Venture Financing Looking Up, Sorenson Media Launches Online Video Technology, Avalon Ventures Buys Copley Building, & More San Diego BizTech News

The emerging mobile health industry made a stronger showing last week than it has in past years at its annual Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit. Get the latest uptick in wireless health and other news now.

—San Diego’s Avalon Ventures founder Kevin Kinsella told me the firm’s investment in San Francisco-based Zynga, which develops multiplayer browser games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, might yield the best returns in Avalon’s 27-year history. Kinsella also told me Avalon Ventures has purchased the La Jolla office building that was previously the corporate headquarters for the Copley Press, the former longtime publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other newspapers.

—A venture financing report released by the Cooley law firm (previously known as Cooley, Godward, Kronish) says there were more “up rounds” than flat or “down rounds” in the first quarter of 2010. That’s the first time that’s happened since the summer of 2008. An up round reflects the increased valuation of a venture-backed company, while a down round means the company is worth less than it was in the previous financing round.

—After gaining experience with its Sorenson 360 online video platform (OVP) with small and medium businesses, Carlsbad, CA-based Sorenson Media introduced an upgraded version of its OVP for big media and enterprise customers. CEO Peter Csathy told me Sorenson is targeting a market now dominated by Brightcove of Cambridge, MA.

Larry Smarr, an Internet pioneer who is founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, is now a pioneer in health IT. By keeping detailed records about his own personal health, Smarr is using the data to adjust his behavior, lower his caloric intake, and fine-tune his wellness.

—The Gary and Mary West Foundation, the namesake family foundation that launched San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute, increased its philanthropic support by donating another $20 million to the non-profit center for mobile health research and development. No wonder the institute is named for them—the donation brings their total contributions to $65 million for the institute.

—About 200 investors and others registered for the annual Wireless-Life Sciences Investor Meeting, which was held last week in La Jolla. That’s almost twice as many as attended last year, and an auspicious sign that interest in the emerging industry is increasing.

—The CEO of Norway’s Think said the company intends to ship 500 of its long-range electric cars to the U.S. before the end of this year. Think wants to test its cars in five or six markets, and one of them could be San Diego.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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