MIT alumnus and entrepreneur garners Emmy award


Edward A. Krause has a hot high-tech company, a new baby and an Emmy. Life is good.

Dr. Krause, who received the SM and PhD in electrical engineering from MIT in 1987, founded Imedia three years ago with two other MIT graduates, Adam S. Tom (PhD and SM '90, electrical engineering) and Paul Shen (SM '90, architecture), when all three were working for General Instrument in San Diego.

Turning down an offer from General Instrument to set up a separate division, the three MIT alumni pitched in $15,000 apiece to start their own firm in 1994 and set up shop in a spare room in Dr. Krause's home in the University City district of San Diego.

"We tore out the carpeting and put in a tile floor, which is a little more aesthetic for a laboratory," Dr. Krause recalls.

Before long, the partners had developed the basic technology for increasing the video images on the broadcasting spectrum, and they needed an infusion of cash. When they approached venture capitalists, they were confronted with questions about structure, organization and a business plan. "It seemed to be critical to them that we have a CEO with a good track record," Dr. Krause says.

Enter Professor Emeritus William F. Schreiber of EECS, who taught Dr. Krause, Mr. Shen and Dr. Tom at MIT and continues to advise them on intellectual property issues. "Ed was one of my best PhD students," says Professor Schreiber, who headed the Advanced Television Research Program. "I don't think many of my colleagues can point to a former student who has won an Emmy."

Professor Schreiber introduced Dr. Krause and his MIT colleagues to another former student, Efi Arazi (SB '65, electrical engineering), who was CEO of Electronics for Imaging Inc. (EFI) in San Mateo, CA, at the time. At first, Mr. Arazi wanted to buy a controlling interest in Imedia for $4 million, planning to incorporate it into his firm. The partners rebuffed this offer. "It's our first venture," said Mr. Shen, who did his undergraduate work at the New York Institute of Technology. "We want to see the company through."

One thing led to another, and Mr. Arazi quit EFI in early 1995 to join Imedia. Since then, Mr. Arazi has invested $3 million of his own in Imedia and raised another $10 million. In order to bring him on board, the partners agreed to move up the coast to San Francisco. It was not a tough call.

"I was the only one with a house to sell, so it may have been harder for me," says Dr. Krause. "Adam's family is from the area (Dr. Tom is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley ), so he didn't really have to move. But even I prefer to be up here."

Since the move 18 months ago, Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the country's largest cable operator, has contracted to use Imedia's software to test digital services in selected markets. Discussions have also taken place with Time-Warner.

Imedia's data-compression software allows broadcasters to cram 24 channels into the space used by one analog channel, over the same wires used in standard TV sets. The technology makes it possible to break digital information into packets, fit them into a given bandwidth and reassemble them in their original form on the receiving end. The concept has been used by phone companies for years to fill the pauses in one conversation with a second conversation.

With success, Imedia has matured into a company with 24 employees and headquarters on the Embarcadero. The three founders and Mr. Arazi hold more than 40 patents. It's a far cry from Dr. Krause's spare room.

"That's not a situation you want to do for any longer than we did it," says Mr. Krause, who grew up in Fredericton, NB, where he earned the BS in electrical engineering at the University of New Brunswick. "You really want to separate your work life from your home life. You can't be thinking about work all the time."

The Emmy, which was awarded to Dr. Krause by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences last year for creating the DigiCipher system while at GI, occupies a position of honor in the living room of the San Mateo home he shares with his wife Cathy and son Kevin, born on December 20. The winning technology was used to demonstrate digital TV transmitted over satellite, cable and terrestrial channels.

At the time he won it, though, Dr. Krause wasn't impressed. "I probably would have recognized the statue, but I wouldn't have known what it stood for," he says. "Everybody made a big deal about it when they saw it. Now I realize it's a real accomplishment."

Imedia is planning to hire senior software and hardware design engineers and will be recruiting on campus through the Office of Career Services on April 1. Its e-mail address is


.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 1997.


Topics: Entrepreneurship, Alumni/ae, Awards, honors and fellowships

Back to the top