Qualcomm Snaps Up Chipmaker Wilocity for Around $400 Million

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Wilocity Israeli startupCredit: Screenshot

U.S. tech giant Qualcomm has acquired Wilocity, an Israeli startup that develops high-speed wireless chipsets, for what sources put at around $400 million.

The San Diego-based chipmaker for mobile phones did not provide a purchase price in the deal that was all but sealed in May and was finally confirmed this week.

Wilocity, based in Caesarea north of Tel Aviv, is being integrated into Qualcomm subsidiary Atheros, headed by an Israeli, Amir Faintuch. Both Atheros and Wilocity are active in so-called WiGig fast wireless technology.

Most of Wilocity’s 60 employees are based in Israel. The company’s high-speed chip will give users the ability to download video and other cumbersome content more quickly. Qualcomm had already invested in Wilocity and had collaborated with it in product development.

The startup’s activities are based on the latest technical Wi-Fi specifications, issued in March 2013. Its existing chips play a role in Dell computers, but a new generation to feature in mobile devices is smaller and more energy-efficient.

Wilocity was founded in 2007 by Tal Tamir, its chief executive, as well as Dany Rettig, Gal Basson and Jorge Myszne. The four came to the venture from Intel.

Qualcomm, Marvell Technology, Cisco and a batch of leading venture capital firms – Sequoia Capital, Benchmark Capital and Tallwood Venture Capital — had all invested in Wilocity. So had Israel’s Vintage Investment Partners and Jerusalem Global Ventures.

“Qualcomm Atheros and Wilocity have a successful history of collaboration and share a culture of invention,” said Tamir. “The Wilocity team will build upon Qualcomm’s strengths and leadership to collaboratively deliver innovative wireless technology for mobile, computing and networking customers to address the needs of an increasingly connected world. We are excited to join forces to take our 60 GHz vision to the next level and scale.”

According to Billy Anders, group manager for operating systems at Microsoft, “Tri-band Wi-Fi, including multi-gigabit 60 GHz connectivity with WiGig, will help foster a new generation of amazing experiences across a broad range of devices, including PCs, tablets and phones.

“A little-known fact is that WiGig began during a meeting on Microsoft’s campus with several other companies, including Wilocity. It’s gratifying to see the rapid evolution of this technology, and this development indicates a rapid proliferation of WiGig.”

Faintuch, the president of Qualcomm Atheros, added: “WiGig will play an important role in Qualcomm’s strategy to address consumers’ increasingly sophisticated smartphone, tablet and computing requirements to support applications — such as immediate streaming of 4K [high-resolution] video and high throughput peer-to-peer communication to enable the next generation of social interactions between users sharing content.”

Earlier this week, sources told TheMarker that Qualcomm was buying the Israeli operations of British wireless technology firm CSR for about $45 million. Qualcomm, which gets its hands on imaging technology in the deal, later confirmed that it was the buyer. CSR Israel’s 15-person team will move to Qualcomm’s Haifa offices.