travel sites. Google fired back, saying it wouldn’t use its control of ITA’s tools to edge out competitors, and that it merely wants to offer consumers easier ways to find cheap flights.

—Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB), the Sunnyvale, CA, company famous for its GPS-based navigation hardware and software, announced that it had acquired ThingMagic, an MIT spinoff in Cambridge, MA, that specializes in building readers for radio frequency identification (RFID) systems. My colleague Greg spoke with ThingMagic’s CEO, who said that with Trimble’s resources behind it, the company will be able to bring RFID technology to new markets.

—TIBCO Software (NASDAQ: TIBX) founder and CEO Vivek Ranadivé is getting ready to publish his next business book—The Two-Second Advantage—and I had an opportunity to sit down and speak with him about the importance of timely information in business and the future of Silicon Valley.

—I profiled OhLife, a Y Combinator-backed startup in San Francisco that’s working to reinvent the daily journal using e-mail as a conduit. The company’s free service sends users a daily e-mail prompt reading “How did your day go?” Replies go into a private online journal on the OhLife website.

—In my weekly column, I asked why entrepreneurs in startup hubs like Boston say they feel more isolated and siloed than those in Silicon Valley, and concluded that at least part of the antidote is to drink more and throw more parties.

—A new downtown San Francisco coworking facility called NextSpace aims to provide 1- and 2-person companies with basic services, camaraderie, and access to business and investing advice, as contributing writer Deborah Gage explained.

—Digg’s new CEO, Matt Williams, announced major layoffs at the social news aggregation startup intended to help the company reach profitability. A total of 25 staffers were let go, out of 67.

—BrightSource Energy in Oakland, CA, announced that has lined up $300 million in private financing for its massive solar thermal plant in Ivanpah, CA, courtesy of NRG Solar, a subsidiary of Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG).

—In other deals news, RGB Networks raised $20 million, GigaOm raised $2.5 million, CloudEra raised $25 million, Pelican Imaging raised $10 million, Appcelerator raised $9 million, Adap.tv raised $4.6 million, CarbonFlow raised $4.2 million, Kiip raised $300,000 in seed funding, and Nanosys announced the second close of its recent Series E funding round, which increased to $31 million.

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

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