Comms chips

Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup

Zaki and Shlomo Rakib, the brothers who founded Terayon Communication Systems Inc. in 1993 and resigned into relative obscurity about a decade later, have quietly resurfaced to head up a video processor firm called Novafora Inc., Light Reading has learned.

Not that too many folks have noticed yet, since the company is still operating like a Romulan Warbird under a cloaking device.

But a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing from Terayon flags Zaki Rakib as CEO and CFO of Novafora, and Shlomo Rakib as its chief technology officer.

The two resigned from Terayon in 2004, following a rollercoaster ride for investors. Zaki Rakib had been CEO of Terayon, and Shlomo had been president and chief technology officer. (See Headcount: Family Time (Reprise).)

What's known about Novafora is that it's a fabless semiconductor company that hopes to sink its talons into the video processing sector. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., with additional operations in Israel, the startup is said to have 15 to 30 employees.

Novafora, formerly known as Sipharos, was founded in 2005 and is in the research-and-development phase, according to details posted by the Israel Venture Capital Research Center.

The company has landed its first round of funding, but the amount and the backers involved have not yet been disclosed.

Novafora is beginning to staff up, though, according to some recent job postings, one from July, and another from June.

In developing digital video silicon, Novafora could end up competing with companies such as RGB Networks Inc. , Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), and BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND).

Another possible competitor would be Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), which closed its $140 million purchase of Terayon in July. (See Motorola Seals Up Terayon .)

Then again, assuming Novafora is building ASICs, it's also possible the startup might pursue all those companies as partners or even customers.

Shlomo Rakib has not yet responded to a voicemail and email seeking further comment. A call to the company's public relations contact also has not been returned.

That Novafora is involved in video processing comes as little surprise, as the product category was key to the most successful and significant acquisition Terayon made while the Rakib brothers were still at the helm.

In 1999, Terayon put up $100 million to acquire a video processing startup called Imedia. Although Terayon eventually bugged out of the cable modem and cable modem termination system (CMTS) sectors, it did retain the Imedia CherryPicker, which ended up being the primary reason, from a product point of view, why Terayon was attractive to Motorola. (See Digging up the Broadband Boneyard.)

The Rakibs also are not strangers to the semiconductor business. Back when the company was banking on MSOs to roll out the upstream-dilating Docsis 2.0 platform, Terayon prided itself on the fact that it developed its own silicon rather than relying on partnerships with suppliers such as Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM).

In the fall of 2001, Terayon went as far as spinning off that business under the name Imedia Semiconductor. However, that division had little success in securing OEM deals outside of Terayon, which later folded the chip division and began to use traditional Docsis silicon suppliers.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:03:56 PM
re: Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup A tip of the hat to Pancakes for the tip on the boards...we were able to hunt this one down: http://www.lightreading.com/do...

Maybe now we can flush them out of the pocket and get a call back. We'll keep you posted.
doctorno 12/5/2012 | 3:03:55 PM
re: Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup I thought they were building new H.264 chips for camcorders and cameras at Novafora.

Guess they're making something for set tops, then?
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:03:54 PM
re: Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup Video processing is the extent of what's been disclosed about the company. Very well could be camcorder and camera chips; however, the Israel Venture Capital source has them in the cable sector, so it could very well be chips for set-tops or perhaps a heavier duty network device.
Pancakes 12/5/2012 | 3:03:46 PM
re: Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup
You're welcome Jeff.
vcinfo 12/5/2012 | 3:00:29 PM
re: Terayon Founders Helm Stealthy Startup The company is called Novafora and is located in Santa Clara. The founders are five, including Drs. Alexander and Michael Bronstein and Prof. Ron Kimmel from the Technion plus the Rakib brothers. The company is operating in stealth mode.
There is no website (the URL www.novafora.com does not work). The ex-Technion founders still have their university websites
and it looks like they are experts in face recognition and computer vision. This is all currently known about Novafora.
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