When Boland sold Element 14, the British chip company he had co-founded only 15 months earlier, to U.S.-based Broadcom Corp. for $642 million last year, he walked away with enough money to ensure he would never need to work again.
But after a brief stint at Broadcom and a summer break on the Riviera, Boland is setting out to build a new European semiconductor company that will “be more permanent and much bigger.”
The start-up, code-named Comnios, will use programmable logic to target the hottest applications, such as those in the communications market. It will offer generous stock options to attract Europe's brightest engineers. Boland sure has the experience.
As a chief financial officer at Britain's ICL from 1994 to '97, he is took his division from a $13 million loss to a $7 million profit in less than a year. As CEO of Acorn Group, an electronics company in Cambridge, Boland closed the firm's legacy PC business, focused on the development of a high-performance communications processor and split Acorn into three parts. He sold off its set-top box business, gave its chip designer ARM Holdings to Acorn shareholders and spun its microprocessor business into a new company, Element 14.
This month Boland started laying the groundwork recruiting talent, talking to venture capitalists and hiring lawyers and accountants to create Comnios.
The Vision Thing: "There is an opportunity to create a successful new semiconductor company in Europe that could have an initial public offering within a five-year time frame and ultimately a market cap of an Infineon or an STMicroelectronics."
Forward Spin: When the semiconductor business rebounds, probably within two years, start-ups that have low-cost bases and can attract the brightest engineers will have an advantage.