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Telegent's curtain call: The three-way spin off

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile TV? analog TV? TV chips?

The very premise of Telegents foundation?believing that people will watch mobile TV via broadcast signals, either analog or digital?is no longer true, concluded Tamer. Consumers today watch TV on mobile handsets through signals streamed from the Internet either via WiFi or LTE, but not via broadcast.

True successor to analog mobile TV
Asked to pick "one really exciting thing" in his recent life, Sheng said, "It was Apples iPhone."

"We made a good success in mobile analog TV," said Sheng, but the popularity of the iPhone on the market showed who the true successor to analog mobile TV was. It was, after all, not digital (broadcast) TV, but mobile Internet.

Former FCC chairman Hundt agreed. "Mobile devices turned out to be a gateway to the Internet, not to broadcast. Broadcasters could have played a role on mobile. But they missed the window."

Indeed, Tamer recalls a seminal moment that prodded him to look for a way out. One board member asked Tamer if Telegent was winning the war. Regardless of the great team he had, it was clear to Tamer that Telegent was fighting an uphill battle, in a market no longer interested in mobile broadcast TV.

Looking back on the rapidly falling ASP of mobile TV chips, Tamer noted, that alone "screams that it has to be a part of another chip?like a baseband chip." And thats exactly what Spreadtrum, a Chinese fabless chip company, is set out to do.

Spreadtrum will leverage a small part of Telegent�s former team based in Shanghai (about 90 people including engineering, marketing and sales were previously employed by Telegent in Shanghai) and a portfolio of about 70 patents (including patents pending) that are all related to mobile TV.

Not every IP Telegent developed went to Spreadtrum, though.

Describing Telegents engineering accomplishment as "the development of a complex mixed signal on SoC," the new spinoff headed by Tamer and Sheng will follow up on its analog expertise, while the un-named U.S. company?including a sizeable share of Telegents former engineering team?is working on a new project that�s likely to be more analog-related.

Asked about the meager $1 million Spreadtrum claims it paid to acquire Telegent, Tamer indicated thats not exactly correct, but declined to detail the actual transaction.

"In every acquisition, it comes with the companys liability, escrow and inventory. So, it depends on how you fold that into the math."

In the end, the important thing is that Telegent, in its exit plan, managed to find "the right home" for its technology and team, according to Tamer. Most former Telegent employees based in the United States got jobs either at the un-named U.S. chip company or at a new spinoff.

With $100 million distributed among investors and employees, Telegent is a successful startup story in Tamers and Shengs book.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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