Silego — a 15 year startup journey

Congratulations to the Silego team for their sale to Dialog Semiconductor!

Over the years, I have worked with numerous startups and founders. But, Silego stands out in my mind. Not because of the product or technology — even though we (as consumers) depend on them since their product sits in iPads, Fitbits, GoPro’s, and many many smartphones (over 3 billion semiconductors have been shipped) — but because of the people that make up the Silego team.

Silego stands out for the people.

First Storm EIR

At Storm, we’re always inviting talented and passionate entrepreneurs into our community by hosting them as EIR’s. It’s one of the ways we learn about new spaces, help entrepreneurs in the earliest stages of company formation, and mentor existing companies in our portfolio. Over the years, it’s become such an ingrained part of the Storm community that it’s easy to forget where it all began.

16 years ago, we decided to host our first EIR. His name was Ilbok Lee, and at the time he already had a phenomenal background serving in a number of roles at Cypress Semiconductor, IC Works, and Samsung. A few months into being an EIR, Silego formed and Ilbok became the founding CEO. We invested in the companies first financing round along with Irwin Federman at USVP.

The Phoenix — Building success from the ashes

In the beginning, Silego tracked the journey of a typical semiconductor startup led by experienced semiconductor execs. After all, this was their second startup. They had sold their first startup to Cypress Semiconductor. They would engage with the right potential customers, develop a better product, get the design win, start production and deliver great service. Great execution resulted in predictable revenue growth.

Then, the market completely disappeared. Intel decided to integrate Silego’s product into the PC chipset, thus eliminating any independent market for the Silego product. Hope and confidence was replaced with gloom and despair.

Despite the natural emotions, the team focused on the needs of their lead customer. That led to one product and some revenue. Continued servicing of that customer over time (with the right product vision) led to Silego creating a new semiconductor category — programmable analog semiconductors. The chart to the left illustrates the rise and decline of the first business, and then the rise of the second business.

Silego resembled a Phoenix rising out of the ashes of its dying first business to build an even better second business. The first business was based on better commodity semiconductors. The second business is based on proprietary semiconductors where Silego was creating the socket and became the sole source.

Founder Commitment

What’s truly remarkable about the Silego story is that the founders all stayed committed through the rough patches. Silicon Valley is filled with stories of employees jumping from company to company when things get rough, but this wasn’t the case at Silego story!

The Silego founders stayed for the entire 15 year journey. They powered through the natural conflicts and challenges to build a successful company.

What’s even more impressive is that the founders allowed outsiders into key roles overtime. They Silego team recruited, integrated and promoted new employees. These new employees became critical to the company’s success! These new employees would lead sales, build a new GTM, drive a brand new product roadmap, and one ultimately became CEO.

The Silego founders understood that as the company transitioned and grew.

Many people ask me about what makes startups successful. The Silego founders are a good example — ultimately it is the character of the founders.

Storm Ventures
Venture Capital