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The Big Stories of 2011 at Xconomy San Francisco

Xconomy San Francisco — 

The challenge of writing a year-end “top stories” post is that a list of headlines is too particular to illustrate what really happened over the last year. Sometimes the outlines of the big trends only become clear when you step back, look at the whole year’s output, and see what groupings naturally emerge.

That’s why I want to start off this list story by looking at five important clusters of technology stories we covered extensively this year. Each cluster includes five or six stories that examined the bigger trend from different angles.

That’s followed on page 2 by a list of the most significant Bay Area life sciences and energy stories of 2011, and then by a rundown of our top 10 traffic-getting stories.


1. The Rise of Smartphones and Tablets

Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: Part 1, New Frontiers of Speech Recognition (1/3/11)

Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: Part 2: Changing the Equation in Machine Translation (1/5/11)

Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: Part 3: Computer Vision Puts a “Bird on Your Shoulder” (1/6/11)

The iPad Finally Has a Worthy Rival: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 (5/13/11)

Dear Apple: Go Big with Siri and Nuance in iOS 5 (6/4/11)

Siri, Apple’s New Old Personal Assistant App, Points Toward A Voice-Activated Future (10/5/11)

2. Apple, iOS, and the Death of Steve Jobs

Here Are Six Features Apple Should Include in the iPad 2 (And They’re Not the Ones You Think) (1/7/11)

With iMovie on the iPad 2, Video Editing Is Fun Again (4/8/11)

Will Apple’s iCloud Finally Kill Off iTunes and End the Scourge of Sync? My Week in Apple Hell (7/8/11)

How Steve Jobs Rewired Our Lives—and Raised Our Expectations (10/6/11)

Saint Steve? Not Exactly. Apple and the Power of the Dark Side (10/7/11)

Steve Jobs’ Dying Realization about Biology and Technology (12/5/11)

3. The IT Transition in Healthcare

Epocrates Preps for IPO—And For Push Into Electronic Medical Records (1/25/11)

HealthTap Seeks to Arm Healthcare Consumers with Better Answers, and Better Questions, Before They Go to the Doctor (4/19/11)

Doximity: A Mobile Facebook for Doctors, but With Real Privacy Protections (6/21/11)

Practice Fusion Bids for Dominance in the Doctor’s Office with a Free, Ad-Supported Electronic Health Record System (11/10/11)

Why Mint.com for Health Is a Terrible Idea, and How Keas Pivoted to the Fun Stuff (11/18/11)

4. The Rise of the Cloud

Okta: Helping Companies Maintain Visibility Despite Cloud Cover (1/27/11)

Engine Yard—The Ruby on Rails Company Salesforce.com Didn’t Buy (1/31/11)

Adam Wiggins on Heroku’s Pivot, Building a “Washing Machine” for Web Developers, and Joining Salesforce.com (5/24/11)

Born from NASA, Nebula Aims to “Disrupt and Democratize” Cloud Computing (8/11/11)

Death of the Salesman? Marketo Is Automating Sales Relationships—And Growing Like Crazy (11/8/11)

5. The Incubator Explosion

White House Startup Investment Coincides with Sweeping Changes for TechStars, Y Combinator, Other Incubators: A Road to Recovery, or Another Bubble? (2/1/11)

Will the Internet Venture Incubator Model Work in Cleantech? Greenstart Is About to Find Out (6/14/11)

There Is an Incubator Bubble—And It Will Pop (8/12/11)

Rock Health, A New Incubator for Healthcare IT Startups, Names Its First Class (6/2/11)

Greenstart Hatches Four Startups, Proving Accelerators Work in the Energy Business (12/9/11)

Scientists Morph Into Entrepreneurs Through NSF I-Corps Program (12/19/11)


Next, here’s a list of some of the most significant biotechnology and life science stories coming out of the Bay Area in 2011, courtesy of our national biotechnology editor Luke Timmerman.

Gilead Pursues Cancer Inflammation as Next Step to Diversify Beyond HIV (2/23/11)

PacBio, After 7 Years and $580 Million, Starts Shipping New-Generation DNA Sequencer (4/27/11)

Kilimanjaro Energy Seeks to Pop Loose Trillions Worth of Underground Oil, Save the World (5/2/11)

iPierian, Stem Cell Startup with Big Bucks, Axes Group of Top Executives (5/13/11)

23andMe Moves Beyond Simple Consumer DNA Sequencing, Sets Sight on Research (5/24/11)

Tony Coles’ Journey from Mass General Doctor to SF Biotech CEO (8/18/11)

AdverseEvents.com Seeks To Keep Track of Drug Side Effects The Way the FDA Never Could (9/27/11)

Biotech VCs Have a Problem, And It Will Only Get Worse Before It Gets Better (10/24/11)


Google Ventures Leads $20M Round for Transphorm to Battle “Hidden Tax” in Power Conversion (2/23/11)

The Apple of Solar Energy? Enphase Applies Silicon Valley Smarts to Solar’s Neglected Plumbing (3/15/11)

LS9, Creator of Synthetic Microbes to Make Biofuel, Edges Toward Moment of Truth (6/15/11)

DuPont Scoops Up “Silicon Ink” Maker Innovalight (7/25/11)

Solazyme, Founded on ‘Delusional’ Idea of Algae Biofuel, Stakes Claim as Industry’s First Mover (7/27/11)

Gary Bloom Q&A: The Search-and-Rescue CEO Who Just Sold eMeter to Siemens (12/6/11)


Finally, here’s a rundown of 10 most-read stories coming out of Xconomy San Francisco in 2011, in terms of page views. (This list doesn’t count articles from my weekly column, World Wide Wade, or Luke’s column, BioBeat, which both run nationally.)

1. Pinnacle Looks Beyond Detroit as the Market for Its Opposed-Piston Engine (10/4/11)

2. PARC Fires Back at New Yorker, Claiming Old Apple Legend Misses Point of How Innovation Works Today (5/13/11)

3. Are Free Motorola Phones in Our Future? A VC’s Take on Why Google is Buying Motorola (8/17/11)

4. Checking In from the Meebo Bar: A Social Startup’s Latest Big Swing at Bat (10/12/11)

5. Crocodoc Rolls Out Embeddable HTML5 Document Viewer; YC Startup Wants to Be “The New Adobe of the Web,” Sans Flash (2/16/11)

6. Dear Apple: Go Big with Siri and Nuance in iOS 5 (6/4/11)

7. Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity (2/28/11; single-page version of the series)

8. Merck Shuts Down RNAi Research Center in SF, Cutting 50 Jobs (7/29/11)

9. Hunting HiPPOs: Optimizely’s Testing Tools Bring Data-Driven Web Design to the Masses (5/17/11)

10. Prospect Venture Partners’ Alex Barkas Dies Suddenly (11/22/11)