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As Aereo Winds Down, Founder Chet Kanojia Starts His Next Venture at Project Decibel

Several of his former employees are already on board.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Aereo, the Web-TV startup that lost its high-stakes legal fight, is shutting down. So founder Chet Kanojia, along with some of his former employees, has started to work on something new.

Kanojia and some Aereo veterans, including chief technology officer Joe Lipowski, are now working on Project Decibel, a Boston-based company that describes itself on its website as “under development.” People familiar with Project Decibel alternately describe it as an incubator or lab for Kanojia and his former engineers to work on new ideas and technology. Kanojia declined to comment.

In addition to Lipowski, six other former Aereo employees have identified themselves as Project Decibel employees or consultants on LinkedIn; former Aereo engineer Jen Webb also says, via her Twitter profile, that she works at Project Decibel.

Kanojia himself is an engineer who built and sold Navic Systems to Microsoft before founding Aereo. Aereo’s chief technological innovation was a tiny antenna that could pull down TV signals from the airwaves.

Aereo argued that it was able to use banks of those antennas to redistribute broadcast TV programming to its subscribers without paying TV programmers or broadcasters for the content. The company raised around $100 million but Aereo lost its battle in the Supreme Court last summer.

After a last-ditch effort to reclassify itself as a cable company, Aereo filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Aereo is scheduled to sell off its assets in an auction at the end of February; Aereo rep Virgina Lam says that until then, Kanojia, Lipowski and a handful of other Aereo employees are still working at the company part-time as it winds down.

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