In 1987 Deng attended the University of Science and Technology of China. After graduation, he went abroad to study at the University of California. In five years at Berkeley, Deng became the first student in the university’s 130-year history to earn degrees from three colleges: the College of Sciences with an MS in physics, the College of Business with an MS in economics, and the College of Engineering with a PhD in electrical engineering. In 1997, Deng was hired by IBM as a senior research fellow and obtained a number of patents. Meanwhile, inspired by the dot. com boom in Silicon Valley and the emerging information industry in China, Deng began his plans for entrepreneurship.
In 1999, Deng returned to Beijing. With venture capital of RMB10 million from the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry, Deng co-founded Vimicro Corporation with a few other members of the Chinese IT elite from Silicon Valley. Vimicro’s mission was to develop a domestic chip, and by 2001, Starlight I, the first grand scale integration (GSI) chipset developed and patented by a Chinese company, was launched into the global market. This chipset is embedded in various multimedia applications such as PC camera, and mobile phone handsets with advanced multimedia features including mobile video, graphics, music, ringtones, and karaoke.
Starlight I ended China’s dependence on foreign chip technology. It has been dubbed the ‘China Chip’. Starlight has now been adopted by IT giants such as Microsoft, Samsung and Sony. In 2006, Vimicro had captured 60 percent of the market share of computer image input chips worldwide. The company has annual sales of 5 million chipsets grossing 40 billion yuan. In 2005, Vimicro successfully launched its initial public offering (IPO) and became the first fabless chip company from China listed on the NASDAQ.