HQ: Redwood City, CA
Management: Andrew Singer is founder, chief executive officer, and chief technical officer. In 1982, he cofounded Think Technologies, a third-party developer of software tools for the Macintosh platform, and since then he’s held numerous management and entrepreneurial positions. He also worked at Interval Research, a now-defunct technology incubator funded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Frank Sinton recently joined Rapport as its president and chief operating officer. Before that, he was cofounder and CEO of Think Technologies and worked at numerous technology startups, including MediLife Software, Aspen Security, and Raman Medical. Rapport’s chairman of the board is Gordon Campbell, a semiconductor industry leader and founder of Techfarm, a technology incubator and investment firm.
Investors: In July, Rapport raised a $7 million Series A financing from Techfarm Ventures.
Business Model: Rapport has developed a single chip, Kilocore, that consolidates numerous tasks usually performed by multiple dedicated chips, such as WiFi and MPEG encoding. The chip contains 256 independent processing elements (or cores), and is clocked at up to 125MHz, capable of performing 32 billion operations per second. The company is targeting the market for mobile devices, where several chips are typically required to perform wireless and multimedia functions – with little room. Rapport claims that its chip is faster than conventional microprocessors; for example, it runs a digital security decryption algorithm four times faster than a 1.8GHz Pentium. The company also says its offering can give mobile devices up to four times the battery life. Currently, Rapport has a partnership with Pulver Innovations to deliver chips for the VoIP market.
Competitors: IBM, Sony, Toshiba, ARM, Motorola, Philips, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments
Dirt: The concept of reducing many functions onto a single chip is a Holy Grail in the semiconductor industry. It’s impressive that Rapport is pursuing such a worthy (and highly lucrative) quest. Nonetheless (as shown above) the competition is stiff. What’s more, given the steep capital costs of launching a chip venture, Rapport will face tough odds financially as well. Chairman and lead investor Gordon Campbell is a savvy veteran of the chip industry, however, and should bring unmatched experience to launching this semiconductor startup.