Facebook Goes Deeper into Mobile, ShopWell Goes to Market, Cloudera Aims High, & More Bay Area BizTech News

11/8/10Follow @wroush

We ran several terrific stories last week from Deborah Gage, a Bay Area technology journalist who filled in while I was on vacation in Alaska. (Thanks Deborah!) We also published an in-depth a look at Ideo nutrition-advice spinoff ShopWell.

—Cloudera, a Palo Alto, CA-based startup offering tools and consulting services around the Hadoop open-source distributing computing platform, aims to become the Oracle of distributed databases, Deborah learned in an interview with CEO and co-founder Mike Olson.

—At a Wednesday press conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced several changes intended to integrate Facebook more directly with users’ mobile activities, as Deborah also reported. People will be able to use their Facebook credentials to log into partner services such as Loopt and Yelp, and developers will have more ways to use the location information generated when users check in at various locations using Facebook Places.

—Erin profiled EcoMotors International, a Michigan developer of cleaner, cheaper internal combustion engines that’s backed by Menlo Park, CA-based Khosla Ventures and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

—In a three-part series on ShopWell I first explored the basic challenges the Palo Alto, CA-based startup is trying to solve: supplying consumers with more personalized guidance about what foods to buy, while supplying food manufacturers with better market intelligence on what foods consumers want. Part 2 recounted how Ideo engineered the spinoff, while Part 3 examined the challenges the company will face acquiring customers and generating the data it hopes to sell to food producers.

—In a speech at a NASA Ames Research Center conference on biology and space settlement, famed biologist Craig Venter, CEO and co-founder of San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics, suggested to listeners that genomic analysis and genetic engineering tools could be used to select—and eventually even engineer—astronauts with traits conducive to space travel. One example: inner ear changes that would minimize space sickness.

—Both the number of active angel investors and the fraction of angel deals benefiting seed-stage ventures were down in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, according to a study Greg summarized from the University of New Hampshire Center for Venture Research.

—Bob took a deep look at one specific deal: the decision by Avalon Ventures managing partner Rich Levandov to invest in San Francisco-based social gaming juggernaut Zynga back in 2007.

—In other deals news, Vindicia raised $20 million, SpiderCloud Wireless raised $14.1 million, Curse raised $12.4 million, RingCentral and SnapLogic raised $10 million each, and Intersect ENT raised $30 million. For more details on those announcements, see this Tuesday roundup of deals news from Deborah. Meanwhile, Aeroscout raised $16 million, Nexant raised $50 million, and Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz closed a second fund amounting to $650 million.

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

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