iWatt, the Californian digital-centric power management specialist, is about to go public.
.”We’ve filed the paperwork with the SEC to start off the IPO process,” says Scott Brown, iWatt’s marketing vp, “we’re ready to go public – we’re waiting for a suitable market.”
Although no one in their right mind would equate iWatt’s business to Facebook’s business, to Wall Street they’re both ‘tech’ and the Facebook IPO fiasco has left investors feeling wary.
iWatt, founded in 2000, has been growing at 50% a year for some years selling power control ICs for AC/DC power adapters, solid state lighting and TV backlighting, STB and home gateways, networks, industrial applications and appliances.
Unit sales were 400m last year and will be 550m this year. It has 160 employees of which over half will be in China by the end of the year.
“The combination of primary side control and accurate regulation is what makes iWatt unique,” says Brown, “we’re the only company that can combine these attributes within one product. There are plenty of companies out there with inaccurate primary side control but accuracy is important.”
80% of iWatt’s business is in AC/DC controllers and the largest part of that is smartphone.
iWatt also has a technology for flickerless LED lighting. Flickering LEDs can cause epileptic fits. The company sells intelligent digital controllers which eliminate flicker. “We’ll be shipping 60m units into the lighting space this year.,” says Brown.
The LED bulb market is still to take off but Brown reckons it’s just a matter of time, and cost reduction. “We need to get the cost of LEDs down,” he says. Asked to what level, he replies: “$10 is thrown out as the magic price point. But I think we need to do a better job of selling the comparative cost of ownership.”
Currently LED bulbs cost about $20 but iWatt is about to launch an IC which will “dramatically reduce the BOM in SSL LED light bulbs,” says Brown.
“We’ll have a flood of new products in the next few months,” adds Brown.
Asked if iWatt had considered selling IP as well as ICs, Brown replies: “We make our money from selling chips – there’s no need to prostitute our patents.”