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ARM and the Law of Accelerating Returns!

ARM and the Law of Accelerating Returns!
by Daniel Nenni on 07-30-2015 at 4:00 pm

 ARM is one of the companies I have had professional experience with during my storied semiconductor career so I know some of their history first hand. I worked for a physical IP company that was purchased by ARM and at Virage Logic we competed against ARM head-to-head. ARM is also featured in our book “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry” and our second book is a deep dive into ARM history, technology, and the evolution of the mobile industry. Book #2 is timed to come out in November coinciding with ARM’s 25[SUP]th[/SUP] anniversary.

ARM is also on SemiWiki and one thing I can tell you is that articles about ARM or even with ARM in the title get the most views, absolutely. So naturally I follow ARM closely, attend their events, and listen to the quarterly earnings calls. The most recent one includes a 3,000 word vision statement by ARM CEO Simon Segars which is definitely worth a read. Most opening CEO statements are less than 1,000 words by the way.

If you haven’t met Simon you really should make the effort as he is a true visionary, passionate about technology, and is very approachable. Simon was employee #16 at ARM and led the development of early products such as the ARM7™ and ARM9™ CPUs that powered the first digital mobile phones so he knows a thing or two about the mobile business.

The first 900 or so words are the company update but then Simon gets to the vision part:

“It’s actually quite incredible to look back over the last five years and think about the journey that smart mobile devices have taken and we take for granted everyday now we get access the internet, get all the data that you want, whenever you want it on this thing that sits in your pocket the whole time and let’s face it if you left it at home when you walked out of the house in the morning, you’d go back to get it. It’s incredible just how ubiquitous that has become in developed countries. But you just go back five years and think about the device you were carrying then, I personally was using a Blackberry back then, clearly basic Blackberry and it’s great for email, but couldn’t stream video to it, the mapping solution in it was very primitive. Rewind forward to today, we’ve got very sophisticated true mobile computers, higher resolutions screens, great processors, high speed data connectivity, seems like a very different world from only five years ago.”

ARM Holdings’ (ARMH) CEO Simon Segars on Q2 2015 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

I too was using a BlackBerry five years ago and now I buy a new smartphone every year just to keep up with technology. Simon continues on with a vision of the future and why smartphones will not stagnate like PCs to which I agree with wholeheartedly. There is a recent interview with futurist Ray Kurzweil on the Business Insider website (one of my daily reads) which explains it nicely:

“The reality of information technology is it progresses exponentially, 30 steps linearly gets you to 30. One, two, three, four, step 30 you’re at 30. With exponential growth, it’s one, two, four, eight. Step 30, you’re at a billion.”

Ray is all about futurology and has made predictions that have already come true such as a computer beating a human at chess and some that are still pending like fully autonomous cars. Today Ray is an Engineering Director at Google working on something cool I would bet. For more information on Ray you can read his extensive Wikipedia page HERE.


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