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Wolfson Microelectronics
Type Public (LSEWLF)
Founded Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (1984)
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, Flag of Scotland.svg
Key people David Milne Co-founder
Jim Reid Co-founder
Mike Hickey CEO
Industry Semiconductor,
Digital signal processing
Employees 370 (2009)
Website www.wolfsonmicro.com

Wolfson Microelectronics (LSEWLF) is a British microelectronics and fabless semiconductor corporation specialising in signal processing chips for the consumer electronics market. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, with engineering and sales offices scattered throughout the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Europe, Wolfson is a significant player in the Scottish economy.

Contents

History

Started in 1984 by David Milne and Jim Reid, Wolfson grew under their stewardship to float on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 and be listed in the FTSE 250. Both Milne and Reid had connections with the University of Edinburgh; Reid attained a First Class Honours degree in EEE, and Milne directed the Wolfson Microelectronics Institute at King's Buildings from 1973 to 1985.[1] In February, 2007, when Milne chose to step down, he was replaced in his CEO role by Dave Shrigley, previously Vice-President at Intel Corporation. His departure was one of a number of executive changes in late 2006, as Financial Director George Elliott also stood down. At this time, Wolfson had just announced a lowering of its market cap by £200m, although Milne's sign-off was said to be part of a pre-planned departure and was not provoked by the downturn.[2] Reid held positions as Chief Technical Officer and Business Development Directory with the firm, and also holds a visiting professorship at the University of Glasgow.

In 2006, Milne was declared Entrepreneur of the Year by the CBI, and Wolfson named Company of the Year.[3] After suffering as the media player market began to slow, Wolfson reported (as of 2007) improved results in the first quarter.[4] However, the loss of a contract to produce components for Apple's iPod, coupled with the 'credit crunch' and general financial slowdown resulting from the subprime mortgage crisis led to serious falls in profits, with share prices dropping 40% in the 2008 year to August and redundancies made.[5] Share prices even briefly dropped below the £1 mark, a first for the company.[6].

The company's dire straits have continued, with the recent reported loss of a number of key contracts (notably Apple).[7].

New Management

In November 2006 David (Dave) Shrigley became the new CEO of Wolfson, his first appointment at this level: he had previously worked for Intel in the Asia-Pacific region, and held directorships elsewhere.[8]. His American management style was initially unpopular, drawing criticism from commentators: 'he probably went a bit too US corporate at the beginning but he has put in a much better infrastructure to enable the business to grow'.[9]

Jan 2009, Mike Hickey, a veteran from Motorola's European multimedia business, took the helm as Wolfsons new CEO.

James Clerk Maxwell Award

In a joint mission with the IEEE and Royal Society of Edinburgh, Wolfson provided funding for an award, taking its name from the 19th century Scottish mathematician-physicist, of $20,000 (in addition to a medal and certificate) to be shared by up to three individuals chosen by committee.[10]

Customers

Wolfson products have found applications within the digital audio player market, such as in Microsoft's Zune product line, including the Zune HD, as well as providing the codec functionality for much of Apple Inc.'s iPod series (with the exception of the iPod shuffle[11] and iPod classic[12]) and Sony's PSP.[13] Wolfson chips have also found place in the Microsoft Xbox game console, Logitech Squeezebox Duet[14] and the PalmOne Treo smartphone, with the Apple connection continuing with their recent iPhone[15] and iPod Touch (although this contract has recently been lost).[12][7]

It is worthwhile noticing Wolfsons 2008 annual financial presentation showed increased business coming from the handset market, which represents a larger potential than the portable media player market: 16% of the company's 2007 revenue came from handsets, where the 2008 were almost double at 31%.

References

  1. ^ "Wolfson Press Release". http://www.wolfsonmicro.com/whatsnew/press/press/PI99/.  
  2. ^ "Wolfson founder to quit after American named as his successor". The Scotsman. November 24, 2006. http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=979&id=1740782006. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  3. ^ "Chip hooray as Wolfson scoops double honour". The Scotsman. December 1, 2006. http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=979&id=1782332006. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  4. ^ "Wolfson chief signs off on a high note". The Scotsman. January 31, 2007. http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=979&id=162832007. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  5. ^ "Job losses likely at iPhone firm". BBC News. July 29, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7530555.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  6. ^ "'Wolfson share price (last 12 months)'". http://www.iii.co.uk/investment/detail?type=&code=cotn%3AWLF.L&it=le&display=chart.  
  7. ^ a b "'Wolfson slumps on loss of Apple contracts". The Independent. March 28, 2008. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/wolfson-slumps-on-loss-of-apple-contracts-801837.html. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  8. ^ "'Ex-Intel Man to Head Wolfson'". The Inquirer. November 24, 2006. http://www.theinquirer.net/en/inquirer/news/2006/11/24/ex-intel-man-to-head-wolfson. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  9. ^ "Silicon Valley marketing man with a mission". The Scotsman. July 26, 2008. http://business.scotsman.com/business/Silicon-Valley-marketing-man-with.4327564.jp. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  10. ^ "IEEE/Royal Society of Edinburgh And Wolfson Microelectronics Create New Award". IEEE (The Institute). January 11, 2007. http://www.theinstitute.ieee.org/portal/site/tionline/menuitem.130a3558587d56e8fb2275875bac26c8/index.jsp?&pName=institute_level1_article&TheCat=1015&article=tionline/legacy/inst2007/jan07/jointawards.xml&;jsessionid=GXQkRnZngnVs7ccWpBRtTjPCysR1JyXpsJWMTZbTQg1zLPYlwkLN!250594599. Retrieved 2007-07-13.  
  11. ^ "Wolfson Microelectronics again supplies the audio codec with headphone amp". Electronic Engineering Times. January 5, 2007. http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18310767. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  12. ^ a b "Wolfson sales on track as it plays down iPod blow". The Scotsman. September 12, 2007. http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=1455152007. Retrieved 2007-09-17.  
  13. ^ "Wolfson produces mixed-signal semiconductors for the digital consumer electronics market, including chips for the iPod and Sony's PSP.". ZDNet. October 26, 2005. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/hardware/0,1000000091,39233638,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  14. ^ "Squeezebox Duet Network Music System". http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_duet.html. Retrieved 2008-06-14.  
  15. ^ "Wolfson set to ring up profits from iPhone sales". The Scotsman. January 12, 2007. http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=979&id=62372007. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  

External links

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