SAN FRANCISCO -- Dave Bell fell on his sword this week at
long-suffering Intersil, resigning his post as CEO with the sound of
impatient Wall Street fingers tapping incessantly in the distance.
One Wall Street firm, Deutsche Bank, opined, "While we appreciate
the strategic changes Mr. Bell attempted at ISIL, we believe the
transformation of the company was simply taking too long and was too
punitive financially to revenue growth and profitability.
Consequently, we view this change as being necessary and a positive
as hopefully it reflects a sense of urgency at the Board level to
improve upon such metrics/execution."
It's a rare blotch on the career of a guy well respected in the
analog community, who joined Intersil after a fine dozen years with
But the situation raises a question we don't often grapple with in
our industry: Do we hold our boards of directors accountable enough?
Or conversely, do our CEOs tend to pack their boards with "their own
guys" to insulate themselves from harm? (Longtime Silicon Valley
engineers are right now flashing on Al Stein at VLSI Technology).
Let's look at the case at hand: Bell became Intersil CEO on Feb. 13,
2008, and had been president and COO before that. Of the nine
Intersil board members listed today, eight of them predate Bell's
arrival. Five of the seven have served on the board for
at least 10 years. Intersil stock has underperformed competitors
since 2008, and even before that was in the middle of the pack.
If you look at the last four years, fingers could clearly
point at Bell's leadership.
"I think that Intersil had been overextended for quite some time,"
said Steve Ohr, an analog semiconductor analyst with Gartner Group.
"Dave Bell had visions of making Intersil a billion-dollar company,
with acquisitions as well as organic growth. But if you buy another
company or another business, you want it to be accretive on Day One,
not next year or the year after that. Dave wound up fighting wars on
too many fronts."
Intersil should ideally merge with one of the big analog players. Their power management portfolio should be a very good fit.
@ Brian any insights into possible merger of Intersil with one of the large Analog Players(ADI or Maxim or Linear)
Dave Bell is certainly among the most respected CEOs among analog IC companies. His expertise in Power IC business is also legendary and illustrated by visionary GaN-on-Silicon IC patents.
One of the problems is the slow-down in PC business - one of the core revenue source for Intel. Another might the ever-increasing dominance of all things power by TI.
One should certainly wish well to Dave and commend him for his integrity and leadership.
If TI is dominating power, then please explain how Dialog has grown from $85 Million in 2005 to $750 Million in 2012. Everyone in power semiconductors is flat to down for the past several years. Those guys from Stuttgart are growing at 28%!
[Answer: Apple thinks Dialog power is good enough. 25,000 patents and the world leadership of TI doesn't count. That was my point about why high volume, high margin power semiconductors are old-hat. It's over. Time to move on to move valuable products.]
Or conversely, do our CEOs tend to pack their boards with "their own guys"
it is circular - ceo's from one company are the board members of another and vise versa. Then you just have a mesh of back scratching....
No insights, but given that Maxim seems more open to acquisition and Linear just made its first-ever acquisition (Dust Networks) last year, the possibility is definitely there.
Or a big digital player in need of analog expertise might consider it.
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