A Bidding War for 3Par, a Trademark War over Mafia Wars, a Barrage of New Y Combinator Startups, & More Bay Area BizTech and Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Tiny startups emerging into the public eye last week vied for attention with acquisitive giants like Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and Google.

—An as-yet-unresolved bidding war between Dell and Hewlett-Packard drove the proposed acquisition price for Fremont, CA-based storage virtualization company 3Par up to $30 per share. Dell’s original $18-per-share bid on August 16 was eclipsed by HP’s $24-per-share offer on August 23, which Dell later matched, leading HP to bid $27. Dell again matched that bid, so on August 27, HP upped the ante to $30, prompting CNN Money to ask: “Are Dell and HP Crazy?

—In non-3Par news, Hewlett-Packard bought Stratavia, a Denver-based firm that makes software for the automated deployment of databases.

—The Mountain View, CA, startup school Y Combinator, which leading angel investor Ron Conway has dubbed “the MIT, the Harvard, or the Stanford of incubators,” graduated 35 new companies from its summer class on August 24 in a series of “Demo Day” presentations for investors and journalists. Graduating firms, whose presentations I recapped, included the likes of Brushes (which wants to be “the Adobe of touch computing”) and Whereoscope (whose iPhone-based location reporting system helps parents keep track of their kids).

—Continuing my series of in-depth profiles of Y Combinator startups from the summer class, I wrote about Rapportive, whose browser plugin replaces Gmail ads with information about your contacts, and AdGrok, whose browser extension replaces Google’s AdWords interface for managing search engine marketing campaigns.

—San Mateo, CA-based casual game maker Digital Chocolate filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against San Francisco’s Zynga over the use of the name “Mafia Wars.” Zynga’s Mafia Wars game has been a smash hit on Facebook, but Digital Chocolate has been selling mobile games under the same name since 2004. We delved into the details of Digital Chocolate’s complaint.

—Luke profiled of San Francisco-based Five Prime Therapeutics, whose library of proteins secreted by the human body is serving as a wellspring for drug development ideas.

—Berkeley, CA-based Plexxikon reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that its melanoma drug candidate, PLX-4032, showed surprisingly powerful tumor-shrinking effects in a Phase I clinical study.

— Greg took a look at the strategic options available to Microsoft when it comes to competing with Silicon Valley stalwarts Google, Apple, and Facebook.

—San Jose, CA-based social media monitoring ViralHeat moved to undercut competitors by releasing free, embeddable charts with real-time information about mentions of prominent people and brands on Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

—Cisco Systems in San Jose moved to acquire Extend Media, a venture-backed company in Boston that specializes in software and systems for Internet video delivery, as Greg reported.

—Cisco also invested $10 million in Mountain View, CA-based Atlantis Computing, which makes software for optimizing networks of virtual desktops.

—I wrote a column explaining why the central proposition of the cover story “The Web is Dead” in this month’s issue of Wired magazine is wrong, using the Fotopedia Heritage iPhone/iPad app, an offshoot of the Fotopedia website, as a case in point.

—Solazyme, the algae biofuel startup in South San Francisco, added another backer to its Series D venture funding round, previously reported at $52 million. The newcomer is Bunge Limited, Brazil’s largest processor of sugarcane.

Google acquired San Mateo-based Like.com, purveyor of a “visual shopping” site powered by advanced computer vision software. Terms weren’t disclosed.

—A new San Francisco-based startup mentorship program called AngelPad, consisting of former Google employees, came partially out of stealth mode and announced a launch event on September 10.

Nokia said it would acquire Motally, a San Francisco startup that makes software for monitoring usage of mobile applications.

—Alexza Pharmaceutical in Mountain View collected $5 million in licensing fees from San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience for electronic nicotine delivery technology, as Bruce reported. An additional $1 million milestone-based payment is in the offing.

—Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital contributed to a $15 million Series B financing round for Nimbula, a cloud computing startup in Menlo Park, CA.

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