I was sitting next to Rick when he asked the panelists if any of them were investing in semiconductor companies. Only 2 of them said yes, with only 1 start-up named. That was hardly a great endorsement for IC start-ups, IMHO.
At other VC panels I've attended, there was a great reluctance to invest in IC start-ups due to high capital expenditures required and a relatively long time to gain ROI via exit.
Great point, but with fabs consolidating into fewer hands and critical items like EUV becoming big industry pushes, is there a market for a startup there?
I recall sometime ago Sun co-founder turned investor Bill Joy told me there are opportunities for startups leveraging the infrastructure of what you can do with all that wonderful installed high tech gear.
It's nice that the VCs are willing to look at chip technology but what about chipmaking equipment technology? The Bay Area VC community fueled much of the system, sub-system and critical component technology developments in the 70's,80's and into the 90's but then they turned tail and ran. As a result equipment technology is stagnating and innovative products are left stranded after entrepreneurial resources are depleted. This does not bode well for the future.
On the surface, this is good news for the chip industry. But I hope the VCs who pledged their interest in backing semiconductor firms aren't just playing lip service to the industry. They've been telling us over and over it's just not worth their bet.
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