Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cypress Semiconductor Smacks California Gov

Cypress Semiconductor's CEO, T.J. Rodgers, continues to impress me months after the company's shareholder meeting. So many CEOs lack knowledge of their own company's product, come from a sales rather than technical background, or are just slimey (e.g. Yahoo's Terry Semel, who released information to China leading to the arrest of a blogger).

T.J. Rodgers is the opposite of all of these CEO stereotypes. He is a plainspoken, knowledgeable man that inspires confidence and whose very presence seems to repel fluff (I had another word in mind, but wanted to keep this family-friendly). Here is a two-part interview with him:

T.J. Rodgers just had a letter published in the Wall Street Journal that serves as a warning to all Californians. Mr. Rodgers writes, "Except for our sales force, our company was 100% California-based as late as the mid-1990's...[Now] 7,000 of our 8,000 employees reside outside of California. And we are moving jobs out of California as rapidly as we can. Few people know it, but so-called Silicon Valley is not really Silicon Valley anymore--almost all of the wafer fabrication plants have been shut down due to the hostile business climate."

When was the last time you heard of a CEO openly criticizing the state government of his company's HQ? If Sacramento doesn't wake up soon, California will increase two types of jobs, lawyers and low-level service workers, while higher paying jobs move elsewhere.

Here is a paragraph from Mr. Rodgers' famous letter against quotas:

We simply cannot allow arbitrary rules to be forced on us by organizations that lack business expertise. I would rather be labeled as a person who is unkind to religious groups than as a coward who harms his employees and investors by mindlessly following high-sounding, but false, standards of right and wrong...

Cypress stands for personal and economic freedom, for free minds and free markets, a position irrevocably in opposition to the immoral attempt by coercive utopians to mandate even more government control over America's economy.

Read Mr. Rodgers' full letter here:

A friend of mine emailed me saying I was contradicting myself by advocating more diversity at McAfee and EA but supporting Mr. Rodgers. I told my friend she should realize that being anti-quota is not anti-diversity. Indeed, Mr. Rodgers has beefed up diversity in his company--a quick look at current (2008) executive management shows these names:

Dinesh Ramanathan
Ahmad Chatila
Shahin Sharifzadeh
Hal Zarem
Babak Hedayati

There's at least one Indian and one Iranian now in upper management. Contrast that with EA's executive ranks, and you'll see it's like night and day.

Also, read Mr. Rodgers' 1996 letter more carefully--he specifically states that the picture will change in "10 years," which is now here:

Unfortunately, there are currently [in 1996] few minorities and almost no women who chose to be engineering graduate students 30 years ago. (That picture will be dramatically different in 10 years, due to the greater diversification of graduate students in the '80s.)

In twenty five years, when most upper management in technology companies will be Indian and Chinese (that's where the growth markets are), I bet the same people advocating quotas for non-Caucasians will not be protesting on behalf of Caucasians.

Here is another letter from Mr. Rodgers, against government spying and patriotism:

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