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Startup run by ex-Apple engineers sells for $1.4bn

Qualcomm bets big on Nuvia despite the startup's ongoing legal dispute with Apple

A startup founded by three former Apple chip specialists has been brought by Qualcomm for $1.4 billion (£1.2bn).

The lofty acquisition fee for California-based Nuvia is seen as excessive as the startup was only founded two years ago and has just over 200 employees.

The company is owned and run by former Apple engineers Gerard Williams, Manu Gulati and John Bruno, all of whom worked on the A-series chip line that powers the iPhone and iPad. Each of the founders will now join Qualcomm, which expects to integrate the company's chips into its own portfolio.

Qualcomm has specifically cited 5G as the reason for paying such a high price for a relatively small firm. The company is betting big on its 'talent' and its focus on next-generation CPUs for data centres and mobile devices.

"5G, the convergence of computing and mobile architectures, and the expansion of mobile technologies into other industries are significant opportunities for Qualcomm," the firm's president and CEO, Cristiano Amon, said.

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"The NUVIA team are proven innovators, and like Qualcomm, have a strong heritage in creating leading technology and products. I am very excited to have them join our team. Together, we are very well positioned to redefine computing and enable our ecosystem of partners to drive innovation and deliver a new class of products and experiences for the 5G era."

The inception of Nuvia is still subject to a legal dispute between Apple and Williams, who is accused of starting the company while still employed by the iPhone maker. Williams had a countersuit objecting to the claim, but that was rejected by a California court. Williams has also claimed that Apple has tried to headhunt Nuvia employees as part of an anti-competitive campaign against him.

Despite the legal battle, Williams has scored big and will now work with a number of Qualcomm's partners. These include Microsoft, Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, HP, and OnePlus.

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