MANAGEMENT STATEMENT "The next generation in power semiconductors will be driven by Silicon Carbide technology"
What's the deal with the name change from Cree to Wolfspeed and how does this strategic decision affect the company's goals? Gregg Lowe, CEO at Wolfspeed, provides these and other answers in an interview.
Mr. Lowe, your company was first known as Cree, then Cree | Wolfspeed, and since October of this year as Wolfspeed. What is driving the name change?
Our transition to Wolfspeed was a strategic choice to channel our focus into Silicon Carbide research and production to lead the industry-wide transition from silicon to Silicon Carbide-based semiconductors. We believe the next generation in power semiconductors will be driven by Silicon Carbide technology, which offers superior performance to unleash new possibilities within electric vehicles, 5G, industrial and energy applications, and beyond.
Does the name change affect the company's strategy and goals?
Wolfspeed served as the brand for the company’s Silicon Carbide materials and semiconductor devices business unit for the past six years. With our recent divestitures, the Wolfspeed name for the larger company better reflects our core focus on Silicon Carbide’s use in power semiconductors.
We saw an opportunity to capitalize on our 30+ year history of working with Silicon Carbide to lead and accelerate this revolution in the semiconductor industry. Our device opportunity pipeline is now greater than USD15 billion, providing further evidence that the transition to Silicon Carbide continues to build momentum across multiple industry sectors. To prepare for this growth, we are expanding capacity in both North Carolina and New York, establishing what I like to call the “Silicon Carbide corridor” of the East Coast, with a plan to increase our capacity by 30x, drive cost reductions and meet customer needs.
The restructuring comes in turbulent times - just take the pandemic, the growing demand for sustainable solutions and the chip shortage as examples. How do you assess these developments with regard to the industry as a whole?
I am astounded at the quantity and quality of work that our company has completed in the past 18 months. A great example of this is our state-of-the-art, world’s largest, 200mm Silicon Carbide wafer facility in Marcy, New York. We began working at the site in March 2020 – right as the world shut down – to planning to produce a qualifying product in the first part of 2022. In an average year, that would be considered quick construction, so accomplishing that in a pandemic year with stressed supply chains is something I am very proud of our team for accomplishing. The fab in Upstate New York is a vital part of our new identity as a Silicon Carbide semiconductor powerhouse, and we hope will also be an answer to many businesses who suffered from the silicon semiconductor chip shortage – particularly in the automotive industry.
This global phenomenon created opportunities for us to talk with customers about the importance of access to supply and what their plans may be to use Silicon Carbide in their future designs. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain very confident in the long-term opportunity ahead of us as we see accelerating demand for Silicon Carbide-based high-power electronics across a range of industries. We are investing more than USD1 billion dollars to ensure we can meet the rapidly increasing demand for Silicon Carbide for the next several decades. Capacity expansion at our headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, and our Mohawk Valley Fab in Upstate New York will continue to play an essential role in meeting the needs of our current and future customers.
And how do you plan to overcome the current challenges to ensure the long-term success of the company under its new name?
Allowing our customers and society to do more while consuming less is at the core of what we do. As we look toward the future we experience a rise in demand for Silicon Carbide, our capacity expansion in North Carolina and New York will help us to supply this growing pipeline of customers through increased production.
When we talk about the future with Silicon Carbide, we must consider both the man and brain power needed to scale at the level our industry needs to reach. To support our expected growth Wolfspeed has emphasized talent development and retention across all levels, from attracting seasoned semiconductor leaders to nurturing a steady pipeline of young professionals through our intern program and partnership with local universities. Educating a diverse and new generation of students and young professionals to support this transformation is essential for Wolfspeed, as we support a number of scholarships and training programs through local universities.
Thank you for the interview, Mr. Lowe.