Elpida Memory Inc., the new DRAM joint venture of Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp., is immediately moving to harmonize the distribution channels of the two chipmakers in the United States.
Mike Despotes, new president of the U.S. subsidiary of Elpida, said there are some common distributors that pose no great problem. Both companies have used Avnet Inc. as a DRAM channel. Despotres said Elpida is now evaluating how to handle distributors and sales reps that had either had Hitachi or NEC separately on their line cards.
The new joint DRAM marketing operations start Jan. 1, when Elpida intends to have its new distribution structure in place. The U.S. operation will move into its own offices in a new Santa Clara, Calif., site at the beginning of the year. Despotes said it was too early to know how many channel outlets will be carried by Elpida, or other changes that might be made.
Elpida must also adjust long-term OEM supply contracts that Hitachi and NEC each held with major accounts into a single agreement. Despotes didn't envision any major problems in modifying the two DRAM vendors' separate contracts with a key account into a new single accord.
A new initiative for the joint venture will be setting up an Internet e-business channel. Neither Hitachi's nor NEC's U.S. chip affiliates had a Web-based direct-sales site.
Elpida, by focusing on the single memory-chip category, will be a more streamlined and tighter organization, the new president said. "We should be able to react much faster, speed up decision-making, and meet customer needs more quickly than when our DRAM operations were only part of much larger electronic conglomerates," Despotes stressed.
Despotes is currently senior vice president of marketing for NEC Electronics America Inc.'s semiconductor subsidiary, a post he holds through Dec. 31 concurrently with heading Elpida.
Other executives of the new joint venture include Jim Sogas, vice president of sales, who is currently director of memory marketing for Hitachi Semiconductors (U.S.A). Also, Manabu Ando, currently NEC Electronics America's general manager of memory engineering, becomes Elpida Memory (U.S.) vice president of engineering. Tatsuya Iida, general manager of NEC's business operations, becomes senior vice president with the same responsibilities for the U.S. Elpida subsidiary.