Kaiam

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Kaiam logo photo.jpg

Kaiam Corporation was an American manufacturer of optronics equipment for computer networking. Founded in 2009, it was headquartered in Newark, California, and until December 2018 had a manufacturing facility in Silicon Glen in Scotland. After cash-flow problems and a patent infringement lawsuit, the company collapsed in early 2019. The founder and CEO was Bardia Pezeshki.

Products[edit]

Kaiam manufactured 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s optical transceivers that used MEMS alignment to link servers.[1] Its key technological innovation was to use silicon micromachining technology to perform the high-precision alignment necessary for single-mode fiber optics, rather than manual or robotic processes.[2] In March 2016 it demonstrated the CWDM4, a 100 Gigabit-per-second coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) silicon photonics transceiver using silicon modules and receivers.[3] It was also one of the first companies to push for a copackaged approach of optical modules combined with electronics to bring high bandwidth links directly to ICs. A demonstration with Corning at the Optical Fiber Conference showed a 1.6Tb/s engine was possible. [4]

History[edit]

The company was founded in 2009[5] by Pezeshki, an Iranian native[1] with a PhD from Stanford University who had previously founded Santur Corporation.[6] It initially produced TOSA/ROSAs (transmitter optical subassemblies and receiver optical subassemblies).[7]

From 2011, Kaiam manufactured optoelectronic modules in Shenzhen, China, using Sanmina as a contract manufacturer,[8] In April 2013 it acquired Gemfire Corp.,[9] and in 2014, with a grant from Scottish Enterprise, it moved production from China to Gemfire's wafer fabrication plant in Livingston, West Lothian,[10][11][12] which had been built in the late 1990s by Kymata, a company spun off from research at Glasgow University and Southampton University, to produce photonic integrated circuits.[1] Pezeshki relocated to Edinburgh in 2015 to explore moving the company's research and development program to Scotland.[1] At the plant Kaiam produced integrated optical components on a 200mm-diameter wafer silica-on-silicon line, and also 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s optical packaging products.[13] The workforce at the Scottish plant expanded from approximately 65 to more than 350 by the end of 2015.[1][10]

In April 2017, Kaiam bought a wafer fabrication facility in Newton Aycliffe in England from Compound Photonics Group;[13] it resold the plant to II-VI Inc. in August that year.[14][15] and re-invested in the Livingston facility. In May 2018, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Broadex Technologies Co. for co-manufacturing of transceivers based on its LightScale2 platform for the Chinese market.[16]

The company was unable to secure enough orders to sustain full production at its facility in Scotland, and in December 2018 was seeking a financial partner.[17] Shortly before Christmas, 310 workers at the plant were laid off with no notice and before receiving their end of year pay.[12][18] Companies House had issued a striking-off order on November 27.[19][20] Pezeshki visited the plant immediately before workers were informed that the factory would be closed until January 3;[11][15][19] the company's subsidiaries Kaiam Europe Limited and Kaiam UK Limited were placed in administration.[15][21] The redundancies were then made permanent on Christmas Eve; 28 employees were retained to assist with selling the plant.[22][23] Crowdfunding and in-kind donations were organized to assist those laid off.[15][19][20][24][25] In March 2019, the plant was sold to Broadex.[26]

Kaiam was sued for patent infringement by Finisar, following which the company collapsed in early 2019.[27] Finisar had in fact sued almost every manufacturer of optical transceivers, Kaiam being one of many. These were patents that Finisar has embedded into the multi-source agreements for optical transceivers, and thus any company making a standard-compliant product would be liable. [28] [29] In January, Kaiam made a general assignment for the benefit of its creditors; in May, an agreement was reached under which Finisar accepted an unsecured claim on Kaiam's estate as satisfaction of a $10 million judgment.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Simon Bain (December 6, 2015). "Kaiam founder targets Scottish research base". The Herald.
  2. ^ Karen Liu (April 17, 2015). "Integrated multi-wavelength transmitters for parallelism in single-mode, high-speed optics". SPIE Newsroom. doi:10.1117/2.1201504.005797.
  3. ^ Michael D. Wheeler (August 2016). "Integrated Photonics: A Tale of Two Materials". Photonics Media.
  4. ^ "Kaiam and Corning team to demo optics/switch chip co-packaging". Lightwave Online. March 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "Company Overview of Kaiam Corporation". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  6. ^ "Management". Kaiam. Archived from the original on June 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Kaiam Shows 40G TOSA/ROSA". Light Reading. March 4, 2011.
  8. ^ Joakim Johanssson (September 20, 2011). "Sanmina partners with Kaiam". Evertiq.
  9. ^ "Kaiam to acquire Gemfire assets". Lightwave. March 20, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Debbie Hall (December 11, 2014). "Twenty jobs axed at Kaiam Corporation in Livingston". Daily Record.
  11. ^ a b Jamie McKenzie (December 21, 2018). "Kaiam boss accused of 'unspeakable act of cowardice' as Livingston workers not paid Christmas wage". Edinburgh Evening News.
  12. ^ a b "Christmas wages not paid at West Lothian computer firm". BBC News. December 21, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Peter Clarke (April 4, 2017). "Kaiam buys UK wafer fab to make photonic ICs". EE News Analog.
  14. ^ "II-VI Inc buys Kaiam's 6" fab in UK for $80m". Semiconductor Today. August 7, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d Sebastian Moss (January 4, 2019). "Kaiam's European operations go into administration, factory closed". Data Centre Dynamics.
  16. ^ "Kaiam partners with Broadex for manufacturing and supply of transceiver modules in China". Semiconductor Today. May 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Stephen Hardy (January 3, 2019). "Kaiam explores alternatives as UK operations go into administration". Lightwave.
  18. ^ "Kaiam factory in Livingston announce they 'unable to pay workers wages' days before Christmas". The Herald. December 21, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Andy Shipley (December 23, 2018). "Kaiam boss dances at Xmas party before jetting off to US as firm fails". The Scotsman.
  20. ^ a b Andy Shipley (December 27, 2018). "Confusion reigns over 'phantom' Kaiam pay". Edinburgh Evening News.
  21. ^ "Administrators appointed at computer firm Kaiam". BBC News. December 22, 2018.
  22. ^ "Livingston computer factory lays off 310 workers". BBC News. 24 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Over 300 Kaiam staff lose their jobs on Christmas Eve". Edinburgh Evening News. December 24, 2018.
  24. ^ "Thousands raised for workers laid off from Kaiam factory". BBC News. December 25, 2018.
  25. ^ Rebecca Parker (December 25, 2018). "Kaiam crisis: Livingston FC donate food vouchers and match tickets to workers". The Scotsman.
  26. ^ "Kaiam Europe's Scotland plant acquired by Chinese transceiver maker Broadex". Semiconductor Today. March 19, 2019.
  27. ^ Peter Swindon (December 15, 2019). "Enterprise chiefs still chasing £850k one year on from tech firm Kaiam's collapse". The Sunday Post.
  28. ^ "Finisar sues Gigalight". Patexia. January 29, 2019.
  29. ^ "Finisar settles patent lawsuit with Source Photonics". Lightwave Online. September 14, 2010.
  30. ^ Brian Horne (May 13, 2019). "Kaiam Stipulates to $10 Million Judgment in Patent-Infringement Case". Knobbe Martens.

External links[edit]