Green-tech venture investing looks for a reboot

The amount of venture capital put into green-tech companies plummeted in the second quarter amid talk of investors leaving the sector and the need for start-ups to rework their financing plans.

Ernst & Young earlier this week released the latest venture capital investment dollars, which showed a 44 percent decline compared to the same period last year. Although analysts warned against reading too much into it, the down quarter reflects the growing interest in Internet investing and a choppy environment for green-tech companies to get venture capital to grow.

Solar remains the biggest segment and a big investment in electric … Read more

Start-up Lytro tries refocusing camera industry

A start-up called Lytro hopes to revolutionize photography by selling a camera later this year that lets people focus their images after the fact.

The technique used is called light-field photography, and it's been an active area of research for years in the optics realm. With it, lens and image sensor technology doesn't focus on a particular subject, but instead gathers light information from different directions; processing after the fact means different aspects of the scene can be recreated.

Lytro has been working on the technology for years--I interviewed Chief Executive Ren Ng three years ago when his … Read more

Do new water technologies stand a chance?

BOSTON--It's a business with extremely risk-averse customers that have little money spend. On the plus side, it's vital to life and a strained natural resource.

Water purification and treatment techniques continue to attract bright ideas from researchers and entrepreneurs, but getting beyond a nifty prototype is challenge they all face, said a panel here at the TechConnect World conference on clean tech and nanotechnology.

Many of the municipal water treatment and distribution systems in the U.S. are in desperate need of repair. Other large potential customers for more energy-efficient or effective water treatment facilities are corporations, such … Read more

Green-tech incubator seeks 'fast' start-ups

Clean-tech start-ups that think they can be nimble and quick to market may be interested in a new incubator from San Francisco.

Greenstart, whose team includes former executives from the Jumpstart Automotive Media Group, is looking to act as an accelerator for start-ups that can essentially be up-and-running in about six months.

Akin to what Y Combinator did for Web and mobile start-ups, Greenstart is looking to offer the same type of services for green-tech start-ups.

The company says it wants to find "fast cleantech" companies, but its application of that term is pretty broad.

"We define … Read more

Start-up called Hipster offers new recruits $10K, beer

I'm told that when you're attractive, it can go to your head.

You believe everyone is interested in you and it's therefore hard to decide who deserves more than a glance and a sneer from your perfect visage.

A start-up called Hipster has decided that it knows how to make attractive job seekers believe it should be their first and only date.

Unfortunately, we're only talking engineers here. So Hipster is offering some touchingly precise inducements to show its intentions are good: $10,000 and beer, for example. Yes, a year's supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

It doesn't stop there. Hipster's Web site adds that new recruits will get a bike, a pair of Buddy Holly glasses, a pair of authentic skinny jeans, a pinstriped bow tie, mustache-grooming services, and a pair of (worn, brown) boots.

Hipster is, so it says, "building a fun way to uncover the vast amount of information about real-world locations." Which sounds like a sort of local question and answer thingy on the go.

Doug Ludlow, one of the founders of Hipster, told the New York Times: "As you know, recruiting is insanely competitive right now, so we wanted to do something that would break through the noise, and get the attention of the people we're trying to reach."

Hipster is reportedly proud that this sort of incentivizing is far more effective than the hundreds of thousands the company would have to pay those slightly leechlike little middle people known as recruiters.… Read more

Soluto update socializes solving crashes

Crashes and their potential to harm productivity and personal data are the bane of many computer users, but the ability to diagnose and prevent them has arrived in the latest version of Soluto (download), available exclusively today from CNET Soluto 1.12.113 beta sees two major new features, crash protection and browser add-on management, form a tripartite attack on problematic computer performance with the program's original feature, boot time management.

Called "Heal Crashes" within the program's main interface, the crash prevention feature takes information that Windows logs but ignores, and uses it to … Read more

Hearst launching Manilla for paperless bills

Manilla, a new company focused on the digital management of household bills and accounts, was unveiled Monday at the Demo conference--though it's not the type that usually shows up at the annual launch-and-pitch conference.

For one, Manilla was created within publishing conglomerate Hearst and is currently not backed by any other investors; second, the crowd of tech-industry regulars may find Manilla disappointingly basic.

That's the point. Manilla is geared not toward the bleeding edge of technology enthusiasts, but toward the average American head of household, the person responsible for corralling the home's cable and phone bills, bank … Read more

Path, Instagram, and what the 'Facebook mafia' sees

The sector of the tech news world that isn't talking about today's launches of News Corp.'s iPad publication, The Daily, or Google's Android Honeycomb operating system is probably talking about two start-ups called Instagram and Path. Both are mobile photo-sharing companies that announced today that they've finalized their Series A funding rounds. Here comes the speculation over which one could "kill" the other.

Well, the two aren't straight-up rivals. Both are photo-sharing services that center, at least at launch, on the iPhone, but they're quite different in structure. Instagram, with its … Read more

Startup America needs to look beyond tech

The Startup America Partnership has launched with the backing of the White House and big bucks from tech giants such as IBM and Intel.

Andrew Nusca on Smart Planet has the details. The gist:

•AOL co-founder and Case Foundation Chairman Steve Case will lead the effort.

•The partnership is designed to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, investors, CEOs, nonprofits and universities.

•The goal for this partnership is to build businesses that scale and create millions of jobs.

Sounds great, but I have one nagging thought: What about the rest of the country? Let's face it. The population isn't all … Read more

New York's quest to become 'the digital city'

Even the basic driving directions from New York City to IBM Research's headquarters in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., make the whole thing sound like an arm-twisting inconvenience worthy of the difficulty that the city's metro region has had in fostering Silicon Valley-style innovation: "Take the Sprain."

That'd be the Sprain Brook Parkway, a squiggle of highway that reaches up from the northern end of the Bronx into the small towns of Westchester County, which turns into the Taconic Parkway a few minutes before the exit onto Kitchawan Road that leads to IBM's Thomas J. … Read more