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19 June, 2019 - 22:24 By Tony Quested

Broadcom pays megabucks to acquire Argon Design in Cambridge

Steve Barlow Cambridge Argon Design

US semiconductor giant Broadcom Inc. has acquired technology and product development business Argon Design. 

Broadcom has major operations at Cambridge Science Park while Argon is anchored in St John’s Innovation Centre. The amount Broadcom has paid has not yet been disclosed but given Argon’s clientele it could be several hundred million – some tech industry advises are suggesting between $500m and $1bn.

A notice on the Argon Design website tonight simply said: “Argon Design has been acquired. We will no longer be providing consultancy and design services.”

Argon Design is a technology and product development partner. It develops technologies and products for Fortune 500 and FTSE100 brands and SMEs. Its objective is to help clients reduce time to market, cut risk and lower costs.

Under CEO Alan Scott and CTO Steve Barlow, Argon has built up extensive experience across a wide range of hardware and software architectures and a reputation for innovative design and product development. 

Broadcom is an American designer, developer, manufacturer and global supplier of a broad range of semiconductor and infrastructure software solutions. Its product portfolio serves the data centre, networking, software, broadband, wireless, and storage and industrial markets. 

Headquartered in San Jose, California, it had 2018 revenue of $20.848 billion and 15,000 employees.

This is the second company Barlow has helped sell to Broadcom. He was instrumental in building Alphamosaic Ltd, a VC-based fabless semiconductor company developing low power multimedia ICs and software. The company developed video processors that were used in tier 1 mobile phones and portable media players. 

Alphamosaic was bought in September 2004 by Broadcom for $120 million. Steve stayed for a spell then co-founded Argon Design in July 2009.

One of the sweet spots for Broadcom is Argon’s role in producing Streams AV1 as part of the Alliance for Open Media; the technology was licensed in November 2018 to Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

Launched in 2015, the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) was formed to define and develop media technologies to address marketplace demand for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web.

AV1 is an open source and royalty-free video codec for next-generation Ultra High Definition video compression and delivery over the web. It was developed by Argon and partners in the industry-wide consortium Alliance for Open Media and designed to meet growing internet demand for top-quality video scenarios across devices of all kinds and for users worldwide.

AOMedia Founding members include Amazon, Apple, Arm, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, NVIDIA and Samsung Electronics.

Amazon, Apple, Arm, Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA and Samsung all have Cambridge UK operations.

Broadcom’s most recent acquisition was CA Technologies which it bought late last year for $18.9bn cash. Nasdaq-listed CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies and enables them to seize the opportunities of the application economy. CA is working with companies worldwide to change the way we live, transact, and communicate – across mobile, private and public cloud, distributed and mainframe environments.

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