Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CEO Interview: Necip Sayiner, Silicon Labs

While Austin-based Freescale and AMD have been taking their lumps of late, Silicon Laboratories (SiLabs) quietly continues to be a major Austin success story. It’s admittedly easier when you’re not taking aim at the big dogs—and thus not winding up in their cross hairs—but SiLabs has continued to innovate its way to healthy growth for a number of years now in highly competitive wireless markets.

SiLabs is a fabless semiconductor company focused on high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs. Their biggest revenue generators are their VoIP and embedded modem products, the latter being widely used in high-definition set-top boxes. Their CMOS FM tuners are designed into mobile handsets by virtually every manufacturer, and they’ve recently introduced a 3x3 mm AM/FM receiver. In the horizontal space, they’ve shipped over 100 million low-cost, mixed-signal MCUs and 100,000 development kits. This mixed vertical/horizontal strategy has resulted in a GAAP gross margin of 63% for the latest quarter and a 38% increase in revenues over the same quarter last year.

In March, 2007 SiLabs sold its AERO RF transceiver line to NXP for $285 million. Using some of the cash from the sale, in January SiLabs bought Integration Associates, who make ASSPs for short-range wireless and audio subsystems. Much of the rest of the cash is earmarked for SiLabs’ extensive R&D pipeline.

Portable Design sat down recently with SiLabs’ CEO Necip Sayiner to ask about its products, its business model and its plans for the future.


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