CEO on the Secret to Growing a Business

ARM Holdings makes the architecture upon which other companies build custom semi-conductor chips. CEO Simon Segars steps into the FBN Suite Spot to explain how a company that started out of a barn now has parts in 65 billion devices.

CLAMAN: You’re now in 12 billion different devices around the world.

SEGARS: Well the 12 billion was the number of chips sold by our licensees in 2014. Cumulatively, the number is now around 65 billion chips.

CLAMAN: So… you’re doing well!

SEGARS: It’s been a phenomenal success.

CLAMAN: Well, back up to when it wasn’t, when it was a little more difficult, whether that be a decade ago or even more.  Was there any point where you felt, “This is going to fail, we can’t do it?”

SEGARS: Well, when I joined the company we were in a converted turkey barn in the middle of the Cambridge countryside in the U.K.  There was only 15 other people, and success was by no means guaranteed at all.  We had to work hard for those first deals. Our business model was different, but through a lot of hard work and effort by everyone in the company, we achieved some success.

CLAMAN: What’s the one characteristic that drove you all to become what you are today?

SEGARS: Well, I think there was a desire to create a global standard for embedded processing. The fact that we didn’t have any local customers meant that we needed to take a very global view of how we operated. So, we weren’t just thinking about the market that was on our doorstep because actually there wasn’t one. We liked to get on airplanes and engage with the semi-conductor industry worldwide.

CLAMAN: Think big, even if you’re small, right?

SEGARS: Absolutely!