June 12, 2018

Silicon Catalyst announces significant strengthening of its leadership team

Silicon Valley, CA, Silicon Catalyst, the only incubator for solutions in silicon, announces significant strengthening of its leadership team.

  • Semiconductor industry veteran Pete Rodriguez, who joined Silicon Catalyst in 2017, has accepted the CEO role.

  • Silicon Catalyst co-founder and serial entrepreneur Rick Lazansky steps into the Chairman role, where he will continue doing what he does best as Chief Entrepreneur and Chief Strategist.

  • Managing Partner Nick Kepler, who for the past three years has driven the significant progress at Silicon Catalyst, is promoted to COO.

Pete Rodriguez is a veteran of the semiconductor industry, with an impressive history of leading both large public companies and small startups to success. From CEO of Xpedion Design Systems to CEO of Exar to VP & GM at NXP, Pete has demonstrated an excellent ability to establish and build successful teams, deliver great products, and grow revenue.  

Semiconductor industry luminary David French states, “I am very pleased to be joining the Silicon Catalyst team, both as an advisor and an investor. The strong operational team led by Pete and Nick has led me to commit time and significant capital to help make Silicon Catalyst the global leader in incubating semiconductor companies.” 

Silicon Catalyst has grown its semiconductor ecosystem to 75 advisors, over 70 investors and 27 industry-leading partner companies, including key strategic partners Texas Instruments and ON Semiconductor. In the past 30 months, Silicon Catalyst has reviewed over 200 startups from the U.S., Europe and Asia and has admitted 16 to the incubator.  These startups are developing innovations in energy harvesting, silicon photonics, memory technology, wireless communications, smart lighting, machine learning, biomedical devices, and more.  Silicon Catalyst is planning for significant growth in 2018 and is targeting to launch internationally in key industry markets.

"ON Semiconductor's growth has been fueled by the cultivation of strategic business and technologies, complimentary to areas where we are innovating internally," said Mamoon Rashid, senior vice president of strategic business ventures at ON Semiconductor. “My role is to look outside the company and fill innovation and technology gaps, and the need for a strong ecosystem for the development of new semiconductor companies and their innovations is clear. ON Semiconductor is excited to participate in the Silicon Catalyst ecosystem, both gaining access to early silicon innovations as well as providing guidance and intellectual resources needed to support ongoing development in the semiconductor industry."

“Venture capital investment in semiconductor startups has been stalled for the past decade,” stated Yatin Mundkur, partner at Artiman Ventures.  “Silicon Catalyst has put together an ecosystem that makes it interesting, fun, and profitable to be back in the game.”

John East, former CEO of Actel and Senior Advisor to Silicon Catalyst startup SPARK Microsystems, added, “I’m having a blast working with all the startups and young entrepreneurs connected to Silicon Catalyst!  They have a tremendous amount of talent and energy.  I’m thankful that they value my experience, and it’s exciting to contribute to their success.”

“Synopsys values startups that are creating novel solutions in silicon and contributing to growth of the semiconductor industry,” said Sassine Ghazi, Corporate Staff, co-GM Design Group at Synopsys. “The ecosystem that Silicon Catalyst has pulled together helps the strongest of these startups succeed. As an important member of this ecosystem, Synopsys supports early-stage startups to develop the next wave of product innovations and build strong relationships with technology disruptors.”  

Doug Kirkpatrick, former Program Manager and Chief Scientist at DARPA, and CEO of Silicon Catalyst startup Eridan Communications, said, “The Silicon Catalyst team is broad, diverse, and deep. Our Advisor and his Silicon Catalyst teammates have helped us identify a process node for our integrated CMOS IC and they’re working closely with us to help implement our design. We love working with them – they give us a bench strength and knowledge base of the ecosystem that is invaluable to startups like ours.”

Management Team Bios

CEO: Pete Rodriguez has over 30 years of experience in the Semiconductor industry.  Prior to Silicon Catalyst Pete was VP & GM of Interface and Power at NXP Semiconductors. Prior to NXP Pete was CEO of Exar Corporation, CEO of Xpedion Design Systems, Chief Marketing Officer at Virage Logic and Major Account Manager at LSI Logic. Pete spent twelve years as an entrepreneur with three different startups and has raised over $30 Million in venture capital.  He also retired from the US Naval Reserves with the rank of Commander. Pete has served on public, private, advisory and non-profit boards of directors.  He is a graduate in strategy and policy of the Naval War College, has an MBA from Pepperdine University, an MSEE from Cal Poly Pomona, and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Chairman: Rick Lazansky is a serial entrepreneur, active investor, and coach of many startups. Rick was inspired to start Silicon Catalyst by the growth of software startups, supported by incubators, accelerators, and open source software, and the need for ‘hard’ technologies to have the same level of ecosystem support. Rick has invested in more than 40 startups as an angel investor with Sand Hill Angels and as an LP in several venture funds. He had coached startup projects and classes at Stanford, Carnegie Mellon University, UC Santa Cruz and Berkeley. His startups include Vantage Analysis Systems, Denali Software, and RedSpark. He has served as a Board Director at three other incubators – i-GATE Hub in Livermore, Batchery in Berkeley, and Barcelona Ventures in Catalonia. He has a BA/BS in Economics and Information Science and an MS in SC/CE from Stanford.

COO: Nick Kepler has over 30 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, with varied leadership and technology management roles including semiconductor process technology development and manufacturing, design enablement, technical program management, and customer-facing marketing and technical sales.  Prior to Silicon Catalyst, Nick was VP of Products for SuVolta, a startup developing semiconductor technology IP.  Prior to SuVolta, Nick was VP of Corporate Program Management and previously VP of Design Enablement at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  Nick spent 23 years at AMD in a variety of management and technical roles concluding with VP, Advanced CMOS Process Technology Development.  Nick has BS and MS degrees in EECS from the University of California at Berkeley.