First Two Startups Leaving CommNexus Incubator, Qualcomm at 25, Oceanhouse Media Shows App-titude for Children’s Books, & More San Diego BizTech News

Xconomy San Diego — 

Of all the tech news we had last week, I thought the most interesting was what our Xconomists had to say about Qualcomm, past and future. We’ve got the wrap on that, along with the rest of what happened in San Diego.

—San Diego’s EvoNexus, the free tech incubator created last year by the CommNexus telecom industry group, is graduating two companies in the next month or two. IO Semiconductor, a chip design startup that recently raised $8 million in capital, is now able to exist on its own; and EcoATM, which is automating the cell phone trade-in and buy-back process, is leasing its own office space after raising about $4 million.

—I profiled Encinitas, CA-based Oceanhouse Media, founded in 2009 by Michel Kripalani of Presto Studios, the now defunct San Diego-based computer video game developer. After landing a licensing agreement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Oceanhouse has been producing digital versions of 44 Dr. Seuss children’s books for the iPad and other Apple devices. Kripalani told me, “We’re helping old school publishing companies move to the digital age, and in the process we’re creating a new publishing house.”

—Xconomy invited some local wireless experts and a few of our top editorial advisors, or Xconomists, to discuss the factors that helped Qualcomm reach its 25th anniversary, an achievement the San Diego wireless giant has been observing all year. As Boston Xconomist Mark Lowenstein put it, “Qualcomm is to wireless what Intel is to the PC Industry.

—A campaign to create an Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame in Kendall Square, which is a center of technology in Cambridge, MA, prompted Connect CEO Duane Roth to send an e-mail about the San Diego nonprofit’s own Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame. Roth says Connect has inducted nine Hall of Famers since 2005 for achieving “distinction over the years for founding, leading or advancing a San Diego life sciences or technology-based business organization. Such entrepreneurs have contributed to our region individually and, through their organizations, to the business sectors that shape our local economy and improve our quality of life.”

—San Diego’s Finistere Ventures, which has maintained a low profile since it was founded five years ago, is laying the groundwork to raise another venture fund next year. The VC firm invests in industrial and agricultural biotech as well as in medical devices. How big will the new fund be? Managing Director Bruce J. “Jay” Brumfield wouldn’t tell me, but he says it will exceed the $35 million that Finistere raised in two pools from its investors in New Zealand and the Chicago area.

—San Diego’s EMN8 has raised $3.1 million in a combination of equity, debt, and options convertible to EMN8 stock. The startup company, which makes automated kiosks that make it easier to order fast food, movie tickets, and other merchandise, raised more than $14.4 million in March.

—Xconomy’s Thea Chard profiled ValueAppeal, a Seattle startup that’s giving San Diego-based EasyTaxFix some competition by offering an easy way for homeowners to evaluate their property tax assessment online—and to file an electronic property tax appeal that could save them money. I profiled EasyTaxFix in 2008.

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