While technology giant Intel continues the search for a new CEO, its Cambridge-based arch rival ARM has had the succession in hand for some time and has already inked in its roadmap to future growth under new leadership.
If Intel is probing for a chink in the ARM-our of the Cambridge superchip designer it is likely to be disappointed according to departing CEO Warren East and his successor Simon Segars – currently ARM president. To borrow a line from The Boss of the global rock industry – Bruce Springsteen – ARM’s mantra is most definitely, ‘No Retreat, No Surrender.’
In a conference call with Business Weekly and a limited number of other invited specialist press, East and Segars stressed that ARM was banking on strengthening its market lead in chip shipments – and its current stranglehold on Intel. But ARM’s ambitions stretch considerably further than keeping its foot on Intel’s throat. Segars is predicting a new spurt of growth for ARM driven by innovation in the smartphone arena and the burgeoning opportunities being opened up through the connection of billions of devices via the Internet of Things.
“When you consider areas like smart TVs and games machines, there are many more things being connected to the internet with a screen. And, of course, there is the Internet of Things connecting anything that can be usefully connected to the internet – from light bulbs and street lights to heat sensors, personal medical devices and thermostats. You can connect them to the internet, control them remotely, gather data, infer information from that data and use that to guide decision making.
“Far from worrying about shrinking market share we see only opportunities for very major growth ahead for ARM.”
Segars may be losing the sun of California when he moves to ARM’s global HQ in Cambridge to take up his duties on July 1 but the heat will definitely be on. For a start he has to take a CEO seat that East has made very hot indeed. Under his tutelage ARM has boosted turnover from £146m to £577m and pre-tax profits were hoisted 20 per cent last year to take market cap to £12.3bn.
Segars is undaunted. He said: “ARM has changed so much under Warren East and his inspirational vision. But this week is my 22nd anniversary of working for ARM and I was involved in the early processors so I am steeped in the culture and the ambition of the business.
“Constant change is what this business is all about – we are always looking at future opportunities. Intel are still looking for a new CEO but we have had our succession in hand for some time. We will drive our own roadmap regardless of Intel’s agenda.
“I don’t see our culture or ambitions fundamentally changing regardless of how Intel respond. We certainly won’t be complacent. The semiconductor industry itself is in a state of change and we will respond to whatever new challenges we are faced with and react with our customary skill and vigour. We will morph to adapt whatever the markets throw at us.
“But more than this – we plan long term and have identified a number of opportunities to grow our business in a major and significant way. We will follow that agenda backed by world-class innovation and a brilliant team of people globally.We continue to develop projects along multiple lines. We have never just developed one product for one end market. Server computers, mobile computing, smartphones, internet infrastructure and a whole host of markets are sitting up and begging for ARM innovation and we don’t aim to disappoint them.”
East confided that he had been considering his future for some time. While, after a suitable break, he would like to identify a fresh technology challenge he hoped that would be one without the intensive global travelling he has inevitably undertaken as ARM CEO.
“I’ve had 19 years at the company and nearly 12 as CEO and had I stayed to the end of our next corporate plan in 2020 I would have had nearly 20 years as CEO. That’s too long and not particularly healthy for any business. The average CEO turnover in the City is nearer three years.
“I was determined to be flexible and stay on for as long as it took to find, not just any CEO, but the right man to take this company forward and ensure we kept on innovating in the face of some really big technical challenges.
“We conducted a worldwide search for my successor and Simon was the best candidate. He has a global outlook, integrity, a collaborative approach and impeccable credentials. I am extremely confident that ARM will make further progress under his leadership.”
East bows out on July 1 but is confident of exiting on the back of a valedictory triumph via what he hopes will prove “a very strong first quarter’s results” around April 23 time. His transformative efforts for ARM and the Cambridge technology cluster as a whole merit nothing less.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Warren East