Gimme Five – Douglas Hunter

As chief of staff, he has broad management responsibilities for Lattice’s strategic planning process; business, technical and operational reviews; management processes; and special projects.

Previously, Hunter was Lattice’s director of strategic planning with responsibility for consumer research, new product planning and competitive intelligence. In this role, he also managed various cross-functional team initiatives, including sales, engineering and finance.

Prior to joining Lattice, Hunter was with Boston Consulting, and before that with SMT Dynamics. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of California in Irvine and an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago.

When he is not looking after his three young children or cycling through fields and hills, he is happy to settle down with a good crime or spy novel.

1. Which is easier – bringing up three children or managing the staff at Lattice?

There are a lot of similarities. Everyone has a very unique personality and you need to understand what drives and motivates them. What works with one child or vice president doesn’t necessarily work with another.

Sometimes I think it is easier raising children. The children are more innocent than the veterans. They are not as complex, so that makes them a bit easier to manage and understand what they want. You can also give your children a hug.

2. In May, Lattice shipped its one millionth Mach XO2 PLD, saying it was the fastest customer adoption of any device family in the company”s history. What made it so successful?

A couple of things – we built it on a strong base and it solves people’s problems. There are a lot of people who don’t need a million look-up tables. They need simple to use logic and this meets that need. We have two flavours – a high-performance version and a low-power version that does will in consumer markets. The high-performance version does well in high-performance computing and servers. A lot of web pages come via servers using these products.

We just purchased the Ice product line when we acquired Siliconblue and that lets us go into customers with a full product portfolio. This is why we are number one in this space.

3. Lattice has blamed weakness in worldwide distribution, especially Europe, for a flat second quarter. What do you think caused this and what’s the cure?

Distribution typically runs 60 to 65 per cent of our revenue but last quarter it was 53 per cent. There is an element of this that is global and an element that is European. In Europe, industrial customers have pulled back in the face of uncertainty. About 80 to 85 per cent of our business is infrastructure – telecoms, computing, industrial – and when the economy takes a pause then investment slows down and our business slows down accordingly.

This happened in 2009 and 2010 and then in 2011 it picked up. We hope that Europe can find a way to get its house sorted out this time and give people confidence to start investing in the infrastructure again. Every day I read the headlines looking for signs in Europe that will give people encouragement to move forward. There is a lot of hesitancy.

But the long-term trend is good. There are reasons for long-term growth. Cellular networks will need upgrading and so will buildings. It will come, let’s just hope it is sooner rather than later.

4. What makes a good spy novel?

My dad introduced me to Alistair MacLean and I moved onto John le Carré and now I’m reading a lot of Daniel Silva. Silva’s novels are centred on the Israeli civil service and the main spy’s cover story is he’s a painting restorer, and that is how he gets to travel around.

John le Carré has less action but a lot more of what people are thinking. Silva has a lot of action and a lot of thinking about what drives them. It is the balance between intellect and action that creates a great spy novel.

5. Why are you happy competing in a niche market rather than taking on the likes of Altera and Xilinx?

There is less competition. Altera and Xilinx are five to six times our size. They have more people doing R&D than we have in our whole company. You can’t compete at the leading edge unless you have a certain skill. So we focus on the low and mid-range, and that was a good decision.

We are number one in low density. It is not as sexy as the high density but it is a good niche. We have a market that is under-served and we can bring innovation to that.

It is nice to develop markets without competing with guys who are six times bigger than you. It is nice to talk about our technology not our competitors. Niches are good for us, they are our path to growth. We can also go after smaller markets. The big companies often can’t justify the expense of doing that.

Lattice Semiconductor

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