Careers at Maxim Integrated
Maxim Integrated Products’ mission is to deliver highly-integrated analog and mixed-signal engineering solutions that add value to its customers' products.
In the early 1980s, Jack Gifford worked as an executive at Intersil, a subsidiary of General Electric that produced linear (analog) circuits. At the time, circuit manufacturers were rapidly transitioning to digital circuits. This was because the digital format was better than linear varieties (which use analog waves) for advanced logic-based applications, such as controlling computers and processing data.
Gifford believed that chip companies, including Intersil, were too quick to dismiss the benefits of linear circuits, which are preferable for applications requiring the measurement of varying physical properties such as pressure and temperature. He believed that abandoning them completely would be a mistake. Therefore, in 1983 he and nine other Intersil employees left to start their own firm.
They founded Maxim Integrated Products to take advantage of the linear opportunity. They aimed to create a broad selection of linear chips that would complement digital devices. Specifically, they would interpret physical properties and then transfer that data to a digital chip for processing. As an example, this activity could work in cell phones, which still used analog waves to communicate.
The company spent two years developing marketable chips. The period was filled with many challenges, including a lack of investment funds and low cash flow. However, the biggest threat was a lawsuit by Intersil, which accused Maxim of using its trade secrets. The two parties eventually came to an agreement that gave Maxim the right to use specific pieces of proprietary information.
Maxim launched its first products, benefitting from several factors. It was one of the few firms focused on linear circuits, leading to strong sales -- $4.6 million in 1985. It also had an advantage over firms entering the digital circuit space – it did not have to build expensive new factories, keeping costs low. Lastly, Maxim emphasized foreign markets, where sales were showing the fastest growth.
The march towards digital continued towards the end of the 1980s, causing analog circuit market share to drop to under 20%. However, Maxim’s successful focus on its niche enabled it to thrive. In 1987, it released a hit product called MAX232, leading to sales of $16 million and its first profitable year. In 1988, the company decided to go public. After that, it posted a profit every ensuing year.
Benefits at Maxim Integrated
Business model of Maxim Integrated
Maxim has a niche market business model, with a specialized customer segment. The company targets its offerings at firms across industries that need linear and mixed-signal integrated circuits for their products. It serves five primary end-markets: Automotive, Computing, Communications and Data Center, Industrial, and Consumer.
Maxim offers two primary value propositions: risk reduction and brand/status.
The company reduces risk through a rigorous assessment of its products. The process evaluates reliability and quality at every stage from initial design to final shipment. Specific procedures include reliability stress testing, failure analysis support, lot traceability, and comprehensive parametric testing at wafer acceptance. As a result of its diligence, Maxim has obtained ISO 9001/2, ISO 14001, and TS 1694 certifications for its wafer fabrication, assembly, and shipping facilities.
The company has established a strong brand as a result of its success. It is listed on the MSCI USA, NASDAQ 100, and Russell 1000 indices. It has also won many honors, including the Impact Award for the Analog & Mixed Signal Category from ECN (2015), the Innovation Award for Power Management from EDN China (2015), recognition for “Product of the Year“ from Electronic Products (2014), and recognition as one of the “100 Most Trustworthy Companies“ by Forbes magazine (2014).
Maxim’s main channels are its direct sales and applications team and third-party distributors such as Avnet Electronics; it also sells products through its website. The company promotes its offerings through its social media pages, attendance of trade shows, and distribution of an e-mail newsletter.
Maxim’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website includes a “Support Center” with self-help resources such as videos, selection guides, reference designs, and app notes. In addition, there is a section featuring answers to frequently asked questions. That said, there is also a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support.
Maxim’s business model entails designing, developing, and manufacturing linear and mixed-signal integrated circuits. The company utilizes its own wafer fabrication facilities and third party-foundries (namely Taiwan Semiconductor Company Limited) for wafer production.
Maxim’s key partners include its major suppliers, Seiko Epson Corporation (Epson), Maxchip Electronics Corp. (Maxchip), and Powerchip Technology Corporation (Powerchip).
The company also maintains the following design partnerships that provide its customers with value-added products and services:
Independent Design House (IDH) Partners – Help speed up time-to-market for products for various applications at any phase of their lifecycle. Specific partners include Logic PD, Tensentric, OTEC, TEConcept, Catron, Xcedent, IOT, Team Concepts Ltd., Design Shift, and SCS Pro.
Solar Equipment Providers – Develop products that feature Maxim’s solar cell optimizers. Specific partners include Jinko Solar, ET Solar, Solar Junction Box Partners, and Zerun Electronics.
iButton Authorized Solution Developers (ASDs) – Create complete hardware and software solutions using Maxim’s iButton devices for various applications. Specific partners include Access Controls International, Blue Tech Automacao, Cansec Systems, Deggy Corp., ElbaTech, and FlexPark.
FGPA Power Technology Partner – Xilinx, a company that works with Maxim to provide power solutions for the Virtex Ultrascale and Kintex Ultrascale reference designs.
Lastly, Maxim operates Maxim Ventures, a program through which it works with innovative startups to build products that bridge the distance between the digital computational and analog measured world. Specific benefits for these partners include:
- Financing from Maxim’s $200 million venture fund for seed, early, and mid-stage investments
- Early access to the company’s enabling microchip, security, and sensor technologies
- Access to Maxim’s worldwide partner and customer networks
- Access to Maxim’s best business leaders, technologists, and support teams
Maxim’s main resources are its human resources, who include 2,500 engineers with expertise in areas that include electronic design automation, circuit design, packaging development, software development, and applications support. The company also depends heavily on physical resources in the form of its three water fabrication facilities in Beaverton, OR, San Antonio, TX, and San Jose, CA.
Maxim has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is cost of goods sold, a variable cost. Other major drivers are in the areas of research and development, sales/marketing, and administration, all fixed costs.
Maxim has one revenue stream: the revenues it generates from sales of its circuits to customers. Pricing must be obtained through contact of the direct sales team.
info: Tunç earned a BSEE degree from Iowa State University and an MSEE degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He previously served as Vice President of Research and Development and Group President of the Portable Power Business Unit at Maxim.
info: Bruce earned a B.S. in Applied Science from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from the College of William & Mary. He previously served as VP and Corporate Controller at Broadcom and held senior managmeent roles at LSI Logic.
info: Anthony earned a BSEE and MSEE from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served as CTO and VP of Advanced R&D at Volterra Semiconductor, which he co-founded.
info: Vivek earned an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Penn State University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He previously served as SVP of Manufacturing Operations at Maxim.
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