Friday, March 5, 2004
Interview with Philip Lavee, MediaWorks
Irvine-based MediaWorks recently introduced a new MPEG4 chip and announced the launch of the company. I spoke with Philip Lavee, VP of Marketing and Sales at the company, to get an idea of what the company is working on, and some of its background.
BK: Tell me a bit about your MPEG4 chip--who are your target customers, and how would they use your product?
PL: MediaWorks' first IC is the MW301, which we announced on February 12, 2004, during the PMA show in Las Vegas.
The MW301 is targeted to manufacturers of digital still cameras who are now extending their product lines to include combination products which perform the functions of both digital still cameras and solid state camcorders.
The MW301 is based on a custom programmable core, supported by a development environment that includes a C compiler which dramatically eases development for customers who can easily leverage their existing software to run on the MW301.
BK: What's the history of the company, and how are you funded?
PL: The company was founded in January 2003, and is privately held. The major investor is TeleMedia Ventures. Telemedia is a group of private holding companies based in Montreal, Canada, operating in telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) as well as in the real-estate and financial fields.
BK: How did the company hook up with Telemedia, and did the company look at funding from more local investors?
PL: Versentech (www.versentech.com), a previous shareholder, introduced us to Telemedia Ventures. Since we looked for the initial seed funding only, we did not promote the company to local VCs - rather we leveraged personal relationships. The company is currently working on its A series funding, planned to close in the summer and is engaging VCs in Orange County and other locations in California.
BK: Why the focus on digital video?
PL: Digital Video is an area that is seeing growth and new applications in almost every industry. MediaWorks' first product is focused specifically on consumer digital still camcorder products.
The digital camera market is growing in excess of 30 percent annually and it is predicted that DVD-quality digital video will become a standard feature of digital still cameras in the next few years, displacing traditional bulky tape based camcorders.
BK: What is your competitive advantage in the system-on-a-chip market for digital video?
PL: The MW301 brings DVD-quality video and CD-quality audio to today's digital still cameras. Our solution provides a higher quality video experience and provides this at a lower overall systems cost. The system cost has been lowered by our integration of a large number of peripherals and functions into our IC, to lower the total cost to produce solid state digital camcorders.
MediaWorks is simplifying the job of the camera manufacturer by providing not only the MW301 IC, but also all of the system software as well as a complete hardware reference design that enables product manufacturers and designers to very easily and quickly bring to market a product based on the MW301.
The MediaWorks solution also improves the usage model for the consumer by providing standard ISO MPEG4 video, which does not require the user to install any special software drivers or codec, which makes sharing videos with others much more foolproof.
The high performance architecture of the MW301 allows MediaWorks to deliver high quality still and video images, while the programmability ensures that as standards change, and software algorithms are improved, product manufacturers can quickly and easily launch new features and updates.
BK: Where are you in your product cycle, and when are you looking to get design wins?
PL: The MW301 design is nearly frozen and will be finalized in March 2004. We currently have 4 preliminary design commitments.