China’s Tsinghua Gives $100 Million to Android Challenger

China’s Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. invested $100 million for a minority stake in software startup Acadine Technologies, adding smartphone operating systems to its stable of chips and servers.

A unit of Beijing-based Tsinghua Unigroup will be the sole investor in the first round of funding, taking a non-controlling stake, Gong Li, Acadine’s founder, chairman and chief executive officer, said by e-mail on Wednesday. He declined to disclose the size of the stake.

China’s Tsinghua University, which controls Tsinghua Unigroup, has used holding companies to buy chip designers Spreadtrum Communications Inc. and RDA Microelectronics Inc. and take control of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s China server unit. The group is said to be preparing its biggest deal with plans to bid $23 billion for memory-chip maker Micron Technology Inc.

The investment will help Acadine enter the “highly monopolized” PC and mobile operating system sector, the “most important battleground for the entire IT industry worldwide,” Tsinghua Unigroup Chairman Zhao Weiguo said in a press release on Acadine’s website.

Gong, a Tsinghua University alumnus, left his post as president of Mozilla Corp. earlier this year, where he led the maker of the Firefox browser in its development of a new mobile operating system called Firefox OS, a challenger to Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS.

Acadine is building a competing operating system called H5OS, based on the HTML5 software technology used in Web browsers and employed by Mozilla in its development of Firefox OS. Its first product will be released “almost immediately,” with second-generation offerings added about the time of the annual Mobile World congress in February, Gong said. The company has more than 70 employees, according to Gong.

Acadine is currently advertising at least 14 positions in Taipei or Beijing, where Gong set up Firefox OS’s development team, according to its website. It also has operations in Palo Alto, California and London, it said.

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