Pete Rodriguez has over 35 years of experience in the Semiconductor industry. Pete is currently CEO of Silicon Catalyst and on the board of Hysai, advisory board of Harvest Management Partners and an observer on the boards of Mentium Technologies, Espre Technologies and Owl AI. Pete was formerly VP & GM of Interface and Power at NXP Semiconductors. Prior to NXP Pete was CEO of Exar Corporation, CEO of Xpedion Design Systems, Chief Marketing Officer at Virage Logic, Major Account Manager at LSI Logic and Program Manager at Aerojet Electronic Systems. He spent twelve years as an entrepreneur with three different startups and has raised over $30 Million in venture capital.
He retired from the US Naval Reserves with the rank of Commander. Pete has served on public, private, advisory and non-profit boards of directors. He is a graduate in strategy and policy of the Naval War College. Pete has an MBA from Pepperdine University, an MSEE from Cal Poly Pomona, and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.
What’s the backstory about Silicon Catalyst; why did you join?
Rick Lazansky, Chairman and co-founder shared his ideas to help out hardware startups a decade ago, I met with him and Mike Noonen in 2014 as they were getting started and I attended the 2015 launch at Avaya.
Later I left NXP in early 2016 and retired after successfully growing and running interface and power, one of the very best businesses in the company. Rick approached me to become CEO and I joined late in 2017, excited about helping semi startups, growing the ecosystem and taking SiC to the next level.
What are SC’s goals?
To really, really help a growing number of semi startups worldwide. To continue to grow the breadth and depth of the ecosystem in order to be able to deliver more in every way to each startup.
To eventually make a little $ as portfolio companies successfully exit. It has been a labor of love with well over a total of 50 Silicon Valley-executive man-years of sweat equity and a ton of charity from our partners.
What are you seeing with respect to technology trends, application areas, technical innovations, etc.?
We see companies across the board, from AI to Lidar to mmWave to 5G to security to sensing. As Moore’s law slows/ends we are seeing more innovation/creativity in solving problems, not just driving for the latest tech node. We are also seeing many unique sensing solutions leveraging new capabilities in MEMS, CMOS + and sensing.
Why expand to the UK?
We started in Silicon Valley, then we launched a JV in Chengdu focused on power, we had good discussions with the EU about setting up an incubator in Europe and had strong strategic partners SOITEC, Bosch and ST Micro (our 2nd strategic and IKP) as well as good European operations by our closest IKPs (up to 48 now) TSMC and Synopsys. Then COVID hit and delayed the EU entry significantly. In parallel ARM became our first strategic and IKP, this combined with the UK govt.’s increased focus on semis post Brexit, several new UK based IKPs (4), UK based startups joining the portfolio (2), UK based advisors and the availability of two world-class managing partners (Ron and Sean) sealed the deal
Further expansion in other regions of the world?
We are still looking at the rest of the EU, though some things are segmenting by countries vs. a single EC. We just admitted our first Indian based company (AlphaICs) and have several great advisors in India. In addition, we are partnering with other incubators/ accelerators (at no extra cost to the startup) around the world at least a half dozen and now have official partnerships with two leading incubators/accelerators Venture Lab in Canada and Octane in Southern CA. In these partnerships these incubators will receive financial benefit for their minority groups of semi companies and the companies will receive all of Silicon Catalyst’s benefits, as well as the extended benefit of two slightly overlapping ecosystems (advisors, investors, strategics, etc.). We are also partnering with University incubators like Cornell (see the Semiwiki coverage) as an extension of our University and Incubator partnership programs.
Suggestions for semi industry entrepreneurs ?
We are here to help and advise, we will spend quality time with you and your team, and provide great advice and help even if you decide not to join. We focus on all of the areas that a leading VC does but we add the personal touch of an experienced partner as your advocate and world class experts from our >200 advisor network and the key technologists from our strategic partners and IKPs…Each of our portfolio company’s incubation is custom tailored for a minimum of 2 years – not the usual 3 month cohort duration in other incubators.
Further information about our organization is generally available from our website, as well as details from the recent coverage of the launch of our UK operation. Check it out at www.siliconcatalyst.uk and on SemiWiki: https://semiwiki.com/events/299740-silicon-catalyst-is-bringing-its-unique-startup-platform-to-the-uk/
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