It's $10 Billion or Bust for Xilinx' New CEO

Posted by: Peter Burrows on January 07, 2008

I just got off the phone with long-time Xilinx CEO Wim Roelandts, who as of today has handed CEO duties to former Cadence Design executive Moshe Gavrielov (Roelandts will remain chairman). A change in control is not news, as Roelandts announced his decision to step down as CEO last August. But one thing Gavrielov told me was a surprise: he hopes to grow Xilinx five-fold, into a $10 billion company, during his tenure.

Here’s his thinking. Currently, Xilinx is the market leader for so-called programmble chips, or field-programmable gate arrays, that can be more easily designed and tweaked than standard chips that are hard-wired for a particular application. In the past, they were used primarily in the prototyping phase by tech products companies, to help speed time to market. But under Roelandts tenure, Xilinx FPGAs have become standard inside many types of gear, from telcom gear to cars, often replacing pricier (if often better-performing) non-programmable chips called ASICs.

Now, Garvielov, a 30-year industry vet, thinks Xilinx can conquer the larger systems-on-a-chip market with the programmable approach. At a time when chipmakers are using huge advances in technology to cram more elements of a system onto one slice of silicon (thereby saving on space, power and complexity), that’s saying something. “This company has the wind in its sails. The economics are such that programmable solutions are the way the world is going.”

So far, Wall Street seems to approve of the choice. The stock rose ten cents to close at $20.46. But if he in fact can maintain or surpass Roelandt’s growth record—the company grew nearly four-fold, to $1.8 billion, since he joined in 1996—investors will take notice soon enough.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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