The GSA’s Big Opportunity

Just imagine what an organization at the forefront of a massive global industry can accomplish.

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By Jack Harding

The Global Semiconductor Alliance, the GSA, is at the front lines of a great opportunity. As the semiconductor industry has become a 24-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week flywheel of activity and innovation, there is only one organization in the world poised to keep pace.

It was no stray coincidence that precipitated the renaming of the Fabless Semiconductor Association, the FSA, to the current handle. But more importantly, the renaming was no leap of faith or credibility. It was obvious and inevitable.

More than a decade ago, Bob Pepper saw the need for the then-fledgling fabless model to have a voice in a world dominated by massive IDMs and conglomerates. And it wasn’t just Intel and TI. United Technologies and GE were among the behemoths that saw both the business and strategic rationale to participate in an exciting space. The question in Bob’s mind I can only speculate (actually, he told me) was, “How do we get a toehold against these global players?” The result was the FSA.

Led then and now by Jodi Shelton, the GSA is no longer just the voice of the little guy but, rather, the eyes, ears, hands feet and voice of more than 50% of the semiconductor market; GSA is the body of the industry and growing every day.

We grow in two ways. The first is membership. Even many of yesteryear’s behemoths are members. They see the value and the reach. Second, there is an exciting geographic expansion that now incorporates Europe and all of Asia. In fact, the new leadership for this fiscal is chairman Nicky Lu, chairman and CEO of Taiwan-based Etron Technology Inc. and vice chairman Joep Van Beurden, CEO of CSR Plc of the UK.

The GSA is global in agenda, offices, staff, members and leadership.

So what’s the opportunity? In my view it’s becoming the cross-industry and intergovernmental advisor. With the momentum, reach and recognition the GSA now enjoys, what organization is better positioned to advise the other segments, like consumer products and automotive? And governments, both sophisticated in semis like the United States and Taiwan, or neophytes like Vietnam and Brazil, can benefit around the implementation of their policies and investments shaded by the nuances of this critical, strategic business. We can be there, too.

Like many Board members of the GSA, I have participated regularly in discussions and programs in both vectors. It is neither a luxury nor an option for GSA to take this role. Other organizations, like the Semiconductor Industry Association, the SIA, have a U.S.-only agenda and charter. Their role is important but limited. Semiconductors are international; the policies are international; and the markets are international….all the turf of the GSA.

Further, semiconductors are ubiquitous. Like Michael Porter of Harvard said a decade ago, “There are no low-tech industries; only low-tech companies.” Semis are at the hub of this statement and it is even truer today. What organization is more prepared to consult with the lagging companies of the world and the thoughtful industries attempting to digest our wares?

The GSA has the heritage, leadership, support and perspective to play this role. The question is whether it will pick up the baton and run like hell, or let some other lesser organization fill the vacuum. My money is on the GSA. It’s the right thing for all of us and a natural extension of the very vision and charter that conceived the GSA more than 15 years ago.

–Jack Harding is the CEO of eSilicon.


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