Wolfspeed Startup Survived Because “We Were Small, We Were Nimble, We Were Crazy”

(p. A12) As a graduate student in materials science in the early 1980s, John Palmour took a chance on an unproven way to make semiconductors, substituting silicon carbide for the usual pure silicon.

. . .

In 1987, Dr. Palmour and other researchers at NC State were among the co-founders of Cree Research, now known as Wolfspeed Inc.

. . .

In a sign of the technology’s strategic importance, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in 2017 blocked the sale of a large part of the company to Infineon Technologies AG of Germany.

As Wolfspeed flourished over the past five years, Dr. Palmour remained chief technology officer, even while being treated for lymphoma.

. . .

Frugality was a helpful trait at a tech company that was slow to blossom. Wolfspeed was able to keep going because “we were small, we were nimble, we were crazy,” Dr. Edmond said.

. . .

Of his early days as an entrepreneur, Dr. Palmour wrote: “We were full of big plans and high hopes, but we were too young and stupid to know how hard it was going to be, how long it would take, or if it was even possible.”

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Scientist Changed Recipe For Making Microchips.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022): A12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date December 2, 2022, and has the title “John Palmour Changed Recipe for Making Microchips.”)

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