TelASIC, PicoChip Cash In

Chips for base stations are a hot topic, at least for this week, as PicoChip Designs Ltd. and TelASIC have both secured new rounds of funding.

Both companies are developing chips to make base stations more programmable, which would simplify the design of the systems as well as make them flexible enough to handle multiple standards (see PicoChip Plays 3G Cost Ace).

PicoChip's $17 million Round B is done and should be announced within a few days, says Rupert Baines, vice president of marketing. The round supplements $7 million raised in 2001 from investors Pond Ventures and Atlas Venture.

These days, venture capitalists won't fund a new round unless the startup can attract at least one new investor, and that was the case with PicoChip at first. "It started out that way, but then it just sort of dragged on," Baines says. Eventually, the investors decided to go ahead with the round on their own.

Meanwhile, TelASIC, a spinoff of Raytheon Co. announced this morning it had nabbed $35 million, with Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) joining as an investor.

TelASIC's third round follows $22.5 million raised in January 2002, a round that included IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

In this particular case, TelASIC says, the investors weren't insisting on adding new blood, but the firm's management felt that it would be a good idea. "The round would easily have been taken by the insiders, but management and the board were convinced we wanted to take in a new strategic partner," says John LaValle, TelASIC chief financial officer.

In addition to investing, Agilent is "in the process of negotiating" business deals with TelASIC, LaValle says.

Other investors in TelASIC include Raytheon, ComVentures, Mission Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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