Xilinx Case Study - Leadership by Design

August 2007

The Challenge

In 2007, Xilinx was the world’s largest and most successful programmable logic company. It had been led for 12 years by CEO Wim Roelandts, who had announced his intention to retire as CEO and continue with the company as Board Chairman.

The company was the programmable market leader, but the Board knew the market’s characteristics were changing, as would the kind of strategy and leadership needed to keep Xilinx growing.

Xilinx needed a leader with strong operating skills as well as the ability to create a new forward looking strategy appropriate for the next decade. My sense is that it is usually hard to find both these skills—strategic leadership and operational excellence—in the same CEO.
Flip Gianos, Xilinx Board
We knew the success of our search to replace Wim Roelandts would depend on our ability to match the potential CEO candidates to the future direction of the electronics and FPGA markets. We had to get that call right.
Marshall Turner, Xilinx Board

The Board turned to Lonergan Partners for help in finding the right CEO to take the company to the next level.

Three Year Update - April 2011

3-Year Track Record of Success

After an intense search process in which the Board was assisted by Lonergan Partners, Moshe Gavrielov was installed as new CEO in January 2008. While 2008-2011 saw unprecedented turmoil in the world’s markets, Xilinx enjoyed three years of market leadership and profitability.

On March 14, 2011, the company announced a 19% increase in its dividend, reflecting the Board’s strong confidence in its continued operational performance.

Moshe came into Xilinx with a strong sense of urgency to find and protect the things that were working, and change or restructure the things that were not. Xilinx has made significant progress in the time since Moshe became our CEO. This is measured by the stock price, which has increased fifty percent, in operating margins, and in the overall quality of the management team.
Flip Gianos, Xilinx Board
Moshe has been a very successful leader for Xilinx. By making some bold and yet simultaneously careful strategic moves early, he has installed new ways to create products and bring them to market.
Marshall Turner, Xilinx Board

Xilinx programmable chips are the innovation platform of choice for today’s leading companies for the design of tens of thousands of products that improve the quality of everyday lives. Xilinx is the recipient of numerous customer awards, including Cisco’s “Supplier of the Year Award” in 2010.

March 2012

Stock Up 11%

The Search Process

In mid-2007, as longtime CEO Wim Roelandts announced his intention of retiring, the Xilinx Board approached Lonergan Partners for help in planning a successful transition. The Board worked closely with Founding Partner Mark Lonergan to outline the strategic North Star describing their vision for where Xilinx would be heading under new leadership. “Mark Lonergan helped us shift our strategic thinking about our company” remembers Director Marshall Turner, “which resulted in a different set of candidates for us to consider.”

A key part of the process was establishing rigorous evaluation criteria for the candidates. Chairman Flip Gianos recalls that this process required an unusually broad look at executives in a variety of industries: “Lonergan Partners did a great job in showing us a full range of senior executives in different markets and technologies, including semiconductor, storage, EDA and others, that helped us establish the needed evaluation criteria.”

The Board met and interviewed over 10 potential CEOs. Flip recalls the Board enjoyed unwavering support from Lonergan Partners throughout the 127-day process: “The Board knew that Mark Lonergan and Lonergan Partners were personally committed to a successful outcome. They worked hard to ensure that our key objectives and milestones were met. In the end, Lonergan Partners found us a candidate who demonstrated excellence in all our combined criteria.”

About Moshe Gavrielov

Moshe Gavrielov has over 30 years management experience with semiconductor and software companies. Before joining Xilinx as CEO in January 2008, he served as executive vice president and general manager of the fast-growing verification division at Cadence Design Systems. Before that, Moshe spent seven years as CEO of Verisity, Ltd., where he grew the company from a $4M start-up, taking it through its initial public offering (IPO) in 2001, and ultimately selling Verisity to Cadence in 2005.

Previously, Moshe spent nearly ten years at LSI Logic Corp., where he served in a variety of executive management positions, including executive vice president for the $1.3B products group, senior vice president of international markets, general manager for Europe, and general manager of the ASIC division. Moshe began his career in engineering and engineering management at National Semiconductor and Digital Equipment.

Moshe earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in computer science from the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) in Haifa, Israel.

Resources

Xilinx Company website

Xilinx YouTube Channel

A Mighty Wind of Programmability.” FPGA Journal, Jan 5, 2010. Interview with Moshe Gavrielov and Krishna Rangayasee.

Passing the Torch.FPGA Journal, March 4, 2008.

An Interview with Moshe Gavrielov. CNBC, March 15, 2011.