Rock Health, Say Media, Food Frenzy: The 1-Minute Version of Last Week’s Bay Area BizTech News

6/6/11Follow @wroush

Memorial Day observances made last week shorter than usual, but there was enough news from the local information technology sector for any week twice its length.

—San Francisco-based Rock Health, a new incubator for companies focused on using digital technologies to fix inefficiencies in the healthcare system, unveiled its first class of startups. They range from to CellScope, which makes smartphone attachments that can be used to diagnose ear infections, to Omada Health, a social network for diabetics.

—My Friday column took a look at the burgeoning world of food startups, where entrepreneurs are using the Web and mobile devices to simplify everything from to finding a farmer’s market to understanding nutrition labels. The column includes a list of nearly 60 startups, including 10 whose names start with “Food” (Foodbuzz, Foodia, Foodily, Foodista, Foodler, Foodori, Foodspotting, Foodtree, Fooducopia, and Foodzie).

—One of the companies on my list was Grubwithus, a Y Combinator-backed company that helps users sign up for discounted restaurant meals with strangers as a way of getting to know new people. Grubwithus expanded to Boston last week on its way to building a network of 30 U.S. cities, as my colleague Erin reported.

—With the May launch of xoJane, a new online magazine from publishing icon Jane Pratt, San Francisco-based Say Media began to reveal itself as a budding network of niche publications fueled by rich media ads. I talked with Say Media CEO Matt Sanchez about the company’s journey from video hosting provider to vertical media empire.

—Convore, a Y Combinator-backed startup co-founded by former Pownce founder Leah Culver, is out to reboot the idea of real-time group chat, an idea that’s been with us since the late 1980s in the form of Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. Convore’s system is Web-based and has key features that were always missing from IRC, such as persistent user identities and archives of old conversations.

—Waltham, MA-based Polaris Venture Partners revealed plans to open a new office in Palo Alto, CA, as Xconomy editor-in-chief Bob Buderi reported. The move came less than a week after news that Polaris is shuttering its Seattle office due to poor deal flow there.

—In funding news, SiTime raised $20 million, Punchtab raised $850,000, Miramar Labs raised $36 million, Mindflash raised $4 million, and Juice in the City raised $6 million.

—Oakland, CA-based Pandora set its IPO terms, saying it hopes to raise between $96 million and $123 million.

—Zendesk announced plans to move its headquarters this summer from SoMa to the Central Market district of San Francisco, where Twitter will also take up residence next year. Both companies are taking advantage of payroll tax break designed to spur economic revitalization in the beleaguered downtown district.

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

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