Wireless Chipmaker Sequoia Communications Shuttered; Auctioneers Move in

San Diego’s Sequoia Communications, a venture-backed semiconductor company founded in 2001, has shut down—ending the startup’s effort to develop an innovative microchip for cellular phones. The company’s demise was reported yesterday by the website SoCalTech.com, which noted that Sequoia has raised more than $50 million from BlueRun Ventures, Cadence Design Systems, Gabriel Venture Partners, Huntington Ventures, Motorola, Nokia Venture Partners, Tallwood Venture Capital, and Third Point Ventures.

Rory Moore, CEO of CommNexus, the San Diego non-profit wireless industry group, confirmed the closure in a terse e-mail to me, saying simply that Sequoia’s VCs “pulled the plug.” Additional details were not available late yesterday, including the number of employees who lost their jobs. (The chipmaker had about 50 employees two years ago.) Sequoia’s former CEO, Dave Shepard, could not be reached for comment.

In a 2007 Q&A with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Shepard said the wireless chip under development at Sequoia was intended for the high-end phone market. “Our chip actually makes those high-end phones have much better battery life, much better cost, and much smaller form factor, so they get into a smaller phone size,” Shepard said at the time. He also described the wireless chip as “multi-mode,” saying, “It works in GSM, Edge and wideband CDMA, which are all the different phone modes.”

The Woodland Hills, CA, auction firm Cowan Alexander has scheduled an auction of Sequoia’s test and measurement equipment, computers, printers, flat-panel monitors, lab benches, and other equipment at the company’s headquarters. The auction, which begins at 11 a.m. PT Tuesday, is being webcast.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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