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How Ampere’s Renee James is vying for a chunk of the $500 billion global microchip market

For helping companies such as Microsoft and Oracle better harness the cloud, Renee James is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.

How Ampere’s Renee James is vying for a chunk of the $500 billion global microchip market
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]
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“When I tell people I’m CEO of a semiconductor company, they go, ‘Seriously?’ People think this business is boring,” says Renee James. But “semiconductors are the foundation. Without them, there’s no Google. What we’re doing for future innovation is a big deal.” Samsung and Intel (where James worked for 28 years) dominate the nearly $500 billion global market for microchips, but James believed a nimble startup could attract talent to create faster and more secure chips for the high-performance servers that are powering the cloud. James launched Ampere in February 2018. Within a year, the company brought its first chip to market and is poised to release a second. More than 20 companies, including Microsoft and Oracle, have placed orders, and the company has grown to 400 employees, with facilities in four countries. From her office at Ampere’s Santa Clara, California, headquarters, James says she can see the Intel campus. Legendary Intel cofounder and CEO Andy Grove was her mentor “until the day he died,” James says. “He used to say, ‘Why did we start Intel when there was already Fairchild Semiconductor? There’s always something that comes next.'”

About the author

Jay Woodruff is a contributing editor at Fast Company. After helping launch the quarterly DoubleTake, he joined Esquire and later held senior editorial positions at Entertainment Weekly and oversaw digital at Maxim, Blender and Stuff

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