Silicon Valley– why it’s still best for entrepreneurs

Let Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ruminate all he wants about how if he were starting Facebook today, he’d do it in Boston. There’s still no substitute for Silicon Valley, according to a panel of venture capitalists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offices in San Francisco.

Mostly, that’s because of the concentration of talent, particularly engineering and product talent, in the Bay Area, they said. Becoming a sizeable company without access to that pool is difficult for most tech-based startups, they said.

“You bring on the next great person,” said Andrew Trader of Maveron and a co-founder of gaming company Zynga. “That’s where you make the huge leaps.”

But it’s also because of the culture that allows entrepreneurs to draw lessons from botched start-ups. “Failure is still OK here, and that’s not the case everywhere,” said Jon Soberg of Blumberg Captial.

And efforts to replace those characteristics in other places just never seem to pan out. “People have talked about the next Silicon Valley for what– the last 20, 30 years,” said Rob Coneybeer of Shasta Ventures.

Apple details “spaceship” headquarters design

Apple’s hometown now has more details on the consumer device giant’s new spaceship-like campus, a pet project of recently deceased co-founder Steve Jobs.

 The Cupertino, California, city council put up more plans of Apple’s proposed headquarters on its website. The updated blueprint shows that Apple is aiming to build an energy efficient headquarters.

 The single building — resembling a massive spaceship — is expected to span 2.8 million square feet over four floors that will accommodate up to 13,000 employees. Also, separate buildings for research, about 300,000 square feet of  it, are to be built nearby.  Apple’s current headquarters is at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino.

Verizon, Netflix and those darn bloggers aka Reuters

Lowell McAdam, Verizon CEO

Bear with us a minute while we toot our horn (again) and point to our story on Verizon’s plans to launch an online Netflix competitor next year. Needless to say, we were pleased to get it out there first, but it’s probably unsurprising that Verizon was not ready with a press release as it hammer out deals with programmers.

So it was amusing to hear Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam as he tried to squirm his way around questions about his company’s plans during an interview at the UBS conference.

“I think the jury is out but I do think there is a place for over-the-top here and it will be part of our strategy,” said McAdam.

Tech wrap: Another PR debacle for RIM

Research In Motion has unceremoniously dumped the “BBX” brand name it had chosen two months ago for its new BlackBerry operating system after a U.S. court embarrassed the beleaguered smartphone maker by slapping a temporary ban on its use.

AT&T plans to forge ahead with its deal to buy Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. wireless unit despite fierce regulatory opposition, and it has the financial resources to close the acquisition quickly, a top executive says.

Heineken is linking with social networking website Facebook to boost its global digital marketing, with the first fruits of the partnership being an online campaign aimed at making responsible drinking cool.

SuVolta takes wraps off battery-friendly chip technology

Silicon Valley start-up SuVolta is giving the electronics industry a peek under the hood at its new technology that it claims will drastically boost the energy efficiency of microchips.

That’s something chip designers are focusing more and more on as people increasingly rely on smartphones and tablets that chew up battery charges.

SuVolta says it can halve the amount of power used by chips without affecting their performance, and it is debuting the details of its technology to scientists at the 2011 International Electron Devices Meeting on Wednesday in Washington, DC.

Tech wrap: Verizon to take on Netflix

Verizon Communications plans to launch a standalone service allowing customers to stream movies and television shows over the Web, in a fresh challenge to Netflix and the traditional cable TV business, according to several people briefed on the plan.

Wireless service provider Verizon Wireless said it was not blocking Google’s payments app, Google Wallet, on its latest smartphone, and said it was still in talks with Google about the service.

A court in southern China has rejected a lawsuit by Apple, accusing a Chinese technology company of infringing its iPad trademark, a newspaper reports, the latest move in a protracted tug-of-war over the name.

A more controlled stumbling with StumbleUpon channels

It’s been two-and-half years since online social media service StumbleUpon hit the eject button from eBay, its one-time corporate parent.

Since then, the company has grown its users and its staff. The San Francisco-based company now has 100 employees (25 percent of whom are former Googlers, the company says), up from 30 employees at the time of the eBay spin-off.

And the service, which lets users discover interesting Web content that has been flagged by friends and people with similar interests, now counts 20 million registered users, compared to 10 million about one year ago.

Viacom chief Dauman plays down Nickelodeon ratings dip, sees more ads

Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman

Viacom Chief Executive Phillipe Dauman tried to play down the Nickelodeon surprise double-digit ratings drop in September as a Nielsen glitch which is being worked on and would not impact the upcoming quarter.

Dauman, speaking at a UBS Media and Technology investment conference, expressed his frustration at the issue but said there was little that could be done about it at this stage. He said “Nielsen is the only game in town”.

He described the timing as unfortunate coming in the crucial September quarter ahead of the holiday season.

Tech wrap: Facebook grabs Gowalla team

Facebook has hired the co-founders of Gowalla, one of the pioneering companies that developed the concept of “checking in” at real-world locations with mobile phones. “While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time,” Facebook says.

SAP’s $3.4 billion takeover of SuccessFactors will help it keep up with peers in the frenzied race for cloud-computing business, even if the price it paid is very high at first glance, analysts say.

Shares in Samsung Electronics rose more than 2 percent on Monday after Apple’s bid to halt U.S. sales of its Galaxy line of products was rejected, easing concern of slowing growth in its telecom business, which generates revenue of $13 billion per quarter.

‘Twilight’ movie wins slow box office weekend

The newest “Twilight” vampire movie ruled the domestic box office for a third time with $16.9 million in ticket sales over one of the slowest movie-going weekends of the year, studio estimates released on Sunday showed.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1″ from independent studio Summit Entertainment beat a pack of family films at U.S. and Canadian theaters. The fourth and second-to-last film in one of Hollywood’s most lucrative franchises added $40.2 million at international locations. 

After three weekends in theaters, “Breaking Dawn” has soaked up $588.3 million in global ticket sales.