There’s nothing ever good about losing your job but sometimes, as one door closes, another opens. When the UK electronic majors – GEC, Plessey, STC, Ferranti – sank into oblivion, many departing engineers set up businesses. So Freescale’s moves to help leaving staff become entrepreneurs may stimulate start-up activity.
“What we did was notify any of the people we let go that, if they wanted to go and start up a company and develop products, we would make it easy and painless for them to use Freescale’s tools,” Freescale’s CEO, Rich Beyer, tells me.
Beyer was brought in by Blackstone last year to try and steer Freescale through the worst semiconductor industry recession in the 30 years with a company which had been saddled with $10 billion in debt costing some $700 million a year to service.
“We saw a dramatic decline across most of our businesses”, says Beyer. He has to cut costs by $750 million a year, and cutting costs on that scale means cutting people.
One unit which was hived off, the MRAM business, has achieved independence as ‘Everspin Technologies’, winning one of Red Herring’s ‘Most promising . . . .’ awards earlier this year.
Another unit, Freescale’s wireless handset IC business, looked unfeasible without former parent Motorola as a stable customer. Attempts to sell the business failed, so Freescale is running it down.
All this means a lot of people have been leaving Freescale. Apart from Everspin, have there been any entrepreneurial successes from Freescale’s leavers?
“It’s too early to say”, says Beyer.