Come Along for the Ride: Life at a Growth Stage Optical I/O Startup

by | May 8, 2019

On January 2nd, 2019, I left a company that I admired and worked at for nearly 20 years: Intel Corporation. It wasn’t that I was dissatisfied with the company or my work—on the contrary, I had an exceptional team that was building out the rack scale design systems business.

Why did I leave?

I craved new challenges. To be responsible for building the business at a pre-revenue growth stage startup. I couldn’t wait to start….I joined Ayar Labs, an optical I/O startup, on January 3rd, 2019.

At Ayar Labs, I have a unique opportunity to work for a company with industry-transforming technology (for those who know me, I rarely exaggerate) on the verge of commercialization. I get to work with the brilliant and passionate leadership team that created the technology. I get to help grow the company and welcome aboard new employees to fill out Ayar Labs business and engineering functions (yes, we’re hiring). I get to help open our new office in Santa Clara and expand our Emeryville office. I get to present to our Board of Directors on the state of our business (wish me luck!). And I get to work in some of the most exciting markets and industries in high tech: Artificial Intelligence, HPC, Cloud Computing, and Telecom.

It’s been a heck of a ride so far.

I’ve been on the road traveling for 16 of the last 19 weeks—meeting with strategic partners, customers, investors, press, and industry analysts. It’s been invigorating hearing all the feedback and realizing the opportunity ahead of us—the IT industry needs Ayar Labs to fuel the next stage of growth and Moore’s Law (yes, Gordon predicted the “chiplet” revolution; check out the “Day of Reckoning” section). I’m even more excited to be here than on day one!

I’ve also had a front row seat as my colleagues evangelize our technology and products. Just two weeks ago, we had three of our tech leaders giving talks at different locations around the world:

· Chen Sun, Ayar Labs co-founder and CTO, was honored with co-chairing Optical Interconnects with co-chair Stephane Lessard from Ericsson, as well as program chairs, Katharine Schmidtke, Facebook, and Ashkan Seyedi, HP Labs.

· Our president, chief scientist, and co-founder, Mark Wade, gave a talk at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the IEEE Photonics society where he presented In-Package Optical I/O: Solving the Electrical I/O Bottleneck. More than 100 people from Silicon Valley attended the event.

· Vladimir Stojanovic, an Ayar Labs co-founder and technical principal, as well as an associate professor at UC Berkeley, was invited to give a plenary talk at the 21st European Conference on Integrated Optics in Ghent, Belgium. The talk was on “zero-change electronic-photonic integration,” a unique approach that research groups have been pursuing and that Ayar is using to commercialize for optical I/O applications. The talk also outlined other applications of this platform, in which large-scale electronic-photonic systems can be built—such as ultrasound sensor arrays, LIDAR, and label-free molecular sensors.

In addition, our company gathered in our new office in Santa Clara (we’re now a multi-site company!) for our first all-hands meeting. I hope some of you can join us for the official grand opening event on June 5th! And you may have seen on LinkedIn that we just shipped a batch of wafers in true growth start-up style!

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Wafer transport, startup style!

I’m excited to start this blog and take you along for the ride (pun intended) at a growth stage optical I/O startup company that has already become the category leader for monolithic in-package optical I/O (MIPO IO). I plan to blog regularly on our products, commercialization efforts, design wins, and the market. You may also want to follow Mark Wade’s blog for the latest on our technology.

Meanwhile, please stay in touch by following our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds for more exciting news over the next few weeks.

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