When an executive resigns from a company, it is usually announced in a dry, impersonal press release in which 99 percent of the time, it says that Mr. XYZ “is leaving the company for personal reasons to spend more time with his family.”
So, it was truly refreshing when I received an e-mail from Kanwar Chadha, CSR’s CMO (and founder of SiRF), in which he announced to leave CSR. The letter actually tells very little about why he is leaving CSR and what his next plan is.
There are a lot of unanswered questions, but I am keeping those for a separate interview with CSR at another time – for now. The point of this blog was, however, rather about Kanwar Chadha himself.
Kanwar Chadah leaving CSR
The first time when I met him was when he was still a general manager at S3 – responsible for all the exciting graphics that was supposed to change the video game experience on PCs. I sat next to him in an audience seat at a conference in Hollywood; we struck up a conversation; and I was impressed with his knowledge and generosity of sharing his own views on technology and applications with a mere reporter.
Then, the next time when I sat down with him was when he founded SiRF.
Just like his daughter (whom he mentioned towards the end of his letter posted below), I’ve watched SiRF grow from its inception, and my reporting career that started in Silicon Valley has also grown along with it. Subsequently, I bumped into him in a long queue at ITU Telecom World in Geneva; in a press room and a booth at CES in Las Vegas; an auditorium at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, etc.
Google brought indoor mapping to CES this year. Does GPS in your phone track your location inside a building? Above, a handset with CSR’s new GPS chip (left) shows which booth you’re visiting, while an iPhone (right) only shows a street map of LVCC building.The hand holding the phone in this photo is that of Kanwar's.
Kanwar has never lost sight of why he loves what he is doing (promoting GPS) and he has always remained so passionate about his work. And he was always so patient with me in explaining “why’s” of the technologies.
I know from my previous conversation with him that he’s been thinking about moving back to a startup world again. I am not too surprised.
With that much passion in him, I feel like he can do anything…seriously. Anyone who can write such a passionate farewell letter – summing up what he has accomplished, and why he has done so, deserves another startup.
And here's a letter from Kanwar Chadha.
Dear Friends, After 17 plus years with SiRF, including 3 years post our merger with CSR, I have decided to move on and explore new destinations in my journey of adventure and discovery.
We started SiRF in 1995 with nothing more than a simple but daring vision: “GPS for Consumers”. Many thought we were pipe dreamers (especially someone like me who had no prior experience in GPS), some felt we were foolish to enter a market dominated by big companies (Motorola, Rockwell/Conexant, Trimble…) with a technology controlled by US Department of Defense and others looked at us as another flash in the pan start-up (well 90%+ of start-ups do fail). These were all valid concerns, however these are exactly the type of challenges that start-ups thrive on.
“We the SiRFers” believed that we were on to something big: how could location awareness and navigation not be important to everyone in the emerging mobile world? After all human beings have looked up to stars for navigation from very early days. Even my father, who never really understood the need for computers, could relate to “Navigations”. We were ready for the challenging journey to make our vision a reality and prove the naysayers wrong!
We were technologists and evangelists at the same time. We developed innovative technologies and products to make GPS work in environments that system was never designed for, but are important for consumer usage such as urban canyons and dense foliage; all keeping in mind price points that mainstream consumers could afford. We developed new business models and channels to make GPS chips and modules affordable and available for mainstream consumer OEM systems. We even developed an “Idea Book”, titled Navigations, with many futuristic but artistic concept devices and scenarios highlighting potential use cases of GPS in our daily lives; things we may take for granted today but seemed quite far-fetched in 1995. It was expensive collateral, but probably the best I have done in my life and it became quite popular. I carried copies of Idea Book to every customer meeting, every conference and every press/analyst meeting and it generated lots of customer interest and press coverage for us. However, we had lost the original drawings needed for reprints and soon we were giving out Xerox copies and saving the few original books left!
With the support of our investors, customers, suppliers, partners, GPS community and especially our families, we made it happen. It took more than a decade, but today GPS is part of our everyday lives whether we know it or not, like it or not! We had our highs and our lows, tough times and easy, but we never veered from our original vision. And SiRF is a brand well recognized in the GPS community, even in the consumer press. We ended up acquiring GPS businesses of Motorola & Conexant as well some smaller innovative companies such as Centrality. Enuvis, Impulsesoft, Kisel and TrueSpan; all bringing something new to strengthen the SiRF family. In the process we created a company with a very strong culture of working hard to win, but at the same time having fun, something I am very proud of.
We did our IPO in 2004 as another milestone in our journey and merged with CSR in 2009 to explore more interesting concepts combining location and connectivity technologies. Many of the original SiRFers have moved on and I have focused my last three years on helping transform CSR into a “Platform focused Company” (where we can directly impact consumer experience with our technologies) from being just a component supplier. There are many interesting challenges ahead such as making indoor location reliable and meeting consumer expectations with location across a broad range of applications, but with SiRF and Zoran mergers, CSR is quite well placed strategically to take advantages of new platform opportunities.
Today, “GPS for Consumers” is no longer just a concept or has any “question marks” around it! It has been an exciting journey and although I am continuing on with my journey to start a new venture in another challenging space of mobile wireless broadband, SiRF and “GPS Locations” will always be very close to my heart. My 16 year old daughter summarized it best today for many of us at my farewell lunch when she said: “SiRF is a family I grew up with”!
Thanks for all your support and best wishes to everyone. Please keep in touch, I am on LinkedIn.
I see there are faces to be known in the industry. I bet as a reporter you get to know A LOT of people in the electronics, semiconductor and hi-tech businesses of today. And when most of the news and articles are about mergers and new products or new technologies, talking about the people puts back the human factor in the picture. It draws my attention how Mr. Kanwar says that SiRF and GPS location have a place in his heart and how her daughter says she grew up in such SiRF family. That is passion. And I think in order to build a big thing, one needs passion to do it.
Oh, one more thing. If you are an executive, and decided to resign, never just leave it to your corporate PR machine that will inevitably say you are "leaving the company for personal reasons to spend more time" with your family. Everyone in the media that there is more to that story. And if you are proud of yourself of your accomplishment, you should list that in your personal e-mail to all of your friends!
What a nice way to leave a company! I wish him the best in his next endeavors. I often wonder as the "guy in the trenches" perspective, why there are changes in companies that are doing well. It is more obvious that a change is needed for those companies which have been experiencing difficulties. So I wonder, what will the future hold for CSR? Time (and location?) will tell.