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News Article | April 29, 2017

Huge companies in fast-changing, technology-intensive businesses buy startups. After all, they have the money and need fresh entrepreneurial talent to tap new markets and stay abreast of disruption. That’s the collective wisdom about M&A in venture capital and startup circles. It’s also how the venture business survives. Though IPOs may get more attention, acquisitions account for the vast majority of startup exits and a majority of venture returns. But what if the common wisdom isn’t true? What if companies could do perfectly well adjusting to changing conditions, beating competitors and sustaining enormous market capitalizations without buying scrappy startups? To delve into that hypothesis, we used Crunchbase data to help assemble a list of the least acquisitive large-cap companies. The primary focus was technology companies, but we included other sectors because leaders in retail, consumer products, shipping and pretty much any other industry also invest heavily in tech. The resultant list shows that many companies with reputations as innovators actually don’t do much M&A. Some did in the past, but have cut back or stopped in recent years. Others have never shown an appetite for acquisitions. Here are some of the most recognizable names on our list of big companies least likely to buy your startup. Netflix seems like the kind of company that would do a lot of acquiring. It has a valuation around $60 billion, an innovative, risk-taking corporate culture and investors who are comfortable with the company trading at a high multiple relative to earnings. Yet, according to Crunchbase data, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming video giant has never bought a startup (at least not a disclosed purchase). While Netflix doesn’t buy startups, it does have a history of spending generously on content and licensing deals. Earlier this month, the company struck its first licensing deal in China with the streaming platform iQIYI. It’s also entered into licensing deals with a long list of Hollywood studios, including NBC Universal and others. Shares of the graphics chipmaker have been on a tear for the past year, and the company’s market value recently surged past $60 billion. Yet the Silicon Valley company has only made one acquisition in the past six years, after a prior pace of about a deal a year. The last time it made a disclosed acquisition was 2015, and that was a tiny deal, paying $3.75 million to acquire seed-funded cloud gaming startup TransGaming. Between 2002 and 2011, Crunchbase shows Nvidia making about one acquisition a year, including some large deals. For its last big purchase, in 2011, the company bought Icera, a developer of mobile broadband modem technology, for $367 million. It’s hard to make a case that not buying startups has been bad for Nvidia’s competitiveness. The company posted a 50 percent revenue surge for the second straight quarter in its last earnings report. Its net income for the past year totaled nearly $1.7 billion. Texas Instruments is one of those companies that no one in Silicon Valley talks about. Perhaps that’s because it’s based in Dallas, has been around since the 1950s and has a brand famously associated with 1970s calculators. Nonetheless, Texas Instruments is a big player in the semiconductor space, with a valuation around $80 billion and profit of about $8 billion a year. It’s also not very acquisitive these days. The last time Texas Instruments made a disclosed acquisition, according to Crunchbase data, was 2011, when it bought National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion. Maybe TI is still digesting that giant purchase. Before buying National Semiconductor, TI was reasonably acquisitive, buying about 10 companies from 2002 to 2011, including some venture-backed startups. But it hasn’t been back to the table in a long time. Applied Materials is another company that used to do acquisitions fairly often but hasn’t made a new one in years. Like Texas Instruments, Applied’s last big acquisition was enormous. The company paid $4.9 billion in 2011 for Varian Semiconductor, a developer of semiconductor processing equipment. For a company with a market capitalization north of $40 billion, Applied has never been particularly acquisitive. But six years is a long dry spell. Although it hasn’t been buying startups, Applied Materials has been investing in them. Its corporate VC arm, Applied Ventures, has participated in at least 46 funding rounds since 2006, including several in the past year. We all know Home Depot sells flooring, drills and other tools; therefore, it isn’t expected to be snapping up quantum computing startups. But a lot of startup innovation happens in retail, as well, so one might expect a retailer valued at $180 billion to buy a few venture-backed companies to stay competitive. That hasn’t been the case. According to Crunchbase, the last time Home Depot snagged a startup was five years ago. The hardware retail chain bought BlackLocus, an early-stage developer of pricing software that had previously raised a couple million dollars. The same year, it also bought Redbeacon, a site for getting price quotes and finding professionals to work on one’s home. Other companies with massive valuations that aren’t much into buying startups these days include UPS, Procter & Gamble and Citigroup. All have the financial resources for more M&A, just not the appetite. One conclusion to take away from track records of these non-acquisitive companies is that buying startups may be more a strategic preference than a necessity. It’s obvious many large-cap tech companies — Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook, to name a few — have a history of both acquiring a lot of startups and sustaining massive valuations. But clearly, that’s not the only way to stay on top.

Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Zhou Q.,National University of Singapore | Thanigaivelan T.,Varian Semiconductor | Henry T.,Varian Semiconductor | And 2 more authors.
Technical Digest - International Electron Devices Meeting, IEDM | Year: 2011

We report a new technique of achieving reduced nickel silicide contact resistance in strained n-FETs, where a pre-silicide Aluminum (Al) implant was introduced, and the Al profile was controlled/engineered by Carbon (C). C suppresses Al diffusion during silicidation, hence retaining high concentration of Al within the NiSi. Incorporating Al within NiSi reduces the Schottky barrier height for n-Si:C contact, leading to 18 % I On improvement for Si:C S/D nFETs with no compromise on short channel effects. © 2011 IEEE.

Zhou Q.,National University of Singapore | Zhou Q.,University of Electronic Science and Technology of China | Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Tong Y.,National University of Singapore | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the Electrochemical Society | Year: 2012

We investigated Si:C SD stressors having a retrograde carbon profile formed by carbon ion implantation and solid phase epitaxy (SPE). The retrograde carbon profile features a 30-nm-thick buried silicon carbon (Si:C) layer that is spatially decoupled from a 10-nm-thick surface layer with high phosphorus concentration. Retrograde carbon profile can increase the dopant activation rate in the Si:C SD stressors and achieves more than 30% reduction of sheet resistance (R s) when SPE temperature is lower than 800°C. Samples with retrograde carbon profile have a lower R s for a given substitutional carbon concentration compared to the uniform carbon profile samples. Nickel monosilicide (NiSi) formed on Si:C SD with a retrograde carbon profile has a R s which ∼10 lower than that formed on Si:C with uniform C profile. © 2012 The Electrochemical Society.

Zhou Q.,National University of Singapore | Zhou Q.,University of Electronic Science and Technology of China | Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Thanigaivelan T.,Varian Semiconductor | And 2 more authors.
IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices | Year: 2013

We demonstrate a novel technique to reduce the nickel silicide (NiSi) contact resistance Rcon in strained n-channel MOSFETs (n-FETs) with silicon carbon (Si:C) stressors, where a presilicide aluminum (Al) implant is performed and the Al profile is found to be affected by carbon (C). Al diffusion during silicidation is retarded by the presence of C and a high Al concentration is retained within the NiSi:C film, which is considered to be the main reason for electron barrier height ΦBn reduction in NiSi:C contacts. Ge preamorphization implant prior to Al implant further reduces the ΦBn to 0.44 eV. Integration of this technique in n-FETs with Si:C stressors achieves a 50% reduction in source/drain series resistance and 12% enhancement in saturation drive current. Negligible impact on the device short-channel effects is observed. When Al segregates at the NiSi/Si interface, the hole barrier height ΦBp is lowered, and such an Al profile can be used for the p-FETs. Al profile engineering shows a promise as a single-metal-silicide solution for selective Rcon optimization in CMOS. © 1963-2012 IEEE.

Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Ng C.-M.,Globalfoundries | Liu P.,Globalfoundries | Mo Z.-Q.,Globalfoundries | And 8 more authors.
IWJT-2010: Extended Abstracts - 2010 International Workshop on Junction Technology | Year: 2010

We report the first demonstration of a contact technology employing a combination of low energy Aluminum (Al) ion implantation and pulsed laser anneal (PLA) to form nickel silicide (NiSi) with low hole effective Schottky barrier height (ΦB p) on Si. First, the Al implant energy is reduced over prior work to ensure compatibility with thinner NiSi contacts. Second, the effect of PLA on silicide contact formation is investigated. Third, we show that increasing Al concentration at the silicide/Si interface while keeping the Al concentration within the silicide low is vital for reducing ΦB p. Successful implementation of the contact technology leads to ∼77 % reduction in ΦB p, achieving a low ΦB p of 0.104 eV. This opens up new options to lower ΦB p with reduced thermal budget for future technology generations.

Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Wong H.-S.,National University of Singapore | Gong X.,National University of Singapore | Ng C.-M.,Globalfoundries | And 5 more authors.
Journal of the Electrochemical Society | Year: 2010

An integration scheme for realizing strained n-channel metal-oxide- semiconductor field-effect transistors (nFETS) with embedded silicon-carbon (e-Si:C) source/drain (S/D) stressors formed in close proximity to the channel was demonstrated. The stressors are termed channel-proximate (CP) Si:C S/D stressors, whose proximity to the channel improves their effectiveness in contributing to tensile strain in the channel region. Numerical simulation was performed using the finite-element method to assess the strain enhancement due to CP Si:C S/D. Key process development and material characterization were performed to understand the interaction between dopants and substitutional carbon concentration Csub. Unstrained control nFETs, nFETs with conventional Si:C S/D formed after spacers, and nFETs with CP Si:C S/D were fabricated. The nFET with CP Si:C S/D stressors achieved a drive current Ion enhancement of ∼19 and ∼8% over unstrained nFET and nFET with conventional Si:C S/D, respectively. The impact of channel orientation on I on enhancement was also investigated. © 2010 The Electrochemical Society.

Koh S.-M.,National University of Singapore | Wang X.,Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology | Thanigaivelan T.,Varian Semiconductor | Henry T.,Varian Semiconductor | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Applied Physics | Year: 2011

We investigate the tuning of Schottky barrier height (SBH) of nickel silicide formed by pulsed excimer laser anneal of nickel on silicon implanted with aluminum (Al). A wide range of laser fluence was investigated, and it has been found that laser fluence influences the distribution of Al within the silicide and at the silicide/silicon interface. This in turn affects the effective whole SBH (φB p) at the silicide/silicon junction. High Al concentration at the silicide/silicon interface and high temperature for nano-second duration to achieve Al activation while keeping the Al concentration within the silicide low is vital for achieving low φB p. We demonstrate the achievement of one of the lowest reported φB p of ∼0.11 eV. This introduces a new option for forming nickel silicide contacts with reduced contact resistance at low thermal budget for possible adoption in future metal-oxide-semiconductor transistor technologies. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.

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