Semicon West Wrap, NY / GE Investment, IBM / GlobalFoundries talk


Tim discusses semiconductor industry news on TWCN’s Capital Tonight (Log in required)

Our intrepid Zone 5 team returned from a busy Semicon West week to be inundated with a major new technology investment in our own backyard, wild and rampant speculation on IBM and GlobalFoundries and even a brief TV appearance by your truly.

Semicon West Wrap

Much like the industry it features, this show has seen some consolidation. I’ve been attending since 2006, and the intensity and energy – though refocused – remains. And of course, there is always one constant at Semicon West – Zone 5 will host a killer reception (6 years running now!) with the best wine list of the week. We were thrilled to have our friends at Marcy NanoCenter co-hosting the event with us. As you can see below, a good turnout for this invitation-only event.

Attendees at Zone 5's 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

Zone 5’s 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

On the show floor, it was really cool to see multiple booths featuring 450 mm wafers. Of course, the transition to 450 was one of the ongoing debates of the week….is it a question or “if” or “when?” Have advances in EUV pressed pause on the transition? Where will the money come from to make the transition? It is wild times!

Of course, the big story of the week was the announcement of the new name of the Tokyo Electron (TEL) and Applied Materials (AMAT) merger – Eteris. Apparently, this new name is meant to be evocative of “eternal innovation for society.”  As a brand marketer, I have to give the joint team at TEL and AMAT credit. Far too often, the brands of the semiconductor are developed with much less thought. You know, like by jamming a few guys’ names together and hoping for the best. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with the name yet, but I give credit where due – it’s thoughtful, pragmatic and not too hard for a dummy like me to spell. Let’s see where it goes!

Major announcement in New York

I had barely finished doing laundry from the trip to San Francisco when a media advisory crossed the wire sharing that NYS Governor Cuomo would be making a major economic development announcement in Niskayuna. To those unfamiliar with the Albany, NY region, an announcement in Niskayuna can only mean one major technology leader: GE. Niskayuna is home to GE’s Global Research Center (GRC) and several thousand of the brightest minds in modern science and technology.

Tuesday’s announcement was another in a seemingly never-end string of R&D investments by New York State – this one, a 5 year, $500 million commitment to create the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC) to develop and produce low cost, high performance 6” silicon carbide wafers in partnership with the State University’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. For GE’s part, they’ll have access to new, leading edge facilities at the college to develop these wafers, which could have great promise in high power devices and may have a major synergy with the power electronics business acquired by GE just a few years ago, Converteam.


Throughout Semicon West and this week, the continuing drumbeat on the IBM/GlobalFoundries deal (or battle, depending on your position) gained volume. It has been rumored for months that IBM was looking to unload its chip making business, including assets in East Fishkill, NY and Burlington, VT. In recent weeks, the conventional wisdom in the press seemed to speculate about GF buying the business, then having to decide what to do with the facilities and thousands of workers in a state of flux at those facilities. One of the major questions, of course, would be the future of the trusted foundry certifications of the business if purchased by GF.

That back and forth appeared to reach a crescendo over the weekend, when full page ads appeared in papers in the East Fishkill and Burlington area papers for jobs at GlobalFoundries in Malta, NY. What does this mean for the deal? Really tough to say….and my crystal ball has taken the summer off!

So that’s a wrap to wild week – one that was supposed to be quiet following Semicon West! Keep an eye on the SemiZone for continuing insights we gained at West and keep following us on Twitter for regular updates.

Uncork SEMICON: Where the Players Play

SEMICON West is always a nonstop blur of meetings, tech lectures and social events. Because of the frenetic nature of the week, it can sometimes be tough to stand out and host events that people actually want to attend. Last night, I think we did just that at the Sixth Annual Zone 5 Uncork SEMICON Reception.

Hosted at Restaurant Lulu in San Francisco, just about a block from the Moscone Center, this event always has the feel of a gathering of friends rather than a formal trade show reception. We’ve strived to make this event unique by featuring really interesting and varied wines and keeping the event relatively exclusive.

Uncork Wine

We selected a mix of new and old world wines, hitting several of my favorite regions and grape varities. Here’s a look at the list:

Allimant Laugner Cremant D’Alsace Rose Sparkling
‘Cuvée A’ Anne Amie, Müller-Thurgau, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon
White Hart Pinot Noir 2011, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA
Château du Hureau ‘Tuffe’, Cabernet Franc, Saumur-Champigny, Loire, France
Andrea Oberto Barbera D’Alba 2012, Piedmont, Italy
Baron de Ley, Rioja Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain

We were really excited to have a partner in this year’s event, as we shared hosting duties with the crew at Marcy NanoCenter. Since they’re from the Utica, NY area, we were able to feature an assortment of interesting beers from the Saranac Brewery, one of the oldest family-owned breweries in the US.


But the beverages are just one draw to Uncork. Obviously, the exclusive nature of the event attracts the right people in the industry and entices them to come back year after year. I was thrilled to have leaders in the industry attend – C level execs from AMAT, Western Digital, and GlobalFoundries, among many others. In fact, we had around 100 really high quality attendees from all facets of the industry, including the supply chain, R&D, manufacturing, and tooling.

Now that we’ve finished our hosting duties, it’s off to jump into the fray of those exhibits, lectures and events. Keep an eye on Twitter and here on the SemiZone to stay plugged in to the big topics and trends.

Semiconductor marketing outcomes at SEMICON West: Nada or Napa?

For most people, July is a fabulous time of the year…summer is here, America is celebrating its birthday, and baseball season is in full swing. But for me, July is important for other reasons – it’s the month that brings the premiere semiconductor industry event in North America: SEMICON West.

San Francisco

San Francisco

‘West,’ as many simply call it, is the place to learn, meet movers and shakers and make your splash in the big business of semiconductors. I started attending years ago when I worked within the NY Loves Nanotech brand, trying to bring a new fab to Marcy NanoCenter in the Mohawk Valley. I didn’t even miss it in 2008, when my lovely wife and I flew directly from our honeymoon in Ireland to SFO to make the opening of the show.

Semicon West is the ideal place to launch products, make news, meet new customers and build your brand in the semiconductor industry. I’ve seen it work for my clients over the last decade. But as budgets have been squeezed, many semiconductor marketing managers have to be even more focused on metrics and impact of their spend. Brands matter, especially in a B-to-B environment. So that means focusing a tight budget in way to drive brand awareness and key messages.

I have 3 basic marketing rules for West:

  1. If you’re going to West and going to do something, do it big. In the giant crowd of West, if you don’t do something to stand out, you’re wasting time and money. Our approach with semiconductor clients at West always involved a holistic approach that embraces the adage ‘Fortune Favors the Bold.’
  2. Pace yourself. It’s a long week – bring comfortable shoes, drink lots of water, and don’t try to make your year on Tuesday morning. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your brand identity. We try to keep our semiconducotr clients focused on West being a single event that should be in line with the rest of your annual marketing plan.
  3. Do your homework, but be ready to learn and follow up. If you haven’t prepared for West, you’re in trouble. But the preparation doesn’t end when you exit the absurdly-expensive super shuttle from SFO. Go to tech sessions and learn about business trends and advances in semiconductor technology. Also, make sure the business cards you collect are the first step in a follow up pattern, not just a trophy of everyone you met. At Zone 5, we have our calendars full before we leave, and have a plan for follow up before we get on the plane home.
  4. BONUS RULE: San Francisco isn’t warm in July. Bring a coat. And a sweater. Mark Twain said it right, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

For Zone 5, we’ve spent so much time at West, we are on a first name basis with the panhandlers outside the Moscone Center. We’ve helped semiconductor clients make huge impacts and made the industry pay attention. We’ve done that by investing in traditional and digital marketing tools and deploying those tools together for maximum effect.

We advise semiconductor clients that their marketing efforts must be holistic and strategic to be effective. If you’re looking to make a splash at West, it can’t be just a fancy booth, just a hospitality event, or just a press release. We’ve spent a lot of time helping weave these tactics together with comprehensive digital outreach to maximize their impact. For most companies, tight budgets drive decisions to pick one or two of these tactics at the expense of the others. Often times, doing that can result in the dreaded crickets from customers and media. White noise.  Silence. Nada.

If all goes well, we’ll be celebrating a very busy and successful week with a short sojourn to Napa Valley on Friday. And if my experience has taught me anything, I know that Napa is way better than Nada.

SemiZone – the new home for semiconductor trends and insights

I’ve learned that marketing technology is easy. A cool tech product that makes people’s lives easier gets people excited. But convincing tech companies to invest in marketing? Not so simple. The technology world — and semiconductor business specifically — can be an introverted environment that has a difficult time deploying outreach beyond product demos.

For me, that’s why SEMICON West, the flagship annual event for the global microelectronics industry, is such a great show. It remains the ideal place to launch products, make news, meet new customers and build your brand in the semiconductor industry. I’ve seen it work as a client and for my clients over the last decade. [Read more…]

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