Sustainability is a valley of mole hills. Becoming Great: KLA.

G. Dan Hutcheson
G. Dan Hutcheson
The Chip Insider®


Sustainability is a valley of mole hills … or maybe it should be named Mole Hill Valley because as I see it, dealing with so many mole hills is like crossing Death Valley on foot in the summer. Unlike today’s innovators who come to Silicon Valley, many 49ers in search of gold in the Sierras, came across Death Valley. They had to endure intense heat, sustaining themselves in a valley where natives kept secret the location of the few waterholes that existed. It’s called Death Valley because of the lives it took and still does for those who don’t respect it. In Silicon Valley – and technology in general – innovation is normally about climbing mountains with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) at the summit. The job of a CEO is to designate which mountain. The job of a CTO is to map out the path to the summit. Unfortunately, the path through Mole Hill Valley is one that will disrupt classic innovation methodologies and the competitors who practice them. The reason why sustainability has received so much attention of late is that it’s no longer just a nice thing to do for the planet … It’s becoming essential to corporate survival.

Becoming Great: In 2022, KLA grew faster than any other top-10 chip equipment supplier according to TechInsights. It wasn’t a one-trick pony. KLA has more than doubled in size since 2019, the only top-10 player to pull this off. With this came unmatched market share gains. This rise goes all the way back to 1978 when it launched its first tool: the world’s first automated mask inspection system. Was its rise due to lack of competition? No, KLA has always had plenty of competition … big and small. Some of the largest semiconductor equipment companies have tried to tread on KLA’s turf. Moreover, unlike the other major WFE markets that are highly concentrated, Process Diagnostics is rife with many smaller players that focus on specific technologies. So, what is it about KLA that has made them so great? …

"90% of the solution is recognizing there's a problem" -Robert Noyce

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