SAN ANTONIO—When Gregg Lowe, Freescale Semiconductor Inc.'s president and CEO, took the microphone to deliver the keynote address at perhaps his company's most important annual event Tuesday (June 19), he was in the early stages of his 14th day on the job.
Later, when asked a question about Freescale's strengths and weaknesses, Lowe freely acknowledged he was unqualified to answer, owing to his brief stint on the job thus far.
But Lowe—who was named to Freescale's top job June 5—made one thing clear above all others. He stated several times that his primary mission is to improve Freescale's market share, growing the company faster than the overall semiconductor industry.
"I don't know that I can point to a single weakness after 13 days," Lowe said. "What I would tell you is that the employees of this company feel they know they have the skills and the capabilities to do a better job of growing the company and gaining market share."
Greg Lowe, Freescale Semiconductor's president and CEO, speaks at the Freescale Technology Forum Tuesday.
Lowe acknowledged that he is not yet ready to list in which product areas Freescale has the best opportunities to capture greater market share. He also declined to put a timeline on how long it will take he and the rest of the company's management to agree on a strategy to grow the company's top line.
"I am working on that aggressively," Lowe said. "But I am not going to be impatient. This is a company that has a lot of different things going on. We've got to make the right decisions and choices."
Early on in his keynote address, Lowe, a longtime executive at Texas Instruments Inc., said he was drawn to the Freescale job by what he saw as values that he shared—integrity, openness, a team environment and a desire to win. He added later that he was intrigued by Freescale's solid technical heritage and strong position in a number of markets.
Lowe said he has spent the past 13 days talking to Freescale employees at all levels, from high-ranking executives to random employees in the company cafeteria. "This is a team that is hungry," he said. "This is a team that wants to win. This is a team that has a heritage of winning. And I hope to work together with that team to put us back in that position."
In a meeting with analysts later Tuesday, Lowe was asked about managing Freescale's massive debt load, which stands at more than $6 billion. "The debt is what it is," Lowe said. "It's down from what it's been, so there's been some good progress on that front." Lowe added that the "one lever that hasn't been pulled enough" is to grow the company's top line faster than the overall market.
Asked by an analyst to describe to what degree his compensation was tied to Freescale's success, Lowe largely sidestepped the question. But, he said that he had been asked if he had "skin in the game" previously.
"I feel like I have all of my organs in the game at this point," Lowe said.
Yes, the same mantra he had at TI. The monthly meetings we focused on market share. I expect him to do the same at Freescale. The problem at TI was that most of the market share gains were through acquisitions. I don't think he can do that at Freescale.
We hope so for him and others that need his help to keep their jobs. But it will not be easy because most of the factors are not within his control. China is emerging a threat and that is a concern for a small player like Freescale