Photonics giant II-VI Incorporated (Pittsburgh, PA) is enjoying its 50th anniversary in 2021. For the past five years, the company has been headed by CEO Chuck Mattera, who was invited to share his views at the LPMS for the second time (see figure; also see http://bit.ly/Mattera2018 for details on Dr. Mattera’s first talk in 2018).
At this year’s LPMS, Dr. Mattera focused on the strategic steps that led to the successful change of the company toward a vertically integrated supplier of semiconductor and photonics components. He explained this path using gallium arsenide (GaAs) and vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology as an example. At the core of this strategic development was a chain of targeted acquisitions between 2010 and 2019. Most remarkable was certainly the purchase of Finisar for $3.2 billion in 2019. More recently, they made it to the headlines with a $6 billion bid for Coherent. Similar to Andy Mattes, the CEO of Coherent who talked later in the program, Mattera did not comment on that bidding process.
Based on this chain of acquisitions, II-VI gained more production capacity, it improved its technology portfolio, and it broadened its access to major markets in China, Europe, and North America. In 2010, it had doubled its number of employees with the acquisition of Photop Technology in Fuzhou, China. Starting in 2013, it acquired several production facilities for GaAs wafers. Over the years, it upgraded these facilities to produce VCSELs from 6 in. GaAs wafers. With this technology, it secured a substantial market share for a number of applications, such as 3D sensing.
The acquisition of Finisar in 2019 doubled the revenue of II-VI, adding production capacity and market access to its portfolio. And now, the company “believes that we are growing faster than the market, which is to say that we believe that we are gaining market share. Today, we believe that we are the only company in the world with three 6 in. GaAs fabs.” As a result, Mattera expects that II-VI will not only increase its share of 3D sensing markets, but also become more competitive in VCSELs for datacom and edge-emitters for industrial lasers.
While Mattera’s presentation mainly focused on the strategic background of his sustainable company development, he was also asked about the one topic that changed everything in 2020. With major facilities in China, II-VI was faced with COVID-19 restrictions from the very beginning of the pandemic. The top three priorities had been clear: assuring the safety, security, and well-being of the employees; ensuring the protection, continuity, sound operations, and value of the business and its opportunity to continue to grow; and complying fully with the government orders issued in response to COVID-19.
Based on these principles, the company was able to bring all of its Chinese facilities back to normal operations in March 2020. The detailed procedures and thorough methods defined and implemented there became the example that the rest of II-VI would later follow and continues to build on.
Asked for future opportunities, Mattera mentioned the convergence of communications, computing, and sensing. New applications in consumer electronics, telemedicine, and Industry 4.0 are coming up, driving the need for faster communication of even-greater amounts of data. In turn, that may drive network technology as well as laser-based manufacturing technology.
Continued progress in life sciences, aerospace, and additive manufacturing may spur further opportunities, just as the transition to clean and renewable energy does.