When its founder and chief executive stepped down after 34 years, Cypress Semiconductor wanted to infuse new blood into its daily operations. Now the chipmaker is finally handing the reins to a younger successor.
Last Thursday, the San Jose chipmaker said that Hassane El-Khoury, the former head of its automotive business, had been appointed the new president and chief executive. He will also join the company’s board of directors.
El-Khoury, 36 years old, started out in engineering with Continental Automotive Systems, one of the largest makers of electrical systems for cars, including dashboard touch screens and power trains. He joined Cypress in 2007, eventually rising to the position of executive vice president of programmable systems.
Before his promotion, El-Khoury had been part of the four-person office in control of the company while it interviewed candidates to succeed T.J. Rodgers, the chip industry legend who founded Cypress in 1982. Rodgers stepped down in April, saying that he was ready to give up the stress of running the 7,000-person company.
“I have always planned not to be spending most of my time in the last decade of my career immersed in the details of the operations,” Rodgers, 68 years old, said in an April statement. “And, to be completely candid, the board and even the executive staff have urged me to bring new blood into operations.”
Rodgers will also give up his seat on the board of directors, Cypress said, contrary to what the company indicated in April. The former chief executive also said he would be staying around to lead “key technical projects,” but Cypress has said nothing about what that will involve.
The reason for El-Khoury’s promotion is more clearly defined. He helped lead the company's shift into automotive systems, including dashboard displays and touch screens. It now makes chips to digitize analog gauges, like the speedometer and fuel gauge, as well as technology related to automated safety systems.
Like other chipmakers, Cypress is preparing to ride the wave of demand for electronics in cars and factories. Cypress is known for making static random access memory, but it has increasingly paired it with embedded processors and wireless chips, selling them together in programmable system-on-chips.
El-Khoury’s appointment washed up in these shifting tides: 58% of the company’s revenue in the second quarter of this year came from automotive and industrial markets, up from 33% over the same period in 2012. In July, Cypress reported $450.1 million in revenue in the second quarter this year, up from $425.2 million in previous quarter.