Intel Snaps Up Templex
At press time, Intel had not returned calls for comment. There were no press releases or SEC filings published by Intel regarding the event, but it may be that the deal was small enough to go through under the radar.
Templex is not a large company -- it had only 25 employees at its peak and now employs about 10 -- but the acquisition is interesting because of the technology involved. Though Templex was selling Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) for Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) networks, the company has been developing a technology for adding more capacity and management capability to fiber optic networks that some view as a replacement for WDM.
Templex was founded in 1995 to develop Temporally Accessed Spectral Multiplexing (TASM), a technology developed by University of Oregon physicist Thomas W. Mossberg and former University of Washington professor W. Randall Babbitt. (Mossberg was the company's first chief technology officer, but he returned to teach at Oregon in October 1999.)
TASM's claim to fame was that it allowed for intelligence to be encoded and processed in the optical domain, a trick that could add speed and capacity to optical networks. The most immediate application of TASM technology was in the implementation of optical code-division multiple access (OCDMA), an innovative way of adapting CDMA cell phone technology to add more capacity and management features to fiber optic networks (see Optical CDMA Product Stirs Debate).
OCDMA has yet to gain commercial acceptance, though a couple of companies have (unsuccessfully) positioned it as a technology alternative to dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) in metropolitan networks (see CodeStream Goes Under).
Of course, it's too early to say what Intel will do with the OCDMA technology. At the time of its acquisition, Templex was only selling fiber Bragg gratings and hadn't shipped an OCDMA product (see Startup Unveils Fiber "Switch"). It was, however, tinkering with ways to provide a migration path from WDM to OCDMA.
"We're not integrated into Intel just yet, so it's hard to say what's going to happen with all the stuff we have," Tambe says. "I think the time for OCDMA will come; I'm just not sure that we're there today."
Intel's purchase of Templex is not surprising, given that Intel had invested some $5 million of the nearly $8 million the company had raised since its inception. In 1997, Templex, then in Eugene, Oregon, completed a small funding round with Bison Ventures (now defunct) as the lead investor.
By the end of 1999, Templex had attracted investments from Intel; the Oregon Resource and Technology Development Fund; AVenture Partners LLC, a venture firm run by Intel veterans; Bison Ventures; and eFund, a venture firm formed by former Bison partner and Templex board member, Joe Tanous.
In 2000, Templex left Eugene for San Jose and now occupies an office less than five miles from Intel's corporate headquarters in Santa Clara.
Intel has snapped up several components companies this year, including its February acquisition of nSerial Corp.; its April acquisitions of VxTel and Cognet; and its May acquisition of LightLogic (see Intel Scoops Up Chips)
In related news, Intel's director of components research, Gerald Marcyk, is hosting a technology briefing conference call on December 18 at 10:00 a.m. PST.
Over the past few years, Intel has been paying more and more attention to developing products for optical networks and the service providers who build them. Last week it made much ado about its plans for providing servers that handle computing-intensive telecom applications, such as IP messaging (see Intel Targets Telecom Server Market).
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading