Intel has shut down its sports division, which was based on the 2016 acquisition of Israeli company Replay Technologies. This afternoon the dozens of employees of the sports division were told by Intel's Mobileye smart car division in Jerusalem about the decision to close down the sports division. Some will be taken in by Mobileye but the fate of most of them is not known.
Replay was an interesting toy for Intel, which served well many international sports organizations including the International Olympic Committee, and the Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball League (NBL). In the last Olympics, Replay was praised for its comprehensive deployment of cameras in stadia and sports hall which filmed the competitors from various angles and gave 3D illustrations of diving and the world's fastest sprinters. Perhaps Intel was waiting for the Olympics to end before announcing Replay's closure.
Replay's business model did not suit Intel. Why does a huge company that sells chips for billions of dollars need a company that sells software for a few millions? Buying Replay was designed to help Intel enter the virtual reality chip sector but that division was also shut down. And now Intel is in turmoil and current CEO Pat Gelsinger is closing down everything that is not in Intel's core operations.
Intel said, "We are removing video for sports products from our portfolio in order to focus on advanced technologies that better support our core businesses and our new strategy. Our priority at the moment is to allow a period of easy transition for potential buyers, employees, customers and our partners.
This is not Intel's first failed adventure in Israel. Back in 2005 it acquired Oplus from Yokneam for $100 million. Oplus was developing video processors for TV screens and home cinema systems. The processors were advanced for their time and substantially improved resolution, zoom-in and contrast on Panasonic, LG and Barco screens. The acquisition was designed to bring Intel into the smart home and home processors market but the market remained small and just before the financial crisis broke in 2008 Intel closed Oplus down.
Among many other failed acquisitions by Intel was Israeli digital signal processors company DSPC, which it bought in 1999 for $1.6 billion but sold to Marvell in 2006 for just $600 million.
Replay's employees will find work either inside or outside of Intel because their skills are in demand. But they should beware of building a career in a field that is not part of one of Intel's core sectors.
Published by Globes, Israel business news en.globes.co.il - on August 19, 2021
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