True successor to analog mobile TV
Asked to pick “one really exciting thing” in his recent life, Sheng said, “It was Apple’s iPhone.”
“We made a good success in mobile analog TV,” said Sheng, but the popularity of 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 that’s exactly what Spreadtrum, a leading 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 Telegent’s 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 Telegent’s 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 that’s not exactly correct, but declined to detail the actual transaction.
“In every acquisition, it comes with the company’s 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 Tamer’s and Sheng’s book.
EE Times Confidential launched a special report, "The China Fabless Profile." The special report can be purchased here.
The related links below chart the recent progress of Telegent in reverse chronological order:
Connecting the dots in mobile TV: Siano…DiBcom…Telegent
The cause of Telegent’s spectacular fall: China dunnit
Uncertainty clouds Telegent's future
The rise of China fabless industry
Telegent hits 100 million TV chips shipped
Update: Ex-Broadcom VP named CEO of Telegent
Mobile TV chip vendor Telegent withdraws IPO
China chips: Bomb, or just a lot of firecrackers?
Will analog (not digital) mobile TV dominate in China?