Interview with Ray Stata
June 28, 2006
Norwood, MA

Ray Stata co-founded Analog Devices in 1965. In this 2006 interview, Stata, now Chairman of the company, discusses his experiences in over forty years in the analog module and integrated circuit business. He explains the basic business tenets that have kept ADI growing through decades of technological revolution.

 

RW : You have been involved with Analog since 1965. Is that right?

 

RS : That's correct. Yeah.

 

RW : So how has the market evolved over that time?

 

RS Well, first of all, when we got into the business, it was really as a module maker, not as an IC maker, because there weren't any integrated circuit linear products at the time we began our business. And it was only about four years into the mission that we actually transitioned into IC's. So the first IC's that came on the market were Fairchild, I believe, back in 19 - I think it was 1967, and later National joined in with some pretty primitive operational amplifiers compared with what we were doing at that time in terms of module technology. And by modules, I mean that we actually - as this example shows, we actually assembled discreet component transistors and capacitors and resistors and so forth, and then potted those modules with little pins out the bottom that you - you plugged into your circuit board. And we used trimming techniques to get ready the - the variances in the semiconductor matching, and were able to get, you know, precision that was well beyond what one could get with the integrated circuits that were first introduced.

 

RW : So how big a dollar market was it back in those days?

 

RS : Well, I don't have a real good fix on that, but my sense is at the time, 1965, there were already competitors, like Burr-Brown, and Philbrick and Nexus that were in the business. And I would judge the total available market was someplace between ten and twenty million dollars, probably closer to the ten than the twenty. But it was growing rather rapidly. For example, in our first five years in business, our module sales grew by eighty, ninety percent a year consistently. And that was just from operational amplifier components. A little bit later, in the late '60s and early '70s, we moved into supplying A/D and D/A converters, and many other linear kind of products as well. But the total market was pretty small at that time.

 

RW : And it is has now grown to what?

 

RS : Oh, for the total, you know, linear market, we'll - we'll have to take a look at the books there to see, but it's, you know, multiple billions. I don't have those figures right at my fingertips.

 

RW : Yeah it certainly has grown, and it's actually profitable.

 

RS : Very profitable and it has always been, and we think will continue to be. You know, going back to your question about how did this evolve, I think our approach to the semiconductor market was much different than was being taken by others at that time, and maybe even still today to some extent. But we weren't - we were essentially selling to the manufacturers of instruments and industrial controls where the performance and the accuracy was very, very key to their interest in buying, so that the performance of the first linear IC's was just not adequate. So one of the, I think, important innovations that we've brought to the party was to learn how to deposit thin-film resistors on the surface of the integrated circuits, and then to laser trim these resistors at the wafer level by actively probing and trimming to take out the manufacturing tolerances of the semiconductor processes. And in this way, over time, as we really learned how to do it, we were able to produce IC's that were every bit as good in performance as the modules that we started out with because of this approach to trimming. So that's one aspect. And the other aspect in terms of our approach was to essentially adapt the technology to the customer's needs. I think at that time, and - and - well, certainly at that time, the approach of the semiconductor industry was to make whatever you could make by the processes available, and then leave it up to the customer to figure how to use that as best they could, whereas we attempted to, for example, trim the offsets, and to make the adjustments so that the customer's effort in order - in - in terms of applying the products were much less.

 

RW : Well, you started Analog Devices then right out of MIT?

 

RS : Well, not quite. I worked for a period of time, three years or so, for Hewlett-Packard, mostly in sales and marketing. And then after that, together with two other graduates of MIT that I met at graduate school, we started another company called Solid State Instruments. That company in many ways was a failure except in two respects. One is that we were able to sell it after a year or so, and we got a nest egg from that sale that was the basis for funding Analog Devices. And secondly, it was through our involvement - continuing involvement with that company, even after its sale, that we got the idea for what our next products would be in our next company, Analog Devices. And that is, at that time, the instrument makers universally, if they needed op-amps, they designed them, and they made them, and they manufactured them specifically for whatever instrument it was. Philbrick and Burr-Brown were pioneers in bringing to the market, you know, plug-in modules of the - the type I showed that would make it more economical for the instrument manufacturers to buy these modules rather than to design and manufacture their own. So I think the whole history of the linear IC market, if not the whole semiconductor industry, has been a continuing shift from make-to-buy at ever higher levels of integration and complexity. So for us, that meant - we started with operational amplifiers. But once we learned how, as I mentioned, to produce precision linear IC's, then we looked at providing a whole host of functions, most of which were industry first in terms of integrated circuit implementation. For example, precision references that were calibrated, temperature sensors, analog multipliers, RMS to DC converters, and - and a whole host of A/D and D/A converters, and many other products. So we proliferated a large product line of different types that took advantage of our capabilities to manufacture semiconductors with precision that was required by the instrumentation in military markets at that time.

 

RW : But increasingly, the consumer people have been buying these.

 

RS : Well, that didn't happen until much later in the game. As a matter of fact, it was - it was really in the mid '80s, I would say that the consumer, communications, computers, automobiles, what we call "The Four C's" now, began to require products with the kind of performance capability that we could offer. As a matter of fact, the first real evidence that we had of that was when Sony came to us in mid '80s, sometime, whenever they introduced a compact - you know, CD players. Of course they needed 16-bit D/A converters. And as the leaders of converters at that time, they came to us to - to see if we could provide them with that kind of functionality.

 

RW : And it had to be done very inexpensively.

 

RS : Yeah it's an interesting story there. When we got down to our conversation, we said, sure, we can produce these, not a problem. It - that is monolithically integrated IC's for that application. But we said, how much you willing to pay? And they said, well, maybe five dollars on a good day. Now at that time, we were getting fifty dollars a copy for 10-bit D/A converters. So we actually declined. We said, no thank you, that's not of interest to us. And they went from us to Burr-Brown, and Burr-Brown said yes. And within a few short years, Burr-Brown was cranking out, you know, millions of these 10-bit, actually, I'm sorry - they're 16-bit D/A converters - at, you know, a few dollars. And that was a wakeup call for us, that we really needed to be able to respond, not only with the precision, but with the cost and quality that these kinds of high volume markets would require. But that didn't really happen until the mid 80's.

 

RW : And now I would guess it's the predominant market.

 

RS : Yeah. For sure. I think if we consider a - you know, a cell phone, a mobile phone as a consumer device, or whatever you want to call it, you know, that together with all the proliferation of consumer products that are coming out today, certainly is the largest, fastest growing part of the market that we serve for what we call "real world signal processing," components that include analog, signal conditioning, conversion circuits, A/D, D/A converters, as well as digital signal processors. That's, in our opinion today, the sweet part of the semiconductor market in terms of the prices they'll pay and the kind of profits we can earn for those applications.

 

RW : Yeah. Well, it's certainly more attractive than - than memories, or some of these other areas that we do out here on the West Coast. Well, let's go back now before that. What was your family like and your childhood like?

 

RS : Well, I was brought up in the farm country of Pennsylvania in a relatively small town. My father was an electrical contractor. And the farmers were really, when you - when you think about it, independent entrepreneurs. So I got a taste of entrepreneurship in that form quite early in life. And because of my particular personality quirks, namely that I have a severe aversion to authority, quite early in the high school days I had pretty much made up my mind that some day I would, you know, start a company and be my own boss. Wasn't clear what that would be, but the driving force was I wouldn't have to work for somebody else and take orders. So that was implanted in my mind fairly early on. Actually, it's interesting in the - in my first year in school, I went to a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades in the same - in the same building, the same room. And from that point of view, it wasn't until high school that I really got - and even there, a relatively small-town high school, that I got to a place where they had a library, and I could begin to really explore more fully the knowledge that was out there in the world. And it was in the ninth grade that I discovered a little book called Energy and Matter that introduced me to the marvels of physics and science. And that kind of triggered my interest to ultimately, you know, go to a technical university, and to use that as a basis for my ambition to start a company.

 

RW : So did you go to MIT?

 

RS : I did, and there's an interesting story there. When I was a sophomore in high school I jammed my neck in a basketball game and ended up in the hospital with my neck in traction for about a week. And it just so happened that next to me was an elderly gentleman who in fact had spent his life as an engineer. And I used that opportunity to - the first time I ever talked to an engineer to find out, you know, what does an engineer do, and what's life like out there in the engineering world. But more importantly I was thinking about where should I go to school, where would I learn this stuff? And he was very knowledgeable about universities, technical universities. We went down the list and he told me about a number of them. But he says, look, there's only one place. If you want to be an engineer, there's only place to go, and that's the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He goes, if somehow you can figure out to get in there, just don't think about the other places. So when I went back as a sophomore, I got the material on the - MIT, began to read up on it, and set my sails to go there. And fortunately, they accepted me, and I ultimately ended up going there.

 

RW : And you've had a love affair with them ever since.

 

RS : Yeah. It changed my life in many, many dimensions, and gave me sort of the knowledge, but more importantly the self confidence to go out in the world and do battle with whoever was out there to do battle with. One of the great experiences at a place like MIT, you know you're competing with the best and the brightest from around the world, and I certainly was nowhere near the top of the class. But at least I left the institute still standing, having done reasonably well, and with a sense of confidence that, in fact, you know, I could stand up to others in the world. So from that point of view, MIT was a tremendous learning and development experience for me, and one that I owe a great debt of gratitude to them for that experience.

 

RW : And you've certainly contributed a good bit of your wealth to them.

 

RS : Yep. As part of my IOU, I think if you sit down and figure that, actually, you only pay for less than half of your education, even if you pay the full sticker price, and then on top of that, they gave me scholarships and loans, and if you compound the investment they made in me over, you know, twenty, thirty years, it turns out to be a pretty good size number. So I was always intent on paying that back with interest, and going beyond that to help sustain the excellence of that great university.

 

RW : Well, there's certainly no coincidence that Route 128, and all that and that - what happens is - happens there. And out here in Silicon Valley , we got Cal and Stanford; a great university really does pull in the best and the brightest.

 

RS : Yeah. And certainly a place like MIT, and I think those others you mentioned as well, are seedbeds for entrepreneurship, and there's been a long history of people coming up with ideas, and going forward, and doing wonderful new things as a result of their experience at these universities.

 

RW : So you also started something - the Center for Quality Management. Tell us about that.

 

RS : Yeah. Again in the mid '80s, going toward the end of the decade, I think you recall the - you know, the quality challenge that the Japanese put before us. And I think every semiconductor company was scrambling to figure out, you know, what to do about that. And we were amongst those scrambling, and having a hard time, though to, you know, figuring out how to really put in an effective quality improvement program. And I had an opportunity again at MIT to meet a professor from Japan . And I consulted with him, and asked him, you know, what do we have to do to get this thing really on the rails? And he introduced me to the concept of mutual learning. That is, you can't do it on your own, you need to affiliate with others with like-minded ambitions, and then to study together and learn together. So we formed the Center for Quality Management. We imported, with his help, you know, all the things that have been learned in Japan , and added some bells and whistles of our own. And then together, starting out with a group of about twenty companies and growing to maybe a hundred at the peak, we got serious about transforming our companies into really quality-oriented enterprises. So that was a very important experience for me personally, and then more importantly, for embedding that capability within our company.

 

RW : Well, I think something we've learned equally well out here is the value of having executives teach. To go out personally, and their staffs, to go and teach classes. Certainly at Intel, all the vice presidents and directors teach classes.

 

RS : Yeah, and interestingly, that was the concept behind this organization. The course material was actually taught by the members. And one of the, I think differentiating factors of this organization that helped us so much was, prior to that time, you know, I thought my job as the CEO was to find the best vice president of quality, and then turn to them to actually transform the culture of the company. And the thing that I kind of learned through this experience is that when you want to make those kinds dramatic changes in the culture of the company, you can't do it through some vice president of whatever, you got to do it as the CEO. Taking charge and leading the parade, and therefore, becoming sufficiently knowledgeable that in fact, you can do that. So you can certainly learn the most and best by teaching. I was one of the instructors for other companies that we brought into the fold. And as I say, that was just a tremendous learning experience for me personally and for the company.

 

RW : Yeah. The best way to learn is to teach.

 

RS : You're right.

 

RW : You really have to pick up the material. In analog, it seems to me that the design engineers play a more important place in the scheme of things. They're given more freedom, they have customer contact. Is that true? And if so, why?

 

RS : Yeah. It's been the history of our industry that - well, certainly back in the early days, every product was sort of a one-off experience. You know, one engineer, one product, and each one had its own unique innovations and so forth. And again, as you say, largely, you know, driven by an engineer's involvement in the marketplace to understand, you know, the subtleties of customer requirements. And this is particularly true where you're pushing the performance envelope. Perhaps a little less true if you're just producing jelly beans, of which there are quite a few jelly bean kind of op-amps and other linear circuits as well. But we never played in that game, we always played in the performance game. And there, in that arena, the skill sets to really, you know, design state-of-the-art linear circuits has always been challenging, and the frontiers keep getting pushed back in terms of just what you can do, in terms of speed and precision. It's a never ending evolution. And the market has continued, you know, for these forty years that I've been involved, to continue to value innovation as it leads to more performance capabilities, and customers are willing to pay for that innovation, at least for a while. Eventually innovations turn into commodities. And at that point you also have to know how to manufacture this stuff cheaper. But it's a combination of innovation on one hand, and quality low-cost production on the other that generates, as I say, I think what is the sweet spot in the market today. And of course, we were really the pioneers in converter circuitry, A/D and D/A's. Others beat us to the punch in terms of op-amps. The established companies, but especially Fairchild and National, but others - they got onto the op-amp game early on, more of the jelly bean variety initially. And we always stuck to the high road in terms of performance. But there, there was clearly competitors amongst the larger companies. But in the A/D and D/A area, it was long believed that, you know, that was well beyond what could be accomplished in monolithic form. And it was through this thin film technology that we learned to - to trim at the wafer level, that we mastered the ability to produce 10, 12, 16-bit, A/D-D/A converters monolithically. So we really, at every step of the way, were the pioneers to develop that market. Today we still have a forty-five percent market share in the converter area and the frontiers keep getting pushed in terms of the speed, and the resolution, and the power, you know, consumption. And along, you know, many, many different dimensions, the customers have an insatiable appetite for innovation and improvement. So as long as that continues to be the case, you can make money.

 

RW : Well, New England seems to attract analog design guys. I mean of the major people have design centers at least in New England .

 

RS : Yeah. Well, it's certainly true that we - that this is historically been a center for instrumentation in military and the early days, and radar, and a whole bunch of other things, medical instrumentation, so all those things, you know, bred the need for analog engineers. But at the same time, in Silicon Valley, obviously through Berkeley and Stanford and others, they did equally well in creating a community of very talented analog people. So it was for a long time kind of bimodal, that was either here in the Boston area or Silicon Valley . Those talents have spread now to many other parts of the world. But certainly, even today, New England is one of the centers for analog mixed signal technology, in no small part, I think, because we're one of the leading players here, and we've, you know, spawned a lot of interest and capability in that area as well.

 

RW : Well, does it have anything to do with the personality of somebody who's a good analog designer? That they're more independent perhaps?

 

RS : Well, certainly entrepreneurial. We've always sort of encouraged our designers to be entrepreneurs, and in that sense, kind of run their own business in a microscopic way in terms of determining market requirements and carrying through in every aspect of design and in introduction to manufacturing. So it's been the most effective way, I think, to cultivate and perpetuate innovation. And - so that culture has evolved because it probably works best for these kind of circuits. But, you know, time and circumstances change. It was possible in the early days for one engineer to take on a project and get it done within a reasonable period of time. Today the complexities of, you know, systems on a chip that incorporate, you know, linear circuits, if not just the linear and mixed signal circuits themselves, are well beyond in the scope of a single designer. It takes a team of designers to get it out in any reasonable time. So from that point of view, the - the "lone wolf syndrome," I think, has changed a bit. But still, we place a tremendous value on the most skilled and capable of the analog and mixed signal designers, and we create a pinnacle in our hierarchy which we call "Analog Devices Fellows" for the very - most advanced and capable. And there we have, you know, legends in our industry, guys like, you know, Barry Gilbert and Paul Brokaw and a number of others, who have been really the pioneers in the early development of IC technology - for linear IC technology.

 

RW : Well, how do you compensate these people for all their value?

 

RS : Well, there's two or three kinds of compensation, one of which is monetary, and that is salaries and bonuses. But more importantly, it's stock options. We have a lot of millionaires at Analog Devices, particularly in the technical community, because we've rewarded them handsomely with respect to stock options and given them sort of a priority in the pecking order because, in fact, they are so important to innovation and to the value that we bring to the marketplace. But there's another aspect of compensation, and that's psychological. And I think it - you know, engineers and television people of all kinds are kind of like me in the way that I mentioned, you know, I don't like a boss, I like to figure it out on my own. You know, I like autonomy, and I find a lot of other, you know, particularly technical folks feel similarly. And, in addition, they want to have an influence on the environment in which they work. That is, say, what business are we in? You know, is this the right business or the wrong business? You know, what about the policies? Are we taking care of our people in the right way? Do we have the right kind of reward system? So the really bright and thoughtful, and the best of our engineers want to contribute other than just being a lone wolf, or even a team contributor in a technical sense. So in our parallel ladder, we've provided, you know, a broad venue of how our engineering community in general, and certainly those at the pinnacle, can contribute to the company in terms of being, you know, mentors and entrepreneurs, as I've mentioned, in terms of discovery of new market opportunities, discovery of new technologies, you know, teachers of others, ambassadors, gatekeepers, a whole bunch of different ways in which they can contribute. So they get the psychological rewards from that. And it, to a large extent, particularly as you grow to a larger company, there's always sort of the power struggle in companies. You know, who calls the shots? Is it the dark side, the management team? Or is it the technical side? And there's always a bit of, you know, back and forth and contention on that. And we've tried to create an environment here where the technical community can't be muzzled by the management hierarchy. But where their voices are not only welcomed, but invited, you know, heard and listened to, and those are the kind of things that engineers want. Not just the money, not just the stock option, but a chance to really influence the success of the company - in broader ways.

 

RW : And so often in American business, the people that actually do the work, that actually know what's going on are squashed by the suits that have the big office, and have position power.

 

RS : Exactly. And I think, as you know, I've been with the company for forty years, and as the CEO for many of those years, either consciously or unconsciously, the culture of the company is established by the leadership, and often the leader. And this quest for autonomy, and figuring it out on my own, and all those sort of things, I think have been engrained in our culture in a way that's attractive to people who want to exercise and self-actualize to the greatest extent they can.

 

RW : Well, it shows that that's the way to profitability.

 

RS : I think from that point of view, there's the question of, you know, where is it that, Analog Devices has really, contributed, and made breakthroughs. I mentioned some of that earlier, the whole idea of manufacturing processes to create, you know, to produce precision in linear and mixed signal circuits that I think we clearly pioneered that, and - and the whole idea of thin-film laser wafer-trimming, and all that goes with that. But also, that whole notion that the engineer's job is to master the processes, and not be mastered by them for the benefit of customers. And as a result of that, I think we just created a number of firsts in the industry. I mentioned a few of them early on. But that's continued across our history. I mean in more recent times, you know, we pioneered MIMS technology to make accelerometers, in particular for airbag crash sensors. I think the XL50 was a clear breakthrough that got wide acclaim, in as much as we not only created the MIM structures, but also integrated the signal conditioning components that made for, again, a complete solution that could just be plugged in, didn't take a lot of effort on the part of our customers to use it. And again, that's that commitment to making a complete circuit that works, that doesn't require sophisticated engineering to make it happen. And I know in the cell phone area, you know, Barry Gilbert has done some pioneering work in making, you know, logarithmic RF detectors, again, that are calibrated and temperature compensated so that you can just, you know, plug them in, they work, and if they don't work, you can unplug them, and replace them with things that are of like mind, as opposed to having to go in and re-trim, and recalibrate, and monkey around. So I think that there's a long, you know, list of innovations that we brought to the market with that kind of a mindset. You know, as I say, certainly in the converter area, the list is incredible. One of the great, you know, changes that you talked about, you know, trends in the industry, and where things are going, you know, we started life making, you know, standard products that you could buy out of a catalogue. We made them, you know, better, cheaper, faster, and didn't much care what people did with them. It was up to the customers to figure out from our wide selection of products which ones fit their application best. And then we began in the mid 80's to the end of the decade, was the period in the linear mixed-signal area where we began to move toward what, you know, more application-specific use of this technology. Again, I remember, just to illustrate that, in the case of digital camcorders, and digital still cameras. Again, Sony came to us and said we need a very low power, 10-bit A/D converter for our digital camcorders, can you help us? This time we said, yes, and in fact, introduced, I think, sort of the world's first CMOS 10-bit A/D, high speed converters. And initially, you know, that's what we sold them. And then later they came back and said, well, geeze, can you add this, can you add that, and the first thing you know, the converter turned into what we call an analog front end, very application specific product, and a standard product in many ways that we sold not to just Sony, but to others. And so we've seen that evolution toward more, you know, complete solutions. And it's, again, the trend that started our business. That is the transition from make to buy. And we see that now, I think creating a huge transformation in the whole semiconductor industry, and certainly in our business. And that is that customers basically don't want to buy a bag of parts, and invest the engineering to create the solutions and the products, they want to push back as much of the engineering as they can. They want to outsource the engineering to their vendors. So in short, they want to buy solutions. They don't want to buy components. And the more complete you can make those solutions, down to and including, you know, software in the case of DSP in reference designs, the more value you add, and the more they're willing to pay you for your service and your products. So we're in the midst of, particularly as we go after these consumer markets, the very high volume markets, there, the way you get the cost down is for higher levels of integration. And no one customer alone can afford for just their applications, the systems on a chip investment that it takes. And so that's being more and more pushed back to us as the vendors. And that's opened up, you know, tremendous, you know, opportunities for the whole semiconductor industry. Now, along with that has come a significant organizational challenge. I think that all of us in the industry have grown up with product silos. We have the op-amp group, or the memory group, or the processor group, or the converter group, and that is a group of folks that specialize in a particular area with a particular market focus, or product focus. And they were measured, and are measured, really by the growth and profits, and the innovation and market share that they can achieve. And now, what customers want, is they want us to take the op-amps, and the converters, and the DSP's, and the RF circuits, and all that stuff and put it together. So we have to create collaboration between these product silos to provide the solutions that customers are looking for in the marketplace. And that's a huge organizational challenge that we face because we are asking the people to be able to, you know, pat their head and rub their stomach at the same times, and not only continue to be the drivers of technology and product excellence in their product silos, but also be contributors at the enterprise level of - to the solutions business. And it's confusing. It's this, what we call ambidexterity that's required, is a much higher level of sophistication in terms of management skills and business processes to pull that off. So I know we're in the midst of transforming, you know, our company, training our leaders and our engineers, and getting them to be comfortable in this new kind of an environment. And to a large extent, I think the winners and losers will be separated by the extent to which that's achieved. And one of the implications for that is that the single product companies, there's always going to be room for the start-ups to come up with the best of whatever it is, on a single point product basis. But the extent to which customers want to buy solutions, then these start-ups are going to have to find ways of collaborating with the companies that have a broader portfolio of technologies. And often that's going to end up in terms of acquisitions, or some kind of deep alliances and partnerships. So that - that whole thing I think changes the nature of the start-up community and how they're going to participate in these high volume markets. The industry has changed so much over the decades, and how it's continuing to change as we speak. And then in all of that, you know, Analog has gone though so many metamorphoses and changes. It's incredible for those who have lived through this forty years of experience. In terms of the now, the sophistication of our products and our technologies, and the breadth of our product lines and all that sort of thing, it's just amazing. Not just for us, but for others who are in this business. But for all of that, you know, some things have to remain constant or we come unglued. And in, at least in our case, there's been some fundamental values and beliefs that have held our company together and perpetuated our success, even in the midst of all that turmoil and change. And one of those fundamental beliefs at Analog Devices is that innovation is that which drives success and profitability. So first and foremost in whatever we're doing, we should seek to be the leaders in what we do through innovation. And that, in turn, I think shapes the culture of the company; it shapes the processes by which we do business. It shapes our tolerance for risk taking, and our way in which we deal with failure, and a whole bunch of other things. But that's core to our success today, and will be in the future. And the other fundamental, you know, tenet and belief, which has remained consistent, is our belief that the purpose of business fundamentally is to meet the needs of people. Our employees, our customers, our stockholders, but I've always believed, not everybody in the world agrees with this, but I've always believed in that hierarchy, that employees are first amongst equals and that the primary responsibility of leadership is to create an environment where you can attract and retain and develop and grow the best and brightest employees. And if you do a good job of that, they will take care of making sure the customer is satisfied through innovation and continuous improvement. And if in fact they do their job of satisfying customers, that the customers will provide the resources and the profits to reward stockholders. So you got to go kind of like bottoms up. When you try to drive that tops down from starting with the stockholders and their satisfaction, and going the other direction, it doesn't work. So therefore, we've had a culture where people are important. Their concerns, their ambitions are a foremost purpose of our enterprise, and therefore, we have to understand what the needs of our employees are, and continuously strive to meet those needs. We're a "Theory Y" company. We fundamentally believe that people are innocent until proven guilty, that they fundamentally want to work hard and do a good job if they're permitted and encouraged to do so, but that they want to be recognized, and rewarded, and distinguished on the merits of their achievements. All those elements are embedded in our culture, and have been the factors that have sustained us through all these elements of change. And yet somehow, I think our greatest challenge as we grow larger is to keep those values strong and foremost in how we manage and lead the company into the future. And if we do a good of - job of that, we'll continue to be great innovators, and we'll continue to get the best and brightest people, develop them to their fullest potential, and make a lot of money for our stockholders and employees.

 

RW : Well, that's wonderful. Any more thoughts?

 

RS : Oh, a lot of thoughts. I don't know really how much more you'd want to hear. But maybe I would touch on just one other one, because I think it's, again, so important. And that is, Andy Grove I think made a significant contribution in his book, you know. And it's true that - that only the paranoid survive. And as he amply pointed out in that book, you know, the S-curve is always there. The whole idea of the birth, maturity, and death of whether it's technology or whether it's products, or markets, or organizations, are ultimately companies and people. Right? Everything's got a life cycle. And the real trick is being able to anticipate those points of inflection and be ready for them - to move on when your current business or product technology runs out of gas. And I would say that's another thing that has been an important contributor to our success in the past, and - and keeping that alive is always a challenge. That is, a willingness to take money from today's most successful business, and to allocate a certain amount of that to risky things that you don't know whether they're going to work or not at the margin, and continuously be able and committed to exploring those frontiers. And again, I think when companies get larger, and the stockholders begin to drive the thinking of management too much, you lose sight of the inflection point out into the future, and the fact that everything has life cycles. So again, as we went from modules, to IC's, to converters, to DSP's, and MIMS. I mean today we have, you know, work going on in microphotonics, because I think someday, for a company that has the kind of skills we have, the integration of photonics and electronic devices on silicon is going to be a great opportunity, but it's not now. It's out in the future. So we have to be willing to take some of our current profits and to anticipate those opportunities and to invest in them. So I'd say that's another key thing about being innovators and staying alive because today the record shows that the average life expectancy of Fortune 500 companies in the United States is forty to fifty years. And it has a lot to do with the fact of the S-curve, and the fact that business strategies and technologies and so forth are running out of gas, and people just haven't anticipated those points of inflections adequately to have, you know, answers to continue on into the future when death strikes things that had been so successful in the past. So, you know, nothing fails like success, so being able to go beyond your current success and create new success has always been a challenge for our industry, and will continue to be.

 

RW : It's wonderful to hear the principles so crisply stated; it seems obvious to many of us that these things are true, and yet, in American business you rarely see it, honestly. So thank you very much.