Atheros Launches IPO

By Eric Griffith

February 12, 2004

The Wi-Fi chipmaker bets that the success of the WLAN market will make for a successful stock offering.

Atheros Communications, one of the leading makers of chipsets for Wi-Fi products, on Thursday made its initial public offering official.

The company will trade on the NASDAQ under the symbol "ATHR" .

Atheros took initial steps toward this move in December, filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission to offer $100 million of common stock. As of today, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company offered 9 million shares priced at $14 per share.

Atheros, which has about 170 employees, gained traction in the market by being one of the first and biggest proponents of 5GHz 802.11a chipsets, but it switched gears last year to embrace the more popular 2.4GHz 802.11g/b.

The company recently made news for introducing an all-in-one 802.11g chip design, which combines the media access controller (MAC), baseband processor, and a 2.4 GHz radio in a digital complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) design. The company took some heat last year when competitors including Broadcom charged that its Super G technology, which uses semi-proprietary methods like channel bonding to booth WLAN throughput, causes interference with other WLANs.

While the future looks bright initially for this IPO and the WLAN semiconductor makers in the United States, analysts say that overseas manufacturers in such countries as Taiwan will soon add pressure to U.S. companies since they will be able to offer dirt-cheap 802.11b and likely 11g chips soon. Chipmaking giant Intel , which has marketed Wi-Fi in laptops for almost a year (likely helping Atheros and others quite a bit), will also be stepping up its own manufacture of Wi-Fi chipsets.

Atheros shipped its 10 millionth wireless chip as of October; in the first nine months of 2003 the company reported revenue of $49.7 million and a net loss of $12.9 million.



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