eeNews: How did you progress through the company? Who were your influencers, mentors?
Carlo Bozotti: Well then I moved to Agrate [SGS' headquarters site] at the beginning of 1980 to take on technical marketing for bipolar analog ICs. Prior to that SGS had essentially been a consumer/TV component maker and we were now looking to migrate and develop ICs for automotive, industrial and telecommunications applications. We were working with customers like Olivetti and Xerox. CMOS was not part of my marketing responsibility.
Castelletto was becoming about the move into smartpower and one of my influencers was Bruno Murari who was the technical leader on the development of BCD [manufacturing process for ICs that include bipolar, CMOS and DMOS power transistors] and also went on to help introduce MEMS at the company. Murari was awarded the Elmer Sperry Award in 2017 in recognition of his engineering achievements.
I remember our first smartpower product was U001, four power MOS with digital input in one chip. By this time, I was already spending time with customers but Murari was inspiring with his innovation and ability to meet customers' requirements.
And then Pasquale Pistorio joined the company as CEO in 1980 and there was a much faster move towards international business. I became a division manager with responsibility for automotive, industrial and telecom and then we merged with Thomson Semiconducteurs of France in 1987 and I had responsibility for telecommunications across SGS-Thomson with the R&D sites in Agrate, Castelletto, Grenoble and Rousset.
But I want to emphasize how important BCD was for us. It enabled us get into automotive
with a voltage regulator that could survive 80V voltage swings, into electronic typewriters and Daisywheel printers and into hard disk drives with motor drivers. The HDD has been very important. I remember working with Seagate Technologies and our first design wins with them at the time of the IBM PC 'junior' home computer in 1984.
We're still in HDDs but with much more complex ICs. Back then, as it is again today, it was about innovation and being differentiated.
In 1988 I became responsible for strategic marketing – this was my first corporate job – and then in 1991 Pasquale asked me to go to the United States to drive sales and marketing and I went with my wife and two children. We spent three years there. 1991 was difficult, it was immediately after the first Gulf War, but 1992 and 1993 were good years and by 1994 we had moved from $300 million in annual US sales to almost $1 billion.
Yes, we enjoyed the benefit of a recovery phase but it was also at this time we developed partnerships with important key customers – including Hewlett Packard – on inkjet technology.
eeNews: Were you ever tempted to leave ST and try your luck overseas, in the US, or anywhere else?
Carlo Bozotti: I never really tried to leave. I did have a number of opportunities. Texas Instruments approached me in middle of the 1980s. There was one very interesting offer in 1998 or 1999. It was for an optical communications company. It was Italian and optical fiber for telecommunications was a booming area. I then had three CEO positions offered to me in the 2000s. But I always felt I had many more opportunities in ST and I loved the work in our company.