Heroku, Solazyme, Sparkbuy: The 1-Minute Version of Last Week’s Bay Area BizTech News

5/31/11Follow @wroush

Cloud computing was my big theme last week, but we also covered stories about renewable energy, and we brought back a report from the future (the way the Churchill Club sees it, anyway).

—I profiled Heroku, the Y Combinator-backed Ruby on Rails platform that was acquired by Salesforce.com last December for $212 million. Co-founder Adam Wiggins shared previously undisclosed details about the company’s crucial “pivot” prior to the acquisition, from training ground for Ruby on Rails programers to true application hosting company. Coincidentally, Heroku today announced a major upgrade of its cloud-based services.

—Speaking of cloud computing, I took a look at Emergence Capital, the San Mateo venture firm known for being one of the earliest and most active investors in Software-as-a-Service-based startups, including Salesforce.com (which brought it an 80x return when it went public in 2004).

—I attended the annual Churchill Club “Top 10 Tech Trends” dinner in Santa Clara, and came back with a post-game report summarizing this year’s featured trends and the reactions from the audience and from panelists Aneesh Chopra, Paul Saffo, Steve Jurvetson, and Ajay Royan. One of the highest ranked trends: the emergence of trusted social networks to supplement Facebook.

—In my Friday column, I wrote about the economic impact of “ephemeralization,” including the tendency of software and hardware makers to distill the functions of many old devices into just a few new ones such as smartphones and tablet computers. Ephemeralization (and its cousin, efficiency) are probably net destroyers of jobs, I acknowledged, but I listed a few reasons why there may be room for optimism about the long-term employment picture.

—Ford Motor Company listed the San Francisco Bay Area as one of the 25 regions in the country best prepared for an influx of electric vehicles, when it comes to the availability of charging stations and other infrastructure, my colleague Bruce reported.

—South San Francisco-based Solazyme (NASDAQ: SZYM), which is developing technology to turn plant sugars into hydrocarbon fuel, saw its stock price shoot up after its initial public offering last Thursday night, as Luke reported. Solazyme shares rose more than 16 percent on Friday and are up another 8 percent in trading today.

—We compiled details about four summer competitions open to startups, including the Kauffman Foundation’s Startup Open, Morgenthaler Ventures’ Health IT Startup Showcase, Evernote’s developer competition, and Kaggle’s dark matter competition.

Google bought Sparkbuy, a Seattle-based electronics shopping startup that had just launched last November, as my colleague Curt reported. At first it looked like a classic case of Google “acqhiring” a team of talented engineers, but Google later commented that it intends to foster the Sparkbuy  business within Google.

—In other acquisitions news, Jive Software bought OffiSync, BuyWithMe brought Groop Swoop, and Twitter confirmed that it had purchased Tweetdeck.

—In funding news, Everloop raised $3.3 million, GainSpan raised $10.2 million, VuClip raised $8 million, Revel Systems raised $3.7 million, BlueStacks raised $7.6 million, Zozi raised $7 million, CrowdStar raised $23 million, RelayRides raised $673,000, MobileIron raised $20 million, Intel Capital unveiled a series of four tech-startup investments totaling $24.5 millionGoogle invested $55 million in wind power company Terra-Gen, and Innovalight won a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Energy.

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

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