SkyWater Joins Tech Companies Going Public

Article By : George Leopold

Pure-play foundry SkyWater Technology seeks to leverage its status as a trusted U.S. fab.

SkyWater Technology, the Minnesota-based pure-play foundry, is joining a growing list of U.S. technology companies going public.

Along with filing an initial public offering of shares with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), SkyWater also this week announced the hiring of John Spicer, a former ON Semiconductor executive, as its executive vice president for operations.

Earlier this month, it appointed Steven Kosier as its new chief technology officer. Kosier previously served as vice president of R&D at Polar Semiconductor and adjunct professor of electrical engineer at Vanderbilt University.

Spicer and Kosier are the latest chip executives jumping to SkyWater in recent months. The foundry hired former GlobalFoundries executive John Kent last June to oversee its technology development and IC design operations. The hiring coincided with an agreement between the two U.S foundries to serve as trusted fabs for the U.S. military.

Bloomington-based SkyWater filed a notice late Monday (March 22) with U.S. financial regulators that it intends to issue shares on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol SKYT. SkyWater’s principal owner is Oxbow Industries, an investment firm based in St, Louis Park, Minn.

The chip maker said only that its IPO would commence after the SEC completes a review of its registration statement. “We can’t say anything beyond what is covered there,” a spokesperson said.

According to the chip maker’s SEC filing, SkyWater’s revenues rose 2.7 percent in 2020 to $140.4 million. Growth was driven by demand from quantum computing and superconducting customers. Meanwhile, expansion of the foundry’s aerospace and military business was offset by declining wafer services sales to Cypress Semiconductor, which sold its 200mm wafer fab to SkyWater in 2017.

SkyWater said wafer services for Cypress and parent company Infineon accounted for about 29 percent of its revenues as of this past January.

SkyWater’s net loss widened over the past year by about $3.3 million to $19.7 million, according to the SEC filing.

In registering for a public stock offering, SkyWater told regulators it would leverage its status as a U.S. trusted foundry as well as it pure-play advanced packaging foundry services. Advanced chip packaging technology has emerged a key element of a chip manufacturing legislation moving toward funding in the U.S. Senate.

The prospectus also said SkyWater would seek to expand its radiation-hardened chip business with volume production beginning this year on a rad-hard production line funded by the Defense Department.

SkyWater is also teamed with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to explore the application of carbon nanotube technology to microelectronics. The research is funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Electronic Resurgence Initiative.

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