Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, January 28, 2009
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Semiconductor Value in the Post Fabless Era

Andy Rappaport
August Capital
About the talk:

For more than 20 years, the most fruitful semiconductor investments have been characterized by extraordinary application of relatively common and predictably evolving process technology. As a result, investments in product development have been decoupled from investments in underlying, mostly CMOS, process technology, allowing start-up companies and projects to be relatively capital efficient and, occasionally, extremely profitable.

But the effects of CMOS scaling have shifted the value equation, and not always in predictable -- or predicted -- ways. Fabless chip projects and companies are not longer cheap to create and, more important, now rarely create substantive value early enough in their lives to influence their target markets in meaningful and sustainable ways. So the best targets for productive research and investments in the semiconductor industry are shifting.

This talk will examine why the fabless era is over, and why the nature of valuable innovation is morphing back toward earlier models even while the structure of the industry is not. It will look at what's likely to happen to investments made over the past decade and what will constitute the most fruitful areas of pursuit in the coming ones. In addition, it will examine why the relationships between large and small semiconductor companies are evolving in ways never before seen and what these changes suggest about the increasing context dependence of business and technology decisions across the semiconductor industry.


There is no downloadable version of the slides for this talk available at this time.

About the speaker:

A partner at August Capital since 1996, Andy brings technology and market experience into such areas as semiconductors, broadband communications, computer systems, and software. He has more than 20 years' experience as a founder, investor, and/or director of venture-backed start-ups, and has served on the boards of more than 40 public and private-companies. Andy's investments on behalf of August Capital include Atheros Communications, Silicon Image, Luxtera, Unity Semiconductor, and many others.

Prior to joining August Capital, Andy was involved in the formation and success of more than a dozen venture capital-backed start-ups, including Actel (ACTL), MMC Networks (Acquired by AMCC -- AMCC), Sequence Design Automation, Silicon Architects (acquired by Synopsys --SNPS), Transmeta (TMTA), and Viewlogic (Acquired by Synopsys -- SNPS).

In addition, Andy was president of The Technology Research Group, a Boston-based strategy consulting firm he founded in 1984. Through this firm, he provided business-strategy counsel to senior executives at many of the largest electronics companies around the world, including Alcatel, AT&T, EDS, IBM, and Intel.

Before starting TRG, Andy was Senior Editor of EDN Magazine; a research physicist with Panametrics, Inc.; and founder and president of his own consumer-electronics company. He was also a founder of the Massachusetts Center for Technology Growth, a private economic-development organization; and a director of the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center.

Andy is an often-cited authority on changing technologies and markets and has written and lectured extensively on the evolving structures of semiconductor, computer, and telecommunications industries. He wrote "The Computerless Computer Company," which won the 1991 McKinsey award for Article of the Year in the Harvard Business Review. Andy attended Princeton University.

Contact information:

Andy Rappaport
August Capital
2480 Sand Hill Rd
Menlo Park, CA 94025