Q: Part of your strategy is to go after places where Maxim has moved
away from or taken its eye off the ball. You're not competing yet
with Linear. What happens when that happens?
A: I think Linear's a great company to work with. They help you in
multiple ways. My experience from my Maxim days, is Linear made us a
better company. When you look at their products, they're fabulously
engineered. So what does that do to you from an engineering
perspective? It pushes you. It means you got to do the right things
to win. From a product and pricing perspective, Linear doesn't bomb
the market. Linear says, Hey this is our part, this is what you're
going to pay for it, customer, and take it or leave it. That's a
great company to compete with because they're going to push you in
the right ways and they're not going to push you in the wrong ways,
they're not going to do stupid things to hurt the marketplace. It
also means you better do things right or you're going to get
Q: Is there any of that manufacturing or packaging you'd like to
bring in house?
A: The manufacturing? I don't see any value in it. I think it's one
of the big changes in our industry. And I think it's one of the very
positive changes in our industry in that when you look at the
foundry technology that's out there today and compare it to the
foundry technology that was out there when I started in the late
'80s, and Maxim was fabless in the beginning and a lot of people
forget that. We were using these horrible foundries. We had
third-rate technology which was really disastrous and somehow we
overcame all of that to build a company and we bought a foundry in
Fast forward today and look to the technology available at TSMC.
Look at the announcement that Analog Devices made in conjunction
with TSMC a couple of months ago…which is available to everybody
including us it puts anyone who wants to do analog develop easily on
part … with any in-house technology except for very boutique-y things
that maybe Maxim wants to do. That's flattening. It's not the
differentiator any more. The differentiator is can you define the
right products and can you design them. And then the ability to
market and sell effectively. That's really the big change.
It was fascinating to me when Touchstone came out of the gate happily describing itself as a second source supplier. The strategy made a ton of sense--but you just don't normally hear that from a chip startup. Most feel, I assume, that they have to have a more aggressive story to make a splash. But Fox and his colleagues knew what they were doing. And it seems like Touchstone is evolving to the next stage.