2nd November 2005

IBM backs VCs, startups to pursue platform aims

IBMs’ VC Group’s strategy outlines a varying and rewarding approach to the functioning of a ventures capital arm of a large company. Deviating from the well trodden path of investing cash for ROI, it is emphasizing more on relationships, interests’ alignment and development of a mutually supported ecosystem.

As IBM Corp. VP & MD of it’s VC group, Claudia Fan Munce, stresses in an article in EE Times, the access IBM gains to companies in emerging technos and geographies is worth much more than the return on the cash itself. IBM’s involvement with VC firms and startups aids it in setting it’s technology agenda and pushing it through.

Especially in Asian countries where the right networking/connections building (or guanxi as is called in Chinese) is so important for biz growth, this strategy looks more effective than the relatively “cold” dollars vs return.

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2nd November 2005

Consumer Era gives birth to "Gigafabs"

With consumer electronics joining PCs and internet based communications as a major semiconductor industry driver, fabs are getting into another league – Gigafabs. TSMC’s Mark Liu differentiates between the fabs on the basis of monthly wafers capacity – 80 to100K qualify as gigafabs while megafabs have a run rate of 50k wafers.

Consumer electronics market has a very short market window including a steep ramp up and leaves little room for redesigns. High price elasticity ranges encompass some real high priced niche products on one end and basic generic commodity tagged products on the other – and both categories can lead to massive volumes if the timing/placing-features-price combo target is hit.

Gigafabs help here because no vendor would like to be placed in a position where he has hit the market with the right product at the right time only to run out of fab capacity – a major biz opportunity loss. Also chips produced cheaper in the fabs (an advantage of gigafabs) can be sold cheaper. While gigafabs help to spread out the costs, not all players can join in due to the high costs involved.

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