John Bromhead is VP of Marketing at Tarari, a San Diego-based firm that is developing semiconductors targeted at the content processing space. Tarari recently raised a round of funding, and I thought it would be interesting to hear how they are using that funding and where the company is now.
BK: What are you using this round of funding for?
JB: As you covered Wednesday, we just raised $14M with Enterprise Partner as the lead. We see that taking us to cash flow positive later this year, or early 2007. We plan on using that round for sales and engineering expansion. We have 45 people now, and we will be at 55 to 60 by the end of the current year, a ten to fifteen headcount increase.
BK: These would be new positions in San Diego?
JB: Yes, all of our development work is in San Diego, though we do have some sales people and sales engineers in Washington, Colorado, and the Bay Area. As you know our backer Enterprise is a Southern California firm.
BK: How long did it take to land this round, and how difficult was it?
JB: It went pretty quickly. We started in the September timeframe, and had a term sheet by the end of December. We talked to a number of VCs, and were close to term sheets with a number of people. We ended up with one actual term sheet. It took us a few weeks into January to do the due diligence, and we had money in the bank a couple of weeks ago. We picked February first as the announce date.
BK: Where are you seeing the most uptake of your hardware-I know you were initially targeting the XML market but it seems like you're now selling into virus protection and other areas?
JB: It's pretty interesting actually. People might think triple play is a tired term - but we're seeing that people are putting voice, video, and data on their IP network. We're seeing this more and more and more. We're also seeing that people are seeing new security threats, and have to look inside content, not just headers, to see the hacking. With XML, you can also do a denial of service attack. There's a growing XML threat management opportunity because XML is already so widespread. According to Zapthink the traffic due to XML on a network is well over 40 percent. And with Office 12 coming out, applications like Google Maps, which uses XML, and other AJAX based application, there's more and more XML on the network. If you want to do something with that XML you have to break open a packet and make a decision. I should also mention digital media, where we are moving into. Right now it takes about 70 hours to encode about 2 hours of video to a network or to DVD. Tarari has technology that takes that down to 10 hours, and we are working on real time, one to one encoding where two hours of video can be encoded in two hours.
BK: It seems like you're in lots of markets?
JB: It's the same market when you think about it. More and more is being put on network backbones, all in different protocols. Voice transfers over a network are different from data and mail and web browsers. XML of course is another protocol format. And another one we haven't done yet, but which you will see us do is Voice over IP. It's the same market, Ethernet cable, with more and more data types and protocols coming to you. We want them to be efficient, and to secure them from viruses, hackers, and worms. If you know about Google Maps, you'll know that applications now provide a desktop experience, with menu drop downs and ability to scroll pages. You couldn't do that before, and all of that is based on XML.
BK: Who are the typical users for your product?
JB: We are very much OEM centric. We have a number of major tier 1 relationships, some of which we can't talked about since they aren't shipping product yet. Some we have announced, for example XML appliances from Reactivity and Layer 7 Technologies. We'll also be announcing our new ASIC in 2 weeks at the RSA conference. For the first time we will be providing XML in a single chip, our T9000. Up to now, we have shipped our products on reprogrammable logic.
BK: So your current technology is based on FPGAs?
JB: Yes, our current product uses 3 large FPGAs right now. One chip provides an operating system environment in silicon, and two engines can be loaded with XML, network security, or digital media engines.
BK: Those products can handle the throughput of current networks?
JB: Yes, companies are scaling our products in 1G, 2G, 4G, and even getting to 10G per second. It's wire speed. Our products are not like a Pentium or general purpose processor, every clock cycle our products finds anything you would look for. The chips can handle a humongous amount of data, up to 100,000 rules.
BK: Does this play into the network processor space?
JB: It's starting where the network processors left off. Those came out to handle headers on messages, but cannot look deep inside messages. We call our product a content processor, and you might find that some of our customers have network processors they use with our product. We are working with Broadcom, who will be in our booth at the RSA conference, and are also working with Raza, RMI, Freescale and others who have companion processors.
BK: What's the price point for your products?
JB: The new ASIC, in volume, will be down in the $300, $400 and $500 per chip area depending on functionality. What we've done is made our new ASIC multi-core, with different cores in the chip with the ability to not include engines. The ASICs will be available as a family of chips. For our high end chip, at 10,000 units it will be around $400 per chip. There's a huge shift going on in the network. Before, you just looked at the headers. Now you have to look at the content on Gigabit links.With Tarari you can bring it up to a Gig or Multi-Gig solution. I also should mention our other partners at RSA. Kapersky Labs is announcing a new anti-virus product based on our chips. It's job is to identify viruses and deployment worldwide, and they have loaded their software onto our chips. Intoto, a firm developing intrusion prevention tools, and Mail-filter is developing antispam solutions. What we're seeing is that we're creating these uber-boxes that scan for everything-viruses, intrusion, Trojans, spam - and cleans up the network in one fell swoop, which needs lots of compute power. All of this addresses the unified threat market, which is a $2B market.