Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Press Release that never made it.

Aaghe badho!!! Aagho Badho!!! Paisa nahi hai....

Thats what Sri (CEO) and Baskar (founder of Impulsesoft and CTO), a 30 yr old guy armed with his blue rubber slippers, got to hear when they and the team set out to raise venture capital in the summer of 2005, with thoughts of market consolidation at the back of their minds. "Aaghe tho badhna hi hai, lekin uske liye paisa bhi chahiye". Well there was no 'paisa' but there was dollars. They came across a company called Sirf (http://www.sirf.com/ Silicon Radio Frequency... thats Si R F) who are the market leaders in GPS chipsets. SiRF owns 60% of the worldwide GPS chipset market share. Well for those that don't know what GPS is, its Global Positioning System. Sirf was founded in 1995 with the intention to assist in solving one of man's oldest pastimes, trying to figure out where you are and where you're going. GPS tries to solve it..... but sometimes even GPS can't let us know where we are and where we are going :-) sometimes you just have to fall back to the old star-gazing methods... hmmm... So now after they have acquired us, we are also gonna try to "assist" in solving that age old problem by err.... preaching from the mountain tops ????

Why Sirf and not one of our other suitors you ask.... Picture this.... ok Bollywood estyle picture this... We have Srikrishna (impulsesoft CEO) playing the part of the father figure. Then Shekar (chairman) playing the role of Merlin. Then Raja (engineering head) playing the pragmatic big brother role. Then Sridhar (the architect) emanating spurts of sage advice, like a volcano that remains dormant for most of its time. But sometimes, just sometimes you see it explode with fireworks. An amazing phenomenon. At center stage I can imagine Baskar and Vidhya dancing round trees (bollywood estyle) singing,"Humko SiRF tum se pyaar hai".... Thats why!!! wokay!!!.... See in bollywood you come up with the songs first, then the ending and then the story..... couldn't picture that.... not satisfied... well read on.

SiRF is a very strong technology oriented company. When SiRF went for their IPO in April 2004 they were ranked in forbes 2004 top 10 IPOs in the world... Google was ranked 2nd that year with Sirf 8th..... As of today SiRF have a market of about 1.6 billion dollars with revenues growing at a very good rate year over year.... pretty good for a 300+ strong employee company with 130 patents and 200 pending patents.... We are their 5th acquisition, being the largest in employee numbers i.e 55 of us... SiRF are very particular and acquire like 20 ppl from here, 40 from there types. So now its a 355+ ppl strong company. The management team is pretty strong too. First there is Kanwar Chadha, Founder and VP of Marketing, who has led SiRF Technology from start-up phase to a leader in location awareness within six years and is also one of the most sought-after experts in location-awareness and GPS-related trends and issues. Sirf's current CEO Michael L. Canning, is a veteran with 20 years’ executive management experience in the semiconductor industry. He pioneered the “fabless” manufacturing model at Cirrus Logic, a concept now followed by the majority of semiconductor companies and also helped grow revenues at Cirrus Logic from zero to over a billion.

Before acquiring us, Sirf had a huge percentage of the GPS experts in the world. After acquiring us that number doesn't change... :-) hmmmmm.... err well cause we deal in bluetooth not GPS....

Sirf's rise to number 1 position is something out of a Mario Puzo novel.
When Surf was founded, Conexant which was still called Rockwell, ran the cartel. They were the largest GPS chip set vendor. Conexant was a pioneering force behind the development of GPS technology in the 1970s. But then Sirf came out with a GPS chipset that was smaller, more elegant and had better performance... some say it was Getafix's Magic potion that did the trick. Even though Sirf was a lot smaller, Sirf has been eating their lunch.Tensions were rising ... there was no place for the both of them... something had to give. Then in the summer of 2001 Sirf made its macabre move and hunted down Conexant's GPS team one by one. The metronome of the casium atom oscillated, in one of the 24 GPS satellites orbiting the earth, for the 7,172,52,760 time in the 53rd second, of the 35th minute, of the 11th hour of that faithful night. The bodies were found near the coast splintered with bullets. The exact location was Latitude: 33.62 N, Longitude: 117.90 W.... The assasins had strewn the beach with their GPS chipsets... they had left their mark..... The night resonated with "Die!!! Die!!! Silicon Die!!!!!" btw.. you have to know a little bit about chipsets.. i.e. silicon, wafer, dies etc to appreciate the 'die' statement... others please smile atleast... or do I have to come there and tickle you :-)

Back to reality... Actually Conexant transferred to Sirf its entire GPS technology portfolio, its products and its core GPS engineering team, about 20 experienced GPS engineers, for a stake in the company. That deal made SiRF No. 1 in the GPS chip market. That was also their first kill.... Finally getting the taste of blood they wanted more...

Their next hunt was in Feb 2003 when they acquired key employees of Enuvis...a wireless location company... adding the ability to acquire GPS signals and deliver high accuracy location calculations in even more environments, such as inside buildings and dense metropolitan areas where other GPS technologies fail.

In late April 2005, it acquired Kiesel Microelectronics (total of 19 employees), a Stockholm-based (Sweden) designer of complex radio frequency integrated circuits, founded by Ericsson, for Bluetooth, WiMAX, WLAN, W-CDMA, UWB, GSM/PCS/DCS, and several ISM applications. BTW it takes a long long time to become an expert in RF. I guess most of them must be Phds or something with 20+ years of experience..

In June 2005, they acquired the rights to GPS chipsets that Motorola had in development and the services of 40 Motorola employees, having expertise in the integration of GPS in a range of wirelessly connected systems, especially in two key target platforms -- automotive and wireless handsets.

come Dec 2005: Sirf acquired what they think is the best bluetooth audio company in the world :-) shuush!!!! lets not tell them the truth :-) They added 55 of our employees to their team of 300+ employees.... so now its about 20+ nationalities in 10 or so locations. They also have a VLSI team in Noida, Delhi which was started in June 2004...

The single-chip solution that Sirf will offer has a complete GPS navigation solution and a Bluetooth 1.2 compliant communication interface. The solution leverages the RF IC design capabilities of Sweden-based Kisel Microlectronics that SiRF acquired last year and the Bluetooth expertise of Impulsesoft.

Well I think the management made a good decision by selecting Sirf over our other suitors cause if Impulsesoft sneezes, Sirf will get the flu. Hey... about the sneezing-->flu part let me try it... "Achoo"... "Achoo!!!"... "ACHOOOOOO!!!!!"... sob sob no one cares.... wait no ones in the room :-) Maybe I'll try it at lunch in the cafeteria....

Anyways these days GPS is finding its way into cars, boats, planes, construction equipment, movie making gear, farm machinery, even laptop computers, plane landings etc. Your cameras will have GPS so that from next time you can search for your snaps on your PC via location and time..... Japan has come out with a service where your GPS and compass (orientation) enabled phones can be used as 'point and search' devices, wherein you can get reviews of movies, restaurants, other info just by pointing (with relevant search parameters) to one of 7,00,000 locations in Japan. Way in the future self-guided cars could take you across town....

I still remember about 2 and a half years back when I left the big building of Cisco to join the tiny quaint house of Impulsesoft many ppl told me "yeah you'll get to do some good work in a startup.... but the company may die any moment... bluetooth is dead... what about security.. Cisco is secure".....

Well as Natalie Goldberg says, "Don't worry too much about security. You will eventually have a deep security when you begin to do what you want. And how many of us with our big fat salaries feel secure anyways. Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go."

But what does she know right...

I guess the path ahead seems one full of possibilities and challenges and therefore excitement, butterflies in the stomach, and a subtle tinge of trepidation to top it off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Hand

The Hand

The Hand that makes the world go round,
To which we are so tightly bound.

It follows norms, thats just the way,
It wants to whisper, it has no say.

It sometimes knows not what to do,
Whats right from wrong, it has no clue.

It tries its soul, to brim its wish,
Some silver spoons, some nouveau riche.

But a Hand that is so full of grace,
A perceivable one, it has not a face.

It recruits itself, to do the grind,
The point of life, it hopes to find.

It builds to last a thousand years,
Through sweat and pain and joy and tears.

Perchance to dream, a sculptor's bliss,
The Hand that builds out of nothingness.

It rocks the cradle, a dream unfurled,
Hand in Hand, it rules the world.

------ Alistair D'souza 17th Jan 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Taj Mahal

I had been to the Taj Mahal when I was in Delhi during Christmas time. The plan then was to leave Gurgoan as early as possible to beat the traffic. However it depended on the fog and visibility. We were off by around 7. Sonali had packed some Christmas goodies made by our mom and Nikhil's mom. Nikhil's mom also makes some real good coffee liqueur which I had the previous day. The drive took us a little more than 3 hours and finally we reached Agra Fort. You are able to view the Taj in the distance from the fort. I took out a snap through the binoculars :-) After a bit of site seeing we decided to proceed to the real thing.

Mobile phones are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal so we had to deposit it at a counter nearby. However ppl had lost the concept of following a queue and then there was a lot of shoving and pushing. There was just one door to enter and exit. The people that were inside couldn't get out and more people were trying to get in. Somehow Nikhil managed to get in and get the job done.

We then moved towards the entrance. I thought it would be this real awesome aaahhhaaaa experience, but I guess I had set my expectations too high. I mean its beautiful and stuff but I guess with the precious gems and the moonlight it would look awesome. Or maybe its cause there were so many people around. I then went to one corner and sat alone and looked at it and it started to look more beautiful. I guess once I read more of the history on it, I would look at it in a different light. Something like when its past is superimposed on its current beauty it would give it this rare combination of awe. However I am still trying to figure out why its like the 7th wonder of the world... there must be something to it that I'm not able to see :-) Thats why the plausible explanations....

I guess you always have to look a bit deeper to experience the true beauty of things, be it one of the wonders of the world or normal things around you or even normal people for that matter. I think its the same with songs, poetry, art. Read this somewhere sometime, where this artist says that the painting is no longer his. It belongs to the person who sees it cause people can view it in different ways and the thoughts/feelings/interpretation etc are theirs. His work is just a catalyst. And then there are times when you usually don't like something at first ... but after some time it tends to grow on you. And its usually the things that grow on you that last longer. Sometimes forever.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sweet Mother of mine

People often ask me how I manage to get so many days off at work. I was recently off on a two week haitus. Before that I had taken a week off in November. And during the middle of the year I had taken a lot of holidays. At one point I would vanish from the city every 2 weeks :-) The hangover of the previous exploit would just start to fade and then I would be at it all over again.

Maybe I'm important so they allow me to freak out whenever I wanna or maybe I'm not so important, that they do not care if I'm working or not. Hmmmm... Or maybe its cause of the goodies I get back from home. Whenever I say I'm taking time off people are like, "So you're going home!!!". And then they give this big smile. If I reply in the negative then I would hear things like,"Maybe you could go home too on your way back. Its been quite some time since you went home right." Well my mom makes some mouth watering cakes and other goodies. And the cakes taste even better when its fresh out of the oven. Hot cake with some yummy icing to top it off. My mom gave me a lot of cakes (two types) and other christmas goodies. I took some to office and it was over before I could send a mail out. My PC was taking time to boot and other people were like,"No we won't send the mail". No one volunteered to go get a knife. They just used whatever was around. My manager would say,"Lets plan you're next trip home" :-) Then there was Sridhar who complemented me on being my mother's son!

Well what can I say my mother is sweet, very sweet. Even the doctor thinks so. We have known that she has this extra sweetness for the past four years but due to my sister's wedding and christmas she was toooo sweet this year end. Was a teeny weeny bit afraid but I didn't tell her that. My Dad didn't show it but then again there are a lot of Clint Eastwoods out there. Well she has promised to control her sweetness like before, but the sweet goodies will keep coming. And I'll sure be getting a lot of days off :-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Unwavering Thought

Unwavering thought as tomorrow comes,
A brand new day, the music hums.

Resolutions to make, and some to keep,
As the mind starts to wander both far and deep.

Mountains to conquer, seas to tame,
It all feels part of this deja-vu game.

Unwavering thought, is that all it takes,
To sift the genuine from the fakes.

No grudges to hold, no feelings to hide,
Live and let live, an adage to abide.

As poseidon dies, a poseidon lives,
Unwavering thought from a heart that gives.

Unwavering thought as tomorrow comes,
A brand new day, the music hums.

- Alistair D'souza 31st Dec '05