Kilimanjaro, RPX, and Embargoes: The 1-Minute Version of Last Week’s Bay Area BizTech News

I was pretty busy last week getting ready for Beyond Mobile: Computing in 2021, Xconomy’s next big Bay Area event at SRI International on May 17. So I didn’t have time to write as many features as usual—but I got a lot of help filling up our pages from my colleagues.

—Luke profiled Kilimanjaro Energy, a San Francisco company developing technologies for capturing massive quantities of carbon dioxide from the air and pumping it underground to help recover oil trapped in porous rock. It’s not exactly green technology (since the recovered oil will be burned), but it does at least put some CO2 back underground.

—Luke also wrote about Harvest Power, a waste-to-energy enterprise backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Both Harvest and Kilimanjaro will take part in a May 19th event that Luke is organizing in Seattle: Separating Hype from Reality in Alternative Fuels.

—My Friday column, “The News Embargo Is Dead. Tech Crunch Killed It. Let’s Move On,” has stirred up a bit of a ruckus. In the piece I declared that I’m no longer going to agree to be pre-briefed by tech companies or their PR firms under embargo. I’ll just evaluate stories after they’re public, and decided then whether they’re worth the signature Xconomy treatment. I’ve been building up to this decision for a long time, but was prompted to make it official after yet another case in which TechCrunch went to press early with an embargoed story I was also covering. We’ve been getting lots of comments on the column—including on from TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, who claimed that TechCrunch has never broken an embargo. The only way that could be true would be if PR firms were regularly giving TechCrunch an earlier embargo time than the one they were giving to everyone else. Of course, an embargo where one party gets special treatment is no embargo at all. The discussion left me feeling more strongly than ever that the whole embargo system is rotten (at least in the world of infotech news), and that it’s time to walk away from it.

—Greg profiled RPX, the San Francisco-based defensive patent firm that raised $160 million last week in an initial public offering. It’s been a quick ride for the company, which was formed in 2008 by John Amster and Geoff Barker, both former execs at Bellevue, WA-based Intellectual Ventures.

—Erin checked in on the legal wrangling between Google and Boston-based Skyhook Wireless, the mobile location-finding technology company that says Google is infringing on its patents and interfering with its contracts. Despite rumors that Bay Area companies like Intel might be interested in acquiring Skyhook, CEO Ted Morgan told Erin the company is just focused on getting its hybrid GPS/Wi-Fi location finding technology into more devices.

—Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Google were among the Bay Area organizations that snagged Webby Awards last week, as Arlene reported from New York.

—We’ve upgraded the Xconomy Facebook fan page, as Luke explained.

—In deals news, Xlumena raised $7 million, Cobalt raised $20 million, Peel raised $16.7 million, TaskRabbit raised $5 million, Disqus raised $10 millionJiWire raised $20 million, and EA bought Melbourne, Australia-based mobile game maker Firemint.

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

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