Henry Samueli, Broadcom Corp.

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) was founded by two guys named Henry, which makes it tempting to pair them against each other in a Jobs/Wozniak way, or like the mismatched partners in a cop flick. There's Henry Nicholas III, the smug CEO always feeding glib quotes to the press, and Henry Samueli, the serious CTO who keeps to the sidelines.

But that's not quite how it goes. Nicholas has a PhD, and Samueli, as Light Reading discovered during a recent California visit, is a warm and charismatic guy, and forcefully upbeat, despite the brutal conditions that faced communications chip vendors in 2002.

Yeah, Broadcom had just laid off about 15 percent of the staff (see Axe Falls at Broadcom), but it was the first major layoff in the company's 11-year history. Yeah, the company's growth spurt stopped, but revenues have been mercifully flat during the downturn, keeping Broadcom a $1 billion company. Maybe Samueli comes across a bit cocky, but that's part of the Broadcom way; Nicholas in particular is infamous for piling on the superlatives, and some analysts admit to rolling their eyes at Broadcom's PowerPoint theatrics.

Of course, you might be smug too, if you had Broadcom's kind of winning streak. The company started when the Henrys left PairGain Technologies Inc. in 1991 to develop chips for cable set-top boxes, leaving behind some lucrative stock options. The gamble paid off in 1998, when Broadcom's $24-a-share IPO jumped 123 percent in one day, finishing the year above $116.

Then, as 2000 unfolded, Broadcom went beyond superstar to superpower. A stock price exceeding $200 gave the company the fuel to keep pace as Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and other giants began snapping up startups like jelly beans.

Obviously those days have ended, and Broadcom's stock price now hangs in the $16 range. The company's hardly in ruins, though, having expanded into a mini-empire touching on Ethernet, DSL, security, wireless, and even optical networking. And unlike Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) or PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS), which have had to drop some of the projects they acquired, Broadcom officials say they won't throw back any of the fish they've caught. Samueli says they're in it to lead each of those markets.

Technically, Samueli is still a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA, but Broadcom is his day job, and he's not about to trade back his swank office – with all its expensive dark-wood furniture – for the tin-can filing cabinets of academia. We stopped by on a sunny Southern California day (imagine that) to hear him explain why he doesn't think the fun is over.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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some_fair_comments 12/5/2012 | 12:55:08 AM
re: Henry Samueli, Broadcom Corp. There are some biased/untrue comments. Broadcom has never been ahead in the Gigabit Ethernet technology, nor has it ever dominated the market as claimed. Two and a half years ago, when Fry's Electronics first had Gigabit NIC cards, my friend bought one and opened it, and the chip inside was stamped the Marvell logo. Even the Intel GigE uses Marvell PHY. Broadcom seems to be the one who's always trying to catch up for the past 2 or 3 years.
systemBuilder 12/5/2012 | 12:50:26 AM
re: Henry Samueli, Broadcom Corp. The article is not exaggerated about Gigabit Ethernet. My engineering friends at PMC-Sierra said that they introduced a GigE multi-port multi-speed chipset, and 4 months later when broadcom entered the field they were wiped out.

Broadcom was at least two years ahead of everyone else in the CAT-5 gigabit Ethernet market. They were the first to demonstrate Gigabit on CAT-5 hardware, but a few years. Gigabit over optical is nothing special; its just prohibitively expensive and therefore, unlikely to go far.
aardvark 12/5/2012 | 12:38:04 AM
re: Henry Samueli, Broadcom Corp. Your mistaken

It was quad 10/100Mbps Ethernet, I was there and we had our ass whipped.

Don't know what the real story is on GigE but I believe that Broadcom is No1. with Marvel a strong No.2.

Ant eater
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