500 Startups Launches Accelerator, Animoto Goes HD, Inside Astia’s Success & More Bay Area Biztech News

2/14/11Follow @wroush

In startup and technology news last week, it was nearly all incubators and accelerators, all the time.

—Angel investing whirlwind Dave McClure, the founder of 500Startups, took the lid off his new startup accelerator program, based in downtown Mountain View, CA. Twelve companies have already joined the program, which provides startups with mentorship, product design assistance, and investments of $25,000 to $100,000 in return for a 5 percent equity stake.

—I profiled Astia, a San Francisco-based network of startup accelerators focused on women-led companies. Astia CEO Sharon Vosmek shared some of the secrets behind her operation’s remarkable success rate—60 percent of companies win funding or are acquired within a year of joining.

—We published a comprehensive guide to coworking spaces and startup accelerators and incubators around the Bay Area. Coworking is an increasingly popular, relatively inexpensive alternative to renting dedicated office space for many early-stage technology companies.

—Animoto, with headquarters split between San Francisco and New York, rolled out a new, faster, higher-resolution version of its system for creating musical, animated slide shows from users’ photos and videos. The company is taking advantage of Amazon’s new cloud-accessible graphical processing units (GPUs).

—I took a close look at Sidereel, the largest independent guide to online TV offerings. Sidereel founder and CEO Roman Arzhintar told me the company wants to be “the dialtone for TV.”

—Seven Bay Area entrepreneurs will be part of a new Education Ventures Program, an accelerator for education-related startups created by the Kauffman Foundation, as Erin reported.

—San Francisco-based Splunk, which makes software for real-time monitoring of the information flowing around corporate date centers, announced that it has opened a Seattle R&D center headed by former Microsoft engineer Brad Lovering.

—In IPO news, Oakland, CA-based Internet radio service Pandora cued the orchestra for a planned $100 million initial public offering.

—In real estate news, Facebook announced that it has bought the former Sun campus on the Bayshore Freeway in Menlo Park, CA, and intends to occupy it this summer. Known not so affectionately by some former Sun employees as “Sun Quentin,” the facility is far larger than Facebook’s current digs in Palo Alto, but also much farther away from walkable downtown streets.

Visa acquired PlaySpan, the Santa Clara, CA-based creator of a digital payment system used by makers of mobile and social games, for $190 million in cash.

—In other deals news, Violin Memory raised $35 million, Meraki raised $15 million, Idle Games raised $4.1 million, ConnectAndSell raised $7.5 million, Glassdoor raised $12 million, Tela Innovations raised $4.75 million, Raptr raised $15 million, Shocking Technologies raised $5.2 million, GT Nexus raised $5.8 million, and Google Ventures put an undisclosed amount of capital into Dasient.

—As a lighthearted way to end the week, I rounded up some of my favorite Xtranormal animated shorts about startup life and other geek obsessions.

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

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