Life360, IndieGoGo, and KQED’s Bold Experiment: The 1-Minute Version of Last Week’s Bay Area BizTech News

5/2/11Follow @wroush

The local technology news last week was all over the map, ranging from mobile devices to crowdfunding to public broadcasting. There was also an interesting little flurry of acquisitions, with two San Francisco firms getting scooped up by outsiders and one merger going the other way.

—As a preview of Xconomy San Francisco’s May 17 forum Beyond Mobile: Computing in 2021, I reported on a conversation with scheduled speaker Bill Mark, head of SRI International’s Information and Computing Sciences Division. It turns out researchers in Mark’s division are investigating a range of technologies that will shape tomorrow’s computers and interfaces, including dialogue-based software, robots that understand the scenes around them, and meeting rooms and classrooms with enough embedded smarts to assist their occupants with work or learning.

—I profiled Life360, a San Francisco startup whose family tracking app for iPhones and Android phones has been winning new adopters at a frenzied pace. Founder and CEO Chris Hulls said the company is looking for ways to get out its message about the role of smartphones in family safety without preying on exaggerated parental fears about child abductions.

—On a recently announced list of new contributors to the Startup America Partnership—a private-public initiative to muster resources for entrepreneurs—one of the interesting standouts (because of its relatively small size) was IndieGoGo, the San Francisco-based crowdfunding platform. I talked with CEO Slava Rubin and Startup America head Scott Case about the growing connection between crowdfunding and job creation.

—In an experiment that could have reverberations at public radio stations around the country, San Francisco’s KQED announced that it will offer a pledge-free streaming version of its broadcast to donors who contribute $45 before its spring pledge drive begins. I talked with officials at KQED and elsewhere around the public radio community about whether the station’s move is tantamount to offering a premium, paid version of its broadcast, an idea that might not comport with public radio’s original mission.

—Frank Slootman, the former CEO of Santa Clara-based Data Domain, has been tapped to lead Service-now, a San Diego-based software-as-a-service-based IT management company, as my colleague Bruce reported.

—In M&A news, New York-based YouCast acquired San Francisco-based Halogen Media, Seattle-based PopCap Games acquired San Francisc0-based social game maker ZipZapPlay, and San Francisco-based media services firm Crew Media acquired the assets of Eons, the Boston-based social network for baby boomers.

TA Associates and Summit Partners refinanced German online game maker Bigpoint, which has a development team in San Francisco, to the tune of $350 million.

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

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