Monday, September 27, 2004
Interview with Ashok Dhawan, Inphi
Ashok Dhawan is President and CEO of Inphi Corp (www.inphi-corp.com), an electronics manufacturer in Westlake Village. I asked Ashok a little about his company and where it is now, as well as where he sees the company going.
BK: What are Inphi's products, and what markets do you target?
AD: Inphi provides high performance analog components to three key markets - optical communication, Test and Measurement (T&M) and Precision timing. In each of these segments Inphi's analog components allow system designers to push the state of the art. In optical and T&M markets, Inphi analog components operate at frequencies exceeding 40 - 50 GHz. In precision timing market, Inphi allows DDR2 memories to run at speeds faster than ever before.
BK: From your name, I'd guess your products are all based on Indium Phosphide processes. Is this the case?
AD: Although our name suggests Indium Phosphide, but the company has not restricted its products to any one process technology. Inphi has the experience and the expertise to match the right process for the right product design. While our very high speed optical and measurement products utilize Indium Phosphide, lower speed mass production parts use Silicon processes. Inphi's goal is to provide the best analog component for the selected application. Our engineers are comfortable scanning the available processes to meet the goal of always having the industry leading solution.
BK: Why Inphi--what's your fit to the market, and what's your advantage in a crowded semiconductor space?
AD: Semiconductor market is definitely a crowded space but Inphi has a carved a niche for itself as a leading provider of very high performance analog components. Inphi, through superior and innovative design techniques, serves the analog component market with the highest performing analog parts. The performance allows our customers to deliver a more competitive solution to their end markets. Sometime the performance is deliverd as more value to the end user for example as higher speed of communication etc or sometime the added performance is used to achieve a lower manufacturing cost.
BK: Who are your typical customers, and what kind of customers are using your products?
AD: In each segment of the addressed market, we are pleased to have the leaders as our customers. List of companies buying our parts includes Lucent, Alcatel, Huawei, Finisar, Agilent, Sumitomo and Anritsu.
BK: What was your prior experience?
AD: I have been involved with start-ups since early eighties. My last company was purchased by Lucent where I was running a $1B business after the acquisition.
BK: Who are the company's investors, and what was your last round of funding?
AD: Inphi investors are all world class VC companies with proven records. Dado Bonatao, first round lead investor and our Chairman, is the leading semi-conductor enterpreneur in silicon valley. He is a founder of S3, Chips & Tech and Marvell. Lip-Bu Tan, the second round lead investor is Chairman of Walden international, and is responsible for multi-billion dollar venture fund. In addition Mayfiield Ventures is also a key Inphi investor.
We are in the process of closing a round C funding which was led by Flextronics.
BK: Finally, what's Inphi's biggest goal and challenge for the next six months?
AD: Inphi challenge is to offer new and innovative solutions at an accelerated pace. Our revenue has been growing and we need to keep the growth rate accelerating until we reach a critical mass. We need to identify the right high performance components and develop them before our competition can.