Former fabless semiconductor, Artimi, and the faded wireless technology Ultra Wideband (UWB) have both received a new lease of life following Veebeam’s release of a media player that streams internet content from laptops to televisions.
Veebeam Ltd is the latest incarnation of Staccato Communications, the semiconductor firm that eventually emerged from the merger of Artimi in Cambridge and US-based Staccato in November 2008.
It has used the Demo Fall 2010 conference in Silicon Valley to unveil an eponymous device it hopes will appeal to all those who wish they could watch internet driven video such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube on their televisions, as CB Media revealed last month.
Starting at £99 (though less without the shipping if bought in dollars or Euros), the Veebeam player is being marketed as a relatively low-cost add on to existing digital televisions that transforms them into high definition internet portals for sports, movies or even just digital photographs.
Market interest for the device has been “incredible” according to Veebeam CEO, the Cambridge-based Andrew Vought, in his company’s own marketing blurb. He said: “Veebeam is going to enhance home entertainment, and help people to make the most of the Internet.”
Though once thought of as a major future player in wireless, UWB and the companies behind it began to fade over the last couple of years as the technology didn’t quite reach the performance initially promised.
However, wireless laptop to HD TV connectivity has since been championed as its saviour. While this may begin to pay back a little of the money and faith that was once so heavily invested in UWB and its developers, there’s still much further to go.
Veebeam will now concentrate on maintaining its new found momentum by attempting to close its first funding round since November 2008. That funding round of $20m coincided with the merger Artimi and Staccato merger, who had previously raised $50m and $63m respectively in their company lifetimes, a total of $133m.
Veebeam has not revealed how much it will be looking for this time, though it is expected that the round will close by the end of this month. The company finished 2009 with a little over £500k in net assets having reduced headcount from 41 to 18 and taken R&D spend from £7m in 2008 to £2m.
According to its accounts submission to Companies House for 2009, it has been seeking the finance from both existing and new investors, which have included Amadeus Capital, Charles River Ventures, Intel Capital and Oak Investment Partners. If the company wishes to continue under a fabless semiconductor model, which it says it does, it will presumably need to raise significant funds once more.
It is a difficult time for semiconductor firms trying to breakthrough to commercialisation. Eden Upton of Broadcom in Cambridge believes the costs have become too prohibitive for any new ones and at a recent Cambridge meeting said: “It’s the end of silicon start-ups. Tool licenses alone are so high, a firm would need to raise between $30 and $40 million.”
Veebeam has raised far in excess of that in the past, however UWB has since lost a lot of ground, adding greater importance to the success of its new media player.