New chip maker has deep Austin roots

Nov 19, 2014
Austin American Statesman

A new Austin semiconductor company has deep local roots — and big plans. Tempo Semiconductor’s origins go back to 2006, when Austin-based SigmaTel sold its audio chip business for about $80 million to Integrated Device Technology Inc. of San Jose, Calif

The founders of Tempo acquired that business unit from IDT last year, led by former general manager of the SigmaTel business unit, K. Gozie Ifesinachukwu. Tempo officials declined to say how much they paid to buy the unit from IDT

“We thought it was really good technology,” said Ifesinachukwu, who is Tempo’s CEO. “So when the opportunity came … to buy back that business, I was excited.”

Ifesinachukwu is a longtime fixture in the Austin semiconductor scene, having also worked for Freescale Semiconductor and Stravelis

For its part, SigmaTel was acquired by rival Freescale in 2008

The new company, he said, now has the industry’s largest audio product portfolio for the computing and consumer markets, with support for everything from PCs, laptops and game consoles to tablets, smart phones, wireless speakers and smart headphones. Tempo also acquired a skilled engineering and technical support organization in the purchase, company executives said

In purchasing the assets from IDT, Tempo officials say they can boost the value of the audio products, with new low-power mixed-signal products for the handheld and portable device markets

Now in offices off MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), Tempo stands at about 16 employees and has about 40 customers, including some inherited from IDT. The company has partnerships for wafer manufacturing and test and assembly

Tempo has four products in the pipeline to be released in the first half of next year and Ifesinachukwu is aiming for $100 million in revenue in the next four to five years

But the company also has a new culture where everyone’s opinion is valued and failure is encouraged, he said

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