Why Silicon Valley Always Turns Me On

Every time I visit Silicon Valley, I feel like I’m part of something. My wife always tells me that I’m happier in Silicon Valley than at home. The reason for that is that in our industry, despite what we hear about moving to places like Texas and Arizona, there still seems to be a strong base of innovation rooted in the Bay Area, and that’s where let things happen. But it’s not just innovation — it’s connectivity, the apparent openness of people to sharing ideas and networks. It’s the customers. It is access to people and, by extension, to finance.

This is also the knowledge base. This was evident during my recent trip to Silicon Valley, during a discussion with Venkat Mattela, Founder and CEO of Ceremorph. Mattela launched the low-powered supercomputer startup after selling Redpine Signals to Silicon Labs for US$308 million, and he already has US$50 million to build a company he says will be bigger than Nvidia. Driven by strong values ​​of putting employees’ interests first and empowering them to innovate, he really doesn’t let his past successes get to his head. And when I asked him why he chose to relocate to Silicon Valley rather than a lower-cost area like Austin, Texas, he noted that some of his top advisors and other trusted experts were based there. Stanford University and surrounding areas, and held regular weekly meetings with them, so it’s important to be close to that expertise and knowledge base.

CeremorphVenkat Mattela shows off the chips that allowed him to sell Redpine Signals to Silicon Labs for $308 million. (Source: Nitin Dahad)

Otherwise, why would startups continue to set up shop or headquarters in Silicon Valley? As I was writing this article, an announcement arrived in my mailbox that the Israeli startup NeuroBlade was moving to Palo Alto and co-founder and CTO Eliad Hillel was moving there. Having already raised a total of $100 million for a data analytics accelerator based on its XRAM compute memory chip, the company clearly sees Silicon Valley as a springboard to its next phase of growth.

During my week in Silicon Valley, I met many startup founders, many of whom already had exits and are on to their next startup. Yunteng Huang, CEO and co-founder of Aeonsemi, explained how investor Lip-Bu Tan immediately understood where Aeonsemi was going with his ideas for mixed-signal ICs for interfacing and timing. The company now builds its products. I got a glimpse of his strategy, but Huang said it was too early for me to write anything about it.

At another meeting, I couldn’t get over the enthusiasm of Alan Rogers, President and CTO of Analog bits, which earlier this year was acquired by SemiFive. Rogers explained in his British accent how the company, which provides embedded clock, sensors and interconnect IP, came to be. He looks like the engineer-scientist who knows exactly what he’s doing and what he needs to do something, and that’s reflected in the company’s products, which he says are simply designed to be simple and to work.

Silicon Valley’s proximity and connectivity means you don’t have to travel far to find the next exciting company, technology or story. Serial entrepreneur and advisor Mike Noonen introduced me to Cem Basceri, founder and CEO of Qromis. Basceri spoke about the unfulfilled promise of III-V semiconductors to date and how the fabless materials company is responding to it by focusing on wide bandgap semiconductors, specifically gallium nitride. . Qromis is right across from Nvidia, so I also had the opportunity to visit that company’s massive new buildings and learn about some of the robotics work being done using the solutions from Nvidia. I was particularly impressed with the reality of the Omniverse real-time simulation platform.

Nvidia Headquarters in Silicon Valley
The author visits Nvidia facilities. (Source: Nitin Dahad)

I also visited AnDapt, which develops programmable power management ICs. A trio of companies – PMIC architect John Birkner, who co-invented the PAL (programmable logic array) chip; Zaryab Hamavand, vice president of sales; and Ran Ghoman, Application Engineering Manager, walked me through AnDapt’s online platform, where customers can create custom PMICs, as well as lab simulation.

Of the many offices I visited, the busiest was SiTime‘s. I met with Piyush Sevalia, Executive Vice President of Marketing, who told me that rapidly increasing data center bandwidth requirements and growing automotive business are driving demand for synchronization products at the company’s MEMS silicon base.

In the world of AI chips, GP Singh, co-founder and CEO of Scientific Atmosphere, discussed how Ambient is seeing extreme interest in AI chips from just about everyone and detailed the company’s expertise in in-memory mixed-signal computing. Meanwhile, Jonathan Ross, CEO and Founder of Groqand Dinesh Maheswari, its CTO, spoke about the importance of deterministic compiler technology, which can accurately predict performance and computation time for any AI or high-performance computing (HPC) workload. ) with low latency and uncompromising performance.

In the world of IoT, connectivity and displays, a host of product managers gave me insight into their areas of work during a visit to Synaptics in San Jose. Michael Hurlston, President and CEO, said the company is “really excited about the organic growth drivers that will help Synaptics transition from a mobile-centric approach to an IoT approach. area of ​​opportunity for us, and we will be investing heavily over the next two years, especially in wireless and low-power AI.

Staying in the world of wireless, specifically energy harvesting for IoT, Srinivas Pattamatta, Vice President of Atmospheric technologies, updated me on the company and some of its clients. Initially focusing on remotes and keypads, the company is targeting future opportunities in asset tracking and wearable devices.

The week had many other highlights, including a visit to south San Jose, where Sailesh Chittipeddi, executive vice president and general manager for IoT and infrastructure at Renesas electronics, told me about his recent acquisitions as well as his projects in India. And to Power integrationsI discussed automotive markets with Peter Vaughan, Director of Automotive Business Development.

This is just a snapshot of my diary from the week I was in Silicon Valley in July. This is typical of my visits to the region, with its abundant culture of innovative people who feed off each other’s expertise and share ideas and networks. There aren’t many places you can go in the world where you look in all directions and find a company that is shaping some of our electronics world. And where else can you access so many human engines of industry – from researchers and engineers to investors and customers – in such a short time?

This is why Silicon Valley remains attractive to so many companies. And that’s why even after almost 30 years of visiting, I still get a buzz out of Silicon Valley.

Now when is my next trip?

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Mary I. Bruner