Google Gets Instant Results, Investors Write Livescribe a Big Check, Willow Garage Unleashes a $400,000 Robot, & More Bay Area Biztech News

Last week was a short but eventful one, with Google’s announcement about a revamped search interface dominating the news. Here were the highlights.

—Google introduced “Google Instant,” a new version of its core search engine that guesses what you’re searching for and flashes pages of search results before you’ve finished entering your query. The company said it hoped the technology would help people find what they’re looking for faster, but in my Friday column, I argued that the new feature might actually cause users to spend more time using Google (perhaps by design).

—Digital pen maker Livescribe in Oakland, CA, collected $39 million in Series C funding from Crosslink Capital, Scale Venture Partners, and other investors. The company has already sold nearly a million of its Pulse and Echo smart pens and aims to go after more business, education, and general consumers.

—I profiled WiseStamp, an Israeli-born startup whose browser plugins allow users of Web-based e-mail clients to add customized e-mail signatures containing Twitter posts and other social media elements. The company just finished a summer at Polaris Venture Partners’ Dogpatch Labs incubator in San Francisco.

—Willow Garage, a Menlo Park, CA, robotics company founded by ex-Googler Scott Hassan, announced that its PR2 modular robot is available to purchase for the low, low price of $400,000 (30 percent off for buyers who can show they’ve contributed to open-source robotics code or hardware).

—Kno, an e-book company in Santa Clara, CA, said it had raised $46 million in debt and equity financing from Andreessen Horowitz, Silicon Valley Bank, and TriplePoint Capital to pursue development of its two-panel tablet device for the education market.

—Former Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd took a job as a president at Redwood Shores, CA-based database giant Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), and was promptly sued by his former employer for allegedly endangering HP’s trade secrets and violating an agreement not to work for competing companies.

—Internet video platform provider Ooyala in Mountain View, CA, said it had closed a $22 million Series D round led by new investers The CID Group and Itochu Technology Ventures, with participation from existing investors Rembrandt Venture Partners and Sierra Ventures.

—Expensify, a San Francisco startup whose Web-based software helps businesspeople manage their expense reports, raised $5.7 million in Series A funding from Redpoint Ventures and existing investors Hillsven Capital, Baseline Capital, and Travis Kalanick.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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