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Google buys mysterious firm run by former Apple employees


Google's window-shopping for high-tech acquisitions has reportedly netted the search giant yet another asset — a little-known firm spearheaded by former Apple employees who are working on technology no one knows about.

Thomson Reuters' PEHub reports that Google recently acquired Agnilux, a San Jose-based startup comprised of former Apple employees, including several former P.A. Semi employees who parted ways with Apple shortly after the iPhone maker absorbed the fables chip design firm for $278 million roughly two years ago.

Among them are Mark Hayter, Olof Johansson, Todd Broch, and Dan Dobberpuhl — P.A. semi's founder and chief executive, who is believed to be the most recent departure from Apple. Others have reportedly come from both TiVo and Cisco, the latter of which was one of three companies including Microsoft and Texas Instruments that previously held strategic investment talks with Agnilux.

What makes the acquisition so intriguing is that there's little to no information in the public domain as to what Agnilux has been working on, why Google wanted it, and what it plans to do with it now that it has it.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the acquisition but declined further details. Meanwhile, Agnilux's website — which never bore anything more than a street address for the firm and the meaning behind its name — was taken offline sometime in the past week.

While it may seem logical to suggest Agnilux, due to its P.A. Semi heritage, has been developing chip technology that could better position Google to compete against Apple in the mobile space, a less-than-fruitful investigation into the company by the New York Times earlier this year may hint towards another cause.

According to the paper, the folks at Agnilux are just as tight-lipped as the company they defected from. “We want to make a splash," Hayter said when interviewed in February. "We don’t want our manufacturer to take our intellectual property before we’re ready."

However, an unnamed Agnilux employee later told the Times that the company is actually "working on some kind of server, and that the company has a partnership in place with Cisco." Such technology could prove beneficial to Google, which operates hundreds of thousands of servers, all of which are built in-house by its own engineers instead of purchased from suppliers like Dell or IBM.

For what it's worth, the name Agnilux is derived from agni - Sanskrit for fire and lux - Latin for light.