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Silicon Valley today: surveillance, spying, turncoats, radars, defections...

abagnale.jpg
Former con man Frank Abagnale to help start-up 41st Parameter -- Frank Abagnale (see left), a former a con man who assumed various identities, committed forgery and eluded police (his memoirs, Catch Me If You Can, were adapted to the Academy Award winning motion picture), is an advisor to The 41st Parameter, a start-up providing security software for the online retail and banking industry. The company has secured $11.2 million in Series B funding from Silicon Valley firms Kleiner Perkins and Norwest Venture Partners. Abagnale long ago decided to work with the FBI. Probably good this company is based all the way out in Arizona.


In-Q-Tel invests in Network Chemistry -- Gotta keep an eye on those CIA guys, too, who are closer to home. The CIA venture arm, In-Q-Tel, has joined Geneva Venture Partners, to invest $4 million into Redwood City's Network Chemistry, a wireless network security start-up, according to VentureWire.


Sequoia Capital to invest $12 million in Chinese social networking portal 51.com -- This comes from a funny little piece from Pacific Epoch, citing Shanghai Securities News, saying the round will be completed by....October? That's a long time. Guess Sequoia is holding the company's feet to the fire, making sure it meets milestones before getting all the cash? What a concept. Sequoia's Shen Nanpeng will take a board seat.

Vanguard Ventures struggling to raise money -- Vanguard Ventures, a Palo Alto firm that has specialized in health care investments, is "struggling to raise money for its eighth venture capital fund and may suspend the vehicle's marketing campaign until it can get better traction with investors," according to VentureWire (sub required). A couple of partners have "retired" (but wait, don't you hire new people to replace them?), and the firm's latest fund is apparently not doing too well.

Radar founded by Spivack -- We mentioned last week the secretive SF "semantic web" company, Radar, which has raised cash to do something in that area. Turns out, it is founded by Nova Spivak, who co-founded EarthWeb, and saw it through a successful IPO back in 1998: "He is the grandson of management saint Peter Drucker. Nova was featured on the Discovery Channel because he flew to the edge of space with the Russian Air Force and participate din zero-gravity training with the Russian space agency. He is an investor in Zero Gravity Corp," according to The AlarmClock.

Battery Ventures invests in miniature robotic aircraft -- The Silicon Valley office of venture capital firm Battery Ventures has invested in Insitu, which has created a lightweight, unmanned aerial vehicle that can be used for surveillance in wartime. The company is based in the middle of nowhere: Bingen, Washington.

Defecting VC fund, Opus Capital, has raised its first fund at $275 million -- Remember the group of four investors, led by Gill Cogan, that split from Lightspeed Venture Partners last year? They've raised their fund in, uh, light speed. Press release supposed to go out later this week.

Visto filed its patent case in Marshall, Texas -- In one more sign that the patent system is way too politicized, wireless email company Visto filed its patent infringement case against Blackberry parent, RIM, in the court of Marshall, Texas, known to be friendly to upholding patent infringement cases. So Rim has asked that it be moved out of that court, to Dallas.

Microsoft to track your every move -- Speaking of patents, check out this one. Awarded last week, it gives the software giant a way to use invisible images and tiny "cookies" to track you as you visit Microsoft's site and other sites.

In case you are looking to network: Stirr.Net is the latest Silicon Valley forum for early stage start-ups. Sign up for this week's event here.

Kleiner Perkins slides came from Gore -- Turns out, the dramatic slides shown by Kleiner Perkins' John Doerr recently of Silicon Valley and NY under water (we don't have permission to publish) did come from Al Gore.


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Networking: The network is 'aware'
CHICAGO, May 8 (UPI) -- Integrating disparate data and voice networks -- broadband, mobile phone and WiFi -- into one unified network is promising to be a foremost technology trend in the next few years, one that could lead to totally personalized telecom services, experts tell UPI's Networking.

Experts at Gartner Inc., the IT research consultancy, indicate that by 2010 at least 40 percent of U.S. companies will have completely integrated their entire voice and data networks into a single network, and 95 percent of all large and mid-size firms will have at least started the process to do so. By Gene Koprowski

Ted Smith on May 8, 2006 1:11 PM
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