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Notable links about Silicon Valley start-ups...and failures

Here are a number of links summarizing recent developments:

searchfox.gif--There are a bunch of start-ups offering some new features. There's Searchfox, a Silicon Valley start-up that does a personalized RSS reader, backed by a group of angels, including long-timer Jim Gibbons. Gibbons, who is a co-founder and chairman, recently stepped down from the board of Cisco because of an age requirement. And there's Writely, created by Upstartle, Silicon Valley-based company started by three veteran software engineers. Here's a good review of the product, which is the latest online collaborative wiki-like tool, but which Om says is crisper than most. There's Slide, a San Francisco photo tool company founded by the former CTO of PayPal which alarm:clock points to. There's Palo Alto tag company RawSugar, which Battelle says...

...he doesn't quite get.

canesta.jpg--Canesta, the Sunnyvale company that develops chips to enable devices to perceive or react to nearby objects, has raised $8 million from Venrock and other existing investors, according to VentureWire (sub required). The company is apparently struggling to find a business model. It had already raised $36 million, and when we last wrote about them three years ago, they were pushing a virtual keyboard. A device like a PDA or cell phone projected an image of a keyboard onto a flat surface allowing you to type. It worked when we tried it, though it wasn't that easy to use, as we noted, and apparently hasn't taken off, according to Alarm:clock. Back then, the company was working on getting its sensors within cars, for help in knowing a passenger's weight and position to better deploy airbags -- something it is still trying to do.

--VentureWire has an story (sub required) about Xactly, a San Jose Web-based software application to help companies figure out how to compensate their sales employees. Notable for being the latest case of employees who leave a company and start up another company across town doing a similar thing. In this case, they left Callidus, a San Jose public company. (Callidus recently announced that it won another customer, Hewlett-Packard, interesting given that HP just laid off a whole bunch of people). Anyway, Xactly just raised $4 million. We're not sure why yet another piece of software is really needed -- it apparently lets sales professionals keep track of their commissions -- though guess time will tell.

--John Cook, a reporter for the Seattle PI, has started a venture blog about the goings-on in Seattle. We'd corresponded with him about it several weeks ago, before he launched, but we wanted to wait for him to get rolling before linking. We've read his work with interest in the past, and with posts like this, looks like he's taking a similar approach to us -- trying to tell the back stories of Seattle ventures.

--Google's hissy fit continued. Randall Stross has a good story here (sub required) about the irony of Google's policy of not talking with CNET for a year after CNET published a bunch of personal details about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Stross says he is not sure whether Google's policy is led by Schmidt or his PR department. We've heard from a pretty good source at Google that it is Schmidt. The Merc, meanwhile, has called for a change (free registration) in Google's policy toward CNET.

--Only in Silicon Valley. A guy creates a way for people in remote, developing places such as Uganda to get Internet telephony by riding a stationary bicycle.

--Om is kind while breaking news about some changes (including exit of CEO) going on at Orb, the start-up that wants to connect you to your music, video and other files wirelessly, via any device. While some have raved about it, we noted a while back a review by colleague Mike Langberg which said it wasn't quite ready for prime time.

--Wine.com: VentureWire has a story about Wine.com today, saying they've learned about the story we wrote on Wednesday. They get some things wrong. Kitze is not chairman. He is off the board, and unemployed. And Kleiner Perkins is not an investor. They've long since disappeared. (On second thought, we'll skip the link on this one.)

--Visto: The Redwood City wireless email service company has raised $66 million in an eighth-round (Series BB) funding, according to a regulatory filing, according to PE Week last week. Visto has now raised over $220 million in total VC funding. VentureWire follows again, with this story (sub required).

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From: TechCrunch
SearchFox - Personalized RSS Reader
Excerpt: Company: Search Fox Founded: December 2004 Launched: in Private Beta Location: San Francisco SearchFox is in private beta testing of a potentially disruptive RSS reader. It’s the first product I’ve seen that does a good job of prioritizi...
Tracked: September 12, 2005 10:24 AM
From: Personalized Stationary
Personalized Stationary
Excerpt: Order your personalized stationary from us now!Enjoy selecting from a wide array of designs for personalized stationary, birthday invita...
Tracked: July 31, 2006 10:56 AM


Talked to the CEO of Raw Sugar, Ofer Ben Shakar -- his take about taggin is pretty interesting, in that he believes that the medium term (2+ year) future gives him an opportunity to create value add around search based on all of the tagging efforts going on now...

The link to my interview is here:

Chris Tolles on September 9, 2005 1:54 PM
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