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Former P.A. Semi chief leaves Apple for chip startup - report

P.A. Semi founder and chief executive Dan Dobberpuhl, who joined Apple as part of the acquisition of his company two years ago, has since left the iPhone maker for a startup venture, according to a published report.

Though it has been unable the confirm the executive's departure with 100% certainty, CNet News.com cited "several sources" Saturday who claim that Dobberpuhl is no longer with Apple and that he made his exit sometime last year.

Those same people told the publication that they believe Dobberpuhl has joined Amarjit Gill, a former principal at P.A. Semi, at Silicon Valley start-up Agnilux, based out in San Jose.

If true, Dobberpuhl's departure from Apple is the latest in a growing pool of former P.A. Semi engineers who've submitted their papers since April of 2008, when Apple purchased the 150-employee chip design firm for $278 million in an effort to design proprietary chip technology for its mobile computing initiatives like the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

The New York Times recently cited partial records on the job networking site LinkedIn in revealing that at least half a dozen former PA Semi engineers appear to have left Apple and turned up at Agnilux. The company was co-founded by one of P.A. Semi’s leading system architects, Mark Hayter, who also bid farewell to Apple shortly after the acquisition.

"Neither Mr. Hayter nor other onetime PA workers who left Apple for Agnilux were willing to discuss either company’s plans," the newspaper reported. "According to two people with knowledge of the two companies, who were unwilling to be named because the matter is delicate, some PA engineers left Apple a few months after the acquisition because they were given grants of Apple stock at an unattractive price."

For its part, CNet cited Linley Gwennap, president and principal analyst of The Linley Group, as suggesting that Dobberpuhl's departure — and that of his peers — may have been stemmed from a dramatic shift in the work environment that goes hand-and-hand with an Apple badge.

"He was the CEO at PA Semi and leader of the team, and one of the guys that was driving the whole thing," Gwennap said. But "those guys are start-up kind of people, and within the structure of Apple, they may [have been] chafing."