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Digital Dealmakers: Arvind Jha

Jan 8, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The player: Arvind Jha, president of Monsoon, a wireless TV technology firm

The play: Monsoon is a software company that’s looking to be the Slingbox for consumer electronics companies. The company makes TV wireless and brings it to laptops, cellphones or desktop computers, Mr. Jha said. But Sling Media has already established itself as the de facto brand for watching your TV wherever you are. That’s why Monsoon adopted a licensing model instead. At the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Monsoon plans to reach out to gadget companies that want to incorporate its technology into their products, enabling them to wirelessly transmit digital video to other devices. “We provide the software to other companies to build in place-shifting technology into their products,” Mr. Jha said.

The pitch: Monsoon’s so-called “HAVA” device is a small box that connects to any TV source, such as cable, satellite, DVD, TiVo or a camcorder. It’s then immediately ready to stream video wirelessly throughout the home to a laptop, desktop or cellphone. HAVA also streams content in high-definition quality and lets users record, store, pause, rewind and fast-forward stored video. “You are emotionally satisfied with wireless because it doesn’t have a mess around you,” he said. HAVA also lets multiple users watch TV at the same time.

In the mix: Monsoon struck a deal to license its technology to Pinnacle Systems so the company could use it as the backbone of its PCTV To Go wireless TV viewing product. Monsoon also inked a deal with Taiwanese company Leadtek for use in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Backstory: Monsoon began selling its product in August 2005 after close to 20 months of development. The global company maintains sales and marketing offices in San Mateo, Calif., and development centers in India and Siberia.

The money guys: Monsoon raised $5.5 million in angel funding from friends, family and professional investors. It’s now looking to raise about $10 million in venture capital earmarked for software customization, sales and marketing and customer support.

Pros: The Slingbox is growing in popularity and establishing the demand for wireless TV products. In early 2006, Sling Media said it had shipped more than 100,000 units in the United States, but it hasn’t released new numbers since then. However, Sling started shipping in nine additional countries in 2006.

Cons: “The biggest hurdle of course is consumer education around this market and the potential is still fairly nascent,” Mr. Jha said.

Competition: Competitors include Slingbox and Sony’s LocationFree TV. “Our competitors have done a great job in building the market,” Mr. Jha said.

Who knew:

Mr. Jha, 43, was born in a small village in India near Nepal. “If you go to the village you’d be hard pressed to have power most of the time,” he said. He was raised in Delhi, India, and attended the Indian Institute of Technology. He’s previously worked in software development for Adobe and Polaroid in India. He’s married and has two sons, ages 13 and 7.