Venture Activity Rises Nationwide, Daylight Solutions’ Infrared Technology Heating Up, Smaller Startups Are Hiring Fewer, & More San Diego BizTech News

The venture news was flying last week like beach chairs in a hurricane, and the Xconomy forecast calls for more venture activity data this week. Get your biztech briefing quick, before I think up any more metaphors.

—We got the early returns on quarterly venture capital activity, and more surveys are expected to follow in the next week or so. The New York financial information firm CB Insights says U.S. VC firms invested $7.6 billion in 768 startups nationwide during the second quarter. That was a 54 percent increase in capital and a 25 percent gain in deals, compared to CB Insights’ data for the same quarter in 2010.

—A pair of reports (one from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association and the other from Dow Jones LP Source) show that pension funds, college endowments, and other institutional investors are putting more money into VC funds. But a smaller number of name-brand funds are grabbing most of the capital. In fact, Dow Jones says seven firms got 80 percent of the $8.1 billion it counted in capital raised during the first half of 2011.

The Kauffman Foundation released a study that shows startups these days are making do with fewer workers. The study, which highlights the “slow leak” in job creation, said fewer new companies are being formed and those that get started are hiring fewer workers.

—San Diego’s Daylight Solutions raised $15 million in a Series C round of equity financing led by defense giant Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC). The startup, which specializes in mid-infrared laser technology, recently demonstrated how its small solid-state lasers can be used by aircraft to blind and confuse heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles.

—Cleantech automaker Aptera Motors, now based in Carlsbad, CA, has raised more than $2.2 million in recent funding. Aptera is laying plans to begin manufacturing of its teardrop-shaped three-wheel electric vehicle.

—From its North American headquarters in San Diego, Japan’s Sony announced a $200,000 app challenge with San Jose, CA-based Adobe Systems. The Adobe AIR App Challenge is intended to drive the creation of Android-based applications for two tablets that Sony has under development.

—More that 15,000 people interested in geographic information systems (GIS) technology attended the 2011 Esri International User Conference hosted by Redlands, CA-based Esri. The theme of this year’s conference, “GIS—understanding our world,” emphasized the need for new approaches to such complex problems as a climate change and loss of biodiversity.

—A couple of noteworthy personnel moves were announced in San Diego last week. Wireless giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) named Matt Grob as executive vice president and chief technology officer (CTO). The former Cox Communications chief in San Diego, Bill Geppert, stepped in to fill the breach at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. that was opened when Phoenix business leader Barry Broome pulled out of the top job shortly after he was  hired.

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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