The Company’s Company

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Flextronics is one of those companies you hardly ever hear of because its primary business is to cater other companies. It provides services from design to manufacturing for the world’s well-known electronics company like Xerox, Research in Motion, Kodak, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Lenovo, and Microsoft. The company is capable of handling a wide range of the production process from design, to manufacturing and assembly, and even distribution and warehousing.

With factories located in four continents the company has the resource and logistics to serve its diverse clientele. Based in Singapore, it has over 200,000 employees who are located in 30 countries.

Heading this company is CEO Mike McNamara.  He has held management positions in the automotive and electronics industry. He was actually the president and CEO of another company that was acquired by Flextronics.  His skills and talent has allowed him to rise to the top position.  He was the CEO and president of Americas operation for Flextronics prior to become CEO.  Under his stewardship the company increased its revenues from $15 billion in 2006 to $30 billion in 2008.

Other senior executives of Flextronics also started out with other companies. While some companies are famous for promoting from within. Other companies like Flextronics have managed to grow bigger with professional managers coming from diverse backgrounds.

David Jorgensen of Katun Corporation Follows Technology to Success

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Like any good entrepreneur, David Jorgensen embraced technology to find success. Beginning his career as an engineer at Boeing, he learned programming, including such seminal languages as Fortran, GPSS, COBOL, MAP, and FAP. In his next position, at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), he provided technical consultation, mostly in the government sector. After an unsuccessful try at textbook publishing, David Jorgensen entered the cyber world, co-founding startup Computer Synectics, which produced monitors that assessed and improved computer performance. Next, he joined Dataquest, Inc., the first market research firm to use high-tech computer analysis.

At Dataquest, David Jorgensen watched as Silicon Valley developed, early on recognizing the growth of the technology sector. He went on to became CEO of the company, which was eventually acquired by A. C. Nielsen. In 1979, Jorgensen co-founded Katun Corporation, a company that supplies OEM-compatible imaging products, photoreceptors, and office-equipment parts throughout the United States and Europe. The company pioneered the sale of aftermarket parts to the office-equipment industry. In 2002, the partners sold the firm to private-equity groups, and it continues to thrive.

Leveraging his expertise in technology and business, David Jorgensen next entered the nonprofit sector as a benefactor, supporting educational institutions, think tanks, museums, medical research, and other organizations through the David and Annette Jorgensen Foundation. Technology enabled him to make a visible difference across a wide spectrum of causes, not a bad return for a guy who grew up in humble circumstances. In addition to his monetary contributions, David Jorgensen serves as President of the foundation, as a member of the National Philanthropy Board of the Pacific Legal Foundation, and as Vice Chairman of the Free to Choose Network.

 

The Returning Executive

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In most cases an employee of a very large corporation who has risen to senior rank and leaves the company before retirement would do so for various reasons. It could be because of being by-passed for a promotion, part of a management shakeout, or simply to seek greener pastures. These executives rarely go back to that company again. In the case of Vittorio Colao, he not only returned but in less than two years became CEO of one of the largest companies in the world, Vodafone.

Colao was not a career employee but had experience in other companies in the telecommunications industry.  Early on he worked in Milan for the famed McKinsey & Co.  focusing on media, telecommunications and industrial good. He then joined an Italian telecommunications company in 1996 which later became Vodafone Italy.

Colao then rose through the senior ranks of Vodafone and became a board member in 2002. In 2003, he was named the regional CEO for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa. After reaching such a high rank, he left in 2004 to become CEO of a leading Italian publishing company.  It was not to be the end of his Vodafone career since he rejoined the company as CEO for Europe on October 2006. On July 2008, he became CEO for Vodafone Group.

Vodafone is no ordinary company; its processor was Racal Telecom and was already known as the largest mobile network in the world, in 1987. It became Vodafone Group in 1991. The company had many first in Britain; such as the first network operator to have data, fax, and SMS services over the digital network in 1994.  In 2002, the company offered internet access while mobile and has now introduced money transfer services in emerging markets using the cell phone.

The company is huge with 371 million customers all over the world. It has direct operations in more than 30 countries and has partnerships with other networks in over 40 other countries.  With its spread, it is the largest mobile operator in the world and has a great advantage with its international roam feature having over 650 international network agreements.

A company this large has plenty of talent to choose from inside and outside the company. I guess it chose to have both criteria by appointing a CEO who has worked both inside and outside the company.

Build Your Dreams

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There is a bit of a mystery as to what BYD stands for, some say it’s “build your dreams”, but the founder of BYD Company Limited said that the phrase was only added later on.  It can really be said that BYD was built on a dream that became a stunning reality.

Chuan-Fu Wang founded BYD in 1995 with borrowed money from friends and relatives. He was a chemist by profession who studied how Japanese rechargeable batteries were made and believed he could make them much more cheaply and even improve on quality.

He did manage to make it cheaper while maintaining good quality, with top global companies being his customers. He was able to accomplish this by doing something which cannot be viewed as technological advancement. He decided to use human labor instead of installing robots.

At the end of the day cost does count. He simple made full use of a global advantage that China has- cheap labor. Yet he has been able to maintain quality and become a leader in battery technology. Due once again to cheap labor cost he was able to hire thousands of China’s top young engineers.  This is where his technological brain trust comes from and he has the management skill to make the most of out of this highly skilled labor force.

BYD is now the largest supplier of rechargeable batteries in the world, a serious automobile company with a head start in electric cars, is into renewable energy research and production, and has Warren Buffet as a fan and an investor. It has over 150,000 employees with offices all over the world.

Wang continues to build his dream into a global reality.

We All Can Get Intuit

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Scott Cook realized that personal computers would replace the traditional paper-and-pencil way of doing accounting. He needed to find a programmer and found Tom Proulx who was at Stanford University.  They founded Intuit in 1983 and came out with the first version of Quicken, a personal finance software which helped simplify the often difficult household task of balancing the family checkbook.

Following years of struggle to survive the company is today one of the leading providers of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized enterprises.  It also provides solutions to financial institutions, consumers and accounting professionals.

The products it offers include top-selling QuickBooks, Quickens and TurboTax software.  The company’s products and services enable small businesses to perform payroll and payment processing, tax preparation and filing in a more simplified manner. Personal financial management can also be addressed by its products.  The company has been able to leverage the potential of the personal computer and the computer in general to perform accounting and recording tasks as the founders envisioned it would.

While the initial software products were created in-house, management was also astute enough in acquiring other companies to increase its product lines. One of its earliest and notable acquisition was in 1993 when it bought ChipSoft, Inc. that produced one of the company’s top line product, TurboTax.  Throughout its history Intuit has made over 20 significant acquisitions.

It also provides cloud products through Intuit Financial Services with on-demand banking services for banks and credit unions. The company is conscientious of providing a good work environment understanding the need for balance between professional and personal life.  Intuit has been cited by many organizations as one of best companies to work for in America.

Brad Smith now heads the company as president and CEO. While Tom Proulx is no longer connected, Scott Cook serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee. The company had a revenue of $3.9 billion last year with net income of $624 million and 8,000 employees.

It all started with a man who had an idea how to make home accounting chores much simpler with the use of the personal computer.

Setting A New Standard

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You hear of companies starting out with a founder or two. This one had seven. Qualcomm’s seven founders were Irwin Jacobs, Andrew Viterbi, Franklin Antonio, Adelia Coffman, Andrew Cohen, Klein Gilhousen, and Harvey White. They wanted to establish “Quality Communications” hence the name Qualcomm.  These individuals had long careers in the telecommunications industry.  The company was founded in 1985 in San Diego, California.

The first product was OmniTRAC which was a satellite-based commercial mobile system used by long-haul trucking companies.  Today it is the largest system utilized in the transportation industry.

Its pivotal product was the introduction of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in 1989, which at the time provided improvements of over the existing wireless technology system. It was a successful challenge to an existing industry standard for the still growing wireless industry.  In July 1993 CDMA was adopted as the cellular standard by the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association.  Currently the U.S. mobile phone industry is dominated by those using CDMA. For the rest of the world GSM is the accepted standard.

With CDMA as its core product Qualcomm was able to introduce other products and services; producing CDMA cellular phones and the commercial CDMA network. It has gone on to make other innovations like the first CDMA chipset with GSP functionality. In 2007, it introduced the Snapdragon platform for higher performance mobile devices. By 2009, subscribers using CDMA chipsets was over 500 million.

The company had $14.957 billion in revenue for 2011 with a net income of $4.26 billion. It is a global company that has fully exploited the technology developed by its founders.

Steven Pinkert Embraces CyberKnife Technology

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Possessing a medical license, law degree, and an MBA, Steven Pinkert approaches technology from a multi-faceted viewpoint. Steven Pinkert’s enthusiasm for the CyberKnife system inspired him to such a degree that he joined a partner in opening one of the first CyberKnife centers in the world. A new approach to stereotactic radiosurgery, the technology holds approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Chinese equivalent for the treatment of lesions and tumors throughout the body. More than 160 CyberKnife Centers welcome patients throughout the United States, Europe, and in limited parts of Asia, including three centers in China. Steven Pinkert’s facility is located in Palm Beach, Florida.

The first prototype of CyberKnife was developed in 1994 at Stanford University Medical Center, under the auspices of Dr. John Adler, a neurosurgeon. The technology provides unparalleled capabilities for radiation oncologists to target lesions and tumors. Its advanced image-guidance system tracks the target position throughout treatment and ensures accuracy without employing an invasive stereotactic head frame. Due to the flexibility of its robotic arm, the technology works in formerly unreachable areas of the body, including the lungs, liver, pancreas, prostrate, and spine, as well as in the spinal cord and brain.

Utilizing computer technology similar to cruise-missile guidance software, CyberKnife locates a tumor and then, the sophisticated computer program establishes the location and unique shape of the tumor to determine how the 1,200 or more radiation beams will target the growth. While an X-ray source on the robotic arm delivers its concentrated beams of radiation, the equipment continually checks for movement of the patient and corrects its position to maintain its pinpoint accuracy. This advanced and progressive technology provides higher doses of radiation to tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues.

A Breakthrough Company

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Not all IT companies are still being led by their founders. A good number though still have their founders running the show. NVIDIA is one company that has gone public with the founders nonetheless having a lot of influence in the company.

NVIDIA came into notice in 1999 with its invention of the graphics processing unit (GPU).  This made it possible for computers to have great visual computing capabilities.  Visual graphics became much clearer and if you’re into gaming it doesn’t hurt if your computer has a GPU by NVIDIA.  Its Geforce line of GPU is an industry staple. Since the company’s customers are mostly other companies and not retail consumers it doesn’t rank high in popularity like Apple. Your computer might just have a NVIDIA GPU inside.

This company was founded in 1993 by three engineers who were very much involved in the computer industry. Two of the founders are still part of senior management.  Jen-Hsun Huang is the President and CEO of the company and a board member. He has held this position since the founding of the company and has pretty much set its direction.  The other co-founder is Chris A. Malachowsky who is a NVIDIA Fellow and Senior Vice President of Research.  From the start he has been very engaged in driving and developing the company’s core technology.  As head of research he plays a critical role in the company’s future with the products they are now currently developing

Today the company provides visual computing, mobile computing solutions, and high performance computing capabilities. It operates in three business areas namely Graphic Processing Unit (GPU), Professional Solutions Business (PSB), and Consumer Products Business (CPB).  It powers devices ranging from smart phones, notebooks, tablets, work stations and up to supercomputers.

The company’s growth has been both organic and through acquisitions. It had revenues last year of $4 billion and net income of $581.1 million. With two of the founders still leading and influencing the company, NVIDIA looks to continue with its breakthrough and winning ways.

Doing It Their Way

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If you want something done, then perhaps it’s best to on your own. This is what happened to Dr. James Truchard, Jeff Kodosky and Bill Nowlin. They were all employees at the University of Texas, Austin. They wanted a better way to collect and analyze data. So they began to form their own company.

With a bank loan and Truchard’s garage as their first office, they launched National Instruments in 1976. They at first kept their jobs at the University of Texas, but as business grew they all eventually joined the company full time. National Instruments provides software as well as hardware that the helps in the testing and design of products.

They have a product called LabVIEW which is a system design software that was created to enhance the measurement and testing of systems for engineers. How impressive is this product? NASA estimated it would take 600 programmers and several years of design and testing to develop the James Webb Space Telescope. With LabVIEW it took only a few months with just 2 programmers.  That’s the power of technological innovation for you.

The management at National Instruments expects its employees to work hard and afterwards play hard as well. While employees have their responsibilities the company strives to have a fun culture and environment. This management approach has been working. As of 2011, the company had 6,235 employees all over the world. It had 35,000 customers with not a single customer accounting for more than 3% of the sales. Revenues were over $1 billion.

The founders and leaders of National Instruments did it their way and have so far succeeded.

Company People

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Intel Corporation is a by-word in the computer industry. It created the microprocessor in 1971 which revolutionized computing. Today the company is the leading semiconductor manufacturer in the world. Like other technology companies it had periods of strong growth and slowdowns which at times resulted in layoffs. As of 2011 the company had over 100,000 employees all over the world with a majority of them in the United States.

While Intel has been known for its technological expertise, it has excelled in advertising and branding as well. Their campaign of having computer companies using Intel chips include the logo “Intel inside” created awareness among consumers. As a supplier of computer parts Intel was well-known in the industry but not to the general public. The campaign brought public awareness and helped developed brand loyalty. In the mid-90s Intel was already the dominate supplier of microprocessors or computer chips. This was on account of IBM choosing Intel’s microprocessor for the first personal computer.

Intel’s management culture can be traced back to its founders. The company was established in 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore with initial capital provided by venture capitalist Arthur Rock. They were soon joined by Andrew Grove. The company prefers not to have great distinct perks between ranks like there is no reserved parking space and everyone works out of cubicles instead of having offices.

What is also notable about Intel is that its senior officers are mostly career company employees. After Noyce became CEO, Moore followed, and then Grove took over. While technology companies are known for hiring outside talent, Intel has heavily promoted from inside. After Grove, Craig Barrett became president in 1997 and the position CEO was added a year later. He joined Intel in 1974. Paul Otellini followed as CEO in 2005; he has been with the company also since 1974. A look at the biographies of the senior officers will show that they have been with the company for most of their careers.

Perhaps this approach gives employees something to look forward to in terms of promotion and long term stay aside of course from the more open management style of the company. With profits totaling around $54 billion in 2011, the management style and technological innovations at Intel has kept it as one of the leading institutions in the computer industry.