T. J. Rodgers

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T. J. Rodgers
T.J. Rodgers.jpg
Born (1948-03-15) March 15, 1948 (age 70)
ResidenceWoodside, California[2]
Alma materDartmouth College, 1970 B.A.
Stanford University, 1973 M.A.
1975 Ph.D.
OccupationScientist and entrepreneur
Spouse(s)Valeta Massey[1]

Thurman John "T. J." Rodgers (born March 15, 1948)[1] is an American scientist and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Cypress Semiconductor and holds patents ranging from semiconductors to energy to winemaking. Rodgers is known for his public relations acumen, brash personality, and strong advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism. He stepped down as Cypress CEO in April 2016 and Director in August 2016 after serving for 34 years.[3]

Early life[edit]

Rodgers was born on March 15, 1948 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He goes back to nearby Green Bay, Wisconsin several times a year to attend Green Bay Packers football games.[4] His father was a car salesman and worked for General Motors and his mother was a school teacher, with a master's degree in radio electronics. He was a Sloan scholar at Dartmouth College and played on the Dartmouth Big Green football team.[5] In 1970 he received his bachelor's degree, graduating as salutatorian with majors in chemistry and physics.[6] He received his master's degree (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) in electrical engineering from Stanford University. While pursuing his Ph.D. degree, Rodgers invented the VMOS process technology, which he later licensed to American Microsystems, Inc. He founded Cypress Semiconductor in 1982. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City.


After finishing a doctorate at Stanford, he turned down a job offer from Intel, saying that CEO Andrew S. Grove was unlikely to give him the freedom to pursue his own projects.[5] Instead Rodgers accepted a job at Advanced Microsystems Inc. (AMI), where he continued working on a special chip technology[which?] he invented at Stanford, but this project was a failure.

Cypress Semiconductor[edit]

Rodgers founded Cypress Semiconductor in 1982 and served as founding CEO.[7] Cypress is a semiconductor design and manufacturing company, producing PSoCs, microcontroller, IoT, wireless and USB, PMICs, memory and sensor chips.[8] As CEO, Rodgers was responsible for more than 30 acquisitions,[9] including SunPower and the IoT portfolio of Broadcom Corporation.[7] Cypress also benefited from its business with Apple Inc., as its PSoC was behind the iPod click wheel.[10] He stepped down as CEO in April 2016.[7] In 2015, Cypress had more than 6,000 employees and revenues of US$1.6 billion. The company had about 7,000 issued patents and about 1,200 additional patent applications on record.[11]

Proxy fight[edit]

In 2017 Rodgers conducted a successful proxy fight against Cypress. He raised concerns pertaining to director compensation,[12] state-sponsored foreign competition[13] as well as inherent conflicts of interest.[14] After filing a lawsuit against the company in April 2017, Rodgers sought to remove executive chairman Ray Bingham and Eric Benhamou from the Cypress board and nominated Dan McCranie and Camillo Martino as directors.[15] Rodgers argued that Bingham's role as a co-founder of Canyon Bridge,[16] a private equity fund supported by the Government of China,[14] constituted a clear conflict- of interest as acquisition targets for both companies overlapped.[16] Bingham was forced to resign from the Cypress board in early June 2017 and both of Rodgers' nominees won the subsequent 2017 shareholder election against Benhamou.[15]


Rodgers early recognized the value[17] of high efficiency solar cells produced by SunPower. As SunPower faced financial problems in 2001, Rodgers[18] tried to convince the Cypress board[17] to buy the solar cell producer.[19] Rodgers and SunPower CEO Richard Swanson had met in the 70s at Stanford University. But as the Cypress board of directors was not interested in saving the struggling company Rodgers wrote a check himself for $750,000.[18] About a year later Rodgers had convinced the board to invest $9 million in SunPower and a few months later Cypress bought a majority stake in SunPower.[17] In 2005 SunPower went public[19] and reached a market capitalization of $10.4 billion in 2007.[17] From May 2002 to May 2011, Rodgers served as chairman of SunPower.[20]

Enphase Energy[edit]

In January 2017, Rodgers invested US$5 million in Enphase Energy,[21] a renewable energy firm specialized in energy management and the production of solar micro-inverters, which transform solar energy to alternating current for the electrical grid.[22] In addition to his investment, Rodgers joined Enphase's board of directors.[23]

Board memberships[edit]

  • Bloom Energy, a fuel cell producer
  • Enovix, producer of silicon lithium-ion batteries
  • Enphase Energy, energy technology company
  • Waterbit, precision agriculture company
  • FTC Solar, a renewable energy company

Rodgers also served as director of the Semiconductor Industry Association.[24]

Trustee of Dartmouth College[edit]

After successfully launching a petition drive to get his name on the ballot, Rodgers won the alumni trustee election of Dartmouth College in 2004,[25] becoming the first successful petition candidate since 1980.[26] He won with a comfortable margin.[27] As trustee, Rodgers’ major concerns were removing the College's speech code,[26] increasing the budget for teacher salaries and strengthening Dartmouth's focus on undergraduate education.[28] Following the campaign of Rodgers, three additional independent trustees were elected in 2005 and 2007.[29] Rodgers was reelected as trustee in 2009.[26]

Clos de la Tech[edit]

Rodgers began winemaking in 1996 on a one-acre vineyard surrounding his house in Woodside. Later he bought two additional vineyards and, along with his wife Valeta, Rodgers established the winery Clos de la Tech in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Silicon Valley. Clos de la Tech uses old French winemaking techniques of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti[30] to make five Pinot Noir wines. This includes stomping the grapes with feet and siphoning the wine by hand.[31] Also, no mechanized pumps are used.[32] Clos de la Tech combines these old techniques with high tech monitoring[33] and measures to optimize the conditions for the crops and to handle grapes and wine as gently as possible.[31] Clos de la Tech's Pinot Noirs have been rated up to 96 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.[34] As winemaker, Rodgers invented a patented wine press and computer monitored fermenters.[30] He also designed and built the first wireless wine fermentation network, comprising 152 fermenters, and donated the system worth US$3.5 million to the UC Davis winery.[35]

Rodgers on Diversity[edit]

In 1996, Rodgers made headlines when Sister Doris Gormley, the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, sent him a form letter encouraging him to hire women and minorities on the Cypress board. He replied with a long letter defending his hiring practices and philosophy.[36][37] In 1999, he wrote an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News denouncing Jesse Jackson's attack on Cypress Semiconductor on what Jackson claimed was discriminatory hiring practices.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Rodgers is an avid jogger and wine enthusiast. He is a supporter of several charities, including Second Harvest Food Bank, and served as a trustee on the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2012.[39] He is the husband of Valeta Massey.[40]

Awards and recognition[edit]





  • Outstanding Individual Entrepreneurship Award from the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship


  • Award from the Healing Institute for his support of the Carver Scholars Program


  • Cited as one of the "100 People Who Changed Our World." by Upside[41]
  • Silicon Valley Capitalism Award for "exemplifying the virtues of capitalism and defending capitalism with ethical principles in the media."
  • Angel Award by the International Angel Investors organization for his venture-capital activities supporting the semiconductor industry
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies at California State University, Hayward


2005 :

  • Inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame.


  • Honored with a Fellow Award from the International Engineering Consortium.


  • Spirit of Ireland Award


US3878552 – Bipolar Integrated Circuit and Method[43]
US3924265 – Low capacitance V groove MOS NOR gate and method of manufacture[44]

US3975221 – Low capacitance V groove MOS NOR gate and method of manufacture[45]

US4222063 – VMOS Floating gate memory with breakdown voltage loweringregion[46]
US4222062 – VMOS Floating gate memory device[47]

CA1115426 – U-groove mos device[48]

US5835401 – DRAM with hidden refresh[49]
US4764248 – Rapid thermal nitridized oxide locos process[50]

US5977638 – Edge metal for interconnect layers[51]

US6131140 – Integrated cache memory with system control logic and adaptation of RAM bus to a cache pinout[52]

US6185126 – Self-initializing RAM-based programmable device[53]

US6835616 – Method of forming a floating metal structure in an integratedcircuit[54]
US6730545 – Method of performing back-end manufacturing of an integrated circuit device[55]
US2004076712 – Fermentation tank wine press [56]

US6903002 – Low-k dielectric layer with air gaps[57]
US6847218 – Probe card with an adapter layer for testing integrated circuits[58]

US7045387 – Method of performing back-end manufacturing of an integrated circuit[59]

US7227804 – Current source architecture for memory device standby current reduction[60]

US2008315847 - Programmable floating gate reference[61]
US2008102160 - Wine-making press[62]

US7507944 – Non-planar packaging of image sensor[63]

US9624094 – Hydrogen barriers in a copper interconnect process[64]


  • T. J. Rodgers; William Taylor; Rick Foreman (1993). No-Excuses Management: Proven Systems for Starting Fast, Growing Quickly, and Surviving Hard Times. Bantam Dell. ISBN 978-0-385-42604-6.


  1. ^ a b c Johnson, Steve (August 20, 2010). "T.J. Rodgers, CEO and president of Cypress Semiconductor". The Mercury News. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Crum, Rex (April 28, 2016). "Cypress Semiconductor founder T.J. Rodgers steps down as CEO". The Mercury News. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Cypress CEO to Step Down". www.cypress.com. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  4. ^ https://www.sfgate.com/living/article/A-DAY-IN-THE-LIFE-OF-T-J-Rodgers-2734685.php
  5. ^ a b https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1991-12-08/the-bad-boy-of-silicon-valley
  6. ^ "The T.J. Rodgers '70 Book Prize". Dartmouth Department of Chemistry. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Darrow, Barb (April 28, 2016). "Cypress Semiconductor Losing Its CEO While Gaining a New Business From Broadcom". Fortune. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  8. ^ "Products". Cypress. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Merritt, Rick (December 3, 2015). "T.J. Rodgers on Mergers, IoT, More". EE Times. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Hesseldahl, Arik (December 3, 2007). "Hot Growth: The Chips Have It". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities exchange act of 1934". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. January 3, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "Cypress Semiconductor replaces executive chairman amid proxy brawl with its founder". Silicon Valley Business Journal. June 13, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  13. ^ Poletti, Therese (June 19, 2017). "Burning Cypress: Ousted CEO wages bruising battle with company he built". Market Watch. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Flaherty, Michael (June 20, 2017). "Cypress Semi shareholders vote in dissident directors". Reuters. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Cypress Semiconductor reaches settlement with former CEO Rodgers". Reuters. July 5, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Manners, David (August 2, 2017). "China eyeing up Imagination". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d Holahan, Catherine (December 3, 2007). "T.J. Rodgers' Startup Strategy". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Wesoff, Eric (February 9, 2011). "T.J. Rodgers: Just Say No to Subsidies and Global Warming". Greentech Media. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Tanaka, Wendy (March 19, 2008). "Silicon Valley Can't Be Beat". Forbes. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  20. ^ McBride, Sarah (November 16, 2010). "SunPower chairman wants to quit and return to roots". Reuters. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  21. ^ Dunn, James (February 13, 2017). "Petaluma's Enphase Energy transforms to survive scorching solar competition". Northbay Business Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  22. ^ McGrath, Dylan (January 12, 2017). "T.J. Rodgers Backs Renewable Energy Firm". EE Times. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  23. ^ "Enphase gets investment from 2 Silicon Valley entrepreneurs". Renewables Now. January 11, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  24. ^ "T.J. Rodgers Provides Investor Presentation For Cypress Stockholders". TheStreet. March 13, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Currie, Duncan (April 25, 2005). "The Dartmouth Insurgency". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  26. ^ a b c Smeallie, Kyle; Romero, Maria. "Dartmouth College, the Battle Over Parity & the Legal Notion of Fiduciary Duty" (PDF). Dartmouth's Daily Blog. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  27. ^ Malchow, Joe (May 27, 2008). "Dartmouth Against Democracy". Dartmouth's Daily Blog. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  28. ^ Schemo, Diana Jean (June 21, 2006). "Dartmouth Alumni Battles Become a Spectator Sport". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  29. ^ Lewin, Tamar (September 8, 2007). "Battle Over Board Structure at Dartmouth Raises Passions of Alumni". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  30. ^ a b Vreeken, Stacey (September 24, 2013). "Stacey Vreeken, Wine Press: Clos de la Tech pursues pinot perfection, sparing no expense". Santa Cruz Sentinel Food. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  31. ^ a b Narasin, Ben (July 13, 2015). "Clos de la Tech Wine: Combining Ancient Principles with Modern Technologies". Edible Silicon Valley. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  32. ^ Randewich, Noel (November 9, 2011). "Chip icon TJ Rodgers turns his tech to winemaking". Reuters. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  33. ^ Zinko, Carolyne (January 30, 2005). "A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ... / T.J. Rodgers". SFGate. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  34. ^ "Clos de la Tech". Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Bailey, Pat (January 8, 2013). "T.J. Rodgers completes world's first wireless wine fermentation network for UC Davis winery". University of California Davis. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  36. ^ Rodgers, T. J. (1996-05-23). "Profits vs. PC – A Silicon Valley CEO says no to boardroom quotas — on moral grounds". Reason. … Thank you for your letter criticizing the lack of racial and gender diversity of Cypress's Board of Directors. I received the same letter from you last year. I will reiterate the management arguments opposing your position. Then I will provide the philosophical basis behind our rejection of the operating principles espoused in your letter, which we believe to be not only unsound, but even immoral, by a definition of that term I will present.
  37. ^ <http://www.cypress.com/documentation/ceo-articles/cypress-ceo-responds-nuns-urging-politically-correct-board-make>
  38. ^ "Valley Should Stand Up To Jackson's Divisive Tactics". San Jose Mercury News. March 14, 1999.
  39. ^ "Trustees Emeriti". Dartmouth College. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  40. ^ http://www.mercurynews.com/portal/news/ci_15844839
  41. ^ a b c d e "Board of Trustees". Dartmouth College. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  42. ^ "2016 ENCORE Award". Stanford Graduate School of Business. October 10, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  43. ^ US patent 3878552 
  44. ^ US patent 3924265 
  45. ^ US patent 3975221 
  46. ^ US patent 4222063 
  47. ^ US patent 4222062 
  48. ^ CA patent 1115426 
  49. ^ US patent 5835401 
  50. ^ US patent 4764248 
  51. ^ US patent 5977638 
  52. ^ US patent 6131140 
  53. ^ US patent 6185126 
  54. ^ US patent 6835616 
  55. ^ US patent 6730545 
  56. ^ US patent 2004076712 
  57. ^ US patent 6903002 
  58. ^ US patent 6847218 
  59. ^ US patent 7045387 
  60. ^ US patent 7227804 
  61. ^ US patent 2008315847 
  62. ^ US patent 2008102160 
  63. ^ US patent 7507944 
  64. ^ US patent 9624094 

External links[edit]